Ever wondered how you build a beauty empire? You create something luxurious and unique, as in the case of Brisbane Issada Cosmetics CEO/founder Fiona Neale, who literally created her boutique beauty brand in her living room and now oversees a thriving business set for rapid national expansion.
Issada is unique in that it is skin-treating mineral make-up with professional pigment strength, on-trend colour collections, performance and finish. Equally loved by spa therapists and cosmetic surgeons for use after invasive treatments, and celebrity make-up artists for photo shoots, runway shows and film and TV projects, Issada has loyal devotees all over the country.
The cult brand began 12 years ago with a range of unique make-up brushes ergonomically engineered with solid aluminium handles which became a favourite with A-list celebrities including Oprah, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bundchen, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Watts, Kate Moss, Miranda Kerr and many more. Then, Fiona’s chance meeting with a make-up artist in London saw the brand transform. The businesswoman had just set up the first-class beauty lounge for Virgin Atlantic in London Heathrow Airport, then discovered the brushes and that they were made by a little-known brand in Brisbane, but only sold exclusively to make-up artists and not the public. Seeing the great growth potential there, Fiona purchased the brand, and transformed it into Issada Cosmetics, incorporating a full make-up range, in 2006.
So, what began as an underground cult brand has now grown to become the beauty brand of choice for beauty editors, celebrities and skin-conscious beauty consumers who want superior skin-treating makeup.
“I don’t think there’s another mineral make-up brand that can claim to cover both bases (pardon the pun) so comprehensively!” Fiona says. “Our products are made from pharmaceutical-grade minerals (the highest quality, with the most skin benefits) organic botanicals, collagen and peptides, using the latest technology from chemists around the globe – and every product is designed with an equal focus on skin health and pro-strength finish, performance and colour.”
Now, Issada is favoured by the casts of TV shows like Offspring and Home & Away, and is also widely used by Channel 7, 9 and 10 news teams and local celebrities such as The Veronicas, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Jessica Gomes, Carla Zampatti and more.
And the beauty brand’s next big step is its new distribution deal with beauty giant BLC Cosmetics which will see Issada’s current 250 Australian stockists likely double within a year.
“Choosing the perfect distribution partner who would share our vision was a lengthy selection process,” Fiona says. “BLC ticked all the boxes; they share our devotion to the salon and spa world, their luxury spa brands align with Issada, and they have an excellent reputation.”
The brand currently has two Brisbane flagship boutiques, with an eye on future interstate expansion there too. “It’s important for us to control our growth at a manageable rate,” Fiona says. “We have national and international enquiries flooding in daily, so for us it’s about solidifying one region at a time while remaining open to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
“In terms of opening stores in other capital cities of Australia, it’s on our radar, but for right now we have our hands full with all of our amazing interstate stockists, more of whom are popping up by the day!
“Having started the brand in my living room, its surreal looking at the potential and the projections of the magnitude of growth our boutique brand could see very soon.”
Nicole is a Queensland-based writer and bona fide word nerd whose first love (apart from heels) is feature writing. Follow Nicole on Twitter.