Welcome to our Business Edit, where I ask women I admire that have created amazing businesses to share their advice and tips to inspire and motivate you on your own journey, whether it be in business, your career or navigating life! In this edition, I am interviewing Jayde Houndalas, founder of beautiful sunless tanning brand Sontse.
Hello Jayde and welcome to TDP's Business Edit, I am so thrilled to chat to you today. Let’s start with an introduction, tell me about yourself and your background.
Hi! Thank-you for taking the time to chat with me, such an honour and I am so incredibly grateful. My name is Jayde, I am 33, married, mumma to a beautiful 2-year-old boy and the Founder of Sontse. I am based in Melbourne, with my previous career life spent as an advertising executive in media.
What was the inspiration to create your sunless tanning brand, Sontse?
My husband was the one who encouraged me to create my own sunless tanning brand.. I have always loved fake tanning and after making the decision to no longer return to my corporate role in media, post having my son - I found myself exploring different businesses to purchase that were in the sunless tanning category.
The problem I continued to come across was any brand I was looking to explore, I wanted to re-brand completely, OR, the product itself wasn't really solving the issues I have found when using fake tan.. so, I thought, why don't I just explore the process to formulate my own? I know it might sound cliche, however, through the journey of becoming a Mum, what products I use really sat at the forefront of my mind and have continued to do so.
It was really important to me that what I would bring to market is transparent, holds integrity in what it says it does and is something I am proud to say is a representation of me. From here started the journey of researching my ingredients for my formulas and the entire process of building Sontse.
Talk me through your journey from business idea to launch...
Of course! It was a year long process before it got to market. I had the idea of what I wanted my products and initial range to look like, what it would stand for and how we would be different to other sunless tanning brands in the market. From there I started researching ingredients for the R&D process, my lab, sourcing packaging and testing this packaging, designing my packaging, trademarking, lawyers, setting up my company with my accountant and licensing music...to name a few elements of the process.
I recognize where my strengths are and where they stop! So, it was crucial and non-negotiable for me to find the right people to work with, who are like minded and are with me on this journey as a true partnership where you become family in a sense, walking hand in hand on the journey of building my brand. I am so fortunate I have got the most incredible team around me who have helped bring my brand to life, from my incredible copywriter who also doubles as a Marketer, my Shopify and Klaviyo specialist, SEO specialist, web developer and graphic designer, photographer and beautiful PR team.
Oddly enough the hardest part was the business name! I went through a few different names until I called my Dad, who was overseas at the time and asked him - what does "sun" mean in Ukrainian (our heritage and where both his parents are from) and he said - "sontse." It just all made sense and clicked! Sunshine in bottle form, your sunny sidekick - minus the UV-rays and a beautiful nod to my grandparents who both have had incredible challenges in life going through World War II and travelling through various countries to land in Australia and give their future generations a safer and more privileged opportunity in life.
Once all of the above was in place, it was a rolling timeline process of getting products to market.
Let’s chat about the product range, the benefits and why we need Sonste as part of our self-care ritual?
YES! The entire product range has a focus on hydration which I believe is such a key factor to having a flawless tan. DHA (the active ingredient that stains the outermost layer of your skin and gives you your colour) tends to dry out your skin so we wanted to ensure that our Golden Hour self-tan mousse and Sun Lit face & body tan mist include hydrating ingredients to counter it doing this to your skin.
Our hero product and mousse formula is fast drying so you won't be left feeling sticky, is an express tan with a beautiful natural colour achieved in as little as an hour. We promise it won't leave you with that "fake tan smell" plus every purchase sees you giving back to an Australian Skin Cancer Foundation, because we believe how you choose to glow spreads a powerful message™ Outside of this, we have had a focus on including premium quality ingredients in our formulations, that are safer for your skin.
Our products are paraben free, sulfate free, PETA Globally certified which means we are vegan-friendly and not tested on animals, are Australian made and owned and registered which is so important as the standards that our labs hold are at such a high level. We are also in the process of additional certifications with bodies such as Safe Cosmetics Australia who take a deeper dive into the formulation to certify, allergy-safe, we are made toxic-free, etc.
We believe these factors amongst others are why our Golden Hour self-tan mousse is a finalist for the Clean + Conscious awards - they celebrate brands and products that are clean, ethical, sustainable and responsible.
As well as both our Golden Hour self-tan mousse and Sun Lit face & body tan mist being finalists for the SHE-Com awards.
Hmmmm... this would have to be a piece of advice. Never stop being teachable or learning and be solutions focused, not problem orientated. Always continue to leave your ego at the doorstep and come to every situation with an open mind and willingness to see things from a different perspective. There are so many different ways to approach things and I believe mindset and the ability to continue to learn is so incredibly important.
What are you reading, listening to and or watching at the moment?
Oooo.. this is tough, I LOVE picking up a book and getting lost reading, I have always been a bit of a bookworm. I recently finished "The Happiest Man on Earth" by Eddie Jaku, followed by Selma Blair's book "Mean Baby" - both very different, however, I thoroughly enjoyed these!
Podcasts I tend to listen to when I am exercising or driving and really enjoy from a learning/business perspective. I have been rotating between;
- Erin Deerings podcast - The Work
- Female Startup Club
- She-talks E-commerce
What is your non-negotiable to switching off and filling your cup?
SUCH a great question! If I am not balanced, I truly believe I am not giving my best to anyone or anything in my life, so this is incredibly important to me, Every day, I like to take a moment to practice gratitude for everything in my life. Outside of this, I like to exercise (practice yoga, pilates or walk) and listen to a good podcast or music to reset.
What’s next for Sontse? Anything you can share with us, and where can we shop the range and find you on socials?
We are in the final stages of planning the soon to be launching next products, which is so exciting! This particular product is a must-have in anyone's sunless tanning routine and a favourite of mine out of the entire range. Whilst we can't reveal too much just yet, I can say it continues the promises from the range in holding integrity of premium ingredients and certifications and will continue our theme of hydration across the range. A few key ingredients are Shea Butter, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera... along with Mandarin Peel, Avocado Oil and Vanilla Extract.. it will leave your skin smooth, soft and hydrated.
Thank you so much for joining me Jayde, I am absolutely loving the Sontse range and would highly recommend it. Excited to see what is next!
Love Hayley x