Dads, Daughters & Desert
From one beloved sister to another comes a serum to heal and the legacy of one who saw her suffering and was inspired by nature to ease this.
As a teenager, Kate Gullifer endured acne and rosacea. She wasn’t alone - a number of her friends also battled with these conditions, turning to any number of peels and products to combat the discomfort and redness. Witnessing her cycle through these products without much success, Amy, a biochemist, turned to three basic ingredients to resolve her sister’s discomfort, creating a range that she originally christened Sister Skincare.
Kate is now continuing the range which Amy was in the process of converting to Arid Skincare when she sadly passed away in February 2022 after a battle with the breast cancer gene that her sister has also inherited. As Kate talks through the range and her quest to preserve her sister’s passion, it's not without emotion, and there are tears as she describes both Amy and the origins of the products that she created.
Inspired by Amy’s love of the Outback, the range is a homage to the dry conditions of the Australian landscape and its evocative scent. “The more country, the better,” Kate says of Amy’s vision.
That love of the Outback was a product of iconic “dads, daughters and desert” trips that became a tradition of their family and friends. “One of our trips was to the Simpson Desert, and Amy really connected to this, the cutting off from the world and taking in the landscape and family time, appreciating what we have in our own backyard, thousands of kilometres away.”
Underpinned by the foundation of cruelty-free, organic, Australian-made and natural ingredients, Kate’s goal is for the range to be distributed across Australia and fulfil an identity of gender-neutral, dispelling the myth that skincare is only the concern of women.
It’s a deeply personal quest as Kate’s experience of the teen problems that inspired the range are never far away, and that’s something she shares with a number of her friends. Fortunately, Amy’s formula worked so well that she was able to share it with Kate’s rugby teammates, who experienced similar conditions. In fact, this drive to help others was an integral part of Amy’s makeup, Kate says, and this is still powerfully felt in her own use of the range. “I had horrific skin as a teenager, and they couldn’t find any local products that were easy to access. I was using things like peels that were really harsh on my skin. With Amy being a biochemist, she was able to nail every product.”
Kate describes Arid as “a whole range dedicated to repairing and restoring and assisting people with redness and anti-ageing.” There are three pillars to the range - jojoba oil, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid (which might sound alarming but is present in our bodies).
“The organic and natural products have definitely worked for me. I can’t pick the time that it wants to flare up. It’s like I can’t control it, but with Arid’s products, I can. I haven’t had rosacea for six to 12 months. It’s keeping mine at bay. It’s comfortable, it’s not going to flare up. The jojoba oil has really helped me,” she says, as has the addition of various ingredients, such as lavender, to manage sleep.
Amy and Kate’s awareness of the benefits of the range for men influenced the rebranding from Sister Skincare to Arid Skincare, and this process was underway when Amy’s cancer took hold. It’s admirable to see the perseverance to carry on the heritage of a sister whose vision extended to encouraging males to look to the range as a way to address their own skin issues, hence the change to Arid. “I think it’s known as a girly thing to have skincare and do skincare, so that’s what motivated the swap.”
It’s even more of a wonder to witness the fulfilment of this process, given that throughout, Kate has had her own confrontation with cancer. When Downtown spoke to her, she was preparing for a follow-up round of preventative surgery. “Amy and I have the same BRCA1 mutation gene,” she says.
Perhaps that resilience of spirit emerges because family connection permeates the range begun by their beloved Amy. Kate laughs when she details the current operation of the company. Whilst the bulk of the skincare range, 20 products in all, is bottled in Brisbane, “there are some products that we fill at home ourselves”, creating a new take on the home office with their home laboratory which is “staffed” by Kate’s younger sister and parents. “We sit down at the kitchen table and pack orders and label or fill. “I’m currently taking over two-thirds of their house.”
“It’s been a long road rebranding since she passed away,” there’s a whole lot of hurdles to jump over. It’s finally here,” she says.
There’s true beauty in the bravery of Kate, keeping her sister close by ensuring the brand endures. In continuing the range, as emotionally difficult as it is, Kate says she is able to ensure Amy’s son, Wesley, only a toddler at the time of his mother’s death, learns the generosity of his mother’s spirit. “In passing on her legacy, we are letting him know what she did for other people,” she says.
Em Wollen Creative