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Meet the Australian inventor creating luxury mittens
Fri 31 August 2018 - 4:04 pmEntrepreneur | Featured
When Fiona Theodoropoulos was growing up, Turkish exfoliating mitts were the norm. It was only when she was an adult that she realised that most of the world didn’t know about the power of deep exfoliation, and she set out to change this.
“I’ve created Mitten exfoliating mitts as a way to sharing the benefits of Turkish bathing with the rest of the world and into the comfort of people’s homes,” Theodoropoulos said.
“Turkish hammams are a truly special experience, and it’s my hope that by bringing some of the magic of those hammams into people’s homes, we’ll start to connect people across the globe through shared skincare rituals.”
So what are Hammams? Turkish Hammams are one of the oldest bathing rituals in the world. Through alternating between hot, warm, and cold water, hammams encourage detoxification through sweating and reinvigorate the skin and body through exposure to cold water.
Mitten’s range of mitts are never tested on animals and come in a range of intensities to suit every skin type.
“It’s my hope that by going back to these ancient skincare rituals which are highly effective, we can create shared experiences, reduce the level of product we use on our bodies and in the process care for ourselves and the planet,” she said.
Dynamic Business had a chat to Theodoropoulos to find out more about her business.
Theodoropoulos’ inspiration for Mitten started when she couldn’t find a Turkish Bath Exfoliating Mitt that performed peeling of dead skin cells in the shower. Deciding on starting up the business was the most challenging decision the founder had to make as she did not know much about the textile industry and where she would find a manufacturer.
“I attended many Textile expos in Australia and explored many options in China but could not find any manufacturers that could produce the weaving I required and ventured off to Turkey,” she said.
“Our inspiration for our brand name came after months of searching for the right brand message. In the end we felt that the name Mitten was suitable as our products are a Mitten! We have also been lucky enough to have it registered as Trademark.”
Initially it was very hard to find the right manufacturer in Turkey. After many google searches, the founder found a handful of manufacturers that could produce custom Turkish bath exfoliating mitt however the biggest challenge was to find a manufacturer that did not mass produce and could produce the specific weaves as the business required.
“After months of testing and trialling every Turkish bath exfoliating mitt in the marketplace we located a manufacturer that could produce the specific weaves we required,” she said.
“However even after finding a manufacturer to work with crafting these exfoliating mitts are a very complex process and we fly over to Turkey often to ensure our products are produced to exact sample specifications. Every run we do is fully tested for two weeks prior to completing production to ensure our exfoliating mitts deliver our brand promise.”
Being so passionate about Mitten, Theodoropoulos self funded her dream through a homeloan.
“Running a full time start-up business and being a full time mum, really does come with knowing how to prioritise. Support is very important when building your dream and my husband Con has always been there for me from day 1, cheering me on when things don’t go to plan,” she said.
“He is the backbone in our business and takes on a lot of the chores I can’t get around too and makes extra time with our daughter Mikaila who is 9. I always try and make up for any loss of time with my daughter though as I believe it’s important to include her as part of our business as much as possible, whether it be photo shoots, testing packaging and products or just coming along to business meetings, which happens a lot over the school holidays.”
Theodoropoulos’ mission for Mitten is for it to become a global brand.
“Australia has such a great relationship with China and I felt that China would be great starting point in taking the brand offshore,” she said.
“Deep exfoliation is also a commonly used treatment in Chinese Public Baths and I felt that Chinese consumers who live in big cities where Public Baths are not available could also benefit from performing a deep exfoliation treatment in their comfort of their homes.”
Theodoropoulos top tips are:
Having enough cashflow is a must. There is so much that creeps up when starting out. Having a great idea is not enough as most of the funds initially are consumed up with product development and setting up the business. My biggest tip would be to find a good team you can work with and outsource as much as possible. Initially, we couldn’t partner with agencies to outsource a lot of the work and used many different freelancers for a lot of our design work. I would also have to add be resilient and never give up, no one day is the same and be flexible and don’t take knock backs personally and surround yourself with good business networks that can provide you with support. I believe the universe has a big plan for all of us, but you need to work hard at it and get out there and talk to as many people as possible. Don’t expect miracles overnight, have a good plan and take time to execute it properly. Understand what you stand for and be clear about your message or what problem it is you are trying to solve.
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