Photo: Bali Secrets.
A shared frustration of not being able to find a decent natural deodorant became the foundation for vegan beauty and deodorant brand Bali Secrets. In 2015, four friends, Martin Leitner, Katharina Mocharitsch, Giles Fabris and Merav Knafo, started Bali Secrets in order to make their own natural deodorants that could stand up to the tropical Bali weather. The brand launched with just natural deodorants, but today they also produce natural soaps and body scrubs. All of their products use minimal ingredients that are sourced sustainably from and near Bali.
We recently caught up with Katharina Mocharitsch, CEO and Co-founder of Bali Secrets. When Bali Secrets launched in 2015, Katharina and Martin were based out of Bali, working remotely with diverse international SMBs and individuals. Their work revolved around helping others to run or build their businesses in a 'purpose-driven' way, with integrity and ethical values. This became a backdrop to start their own business along with Giles and Merav.
What's the story behind Bali Secrets?
It all started on – you probably guessed it – the tropical island of Bali. So the search began for a deodorant formula that did its job in the tropical heat of Bali and was produced ethically using purely natural ingredients. Another chance encounter brought us together with a Balinese family who soon became part of our team. Then, with the help of generations of knowledge and gardens full of rich plants, the magic started to unfold. After several months in the making, we finally had a reliable formula produced in a friendly and caring work environment. This was the start of a journey beyond our control.
We started with natural deodorants, and later on, we added the Castile soaps and natural body scrubs. Since we had to build everything from scratch (find the right suppliers, develop the formulas, set up the whole business etc) we thought of starting with an easier solution for the logistics part, so at first, we chose to sell through Amazon, which already had the whole system in place.
It was an intense few months, and before we knew it, by September 2015, our deodorant was available on Amazon and accessible to millions of people. Less than 2 years later, it became the number 1 bestseller in the deodorant category on Amazon! We were amazed to watch our little company grow from nothing, with no previous hands-on experience in developing and selling a physical product.
Photo: Bali Secrets.
What makes Bali Secrets so unique?
Of course, it’s the quality of the product and the high standards that we apply throughout all the production processes. But it’s more than that. Before becoming business owners, we were simply customers ourselves. That’s what we started with, the mindset of a conscious customer. We wanted a product that we love to use ourselves and would feel proud to recommend to our friends and family. And we wanted a customer experience that we ourselves would enjoy when purchasing something.
We based our whole brand identity on that. If we desire the highest quality product, then Bali Secrets will offer nothing less than that. And if we want to be treated as customers with kindness and respect, with an empathetic and solution-oriented approach, we’re doing our best to offer exactly that. We take customer service as a high priority. We go the extra mile because it gives us the joy to do it. We’re not a corporation; we’re a small business run by very passionate and flexible people.
Also, one of our core principles is to create win-win solutions for everyone. We have had reverse negotiations with our Balinese partners when we thought the price was too low. Fairness, respect and kindness are very important to us and this happens to attract amazing people to work with.
Can you walk us through the sourcing of the ingredients and sustainability factor of your brand?
Our products are made of all-natural and organic ingredients. We like to keep things simple—the base formula for our natural deodorant consists of only 6 ingredients. That makes it relatively easy to find most of the ingredients locally in Bali or the neighboring islands. We work with small farmers who understand our needs and offer the best quality. For example, we get our aloe vera directly from the backyard of our main supplier here in Bali, while the seaweed is sourced from neighboring Lombok.
Moreover, our products are vegan and animal cruelty-free, and we try to use as little packaging as possible, as well as recyclable materials when available. We’re constantly trying to come up with solutions that aim at reducing the use of plastic and, in this regard, we have big news that we’re very excited about. We’ll tell you more later this year!
You currently have three product ranges. Are you planning to expand your range?
Our general motto is “less is more”. We are of the opinion that it’s better to do one thing (or three things) very well than 20 that come out average. This being said, we don’t eliminate the idea of developing new products but the time hasn’t come just yet. However, we have more exciting new developments in the pipeline, which we will launch in the next 6-12 months.
Photo by @preethiness of Natura Deodrant from Bali Secrets.
How do you see the vegan, cruelty-free beauty industry grow?
I believe a natural, vegan and cruelty-free mindset is the future. The fact that P&G and Unilever spent hundreds of millions to buy alternative, natural brands says everything about the market. Customers vote with their money and they are clearly saying what they want.
What does the future hold?
Lots of fun! And new expressions of our guiding principles of kindness and respect. Recently, we changed our tagline to “Celebrate Every Body”, which is an inclusive, positive approach we want to share more about. We'd like to challenge the often narrow and normative narrative of the beauty industry. Of course, we will also keep sharing high-quality beauty and personal care products, but it’s equally important to share our message and values of inclusion and celebration.
We also have a roadmap of reducing packaging, and we're working to become a plastic-free brand within the next few years. Last but not least, we want to spread the love we ourselves feel for this endeavor, our products, our team, and the island of Bali, and for life itself.
Everything else is a lesson in surrender. So we’ve always viewed Bali Secrets as a garden, with its own intelligence to grow and expand, while we are the gardeners, putting our best efforts and our love into it.
Lastly, where can we find Bali Secrets products?