Uncovering the secret to success: Native ingredients and local partnerships

In 2014, Phil and Cherie Thompson established Native Secrets, determined to share the secrets of one of the oldest cultures in existence with the world.

An Aboriginal man of Bidjara-Kara Kara descent from central western Queensland, Thompson said, “We started Native Secrets to uncover some of the secrets of the flora and fauna of our great country. There are some great medicinal plants and some great bush tuckers, but we’ve never really done anything with these on a commercial scale. We’re proud to bring generations of knowledge of medicinal plants into homes around the world through our natural skin care range.”

“For over 50,000 years’ Aboriginal people have used native plants for healing. Eucalyptus leaves can be infused to treat fevers and chills. Tea tree oil is a powerful antiseptic. And a range of native plants, from Gumby and White Cypress through to Quandong and Gideya heal the skin naturally, helping alleviate skin disorders like eczema, acne and psoriasis,” said Thompson.

Despite origins rooted in over 50,000 years of history, Thompson understands that it is only through a collaborative, diverse network of partners that Native Secrets can succeed.

“We’re working closely with SMaRT@UNSW (the Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre at the University of New South Wales). SMaRT@UNSW is undertaking some testing for us on the use of biowaste to manufacture building panels. Led by Professor Veena Sahajwalla, their team is adding high-grade plastics to our biowaste to make building panels in a micro-factory. Eventually, if the project proves to be successful, we’ll set up a micro-factory on-site at our existing facility in Dubbo. We’ll manufacture the building panels ourselves.”

“The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre facilitated this partnership with SMaRT@UNSW for us. Native Secrets is really excited about the opportunity—it offers an environmentally and economically sustainable recycling solution for our biowaste. We’re literally turning our rubbish into a commercially viable product,” said Thompson.

“Another of our major partners is Qantas. At the moment, we supply their delayed luggage kits for international flights. Next, we will have a presence in their online store and be a part of their frequent flyer catalogue. We also participate in market days at their head office in Mascot, which Qantas run as a benefit to their 4,000 staff that work in the office. This is a great opportunity for us—not just to make sales—but to stay visible with the organisation.”

“Qantas is obviously a very important partner to our business. It gives us some credibility and a belief in ourselves that what we are actually doing can become sustainable one day. The exposure that Qantas is giving us and will continue to give us is priceless. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to work with such a large Australian company.”

“Our biggest partner at the moment is Native Oils Australia. They carry out all the testing of our oils and help us develop our skincare range. While we had expertise in the healing power of native plants, and knew what we wanted to achieve, we needed advice on product formulation, manufacturing and improvement. That’s where Native Oils Australia comes in,” said Thompson.

Native Secrets is proactively engaged with research and education partners, commercial allies equipped with problem solving and technical capabilities, and a major Australian company willing to invest in a superior quality local manufacturer. Focused on collaboration, Native Secrets is developing innovative ways to combine its 50,000 year heritage and focus on natural ingredients with sustainable waste management and a diversified supply chain. The result? A strong, robust future.