Meet Kayla Houlihan: Queen of Skincare

There is something about a skincare product. It is a combination of the smell, the texture, the promise of youthful skin – it is alluring! Let’s face it, it is a weakness for many of us. Funnily enough, right next door to the Nerida Hansen Fabrics showroom in Torquay is the headquarters of the booming Australian skincare business, Tribe Skincare.

It only seemed natural for Nerida to introduce herself to her neighbour, Tribe’s savvy director and owner, Kayla Houlihan and suggest the two brands work on a special Mother’s Day collaboration. Fortunately, the two entrepreneurs instantly hit it off – and just like that, they made it happen!Kayla has experienced enormous growth since the launch of Tribe and as a result she has been a hot topic. Recently, she had virtual conversation with our blog editor, Jacqui Taylor and opened up about her ongoing success, her journey thus far and what the future holds for Tribe. 

Hello Kayla, lovely to e-chat. Congratulations on the success of your business, Tribe Skincare. The skincare market is highly competitive, why do you think you’ve done so well? Do you have a winning business formula that you can share? Every business needs their niche, what sets Tribe products a part from other skincare products?
Thank you so much, it's been such a crazy and wonderful journey so far. The success of the business really comes down to the fact it exists to fill a gap in the market, 'skincare for sensitive skin'. Tribe was started out of a clear demand for super gentle skincare for sensitive skin that still achieved amazing results. Once someone finds skincare that they love and works for them, they usually stick with it long term so the business has grown over the years as the loyal customers come back.

Everything is formulated specifically for sensitive skin as well as being all natural, vegan-friendly and made in Australia. Our customers can come to us for any product for their sensitive skin and know that it will be perfect for them with no common allergens or harsh chemicals. 

Backing up a little bit, you launched Tribe in 2017 which happens to be the same year that Nerida started Nerida Hansen Fabrics, it must have been a good year for entrepreneurs. What lead you to launching your own business and where did the name come from?
Oh wow, definitely the year for entrepreneurs! I had a skin clinic in Geelong at the time and so many of our customers had sensitive skin, but we couldn't find the perfect skincare range to recommend to them. This is when I really looked into the industry and noticed the gap. I went over hundreds of possible names at the time with friends and family and as soon as I said 'Tribe Skincare' it just felt right and stuck with me. I love that 'tribe' is an inclusive word to describe a group of people, which was perfect for our community of skincare lovers. 


What about challenges, what have you faced and thought ‘Maybe this is not for me!’?
Surprisingly, I don't think I have ever had this thought with Tribe Skincare. Maybe because I had it so many times with the skin clinic I ran beforehand. The biggest challenge I have had is switching off from work. It's really difficult as a business owner to take time off and when I do, I am usually thinking about work a lot of the time. But I guess it's a good thing that it's my passion and interest as well as a job.  

Talk me through a typical day.
A typical day is hard to describe when every day is quite different. But I am generally at the warehouse/offices most days and spend a lot of time at the computer. My role is 'director' so I spend my time working 'on the business' rather than 'in the business', but a lot of my time is dedicated to new product development. As a young business, we are always working on filling gaps in the range for our customers and improving all aspects of the business where possible. 

Tell me a bit about yourself. What did you do before Tribe and what do you do away from Tribe?
Before Tribe, I was a skin-obsessed beauty therapist and ran a skin clinic in Geelong with my sister. Most of my days were filled performing microdermabrasion facials on clients and helping them achieve their skin goals. 

Outside of Tribe, you can probably find me at the beach with my dog, out at local restaurants or relaxing on the couch at home binge-watching Netflix. 

For Mother’s Day you’ve teamed up with Nerida Hansen Fabrics for a special collaboration, which product is part of the offer? 
Yes, we are so excited about this collaboration with our warehouse neighbours. The product featured is one of our best-sellers, Hydrate Me! Night Moisturiser. It's a great crowd pleaser with a nice mid-weight texture so it absorbs well to deeply hydrate and doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy. 

Which product is your top seller?
The top seller is the Clean Me! Balm Cleanser. It's a unique balmy texture that is very hydrating and calming on your skin. It's very different to most cleansers on the market, but people absolutely love it and love how soft it leaves their skin. 

What about the future, what is next for Tribe?
In 2021, we are working on getting the range 'retail ready' so it can go in stores. We are currently only available online, but we want people to be able to 'touch and feel' to get to know the range. To get 'retail ready' we are going through a complete rebrand. This is to ensure we can translate the brands messages and values through the packaging on a shelf. When you see the brand in three to four months, it will look very different on the outside, but still be the same on the inside.  

To shop the Mother’s Day collaboration visit https://neridahansen.com.au/products/mothers-day-special and follow Tribe Skincare’s ongoing journey at @tribeskincare.