Connect with us

Business

Founder Friday with Liz Agresta: the secrets to building a $15m beauty empire 

Avatar photo

Published

on

Founder Friday with Liz Agresta: the secrets to building a $15m beauty empire 

Ahead of her first-ever trade show in Italy, entrepreneur Liz Agresta found out that her products were being held up in customs. Undeterred, she went on to present potential buyers with empty labelled bottles filled with water.

“I still recall saying to one of the guys with me, ‘Well, you know, we’ve either hit the nail on the head here or we’ve completely missed the mark’,” she laughed.

Three short years later, her line of self-tanning, sun care, and skincare products Australian Glow is rumoured to be valued at $15 million, with a bottle of her top-rated self-tanning mousse reportedly selling every 70 seconds worldwide.

The inspiration for the beauty brand came from her own skin struggles.

“From my teen years through to my 20s, self-tanning was something I loved to do. But when I turned 30, my sensitive skin started to have a severe reaction to some products,” Liz explained. “I was doing all this to look great and it had the opposite effect.”

She took a deep dive into the sun care and skincare market and realised there was space for an organic self-tanning brand with sustainability at its core.

“We had the idea and then it came to a point where I had to point my money where my mouth was. So I decided to quit my job and make the initial investment of around $25,000 from my own savings.”

Since hitting the shelves in early 2020, Australian Glow can now be found in 15 countries. It has come to be seen as a market leader in sustainable beauty for sensitive skin.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Liz is understandably all smiles when she talks about the “amazing feedback” Australian Glow has received.

 “I think, given the current circumstances, everyone is trying to be sustainable in their approach to everyday life. And to see a beauty brand out there, making big changes and wanting to have an impact, has been really positive for our customers,” she shared.

Going global

Liz understood early on that the Australian self-tanning market was “quite congested.” So instead of going the traditional route, she decided to begin Australian Glow with global trade shows in 2019.

“That’s where the real success came from. We met with lots of major retailers from around the world, lots of distributors who absolutely loved our story,” she revealed.

It was in Bologna, Italy at Cosmoprof, one of the world’s biggest trading shows, that she found herself equipped with only a small suitcase of products. The rest were held up in customs and unlikely to be released in time for the show.

“It was quite embarrassing! I remember feeling so sheepish filling up the bottles with the other stalls watching us. But then, through all three days of the show, our stand ended up getting the most attention and foot traffic.”

Australian Glow was launched in major retailers in March 2020 – in the week lockdowns were implemented around the world.

It was an understandably stressful situation, and one she managed with a baby on the way. Nevertheless, she stayed the course.

“Life’s been very busy! My son was born in May 2020, a few months into the business. But being a mum is my number one priority and I’m lucky to have a lot of family support,” she added. “It’s been an interesting, wild ride the last few years.”

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

READ MORE: Founder Friday: This father-daughter duo is on a quest to improve global health, one person at a time

Source: supplied

Building a sustainable brand

Playing a part in protecting the planet was crucial to this entrepreneur.

Australian Glow was the first tanning brand to make their ingredient list transparent for consumers to know exactly what goes in it.

“Being innovative is what drives me. Australian Glow was also the first tanning brand in the world with sustainable packaging – once you finished your bottle, you could buy a refill sachet that was made from recycled plastic rescued from the ocean.

“We use 80 per cent less plastic on those refill pouches than an actual bottle. It was this attribute that blew the minds of buyers at the first trade show we presented at.”

They will also be switching from using labels to directly printing on the packaging, to make the products more recyclable.

Recently, Australian Glow announced that it would discontinue its facial bronzing mist because “it cannot be made using sustainable packaging.”  

Liz explained, “We are ceasing production of Australian Glow Facial Bronzing Mist despite it being 25 per cent of our sales and it being our #1 product in the USA. Even though our spray uses Bag on Valve technology that is less harmful than other aerosols – it is the right decision if we are to continue as a global leader in sustainable packaging for the beauty industry.

“We don’t want to create any confusion that aerosols of any kind are environment friendly. Aerosols often contain hydrocarbons that contribute to climate change and are found to increase occurrences of cancer and respiratory disorders in humans. Most aerosol cans are also lined with epoxy – a type of plastic that make these cans impossible to recycle. This is against what we stand for.”

Australian Glow products. Source: supplied

Best advice received

For Liz, whose product is now sold around the world through big-name retailers like Macys and Ulta Beauty (US), Priceline (AU), and Superdrug (UK), the best advice she received was to simply “take a step back.”

“Starting out, I felt like I had to say yes to every retailer or distributor who reached out,” she confessed. “I learned to take a step back and really make an informed decision that you’re happy with. It’s not possible to please everybody.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“You may hear the success stories of a business, but behind every story is someone working really, really hard. We make mistakes, we learn along the way, and we get back up every time we’re knocked down.”

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

READ MORE: Founder Friday with Sarah Neill: creating an online fashion community for women

Read More

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Business

Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

Avatar photo

Published

on

Amazon won’t have to pay hundreds of millions in back taxes after winning EU case

LONDON (AP) — Amazon won’t have to pay about 250 million euros ($273 million) in back taxes after European Union judges ruled in favor of the U.S. e-commerce giant Thursday, dealing a defeat to the 27-nation bloc in its efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance.

The ruling by the EU’s top court is final, ending the long-running legal battle over tax arrangements between Amazon and Luxembourg’s government and marking a further setback for a crackdown by antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager.

The Court of Justice backed a 2021 decision by judges in a lower court who sided with Amazon, saying the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, had not proved its case that Amazon received illegal state support.

“The Court of Justice confirms that the Commission has not established that the tax ruling given to Amazon by Luxembourg was a State aid that was incompatible with the internal market” of the EU, the court said in a press release.

Amazon welcomed the ruling, saying it confirms that the company “followed all applicable laws and received no special treatment.”

“We look forward to continuing to focus on delivering for our customers across Europe,” the company said in a statement.

The commission said it “will carefully study the judgment and assess its implications.”

The case dates back to 2017, when Vestager charged Amazon with unfairly profiting from special low tax conditions since 2003 in tiny Luxembourg, where its European headquarters are based. As a result, almost three-quarters of Amazon’s profits in the EU were not taxed, she said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The EU has taken aim at deals between individual countries and companies used to lure foreign multinationals in search of a place to establish their EU headquarters. The practice led to EU states competing with each other and multinationals playing them off one another.

Read More

Continue Reading

Business

Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

Avatar photo

Published

on

Tesla autopilot recalls: 2 million vehicles need to have their defective systems fixed

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla is recalling nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S., more than 2 million, to update software and fix a defective system that’s supposed to ensure drivers are paying attention when using Autopilot.

Documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators say the update will increase warnings and alerts to drivers and even limit the areas where basic versions of Autopilot can operate.

The recall comes after a two-year investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a series of crashes that happened while the Autopilot partially automated driving system was in use. Some were deadly.

The agency says its investigation found Autopilot’s method of making sure that drivers are paying attention can be inadequate and can lead to “foreseeable misuse of the system.”

The added controls and alerts will “further encourage the driver to adhere to their continuous driving responsibility,” the documents said.

But safety experts said that, while the recall is a good step, it still makes the driver responsible and doesn’t fix the underlying problem that Tesla’s automated systems have with spotting and stopping for obstacles in their path.

The recall covers models Y, S, 3 and X produced between Oct. 5, 2012, and Dec. 7 of this year. The update was to be sent to certain affected vehicles on Tuesday, with the rest getting it later.

Shares of Tesla slid more than 3% in earlier trading Wednesday but recovered amid a broad stock market rally to end the day up 1%.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The attempt to address the flaws in Autopilot seemed like a case of too little, too late to Dillon Angulo, who was seriously injured in 2019 crash involving a Tesla that was using the technology along a rural stretch of Florida highway where the software isn’t supposed to be deployed.

“This technology is not safe, we have to get it off the road,” said Angulo, who is suing Tesla as he recovers from injuries that included brain trauma and broken bones. “The government has to do something about it. We can’t be experimenting like this.”

Autopilot includes features called Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control, with Autosteer intended for use on limited access freeways when it’s not operating with a more sophisticated feature called Autosteer on City Streets.

The software update will limit where Autosteer can be used. “If the driver attempts to engage Autosteer when conditions are not met for engagement, the feature will alert the driver it is unavailable through visual and audible alerts, and Autosteer will not engage,” the recall documents said.

Depending on a Tesla’s hardware, the added controls include “increasing prominence” of visual alerts, simplifying how Autosteer is turned on and off, and additional checks on whether Autosteer is being used outside of controlled access roads and when approaching traffic control devices. A driver could be suspended from using Autosteer if they repeatedly fail “to demonstrate continuous and sustained driving responsibility,” the documents say.

According to recall documents, agency investigators met with Tesla starting in October to explain “tentative conclusions” about the fixing the monitoring system. Tesla did not concur with NHTSA’s analysis but agreed to the recall on Dec. 5 in an effort to resolve the investigation.

Auto safety advocates for years have been calling for stronger regulation of the driver monitoring system, which mainly detects whether a driver’s hands are on the steering wheel. They have called for cameras to make sure a driver is paying attention, which are used by other automakers with similar systems.

Philip Koopman, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University who studies autonomous vehicle safety, called the software update a compromise that doesn’t address a lack of night vision cameras to watch drivers’ eyes, as well as Teslas failing to spot and stop for obstacles.

“The compromise is disappointing because it does not fix the problem that the older cars do not have adequate hardware for driver monitoring,” Koopman said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Koopman and Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, contend that crashing into emergency vehicles is a safety defect that isn’t addressed. “It’s not digging at the root of what the investigation is looking at,” Brooks said. “It’s not answering the question of why are Teslas on Autopilot not detecting and responding to emergency activity?”

Koopman said NHTSA apparently decided that the software change was the most it could get from the company, “and the benefits of doing this now outweigh the costs of spending another year wrangling with Tesla.”

In its statement Wednesday, NHTSA said the investigation remains open “as we monitor the efficacy of Tesla’s remedies and continue to work with the automaker to ensure the highest level of safety.”

Autopilot can steer, accelerate and brake automatically in its lane, but is a driver-assist system and cannot drive itself, despite its name. Independent tests have found that the monitoring system is easy to fool, so much that drivers have been caught while driving drunk or even sitting in the back seat.

In its defect report filed with the safety agency, Tesla said Autopilot’s controls “may not be sufficient to prevent driver misuse.”

A message was left early Wednesday seeking further comment from the Austin, Texas, company.

Tesla says on its website that Autopilot and a more sophisticated Full Self Driving system are meant to help drivers who have to be ready to intervene at all times. Full Self Driving is being tested by Tesla owners on public roads.

In a statement posted Monday on X, formerly Twitter, Tesla said safety is stronger when Autopilot is engaged.

NHTSA has dispatched investigators to 35 Tesla crashes since 2016 in which the agency suspects the vehicles were running on an automated system. At least 17 people have been killed.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The investigations are part of a larger probe by the NHTSA into multiple instances of Teslas using Autopilot crashing into emergency vehicles. NHTSA has become more aggressive in pursuing safety problems with Teslas, including a recall of Full Self Driving software.

In May, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose department includes NHTSA, said Tesla shouldn’t be calling the system Autopilot because it can’t drive itself.

—-

AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story.

Read More

Continue Reading

Business

Why Was Sam Altman Fired? Possible Ties to China D2 (Double Dragon) Data from Hackers

Avatar photo

Published

on

Theories are going around the internet why Sam Altman was fired. On an insider tech forum (Blind) – one person claims to know by third-hand account and how this news will trickle into the media over the next couple of weeks.

It’s said OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models, which includes GPT-4. This data was obtained through a hidden business contract with a D2 shell company called Whitefly, which was based in Singapore. This D2 group has the largest and biggest crawling/indexing/scanning capacity in the world 10x more than Alphabet Inc (Google), hence the deal so Open AI could get their hands on vast quantities of data for training after exhausting their other options.

The Chinese government became aware of this arrangement and raised concerns with the Biden administration. As a result, the NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed that OpenAI had been using data from D2. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, which is a major investor in OpenAI, was informed of the findings and ordered Altman’s removal.

There was also suggestion that Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board. This lack of candor ultimately led to his dismissal and is what the board publicly alluded to when they said “not consistently candid in his communications with the board.”

To summarize what happened with Sam Altman’s firing:

1. Sam Altman was removed from OpenAI due to his ties to a Chinese cyber army group.

2.OpenAI had been using data from D2 to train its AI models.

3. The Chinese government raised concerns about this arrangement with the Biden administration.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

4. The NSA launched an investigation, which confirmed OpenAI’s use of D2 data.

5. Satya Nadella ordered Altman’s removal after being informed of the findings.

6. Altman refused to disclose this information to the OpenAI board.

 

We’ll see in the next couple of weeks if this story holds up or not.

Continue Reading