$20m beauty empire we’ve never heard of
WHEN Zvonko Jordanov started his own tiny cosmetics company with just $10,000, he never imagined it would become a global smash hit.
The Sydney man, who arrived in Australia back in 1991 from Macedonia, launched G & M Cosmetics just five years later after first working in a small cosmetics factory for several years.
Named after his children, George and Maria, G & M Cosmetics started with just one production line and five products.
But today that has expanded to 60 skincare products, with the company's factory in Taren Point in Sydney now able to produce more than 150,000 units per day.
Last financial year, the company turned over around $20 million after selling more than 10 million products worldwide.
And according to Mr Jordanov, much of that incredible success comes down to one savvy marketing move.
Years ago, he realised many other skincare products on the market tended to focus on brand names with only one or two ingredients labelled clearly.
So Mr Jordanov, who always used a slew of natural, Australian ingredients such as eucalyptus, lanolin, Emu oil, macadamia and Tea Tree oils and Kakadu plum, decided to make those ingredients front and centre on his packaging.
Eventually, he noticed something interesting - they were a hit with the many Chinese students who were studying in Australia during the noughties who began stocking up on the Australian-themed gifts to give to their families back home.
Those young people became "unofficial G & M ambassadors" as they flocked to the "practical and inexpensive" products, with most selling for $5 or under.
Soon, they were being snapped up by Chinese people in Australia and re-sold in China - and as Mr Jordanov told news.com.au, those people became some of the country's "first daigous".
"We've been exporting directly to China for the last six or seven years and we have had a much bigger turnover," he said.
But he said there had been more than a few headaches along the way.
"When we started to grow, of course there were problems with companies copying our products - in China there were big problems with companies making exact replicas of our products with the same name and everything," he said.
"Thousands and thousands of products were exported from China with our name and there was a similar problem here with some of the big names copying us.
"I never expected selling at that low price that someone would do that."
But G & M Cosmetics persevered, and last year it was named as the most trusted Australian brand in China by a Monash University survey - beating other big names like Jurlique and Coles.
Mr Jordanov said in addition to the certified organic company's trademark natural ingredients, the other main point of difference that made it a standout success was "value for money", with consumers more likely to use products that are less than $5 much more "generously" than pricier options.
But in the end, Mr Jordanov said his success came down to his decision to settle in the "best country" - Australia.
He said living in a "free" and "nice" country had allowed him to succeed.
G & M Cosmetics products are available from stores across Australia including Coles, Target, Big W and IGA as well as some pharmacies and health stores.