Two best friends who created a fake tan removal glove based on an ancient Turkish bathing ritual have made upwards of $33,000 in the past month.
After learning about the exfoliating benefits of the ‘kese mitt’ in the grand bazaar of Istanbul in June 2019, Catie O’Neill, 25, returned to the Yarra Valley, one hour’s drive north-east of Melbourne, to quit her job in marketing and start a skincare business.
A kese mitt is a delicate glove used to remove dead skin in a hammam, a Middle Eastern steam room and bath. It’s specially woven to suit dry, sensitive complexions.
Joined by schoolmate Olivia Burrows, 26, Ms O’Neil set up an office in her father’s garden shed and travelled back and forth to Turkey where she found a small textile factory in the country’s northwest to weave the mitts from 100 percent silk.
The $34.95 ‘My Glow 2’ exfoliating glove launched in November 2019, and since then the childhood pals have been earning an average of $26,665 a month – putting them on track to turn over $320,000 inside their first year of trading.
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Childhood friends Olivia Burrows (left) ad Catie O’Neill (right) who launched a silk fake tan removal glove based on an ancient Turkish bathing ritual and now make $33,000 a month
Daily Mail Australia has verified this figure from the company’s financial statements.
Ms O’Neill was browsing markets in on holiday in central Istanbul when she met the owner of a fabric store who convinced her to buy a kese mitt.
Astounded by the effects which left her skin smooth, supple and silky soft, she brought a glove home for Ms Burrows to try for herself.
‘I didn’t think I had that much dead skin, but it literally came off in front of my eyes,’ Ms O’Neill recalled.
‘Olivia had keratosis pilaris [a condition where the skin produces too much of a protein called keratin, blocking hair follicles and causing lumps to develop] on her chest and arms and it completely removed the bumps and redness.’
The exfoliating glove which gently sloughs off fake tan and dead skin in seconds
A customer’s fake tanned leg before (left) and after (right) being scrubbed with the $34.95 ‘My Glow 2’ glove
A product description on the brand’s website claims the glove naturally and easily removes fake tan and reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and cellulite, making skin look younger.
It also promises to prevent ingrown hair and lessen the severity of scarring and stretch marks.
Customer videos posted on Instagram show the glove in action, lifting scaly fake tan and dry skin off in a single movement.
‘It wasn’t widely known in Australia or the US so we just said let’s give this a go after seeing the results ourselves,’ said Ms Burrows.
‘The Turkish approach to beauty is ritualistic, almost orgasmic – it’s a slower, more thoughtful process, a time to reconnect the mind and the body.’
That ethos is resonating with health and environmentally conscious consumers as a growing number gravitate towards ‘natural’ cosmetic alternatives.
‘Girls have responded so well. There’s a huge market for the removal of fake tan without chemicals,’ Ms O’Neill said.
A customer holds the My Glow 2 glove in an Instagram photo, captioned: ‘Wow, this is a game changer!’
Before (left) and after (right) exfoliating with the Turkish-inspired silk mitt
Demand may be there, but the girls are facing a logistical nightmare with Melburnians corralled in stage three lockdown for at least another three weeks to curb soaring infection rates in the virus-stricken state.
How to use a My Glow 2 exfoliating glove
1. Soak in the bath or shower for five to 10 minutes until skin is soft.
2. Step out of the water and gently rub the glove over your body in sweeping circulation motions. It needs friction to work, so the glove itself should be dry.
3. Rinse exfoliated skin and wash the glove in natural soap.
4. Moisturise as normal.
Still, My Glow 2 is among the few Victorian businesses at the epicentre of Australia’s second wave likely to benefit from the draconian measures, if online sales from the first phase of isolation are anything to go by.
Shoppers became beauty obsessed during quarantine from March to May, with department store Myer reporting a 520 percent increase in beauty product sales and a 600 percent rise in skincare purchases year-on-year from 2019 to 2020.
Cosmetics website Adore Beauty saw a 61.2 percent increase in sales of face masks and a 62.7 percent in sales of exfoliators between March and April.
Social media has been the biggest driver of the girls’ financial success, chiefly TikTok which they say has generated ‘exponential’ growth since May.
‘It’s really exploded’ said Ms O’Neill.
The girls have forged lucrative partnerships with some of Australia and Britain’s biggest influencers, with Melbourne’s Shani Grimmond and Love Island UK’s Malin Anderson both endorsing the glove to their combined following of almost 2 million.
‘Sales have fluctuated depending on who we’ve worked with, but Instagram has been a huge part of our story,’ Ms Burrows said.
‘We wanted to collaborate with people who were aligned with the natural beauty approach.’
However the past six months have not been without challenges.
Influencers hold ‘My Glow 2’ packaging in a promotional shot for Instagram
Coronavirus restrictions have disrupted the European supply chain, leaving the girls without products they had hoped to launch during winter.
‘COVID has definitely delayed a lot of our plans, but we hope to be expanding by the end of the year,’ Ms Burrows said.
‘Generally we’ve been one of the lucky ones, it’s had such a positive impact on us [in terms of online sales].’
They’ve been sold out for weeks, with a restock scheduled for mid-August, shipping delays notwithstanding.
The business partners are currently working on a wider range of tools inspired by ancient beauty treatments from Egypt and Japan, with sights set on a collection made from native Australian botanicals in the near future.