A Leura small business that began as a home-based operation in Blackheath in 2008 has been short-listed for the prestigious Telstra Australian Business Awards.
iKOU, founded and run by Paul and Naomi Whitfeld, will take on the nation’s best at the awards in the categories of Regional Business of the Year and Small Business of the Year.
From humble beginnings blending bath salts, skin care treatments, herbal teas and natural wax candles in their home studio, the Whitfelds quickly found demand for their products was strong enough to open their own shop in an upstairs space at The Mall in Leura within the first 12 months of establishing the business.
When the shop relocated to a street level premises at The Mall in November 2008, the vision to become one of Australia’s first eco day spas began and production shifted to a small factory in the Upper Mountains using solar and wind power.
Naomi told the Gazette iKOU now makes products for about 500 businesses including the Park Hyatt in Sydney, a resort in the Seychelles Islands and a leading hotel chain in Japan.
“The business outgrew itself as a household-based operation very quickly and we now sell products all over Australia and recently overseas,” she said.
“We always wanted this to be big, but I never realised the power of dreams until they were made a reality.”
She said the driving force behind the brand’s success is passion and a strong sense of ethics.
“It’s easy to know your direction when you love and believe in what you do.
“Decisions become really straightforward as iKOU is based on the principles of being a business that benefits all.
“We source ingredients that come from ethical and animal-friendly sources, support fair trade and charity options and Australian growers.
“Our products encourage people to take a little time out for rest and relaxation in everyday life.”
iKOU is also in the running for the People’s Choice category at the Telstra Australian Business Awards.
For more information, visit www.ikou.com.au.