From Launceston market stall to $4m last year, Hayden Brass strikes gold

Hayden Brass, Founder and Managing Director of Zea

Hayden Brass first learnt about Tasmania’s best kept natural secret, the Kunzea plant, as a 13 years old working on his mum and dad’s essential oil stall at Launceston’s Saturday markets – fast forward 14 years, Hayden’s company Zea sold $4 million worth of products in the last 12 months made using the little known Australian plant with therapeutic properties.

With 168% average growth year on year since launching in 2016 and the backing of the country’s leading authorities in native plant extracts and medicinal herbs – Kunzea is now being heralded as the next tea tree oil with global implications for our wellness industry.

What does Zea specialize in?

One specific area is in pain relief, where Zea customers liken it to a natural, skin-friendly alternative to Voltaren or Deep Heat anti-inflammatory gels and creams.

Devotees of Zea Relief Kunzea Pain Relief Cream are so passionate about its ability to treat pain that the brand has already received over 2500+ positive reviews for this product alone, and its sales have grown exponentially since it was first launched almost 5 years ago.

“Kunzea can be identified as one of nature’s most-effective multi-use oils – but it’s only recently that its popularity has taken off,” said founder of Zea, Hayden Brass.

“Working every weekend as a kid on my parent’s market stall, we’d always get one or two Tassie locals asking if we had any products made with Kunzea – some even said it was a ‘wonder oil’. That really piqued our interest and my parents and I investigated its properties and once confirmed, started making wellness products, which they sold at the markets.”

“After finishing Uni, I told dad I wanted to start  a new company dedicated to it – that’s how strongly I believed in its future and its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities. At the age of 24 I launched Australia’s first ever natural personal care range based solely on Kunzea.”

“Although I launched from the bedroom of my sharehouse, the products were developed in conjunction with the country’s top botanical scientists in Kunzea research. From small beginnings big things grew, selling $70,000 in the first year, right up to $4m last 12 months.”

“Kunzea is a cousin of tea tree oil, but we believe it has the potential to be even bigger on the global stage, especially when you consider 3.37 million Australians currently live in pain and spend a total of $144.10 billion each year on pain management,” Hayden said.

“The plant flourishes in Tasmania’s north east and Bass Strait Islands, like Flinders Island, where we source a lot of Kunzea Oil and Honey. The properties of Kunzea oil are similar to tea tree, except it is a non-urgent that has a much milder sensation when applied to the skin”

How legitimate are Kunzea’s benefits?

Backing up the native plant’s benefits is renowned aromatic scientist, formulations chemist and author of “Bush Sense – Australian Essential Oils & Aromatic Compounds”, Mark Webb, Mark is at the forefront of researching Aussie Native Oils, such as Kunzea, so that we learn more about their antibacterial properties, antimicrobial efficacy and anti-inflammatory activity.

“In the late 1990s, I was working in botanicals and a friend suggested I write a book, which has since become the bible to Australia botanicals and their uses,” said Mark Webb.

“Around this time while holidaying in Tasmania, Kunzea oil caught my interest as there had been little research done. I reached out to the distiller and looking at the chemistry of the oil, I realised the potential for Kunzea to become a great treatment in pain management.”

“I started doing some experimental work with scientists in Sydney and there are now many case studies for Kunzea’s success in the treatment of pain management, including in sport injuries and motor neuron disease. There are probably more people in the US and Europe that know and use Kunzea for its aromatic properties than in Australia, it would be great to see Kunzea take off at home and help those who need treatment for pain management.”

What is the market growth rate of Zea?

During Covid, when Australians focused more on their health and supporting local Australian businesses and producers, sales were especially robust for Zea. Annual revenue expanded from $600000 in 2018-19 to $3.2 million during the 2020-21 financial year.

“We are most proud of our Zea Kunzea Pain Relief Cream. It’s our best seller and has been listed on the ARTG as a multi-active anti-inflammatory cream,” said Hayden Brass.

“It combines Kunzea with three well-known natural active ingredients for muscle aches, soreness, mild arthritis and nerve pain. Often people are looking for a natural alternative to big pharma’s Voltaren or Deep Heat, which is why they’ve embraced Kunzea. This product has now received over 2500+ positive reviews from happy clients from around Australia.”

To help Zea Kunzea Pain Relief Cream strengthen its position and tackle the growing need for natural pain management options, the company will undertake a Birchal equity crowdfunding raise – where its loyal customers can buy shares in the company and share in its success.

“Our company’s vision is to improve the quality of life of 10 million people by 2030 – the additional funds will allow us to expand and distribute our Kunzea Pain Relief Cream to more people in need throughout the world with pain-related conditions, and also research and develop new innovative products that contain the natural benefits of the Kunzea bush.”

“There is huge potential in the beauty, personal care and wellness industry. One of the first products lined up in the next 6-12 months is an eczema cream. We are just getting started!”

Zea’s most recent focus has been on sustainability and being a profit-for-purpose business. The company donates 1% of all sales to the planet, and became a Certified B Corporation. This means Zea has met the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.