Put simply, Melbournians love their homes. I can confidently speak on behalf of anyone here who gets a kick out of styling their home that they know about and love Murchison Hume. We just get it and we’re so happy that there is a luxury boutique-cleaning product that exists and also doesn’t break the bank.
We just adore the Murchison Hume packaging and design. It’s classically beautiful and instantly is at one with its environment in the kitchen, powder room, bathroom or laundry. No need to hide your cleaning products under the sink anymore, because yours are an elegant interior statement in themselves.
MK: Thank you! I designed this product for people like you, who want something safe + effective to clean, but also want it to look good enough to leave out on the bench.
Was it a long process or did you always have a clear vision for how it would look? (Let’s just say we can tell you’re an ex fashion/beauty editor)
MK: Very long! It took me almost four years to finally perfect the formulas and bring Murchison-Hume to market. I had two small children when we started, so could really only work at night and during naptimes, so it was a very slow process. Looking back, I should have probably invested in a Nanny!
Tell us a little bit behind the branding?
MK: I have to confess that the branding wasn’t really all that strategic; I just made something that I liked! I happen to collect those old-fashioned, amber glass apothecary bottles, so once I realised that you could get the same style in recyclable PET plastic, I thought, “ Yes! These look cool.” Plus, the darker color has the added benefit of protecting the formula. It works like a natural sunscreen, protecting the essential oil component inside.
Your products aren’t just a pretty face, they offer unsurpassed convenience too. Not only do they get all the cleaning jobs done with ease, but they are gentle and plant based (yay no nasties) meaning they won’t irritate people who have sensitive skin & tendencies to have allergic reactions. Can you tell us a bit about how Murchison Hume came to be and why they’re so safe to use compared to traditional cleaning products…
MK: Honestly, I never even intended to start a business. When my youngest son, Charlie was diagnosed with allergic sensitivities to most common household cleaners, I needed to swap out the supermarket stuff for something cleaner. I started shopping locally. I tried EVERYTHING. Nothing worked well or smelled right and everything was just orange-yuk, or didn’t work and was totally depressing. Frustrated, I resorted to importing Mrs Meyers and Method from the US. Although “natural,” a lot of them had such a huge fragrance load, that it made his allergies worse. That’s when I decided to make my own. I started with baking soda, vinegar and lemons, but that meant I had to make them fresh every time I wanted to clean. No thank you! That’s a bit like making your own dog food. It seems like a good idea, but who has the time? After a year of searching, I found an organic chemist who introduced me to plant-based surfactants. Although sold only in large, industrial jerry cans, I found that they cleaned better than anything I’d ever tried without the squeezing lemons or the pickle/vinegar smells. I started bottling my own at home and that’s how we started.
What are your most popular products?
MK: Boys’ Bathroom Cleaner and our All-Purpose Counter cleaner followed by hand soap and dish soap. I think people buy is first for the packaging, but they come back because we actually work!
So we now know your products not only look good, are safe to use & actually do an amazing job at cleaning. But now onto the incredible smell. This part deserves a question all to itself. Unlike traditional cleaning products which have that piercingly harsh chemical fragrance- yours reminds me of an expensive room diffuser or a beautiful body cream product. You’ve pushed the boundaries of the cleaning product world and made your own rules. You have two fragrances, Australian White Grapefruit & Original Fig (my personal fave)...what does the future look like for Murchison Hume, would you like to introduce a third fragrance?
MK: Exactly. Why can’t cleaning products smell like a sophisticated fragrance? Once I realised that I’d been brainwashed by big chemical companies to associate “clean” with toxic fumes like bleach, ammonia and (ugh) fake pine, it all clicked into place for me. If I’m going to have a fragrance, I want it to smell like an expensive scented candle, not fake citrus! We use premium ingredients and cosmetic grade fragrances in all of our products. We don’t skimp and you can tell the difference right away. Australian White Grapefruit has always been our best seller, but that OG Fig is amazing. And yes, we are trialling an amazing new fragrance right now…watch this space!
Here at RH Brunswick, we admire strong women like you. Always staying true to your brand, you’re a loving mother and entrepreneurial business woman. It takes incredible strength, constant determination, passion and sacrifice to bring up a humble brand into being stocked in 16 countries, most major department & homewares stores… What advice do you have for mums out there who want to start something of their own like you did? What have you learnt along the way?
MK: Write a business plan! I am sort of an “accidental entrepreneur,” but if, like me, you’ve identified a gap in the market, or you can improve on an existing product or service, that’s the first step! But, the important next step is to write it all out: How you will make it, market it and sell it? Who is your target customer and how can you scale your business? These are the big questions I had to learn on the fly. My second most important bit of advice is simply to know this: You can’t do it all. Nobody can. Get some help! A partner, an assistant, even a babysitter, whatever. An extra pair of hands in the form of a trusted sibling, friend or spouse can help you in myriad ways (even if it’s just to bounce ideas off of and pick up some takeaway for dinner). Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of maturity and allows you to concentrate on the things you CAN manage yourself. And don’t give up! You will get knocked down. The trick is to learn from your trials, dust yourself off and get back out there. Get some good help and get going. You can do this! The main thing is just to start.
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