When local Brisbane beauty therapist Fiona Neale was living abroad in the UK, a range of revolutionary brushes caught her eye.
Like nothing else in the industry – these professional brushes demanded attention with ergonomically engineered solid aluminum handles, and stunning natural bristles. They were already a Hollywood cult-favourite, used by A-Listers like Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen, Chloe Sevigny, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Watts and that’s just to name a few! The Brushes had also been used on film sets like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Moulin Rouge and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. The quality and international stature of these state-of-the-art brushes amazed Fiona. She then discovered they were made in her home town of Brisbane, Australia!
Fiona had accepted a prestigious position running the Hair and Beauty Department of the Virgin Atlantic Lounge in London. While tending to the tresses and complexions of dozens of international celebs, and working under Richard Branson, Fiona honed her natural business skills and returned to Australian shores fueled with ideas. She purchased the Issada brush company, and discovered a pressing industry demand to follow through with an Issada colour cosmetic range. This need was expressed particularly by celebrity makeup artists and skin care professionals who demanded a range of cosmetics that treated the skin.
Fiona was committed to creating a professional quality colour range suitable for her celebrity makeup artist clientele, already brush devotees. Because of Fiona’s background and passion for skin health, she also wanted the brand to be salon, spa and clinic-exclusive, with a combination of treatment makeup and also a mineral range all under the Issada brand. Up until the conception of Issada Cosmetics, skin-caring makeup tended to sacrifice strong, lasting pigments and professional photographic finish. This gap in the market meant that if Fiona wanted to have both professional quality pigments and skin-caring ingredients in a makeup range, she would have to create it herself! To successfully combine the two elements of Fiona’s dream range, endless research was required. She worked tirelessly with scientists and makeup experts in Australia and overseas, refusing to compromise on the perfect formulas.
Answering the prayers of Issada Brush devotees worldwide, the perfected Issada Cosmetics range was launched in January 2007 and received much industry buzz. Finally; a skin-friendly product range encompassing finest natural ingredients and cutting-edge colours, to be used by beauty therapists and makeup artists alike.
Fiona's diverse background in beauty therapy, makeup artistry, and public relations enabled to her to grow the business in salons for the first 5 months largely on her own. Fiona opened over 20 signature salon accounts within the first 8 months maintaining the very exclusive and selective Issada standard. With growth exceeding Fiona's initial expectations, in May 2007 an opportunity to open an Issada Concept Store was too good to refuse. The Bulimba Store opened in Brisbane, showcasing the Issada range in its entirety, much to community and media excitement. In July 2010 a second store followed. A stunning Flagship store was opened in the prestigious Edward Street precinct, Brisbane nestled between luxury brands like Gucci and Hermes.
Listening to client and consumer demands, Fiona expanded her initial base range to include a stunning nail collection, and more. By late 2007, the Concept Store was flourishing thanks to an infatuated general public, adoring media, and loyal customer base. Simultaneously, Issada growth in stockists was through the roof, as more and more salons, spas and clinics were lining up to get their hands on the range. Issada inevitably outgrew the space allocated at the back of the Store for an office and stock area. In September 2007 the need became apparent for the first Issada Headquarters, initially at Murrarie, complete with Training School, Showroom/Offices and climate-controlled warehouse. By 2011, Issada had already outgrown the sizeable Murrarie facility and a purpose-built, new and even larger headquarters was born at Bulimba.
To step inside the new Issada Head Office and Training Facility is to truly enter the world of Issada. After outgrowing a massive office and warehouse space at Murrarie in just three years, Issada underwent a custom luxury office build in trendy Bulimba in a nod to the brand’s heritage. The result? A lavish facility featuring a climate controlled warehouse, training and showroom, and both separate and open plan offices. The design features include high ceilings adorned with huge chandeliers, cutting edge designer furniture, ultra-glam trimmings like sequins and feathers, and stunning artworks which adorn the walls. Issada’s signature colours black, white and silver are everywhere from the custom white Issada insignia wallpaper, to exquisite black tiled bathrooms and giant silver mirrors. The space well and truly exemplifies the glamorous and girly feel of the brand (and the women behind it) and it nurtures creative inspiration. This spacious office centre allows for inevitable exponential company growth, and provides the facilities to offer outstanding education to salon and company staff.
Education is a key focus at Issada, with every single Issada-stocked salon and company staff member required to complete an initial comprehensive 2-day training module covering both product knowledge and an intensive practical application day with internationally renowned makeup artists and company trainers.
With monthly training sessions now booked to capacity, Issada’s masterclasses focus on specific areas of makeup, salon business/marketing or retail are a favourite and draw students from stockists all around the country to the Brisbane HQ and training facility. Issada staff and salons are offered nothing but the best in education and therefore bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to their clients.
2014 saw Issada join forces with beauty giant BLC Cosmetics in a symbiotic distribution relationship effective in selected states of Australia - a major landmark event for the brand. BLC now distributes Issada in NSW, VIC, WA, TAS and ACT and is rolling out a tactical growth strategy which has been designed to dramatically increase Issada's market share in these territories. In the face of such monumental potential growth, a parallel focus for both companies is to protect and preserve Issada's signature boutique ethos and unwavering focus on service. Issada retains in-house distribution and strategic control of their brand in QLD, SA and NT.
Brisbane-based Issada can now be found in over 250 stockists around Australia, and continues to grow at a rapid rate. In just a few short years, Issada has rocketed from underground cult-phenomenon to the beauty brand of choice for Australian beauty editors, celebrities and skin-conscious beauty consumers who want superior skin-treating makeup. And it won’t stop there – the future is looking even brighter and the sky is the limit. Issada’s product innovations will get more ingenious as technology evolves and, as always, the brand will refuse to compromise between skin treating, potent treatment ingredients and professional strength colours and artistry. New products, advanced formulations and runway-driven capsule colour collections are constantly being dreamed up. Strong relationships forged in the fashion and entertainment industries look certain to produce some exciting collaborative projects and international opportunities already beckon. Devotees can rest assured that Issada’s boutique attitude to excellence will be honoured and always maintained, even as the must-have makeup brand inevitably expands to further dominate the national market and beyond.