Skincare brand Ambitist wants to promote conscious consumerism
I'm with the brand
Australia is known for many things. From its crop of award-winning actors like Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman to its very, very sunny environment. Because of its unique location south of the equator and (particularly) close to the sun, the incidence of skin cancer among its inhabitants is also notoriously high. Which might account for why sunscreens are so important in this region. Kitty Fung, the founder of Ambitist sought to create a high-quality sunscreen, along with other travel-friendly skincare that would be functional, but also well-designed.
Along with Ambitist's skincare — that includes a sunscreen, cream cleanser and hydrating gel-cream — the brand has also collaborated with German nail polish brand Uslu Airlines to create a limited nail polish trio named after the biggest Australian airports. It has also worked with another German brand, Mykita, to create a unique pairing of its sunscreen with a limited Jiro sunglass design. Find out more from Fung herself on how she chooses her collaborators, and the importance of good design and conscious consumerism.
Why did you create the brand, and what did you think was missing from the market?
I created Ambitist because I felt a growing sense that people have forgotten how to look after ourselves and our plane, and its showing in our lifestyle-related health problems and climate statistics.
I grew up in Australia where we love the outdoors and responsible farming. Energy and water conservation are a big part of our lifestyle. As our lives become more busy, densely populated and urban across megacities in Asia and around the world, there's a growing hunger in many people for a digital detox, going 'off the grid' and appreciating what matters. Unfortunately people don't have the time or luxury to do this, so they often look to brands or consume art, media and culture for that escape.
I wanted to leverage culture and capture off the grid experience in a brand that people could use daily. I was going to create a fragrance initially but being a UX designer by background and inspired by the rugged practicality of researchers, scientists and explorers, I insisted on a highly functional, practical product. So we started with a suncare product, an essential piece of 'outdoor gear' that doubles as a lightweight daily moisturiser and reconnects you with nature.
Of course ingredients and packaging had to be responsibly sourced, that is a given. But people expect more from brand's, so it's in our DNA to give back by supporting artists and researchers who share our values, like the Christmas Island Seabird Project and photographer Leila Jeffreys.
What does the name Ambitist mean, and what did you want to achieve with this brand?
The word ambit means 'responsibility' or 'boundary/orbit'. The name references the trajectory of celestial bodies as well as the circular economy and cradle to cradle design.
Ambitist is derived from the word 'activist'. I hope to leave a legacy through working with 'culture-makers' that is, like minded brands, artists, filmmakers, photographers, journalists and creatives who share these ideals and wish to use their work as a vehicle to inspire change, in their own way.
What makes Ambitist sunscreen and skincare unique and ideal for this climate and for travellers? What makes your product luxurious?
In a hot climate, the lightweight texture and non-greasy, rapidly-absorbed formula makes it great, whether you've got a day of trekking ahead of you, or just a day at the office.
Cue the Sun SPF40, 90 minutes water resistant and coral reef safe as the formula is mineral based. It's also made and tested in Australia, which makes some of the world's highest quality sunscreens as we experience more UV exposure than most.
It's also good for travellers because the product treads lightly: The zinc-based formula makes it coral-reef-friendly and the biodegradable packaging minimises ecological impact.
I believe luxury comes from how something makes you feel. The soft matte texture of the jar, the lightweight silky formula, responsibly sourced certified organic ingredients and uplifting aroma from native Australian essential oils and extracts all help instill a sense of well-being and readiness to change the world that's hard to buy.
Tell us more about the packaging, which is very sleek. Was this a deliberate on your part and why was packaging so important to the brand?
Often people when people think sustainable or ecofriendly they picture basic brown paper or cardboard packaging. I wanted to really push the limits of design thinking and conceptualise packaging that embodies responsible beauty. We envisioned a high-end product that blends in seamlessly with prestige skincare and grooming range of any multi-brand concept store or boutique.
Sustainable luxury is about responsible choice of materials — so the jar is biodegradable, made from corn starch. Unlike many high-end brands, our jar will decompose in soil or seawater in three months. Sustainability is also about reuse. Some early research said people didn't want to discard the jar as it was too pretty (even if its compostable!) So we're also developing a refill system that will be available soon on a subscription basis.
Tell us all about your collaborations with Uslu Airlines and sunglass brand Mykita. How did they come about? Why did these brands have synergy with Ambitist and how did you decide on the final products, design and colours?
Released as part of Berlin Fashion week in January earlier this year, the collabs came about as I was researching brands that embodied the spirit and creative culture of Berlin as a city.
Mykita shares a synergy with Ambitist because the product category made sense (they make sunglasses and we make suncare). Both Ambitist and Mykita believe in high-performance and cutting-edge product design. I'm also a personal fan of Mykita as they consistently embody the perfect blend of design thinking, innovative use of materials, impeccable craftsmanship and leadership in the fashion industry. For example, it is seen through their collabs with Maison Margiela and Bernard Wilhelm. It was a huge privilege to visit Mykita Haus earlier this year when I travelled to Berlin and I can personally attest to their level of attention to detail and care for every single product that comes out.
Uslu Airlines shares a synergy with Ambitist because of their natural formulas, progressive colour range and strong concepts that embody branded experiences and travel destinations in a product. I loved how their naturally-formulated colour cosmetics were each named after an airport code (ie, it takes you places) and we were privileged to work with them to develop the first colours in their range named after Australian airport codes. They're also leaders in the fashion industry, having collaborated outside of traditional categories like Nike, Vans, Colette, Ace Hotel, and more.
These brands to me embody creativity at its best, shaping culture and spreading responsible design, craft and sourcing at all levels of the industry.