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NY Post
New York Post
24 Feb 2024

NextImg:Influencer’s ‘embarrassing’ skincare problem prompted a $1.3 million idea

Six years ago Kayla Houlihan had tried “absolutely anything” to help her skin.

The now 32-year-old from Torquay, Victoria, started struggling with sensitive skin and breakouts in her teens.

“As a teenager I had a lot of redness and a lot of acne,” Tribe Skincare founder Kayla told “There wasn’t a whole lot of education around what to use, it was really just the ads on TV so that was the products you’d use.”

Kayla was passionate about skin, prompting her to first work at Endota Spa as a therapist and then open her own clinic in Geelong.

Tribe Skincare founder Kayla Houlihan. Tribal Skincare

“When I studied beauty therapy and looked at becoming a skin therapist I got a lot more knowledge around what would work for my skin and was able to treat it a lot better,” she said.

“But I did find that whenever I used strong active cosmeceutical products my skin would always get worse, even though they were considered really good, expensive products.”

Instead Kayla would use “very natural, gentle products” that didn’t irritate her skin, but “weren’t doing a whole lot for skin concerns like breakouts and the redness.”

Her skin problems also impacted her self-confidence and meant she would wear “a whole lot of makeup” when treating clients.

Kayla’s skin at age 27 (left), then three months after using Tribe Skincare (right). Tribal Skincare

“I think I was really trying to cover it up,” Kayla said.

“Working in the industry as a skin therapist I really felt like I should have good skin, so there was definitely an embarrassment that came with that.”

As well as struggling with her own skin, Kayla grew frustrated by the lack of options for those who also faced the same issues.

“We would sell at home skin routines to people (in clinic) and I was a little bit stumped with what I could actually recommend to people with sensitive skin,” she said.

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“I wanted them to get the results as well, not just use something gentle that wasn’t going to do a whole lot for their skin.”

Fed up with the lack of options for sensitive skin clients and “frustration” with her own skin, Kayla launched Tribe Skincare in 2017 initially with plans to just sell in a salon.

But when Kayla realized that her manufacturers needed a minimum order that swamped what she could ever sell to her customers, she turned to Instagram.

Today Tribe Skincare is a multimillion-dollar success story. Tribal Skincare

To Kayla’s surprise, Tribe Skincare took off online, with customers sharing reviews and before and after photos of how their skin had performed.

It also helped her own skin, with Kayla seeing a marked improvement after just three months’ use — the same time it took to realize she wanted to take Tribe Skincare full time.

“I closed down the skin clinic and went full time with the brand, because already in three months it was making more revenue than the skin clinic was,” she said. “It was really good proof that the gap in the market was there.”

Resurfacing 2-in-1 Exfoliant is Kayla’s favorite product. Tribal Skincare

Today Tribe Skincare continues to be a success story and this year alone is on track to make over $1.3 million in revenue thanks to the introduction of wholesale.

Since July last year Kayla says the beauty brand “barely spends any money on advertising” thanks to their loyal customers.

“When we assessed all of the different marketing we were doing – Facebook ads, Google ads, it really wasn’t where our customers were coming from,” she said.

“When we spoke to new customers about how they discovered the brand it was always a friend or family member recommending it to them, or they had seen the befores and afters on Instagram.” 

Tribe Skincare’s bestsellers are The Clearing Anti-Breakout Serum that “literally dissolves blackheads” and the Brightening Vitamin C Serum which makes “your skin super glowing and healthy”.

But Kayla’s personal favourite at the moment is the Resurfacing 2-in-1 Exfoliant.

“I love a multipurpose product,” she said.

“This one has a combination of coconut shell to manually exfoliate and fruit enzymes to dissolve dead skin.

“You can also leave it on for 20 minutes as a clay-based mask and it leaves your skin feeling ridiculously soft and smooth.”