Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs

Prince’s Trust Australia is celebrating women veteran entrepreneurs this World Women's Entrepreneur Day

RAAF veteran and entrepreneur Cherie-Ann Borghouts has taken the precision she applied to engineering military runways and used it to meticulously formulate nourishing organic skincare, creating an ethical business along the way with help from Prince’s Trust Australia.

Cherie-Ann Borghouts left a fulltime career in the Royal Australian Air Force to grow an artisan skincare business, all because of a peanut allergy.

The Brisbane-based entrepreneur admitted the catalyst for her journey from airfield engineer to skincare formulator was “a bit random”.

It started when her youngest son was diagnosed anaphylactic to peanuts and she began investigating.

“There's a lot of research that backs the link between chemicals and allergies,” she said.

“So, at the time I was trying to bring chemical-free products into our home, there were very few natural and organic skincare alternatives on the market.”

Cherie-Ann decided to fill the gap and a decade on that gap-filler - Indira Organics - is thriving.

“Indira Organics is all about bringing about real skincare results but doing it ethically and doing it in away that really is sustainable,” she said.

The Wing Commander, who shifted from full-time to part-time RAAF service in 2016, spent the past 10 years diligently creating chemical-free skincare products to be proud of.

“It’s been a methodical process that started as a bit of fun, research and concocting, then moved into actually doing some genuine study in the area, coming up with some really solid products, and then making a decision to launch the range,” she said.

“And then, of course, along the way you can't be stagnant, so there's been a lot of modifications.

“But things that have stayed the same are the quality of the ingredients, the aluminum packaging, which is sustainable,…and the move away from the industry norm of excess packaging.”

Cherie-Ann takes pride in being “very meticulous” in every part of her business.

“The fact that I am an artisan means that I design everything and I handcraft everything,” she said.

“I research, I refine and the products are tested.

“It's the best offering that I can possibly do.”

But her biggest challenge is communicating Indira Organics’ points of difference in a growing market filled with generic, mass-produce skincare.

“There's a great deal of products out there that are just emulsions of water and then an emulsifier and a couple added extras,” she said.

“Ours are designed from a place of intention that have high percentages of oils and butters and active ingredients that are designed to deliver some kind of function and therefore a skincare result.

“The formulating stuff, that's just who I am, but the marketing and trying to connect with people, that takes a lot of time and development of skills that are not necessarily familiar to me.

“So that’s been a really big challenge.

“But the highlight would have to be the success stories.

“The connection with our customers, and then hearing about how the products are making a difference in their lives.”

And while Cherie-Ann was busy formulating, she was also building her business with help from Prince’s Trust Australia’s Enterprise programme.

“I was fortunate enough to be on one of the first iterations of the Prince's Trust programme…right back when it was most valuable to me,” she said.

“It allowed me to really take stock and look at some of the things I was going to do for my business to improve it at that stage.”

Cherie-Ann said she still uses the evolving business plan she created with help from the programme and she maintains her relationship with the Trust.

“I feel there's a lovely support system from a genuine group of authentic people in the Prince's Trust organisation,” she said.

“The team listen, and they really want to assist the growth of small businesses.”

The free Enterprise programme is the only one of its kind in Australia and supports ex-serving and transitioning ADF members and military spouses to launch and grow small businesses.

Cherie-Ann said the connections she had made through Enterprise were particularly helpful.

“For veterans, the Prince’s Trust programme is a great avenue to explore,” she said.

Chair of Prince’s Trust Australia, the Hon Julie Bishop, said she was delighted that Cherie-Ann was still seeing benefits from the Enterprise programme.

“In light of World Women’s Entrepreneur Day on November19, Cherie-Ann’s decade of hard work and the transfer of skills from her time in the military makes her an impressive role model for other female veterans exploring entrepreneurship”.

Ms Bishop said since its inception in 2015, Prince’s Trust Australia programmes have helped create more than 100 veteran-community-owned businesses.

“I am pleased to see an increasing number of women taking part, half of this year’s participants are female,” she said.

Article is written for The Trust by an Australian Defence Force spouse, freelance copywriter, and Enterprise programme alumna Courtney Snowden.

Indira Organics

Check out Cherie-Ann's business