Handmade Products

Miller’s Moisturiser

Please tell us about your business.

At Miller’s Moisturiser, I create bespoke hand cream based on the 50-year-old recipe of my grandfather, Barrie Miller. Barrie was a highly regarded hospital pharmacist who practiced around Australia (becoming head of pharmacy at the Austin Hospital at one point), the USA, and Asia. He made the original hand cream recipe while practicing at the Austin Hospital for his staff, who had developed dry, raw skin from constant hand washing and sanitizing. Barrie looked at commercializing his formula to make it available to more people, but this venture did not get very far, so the recipe lived on within the family, made for relatives and friends.

Miller’s Moisturiser uses the same recipe that Barrie developed decades ago, with the only change being the fragrances available. Barrie utilized tea tree in his original formula, known for its natural healing and antiseptic properties. While this fragrance is available, it can be very overpowering, and not everyone is a fan.

So, to provide broader appeal, additional fragrances have been developed: lavender (which was Barrie’s favorite for trying to mask the tea tree) and rose. Feedback from the hand cream has been overwhelmingly positive and has been constructive in growing interest.

Since launching in September 2020, I have added a smaller jar (50ml) for travel and gifting and have consolidated the three fragrances on offer to use natural oils. Lavender has been a favorite, with many customers commenting how much they love using the Moisturiser in the evening as the scent is calming and helps them get ready for sleep. I’ve even received feedback from a recipient of a jar who works in the mining industry and how good their skin feels when they put on hand cream at the end of their day.

Overall, it is a pleasure to bring Barrie’s dream to life, sharing his formula during a time when our skin needs it most. Learning about his legacy and creating the brand has been a fulfilling venture, and I am so excited to share it with the Craft Market Australia community.

How did you begin your business, and why?

During the height of Victoria’s lockdown in 2020, I was trying to figure out what to do with excessive time at home and noticed how dry my hands had become from using sanitizer and washing several times a day. Remembering the hand cream I used to make with my mum when I was younger, I asked her if she recalled the recipe.

Luckily, she had written it down before Barrie’s passing, and I got in touch with my grandmother to ask her about the history of its development. As well as being a wonderful discovery of my grandfather’s life, I learned more about his aspirations for his recipe.

With my grandmother’s blessing, I went about creating the brand and resurrecting the family hand cream, making it available for delivery so that Victorians could have access wherever they might be.

At the core of the business is a homage to Barrie’s legacy, his creation of the formula, and what he stood for in helping those within his community. That is why Barrie’s image is used in the brand, a constant reminder of how the business was formed.

During my research, I learned more about my grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit. He had a lot of forward-thinking ideas, many of which he tried to establish but were unachievable at the time. This was another driver for building the business; I wanted to celebrate Barrie’s achievements and help him deliver the dream of manufacturing the cream for people beyond the hospital.

Armed with a recipe, a dream, and a trusty mix master, I produced my first batch of Moisturiser and started selling online in September 2020. Over the past year, I have been able to continue manufacturing and selling through an online store. Still, I am excited to get out in the community at upcoming events through Craft Markets Australia to share my story and allow them to try the fantastic formula created decades ago.

Where does the inspiration for each piece come from?

As mentioned, the formula for the hand cream has been passed down from my grandfather. However, the brand and presentation are of my making. I wanted to create a product that felt like it belonged in your home, something comfortable and homely but also recyclable. That’s why I landed on glass jars, able to be recycled or reused within the home. I’m also looking into ways people can return the jars to me to be sanitized and refilled.

Making the hand cream is a therapeutic process for me; it is a zen experience where I can lose myself as I focus on the quantities and bottling. It’s a wonderful mental reset, so when I say every jar is made with love, it truly is; the whole process is a joy!

What sets your designs apart from other stalls?

The jars and labeling are designed to give that homely touch, as though you’ve come from your local artisan store. I add messages to the labels for jars sold online to make the experience a little more personal when you can’t talk with the purchaser face-to-face.

Little touches that give that extra handmade touch and show that someone made this, not a machine (well, except for the mixing).

What do you love most about being a stallholder at CMA?

Being able to connect with local communities and interact with people at the markets. After periods of isolation, it’s such a joy to be able to be amongst the buzz of the markets.

What I particularly like about CMA is its organization and communication. I can rest assured that all markets I attend are safe for stallholders and shoppers and that I stay up to date with any changes well in advance.

Describe your experience of being a small business owner in Australia.

I started my business as a hobby, and it is quickly turning into a passion that I want to sink more time into. There was quite a lot of work involved in establishing the business (building out a website for ecommerce, insurance, testing products, and suppliers, etc.). Still, now that these have been found, I can focus on what I love – making the hand cream and connecting with people to help them discover it.

What are the challenges and rewards of being your boss?

The biggest challenge I’ve found with being my boss is that everything stops with me.

Researching, testing, sourcing, producing, and selling to potential buyers is all with me, so if I’m not motivated, nothing moves. It’s a change in mindset from working within a corporate team, but it definitely has its advantages. I get to make creative decisions, take risks, and do it in a way that suits me.

My biggest achievement so far was breaking even in my first year of business, allowing me to continue producing and selling, which was, in turn, thanks to local business owners taking a chance and stocking Miller’s Moisturiser. A very big thank you to Round Bird Can’t Fly Lilydale and The Stonehouse Warrandyte for taking on the hand cream in their artisan stores; your trust in the product has been incredible.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *