TheIndustry.beauty LIVE! Co-founders of AKT London on growing your brand
During TheIndustry.beauty LIVE! ‘Marketing In Beauty – The Next Frontier’ held yesterday in partnership with More2 and Noatum Logistics, a crowd of beauty industry professionals learnt about the ways to deploy tech, data and creativity to standout from the crowd, reach new customers and retain and grow existing customers.
For the second panel of the day, Ed Currie and Andy Coxon, Co-founders of AKT London, discussed the growth of their natural deodorant business from start-up to scale-up.
Currie and Coxon met in 2015 whilst performing in a show in London's West End. During this time, they were let down by mainstream deodorants and realised the need for an effective solution to use on stage and throughout their busy lifestyles.
The duo set out to create their own deodorant and after three years of testing on friends and cast mates, AKT London was born.
Launched in 2020, AKT London is designed with efficacy, strong environmental ethics and premium fragrances. Its products are made in the UK and housed in vibrant, plastic-free packaging.
Like Currie and Coxon, the brand's natural deodorant balms are "born to perform" and contain deo-barrier complex - a unique blend of clean botanical and mineral powders that rest invisibly on the skin and absorb natural perspiration and odours without blocking sweat glands.
To get their business off the ground, Currie and Coxon targeted the theatre community - offering samples to everyone in the West End with the aim of building brand awareness and a bigger customer base.
As interest in AKT London continued to grow, they decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to raise essential funds. "This was a great success," said Currie. "We wanted to raise £15,000 but we actually raised £50,000 and sold over 3,000 units in pre-sales. This took us from creating the products in our tiny kitchen to having to find a factory."
Since then, the business has continued to see a surge in sales and support. In fact, with over 10,000 orders per month, AKT London has doubled in growth over the past six months with a £2 million-plus run-rate.
With an ever-growing customer base, the theatre community still remains a big part of the brand's growth journey – being used in theatres across the UK, as well as on TV and movie sets across the world.
"We offered samples to everyone in the West End at the beginning but we have also found great success in targeting the beauty creatives that work with these (especially more high-profile) performers, actors, singers - offering samples to makeup artists, hairstylists who work with, can use and introduce our product to them," said Coxon.
"Through all this, we have built up a network of ambassadors who shout about AKT London for free because they genuinely love the brand."
Taking this further, and following the success of its strategy in London's West End, Currie and Coxon now have their sights set on Broadway in New York to help expand AKT London into the US.
To achieve this, the business recently launched a crowdfunding campaign - which reached its £800,000 target within the first hour of launch, Coxon shared during the panel.
"We're in for an exciting ride," Currie added. "The crowdfunding should also help build brand awareness as our investors become ambassadors too, cheerleading for the business because they're now involved in it."
With a number of other plans for the future, Currie and Coxon shared their excitement about the brand's launch into the bath and bodycare space for the first time next year - also helped by the brand's crowdfunding.
The duo also hinted at AKT London's eventual in-store retail launch. "Direct-to-consumer via our website is doing so well for us, but we want to be able to provide a space for our customers to see, try and buy our products in-person in the future," said Currie.