A fresh cup of inspiration: how coffee skincare
brand frank body became a multimillion-dollar business


Coffee-based skincare business frank body owes its success to well-thought strategy: from its pre-production stages to its growth modelling.

The team of five behind the multimillion-dollar business – Steve Rowley, Bree Johnson, Erika Geraerts, Alex Boffa and Jess Hatzis – took a number of steps to create the product and brand.

Co-founders of frank body Steve Rowley, Bree Johnson, Erika Geraerts, Alex Boffa and Jess Hatzis have reaped the benefits of a unique product with unique branding. Image source: Start Up Daily

After spending six months in the product development phase, and carefully curating frank body’s brand voice, the team launched a customer-centric marketing campaign that earned huge notoriety.

Find out how these elements paid off for frank body’s passionate founding group.

How coffee grounds helped brew a business idea for frank body

In 2013, two women entered Steve’s Prahan-based coffee shop in Victoria and asked for old coffee grounds to use as a skin exfoliator.

Intrigued by the request, he asked his partner Bree what she knew about coffee grounds and the potential skin health benefits.

The pair soon joined friends Erika, Alex and Jess to discover just how far they could develop a seemingly simple idea for a skincare product.

Clearly their hard work paid off: after just two years in business frank body reportedly sells one product every 50 seconds to customers worldwide.

The business has expected revenue exceeding $20 million in 2015.

Do your homework: Product development and consumer research

The founders spent a lot of time in product development, in which they learnt valuable insights such as needing fresh coffee in the product to achieve maximum results.

They also considered the consumer’s unmet needs in the current skincare market.

Bree says, “like a lot of people, we were disenchanted with our current exfoliators: big promises, price tags, chemical components and brands with no personality.

“frank body is a simple product with a simple strategy, to make women feel great about themselves.”

But as any savvy businessperson understands, a product is only as good as its marketing strategy.

Being frank about your brand voice

As Bree, Erika and Jess already worked in the marketing and public relations industries, they understood the importance of a solid brand identity.

Erika enlisted branding and product design services through (her partner) Charl Laubscher’s agency, Love + Money.

Bree says the group wanted to create a unique identity that challenged the traditional “cute and aspirational” brand voice of many skincare brands.

“frank body has never followed trends. We’re more up-front, outgoing and cut-to-the-chase.”

Bree believes personifying frank – the cheeky, sexy and no-nonsense mystery voice of the brand – allows “us to connect with customers on a more individual level”.

Using social media as a marketing strategy

Bree, Erika and Jess saw the influence customers had over their peers when reviewing products on social media.

So, the women first published photos of themselves, smothered in frank body, to their personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts

They saw the untapped potential in the ‘selfie’ generation, in which eager Gen-Ys want to share photos of themselves doing everyday things, while looking good.

That behaviour was already synonymous with Instagram, which has become the brand’s strongest social media presence with more than 667,000 followers (7.5 times more than its next largest audience, Facebook, which has more than 87,000 fans).

In the early stages of building frank body’s presence in market, the founders also enlisted the services of influential bloggers, including vlogger Katerina Williams of Katerina Beauty Blog, to review frank body for her 24,000-plus subscribers (at the time of posting the review).

Katerina’s video potentially earned frank body 72,000 new customers within six months of publishing the review.

Make your social media fans are advocates for your brand

Bree says it was pivotal to frank body’s success to use its own customers as “salespeople”.

She urges business owners to find “your market’s most effective social media communicators and encourage them to support you as brand advocates”.

frank body’s loyal customers, affectionately called ‘frankfurts’, are more than happy to showcase their love for the scrubs, and newer products including body creams, balms, face cleansers, and moisturisers.

The hashtag ‘thefrankeffect’ has documented more than 56,000 uses of frank body products,

The brand’s secondary Instagram channel, Frank Feedback, documents before-and-after usage results for sufferers of skin conditions, such as acne and eczema – with photos showing positive product proof.

In just over a year since Frank Feedback’s launch, the channel has earned more than 72,000 followers.

The brand’s social media channels continue to achieve steady growth, and goes to show #thefrankeffect is a force to be reckoned with.