How Canada Helped Dr Roebuck’s Become A Household Name
Dr Roebuck’s may have roots in Australia, but it’s because of Canada’s love for the brand that the company grew so quickly.
The story begins down under
It all started in Sydney, Australia, circa 1978, when Kim Devin and Zoë Nicole Kelly’s parents developed a cream to treat the twins’ sensitive skin and eczema.
“Our dad made the cream for us because he didn’t like everything that was in store-bought creams,” says Devin, who is now based in Vancouver. “There are no added fillers, and it has a high concentration of very pure product.”
The twin girls grew up using “Dad’s cream.” It’s now known in the Dr Roebuck’s line as Pure, a hydrating moisturizer with only six ingredients. When they were on a winter getaway as adults, it sparked an idea. “We were skiing in Jackson Hole, everyone was using Dad’s cream and there was anarchy because people were fighting over the last tub,” says Devin. “We realized people really liked our cream!”
Deciding to “give it a go,” they searched for two years for someone to make it and, from there, simply put it online.
Dr Roebuck’s in Canada
“It started to sell, but we weren’t going to do anything with it,” she says. That all changed when Murale, Canada’s homegrown beauty destination, came calling to bring Dr Roebuck’s in Canada.
“They reached out to us and started to sell Dr Roebuck’s in Canada in 10 stores at the time, and it started really selling,” she says. “We said we guess we should do this. There was no business plan. It has just done itself.”
After expanding with Murale and going into Shoppers Drug Mart locations, Devin moved from Sydney to BC to oversee the Canadian operation. She has found pleasant parallels between both places: an emphasis on having a healthy lifestyle and striving to live life to the fullest.
“I get both sun and snow rather than just sun,” says Devin. “Vancouver is just like Sydney. The biggest adjustment is being away from my twin and my family.”
The growth continues
Late last year, the brand had a successful run on Sephora’s website and it’s now carried in US stores. Both sisters consider that moment a major highlight to date.
“Being in Sephora puts us on the world stage and makes me realize that we’re doing the right thing,” says Devin. The green-lidded jars, tubes and vials have also popped up on counters in Holt Renfrew and Selfridges. It’s incredible growth in a very short period, which isn’t to say that it’s been easy.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned about myself is resilience,” she says. “You have to be strong. It’s a tough game. Skincare buyers are tough and the production people are tough and you can’t take offence to it or you’ll just curl up in a ball. Our parents taught us resilience, and it’s come through. We’re not entrepreneurs, or at least we didn’t think we were. We’re just two people who thought they had some good cream and now we’re running a business.”