Why this Aussie beauty brand is jumping into NFTs

Australian skincare brand co-founder reveals its first collectible NFT and why the metaverse is so important to building human connections

Sunny Skin's first NFT, Kali the Koala
Sunny Skin's first NFT, Kali the Koala

Building influence and community lies at the heart of Australian beauty brand, Sunny Skin, debuting its first NFT (non-fungible token) collection in the metaverse.

Sunny Skin is a new Central Coast-based brand which launched its first product, an SPF50 sun care cream, in June 2021. The company’s NFT collection, dubbed ‘Aussie Angels’ and based around iconic Australian animals, made its official entrance on the Openseas.io NFT open marketplace on 1 November through inaugural digital character, Kali the Koala.

As Sunny Skin co-founder, Danielle McDonald, told CMO, Kali the Koala is designed as a digital influencer as well as characterisation of the brand, embodying its values, look and feel in the metaverse.

“It may look random to be launching an NFT as such a new brand, but this was very carefully considered as part of our brand strategy,” McDonald said. “What attracted us to this space is the ability to build deeper relationships with customers as well as other brands. There’s huge opportunity to collaborate using these smart contracts.”  

McDonald was attracted to the idea of an NFT collection by big brands such as Facebook focusing so heavily on the metaverse. She also pointed to McDonalds’ decision in October to use NFTs to promote the return of its McRib product.

An NFT is a unique digital token that derives from the blockchain and issued in two main ways: As stores of value and as smart contracts. The NFT is stored on a distributed ledged that creates verified and immutable proof regarding ownership of a digital object, in the same way a certificate of authenticity can establish provenance of a physical object.

“We have to start planning what we are going to be in ten years’ time, as we are creating a brand with longevity,” McDonald said. “As brands, we also have to experiment and dip our toes into new things. If brands don’t change the way they do things in market and harness new technology, they will disappear.”  

For McDonald, Kali the Koala is a manifestation of Sunny Skin. She’s designed to appeal to the group’s sweet spot customer: Women in their 20s through to 40s who understand and prioritise sun care, live an active outdoor lifestyle, are concerned about toxins and chemicals in skincare, and who are both health conscious and attracted to innovation.

“She’s a digital influencer, likes to be in the sunshine and at the beach and is linked to our first SPF product,” McDonald said. “Kali is a multidimensional character, not just an influencer who’s been engaged to promote product, but one who can also collaborate around social causes.

“We wanted to be a brand focused on building a positive community and contributing to social awareness. Kali is an extension of our brand: She speaks like us, looks like us, and cares about key social causes we do such as the environment, indigenous landowners, eliminating domestic violence and mental health.

“NFT is another driver of getting to know our brand. In the bigger scheme, that’s what this achieves.”  

McDonald is also keen to take up opportunities to collaborate with other brands in the metaverse. She pointed out Angel token owners become brand partners in a sense by gaining access to the intellectual property of that particular token. This means token owners can create merchandise linked to the token art they hold without legal repercussions.  

“We could see Kali holding objects like a jar of Vegemite or wearing a Roxy wetsuit. The opportunities to build collaborations are endless,” she said.  

The choice of Opensea.io as a marketplace was another considered decision for the Sunny Skin team.

“There are so many platforms, but we found this one was the easiest to navigate for anyone and us uploading and managing things,” McDonald said. “It’s a nice project and is gaining the biggest momentum in the NFT space.”

Real-life influencer marketing has also been part of the brand strategy for Sunny Skin since day one, and the company is working with opinion leaders in the beauty plus Instagram spaces via influencer marketing marketplace, The Right Fit.

While it’s early days for Sunny Skin, the group is affiliated with distribution company, Esthemax, which focuses on the professional beauty space. A wider range of skincare products are also on their way in coming months including an SPF bronzing product and mini version of the first release in December, then skin rejuvenation serum and vitamin A sleep therapy overnight skin cream in January. Products are sold through the Sunny Skin website as well as more than 100 salon stockists.

McDonald said Sunny Skin’s NFT collection will change and develop as the business as well as metaverse mature. In the first instance, Kali is more a digital piece of art.

Building community

But much like New York-based entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, and the characters he draws, McDonald hoped to use the NFT character as a stepping-stone to build customer loyalty, engagement and momentum in both the digital and physical realm. Holders of Vaynerchuk’s ‘VeeFriends’ characters for instance, are entitled to access special events such as VeeCon, or perks connected to his businesses.

Owners of an Aussie Angel NFT will get access to special features associated with the Sunny Skin brand, details of which will be released closer to the launch date.

“We’re working to this idea of a ‘Sunnverse’, where you login to another section of the site, use metaverse wallet dollars and buy Sunny Skin SPF, access new and different products and a club that offers gifts, brings together product testers, and where members can have different conversations about skincare and ways to do good and impact important social issues,” McDonald explained.  

To further its social purpose objectives, Sunny Skin is talking to influencers promoting mental health in the first instance, then plans to connect with other organisations supporting priority causes.

As to measuring the impact and business contribution of the NFT investment, McDonalds said it’s about the long-term brand benefits.

“The end game of everything we do is building relationships. We want to keep building momentum of the brand and conversations and positive things we can contribute to,” she said.

Kali will be integrated into Sunny Skin’s broader marketing creative and plans. Alongside the NFT, Sunny Skin has introduced payment by cryptocurrency on its website.

“I like to look 10 years down the track and this is a big emerging industry on the way to cashless society,” McDonald added. 

Want to get more of a handle on the brand benefits of NFTs? Check out our very special deep dive into the NFT craze in our latest edition of CMO magazine, available here.


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