We Interview The Founder Of Outdoor-Inspired Australian Botanical Brand Ambitist
Get off the grid.
When we met Ambitist's founder Kitty Fung at Berlin Fashion Week, it was the typical Berlin winter day. The rain was more or less horizontal, whipped up by a bitterly cold wind, and the sun was nowhere to be seen, having fled for less miserable climes many weeks before. It couldn't be further from the hot summer temperatures and rugged natural beauty of the Australian wilderness which, like jars of local air on sale in tourist hotspots, Kitty had bottled and brought to the Northern Hemisphere in the form of her brand's stylish outdoor-inspired botanical products.
We tried Ambitist's flagship sun lotion and instantly fell in love with this non-greasy, amazing-smelling and cool-looking product, and were totally sold when we learned that the entire suncare range is not only crafted from natural goodies, but that it's also responsibly sourced, cruelty-free and organic. Keen to learn more, we caught up with the super-sunny Kitty for ten questions on the trailblazing new brand.
Define Ambitist in three words.
OFF. THE. GRID.
What does off the grid represent to you?
Getting outside of our comfort zone. Thinking outside of the box. Self-sufficiency. This can be literally off the grid in the sense of getting outdoors into the wilderness.
How do nature and the elements influence your designs?
The wilderness, the landscapes, the colors, the textures. I'm from Australia so the nature and the elements there are just a whole new level. The lighting is just so... different. The colors are more intense, the native flora and fauna are a bit wacky, alien and sometimes downright bizarre. That's why our aesthetic reflects the colors, mood and spirit of the Australian wilderness, the "antipodes" or the "ends of the earth" if you will. It doesn't get more off the grid than that!
How do you balance this off-the-grid ethos with growing a brand in the online environment?
We have an interesting relationship with technology. It's sort of a love-hate relationship, where we can't do without it, yet we want to be free from it at the same time. Ambitist as a brand exists to remind us that it's okay to switch off every now and then. To not give a f*** about who has/ hasn't liked our photos, who's emailed us, what articles we should be reading, what videos we should be watching. All of these things pale in comparison when you watch a spectacular sunrise over the horizon, or when you're in the middle of early morning birdsong and the smell of damp foliage. It's so much more sensory and tactile, things that an online environment, bits and pixels, can't offer (at least for now!)
Tell us about your flagship product.
"Cue the Sun" is our SPF40 sunscreen. It's a bit strange that our flagship product would be a sunscreen, but we thought long and hard about something that was truly functional and that people would use every day, which wasn't currently being addressed on the market. It's a mineral-based sunscreen (meaning no nasty chemicals you'd typically find in cheaper options) that encapsulates the outdoors in a bottle. We experimented a lot with the texture; we wanted to achieve something that was fast-absorbing and pleasant enough to use as a daily moisturizer or makeup base (for both men and women!). Also, the bottle is designed to be highly portable, so you can use it while traveling, trekking, or simply preparing for a long day at the office. If you're going to do something, do it well, we say!
Who do you have in mind when you're designing your products?
Our design philosophy is "practical luxury." On the one hand, we always focus on function. But function alone isn't enough to inspire people and get them to change their behavior. We design products that are aesthetically pleasing, products that people look forward to using, that embody that beauty of nature and the outdoors. We hope that by doing this, we'll inspire people to get outside more, to be inspired by the beauty of the planet and nature, to be.
How do you source your ingredients?
Wherever possible, our ingredients are organic, meaning they were produced in a responsible manner, with minimal chemicals and best practice, sustainable, farming techniques. Otherwise, to achieve a certain texture and quality of consistency on ingredients that are impossible to source "organically" (i.e. chemicals), we manufacture in a safe environment that's compliant with "good manufacturing practices" and cruelty-free.
Tell us about the brand collaborations in your range.
We collaborated with Uslu Airlines because of the effort they put into formulating natural makeup while maintaining a progressive color palette, a hot-AF list of brand collabs and sufficient (Berlin-esque?) 'street cred.' They have really mastered the art of not just being another "meh" beauty brand, and we love how each product is a destination and story in its own right. Our collab colors with them (SYD, MEL, PER) were drawn from iconic colors in the Australian landscape and the cities they represent. Our hope is that the nail polishes will transport people to these amazing destinations with just one coat.
P.S. Don't get me started on how f***in incredible their nail polish remover is (from a formula and product quality standpoint)!
With MYKITA, we fell in love with their design philosophy and raw, plain, honesty and passion for craftsmanship, regardless of what everyone else in the industry is doing and economic pressures to conform. I had the enormous privilege of touring MYKITA Haus and it was eye-opening to see the hard work, meticulous attention to design, detail and love of the craft that's so difficult to preserve in this day and age of cost-cutting and mass-production. We collaborated with them on the Jiro sunglasses because we wanted a product that was highly functional (read: side flaps, extra UV protection) while being at the cutting-edge of style. The unique colorway of "pitch lack" frame paired with a "brilliant violet" lens is based on our understanding of "off the grid," technical performance while being fashion-forward in the aesthetic.
How important is sustainability for your company?
EXTREMELY. If something has an adverse impact on the environment, then we should be thinking outside the box and exploring other options, even if it costs us. We only get one body and one planet, so we should take care of both as much as humanly possible. For our company, even though it's alot more expensive and risky, we've made the decision to experiment with bio-PE in our bottles, as well as eco-bagasse in the outer packaging. We only wish consume renewable energy resources in every step of the process. 100 percent sustainability is a steep learning curve, but we believe it's worth it!
In the age of information overload, what keeps you curious?
Getting out and exploring the REAL WORLD. Avoiding screens and the digital media wherever possible.
Next up, here's what to eat for better skin this winter.