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Founder Friday with Liz Agresta: the secrets to building a $15m beauty empire 

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Founder Friday with Liz Agresta: the secrets to building a $15m beauty empire 

Ahead of her first-ever trade show in Italy, entrepreneur Liz Agresta found out that her products were being held up in customs. Undeterred, she went on to present potential buyers with empty labelled bottles filled with water.

“I still recall saying to one of the guys with me, ‘Well, you know, we’ve either hit the nail on the head here or we’ve completely missed the mark’,” she laughed.

Three short years later, her line of self-tanning, sun care, and skincare products Australian Glow is rumoured to be valued at $15 million, with a bottle of her top-rated self-tanning mousse reportedly selling every 70 seconds worldwide.

The inspiration for the beauty brand came from her own skin struggles.

“From my teen years through to my 20s, self-tanning was something I loved to do. But when I turned 30, my sensitive skin started to have a severe reaction to some products,” Liz explained. “I was doing all this to look great and it had the opposite effect.”

She took a deep dive into the sun care and skincare market and realised there was space for an organic self-tanning brand with sustainability at its core.

“We had the idea and then it came to a point where I had to point my money where my mouth was. So I decided to quit my job and make the initial investment of around $25,000 from my own savings.”

Since hitting the shelves in early 2020, Australian Glow can now be found in 15 countries. It has come to be seen as a market leader in sustainable beauty for sensitive skin.

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Liz is understandably all smiles when she talks about the “amazing feedback” Australian Glow has received.

 “I think, given the current circumstances, everyone is trying to be sustainable in their approach to everyday life. And to see a beauty brand out there, making big changes and wanting to have an impact, has been really positive for our customers,” she shared.

Going global

Liz understood early on that the Australian self-tanning market was “quite congested.” So instead of going the traditional route, she decided to begin Australian Glow with global trade shows in 2019.

“That’s where the real success came from. We met with lots of major retailers from around the world, lots of distributors who absolutely loved our story,” she revealed.

It was in Bologna, Italy at Cosmoprof, one of the world’s biggest trading shows, that she found herself equipped with only a small suitcase of products. The rest were held up in customs and unlikely to be released in time for the show.

“It was quite embarrassing! I remember feeling so sheepish filling up the bottles with the other stalls watching us. But then, through all three days of the show, our stand ended up getting the most attention and foot traffic.”

Australian Glow was launched in major retailers in March 2020 – in the week lockdowns were implemented around the world.

It was an understandably stressful situation, and one she managed with a baby on the way. Nevertheless, she stayed the course.

“Life’s been very busy! My son was born in May 2020, a few months into the business. But being a mum is my number one priority and I’m lucky to have a lot of family support,” she added. “It’s been an interesting, wild ride the last few years.”

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READ MORE: Founder Friday: This father-daughter duo is on a quest to improve global health, one person at a time

Source: supplied

Building a sustainable brand

Playing a part in protecting the planet was crucial to this entrepreneur.

Australian Glow was the first tanning brand to make their ingredient list transparent for consumers to know exactly what goes in it.

“Being innovative is what drives me. Australian Glow was also the first tanning brand in the world with sustainable packaging – once you finished your bottle, you could buy a refill sachet that was made from recycled plastic rescued from the ocean.

“We use 80 per cent less plastic on those refill pouches than an actual bottle. It was this attribute that blew the minds of buyers at the first trade show we presented at.”

They will also be switching from using labels to directly printing on the packaging, to make the products more recyclable.

Recently, Australian Glow announced that it would discontinue its facial bronzing mist because “it cannot be made using sustainable packaging.”  

Liz explained, “We are ceasing production of Australian Glow Facial Bronzing Mist despite it being 25 per cent of our sales and it being our #1 product in the USA. Even though our spray uses Bag on Valve technology that is less harmful than other aerosols – it is the right decision if we are to continue as a global leader in sustainable packaging for the beauty industry.

“We don’t want to create any confusion that aerosols of any kind are environment friendly. Aerosols often contain hydrocarbons that contribute to climate change and are found to increase occurrences of cancer and respiratory disorders in humans. Most aerosol cans are also lined with epoxy – a type of plastic that make these cans impossible to recycle. This is against what we stand for.”

Australian Glow products. Source: supplied

Best advice received

For Liz, whose product is now sold around the world through big-name retailers like Macys and Ulta Beauty (US), Priceline (AU), and Superdrug (UK), the best advice she received was to simply “take a step back.”

“Starting out, I felt like I had to say yes to every retailer or distributor who reached out,” she confessed. “I learned to take a step back and really make an informed decision that you’re happy with. It’s not possible to please everybody.

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“You may hear the success stories of a business, but behind every story is someone working really, really hard. We make mistakes, we learn along the way, and we get back up every time we’re knocked down.”

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

READ MORE: Founder Friday with Sarah Neill: creating an online fashion community for women

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Teams of engineers worked Saturday on the intricate process of cutting and lifting the first section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crumpled into the Patapsco River this week after a massive cargo ship crashed into one of its supports.

Sparks could be seen flying from a section of bent and crumpled steel in the afternoon, and video released by officials in the evening showed demolition crews using a cutting torch to slice through the thick beams. The joint incident command said in a statement that the work was being done on the top of the north side of the collapsed structure.

Crews were carefully measuring and cutting the steel from the broken bridge before attaching straps so it can be lifted onto a barge and floated away, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Seven floating cranes — including a massive one capable of lifting 1,000 tons — 10 tugboats, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats were on site in the water southeast of Baltimore.

Each movement affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“I cannot stress enough how important today and the first movement of this bridge and of the wreckage is. This is going to be a remarkably complicated process,” Moore said.

Undeterred by the chilly morning weather, longtime Baltimore resident Randy Lichtenberg and others took cellphone photos or just quietly looked at the broken pieces of the bridge, which including its steel trusses weigh as much as 4,000 tons.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that water. It’s got to be cold. It’s a tough job,” Lichtenberg said from a spot on the river called Sparrows Point.

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The shock of waking up Tuesday morning to video of what he called an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline falling into the water has given way to sadness.

“It never hits you that quickly. It’s just unbelievable,” Lichtenberg said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

One of the first goals for crews on the water is to get a smaller auxiliary ship channel open so tugboats and other small barges can move freely. Crews also want to stabilize the site so divers can resume searching for four missing workers who are presumed dead.

Two other workers were rescued from the water in the hours following the bridge collapse, and the bodies of two more were recovered from a pickup truck that fell and was submerged in the river. They had been filling potholes on the bridge and while police were able to stop vehicle traffic after the ship called in a mayday, they could not get to the construction workers, who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The crew of the cargo ship Dali, which is managed by Synergy Marine Group, remained on board with the debris from the bridge around it, and were safe and were being interviewed. They are keeping the ship running as they will be needed to get it out of the channel once more debris has been removed.

The vessel is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The collision and collapse appeared to be an accident that came after the ship lost power. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine why.

Assuaging concern about possible pollution from the crash, Adam Ortiz, the Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said there was no indication in the water of active releases from the ship or materials hazardous to human health.

REBUILDING

Officials are also trying to figure out how to handle the economic impact of a closed port and the severing of a major highway link. The bridge was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore.

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Maryland transportation officials are planning to rebuild the bridge, promising to consider innovative designs or building materials to hopefully shorten a project that could take years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid and promised the federal government will pay the full cost to rebuild.

Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore remains suspended, but the Maryland Port Administration said trucks were still being processed at marine terminals.

The loss of a road that carried 30,000 vehicles a day and the port disruption will affect not only thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to feel the impact of shipping delays. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C.; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed.

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into a key Boeing supplier that is already facing scrutiny from federal regulators over quality of parts that it provides to the aircraft maker.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it began looking into Spirit AeroSystems because of “apparent manufacturing defects” in parts that “have led to numerous concerning or dangerous incidents.”

In a statement Friday, a Spirit spokesman said, “While we do not comment on investigations, Spirit is wholly focused on providing the highest quality products to all our customers, to include the Boeing Company.”

Paxton asked the Wichita, Kansas-based supplier to turn over documents produced since the start of 2022 about communication with investors and Boeing about flaws in parts and corrective steps the company took.

The request goes into detail in seeking internal discussions around Spirit’s efforts to create a diverse workforce “and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.” Paxton asked for a breakdown of Spirit’s workforce by race, sexual orientation and other factors, and whether the makeup has changed over time.

Since a Spirit-made door-plug panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max in January, some conservatives have tried to link aviation safety to diversity at manufacturers.

Paxton is a conservative Republican who this week agreed to pay $271,000 in restitution to victims and take 15 hours of training in legal ethics to settle felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton did not admit wrongdoing in the 9-year-old case.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing Spirit after the Alaska Airlines incident. An FAA audit of manufacturing procedures in Spirit’s factory gave the company failing grades in seven of 13 areas.

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Boeing is in talks to buy back Spirit, which it spun off nearly 20 years ago, as part of a plan to tighten oversight of manufacturing in its supply chain.

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