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Wild Child – Duty of Care

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Wild Child founder and CEO, Leanne Preston discusses corporate responsibility.

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The Wild Child Story

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Wild Child is a Western Australia-based company that develops safe, natural, healthcare products for the whole family, including Quit Nits Natural Head Lice Treatment. By basing its products in science, Wild Child aims to bridge the gap between traditional and homeopathic medicines.

Founded in 1997, by CEO Leanne Preston, Wild Child has expanded both its product range and distribution channels during the past ten years. Wild Child products are sold throughout Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the UK and now the U.S.

Wild Child was founded by Leanne Preston in Margaret River, Australia, following the unpleasant discovery that her youngest daughter had head lice.

After consulting her local chemist, Leanne was horrified to learn that the most common head lice treatment was a shampoo containing toxic chemicals that can cause illness and even death. Amazingly, not a single natural head lice treatment was available.

After a period of intensive research, Leanne developed a prototype of a product for head lice (subsequently called Quit Nits), which used essential oils to deliver highly effective results. Being a recently separated mother of three children without any financial support and wanting to be available for her children, she decided to set up a home-based business to manufacture and distribute the natural head lice treatment she’d first developed for her daughter. Thus, in the living room of her Margaret River home, Wild Child was born.

From the beginning, Leanne envisaged an export-driven company, having discovered that the gap in the Australian market for a natural head lice treatment also existed in the rest of the developed world. The unique characteristics of Quit Nits – that it provides a safe, natural alternative to highly toxic conventional products – are as relevant to overseas markets as they are locally.

In the first years of operation, Wild Child’s Quit Nits head lice products captured a respectable percentage of the head lice treatment market in Australia, becoming a standard stock item in Australian pharmacies, as well as in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.

Leanne had always thought globally, and decided that the best way to begin breaking down barriers to entry in Europe was to start in the UK. As an English speaking country with low trade barriers and low regulatory costs, doing business in the UK with three times the population of Australia was the logical first step. Starting at the top, Wild Child approached Boots the Chemist, the largest distributor of head lice preparations in the UK.

Since then Wild Child has been an enormous success, first in Australia and subsequently across Europe and Britain, where it has revolutionized the treatment of head lice and taken on the major multi-national pharmaceutical companies whose chemical products had dominated the market for 80 years. After proving the effectiveness and popularity of Quit Nits in Australia, Leanne traveled to Britain in 2003 and convinced the Boots pharmacy chain to stock her product in its 1,400 stores.

The Boots account provided essential credibility to Wild Child’s marketability as a serious player in children’s health care in Europe and beyond. In the 2005/06 financial year, Wild Child launched its products into Ireland, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Slovakia off the back of the Boots contract. The recent establishment of a business development and support infrastructure in Europe means that Wild Child is now better able to market its products to major retailers throughout the region.

As of January 2008, Quit Nits natural head lice products have been launched in the U.S., the world’s largest market for head lice products, and its line of head lice products are now available at all 6,200 CVS pharmacies across the nation. Presently, the company has already succeeded in developing a substantial manufacturing and distribution infrastructure.

A key part of the Wild Child story is the evolution and understanding of the science behind the initial discovery which has subsequently led to the creation of the Biotech Product Development division. This division is focused on natural and nature identical products, including a range of natural sunscreens that are complimentary to the company’s core principles. This line of sunscreen is not currently available for sale in the U.S.

As Chief Executive of Wild Child, Preston has been recognized with a range of national honors including the 2007 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year, the winner of the Yellow Business Owner of the Year and the Australian Government Business Innovation Award.

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