Meet ETTO's Founder: Andrea Horwood

Meet ETTO's Founder: Andrea Horwood

For this edition of Australian Stories, in celebration of our 1st year birthday, we convinced our Founder & CEO Andrea Horwood to be our interviewee!

ETTO isn’t her first category disrupting, chemical free product offering to the world. In 2014 Andrea introduced an organic supergreens powder with WelleCo Super Elixir, and it was a global first to have a health ingestible sitting in the beauty departments of David Jones, Harrods, Space NK & Selfridges. 

Prior to that, in 2003, Andrea created the international skin and sun care brand Invisible Zinc, bringing to Australians, and then to the rest of the world, an alternative to chemical sunscreen. She also helped launch Becca Cosmetics and was the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the cult publication Australian Style, with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Heath Ledger, Leonardo Dicaprio, Nick Cave and Bob Hawke gracing its covers.


I have always been far more comfortable in the background where my businesses are concerned, I’m far more interested in the doing than the talking - and believe the products should do the latter. ETTO is different, it feels like we are bringing together everything we have learned over years of working together, my team and I, and we want to communicate the benefits and ways our products can help so many people. And we want to do this directly and openly.

Andrea Founded Invisible Zinc in 2003, Georgia May Jagger was an ambassador along with Megan Gale. 

What kind of Australian environment do you live in, tell us about the environment?

Coastal, with a sliver of bushland! We live between the river and the ocean in a beautiful little part of Western Australia. A morning walk through the bush, around the bay with all the beautiful limestone caves, pelicans, swans and dolphins is how I start most days – the sunrise over the Swan is my happy place. I am lucky enough to be able to live a simple life in a naturally beautiful place – air-in-the-lungs, toes-in-the-grass, natural life.  One that I appreciate more so every day.

WelleCo was the first organic Super Greens and Protein Powder to be stocked in Beauty Stores

What inspired ETTO and its reason for being?

I was asked to run a feasibility study for Australian industry and growers; the research we studied around the complex medicinal compounds found in these unique plant varieties made it compelling, we had to start a unique natural first aid company to capture the benefits.

Highly complex Terpines and compounds that proved to be some of the most powerful antivirals, antifungals and anti-bacterials on the planet - and they grow here. We saw from the research being done at UWA and Curtin Universities in particular, that these powerful plant compounds could (and should) replace their chemical counterparts in personal care and first aid products.

ETTO was then born as a collaboration with the growers, supported by likeminded West Australians.

The more we saw, the more excited we became -  there was a clear opportunity here to reduce our chemical contact load and clean up the high-use, high-touch products we that use every day. ETTO could potentially replace Vicks, Dettol, Head and Shoulders, dry shampoos, Benzoyl Peroxide in acne treatments and a raft of other synthetic and chemical treatments.  Along the way bringing our touch - a premium experience with beautiful products through to a wide customer base across the country. Hence our launch into pharmacy next month. We felt we simply had to bring these remarkable benefits to people with clean, potent solutions for topical and respiratory wellness.

Skincare as a category is quite trend driven, but ETTO aspires to forge a path embracing simplicity and formulating powerful products that are multi-taskers that will serve their problem solving function beyond the trends. Tell us a bit about why this philosophy is important to ETTO?

The line-up of essential can-do products was led by the research - a scalp-to-toe premedicated shower foam using a high % of Terpinen 4-ol that we steam-extract from our superior variety of Melaleuca Alternifolia is just a gift of a product, we are all addicted -  a beautiful daily botanical cleanser, scalp treatment (anti-fungal for flaky scalp), face and body cleanser (antibacterial for body odour, acne, sensitive skin issues), shaving cream that treats redness and shaving rash  - all in a base of whipped organic coconut. And that’s just describing one product. It’s already a bestseller.

For me, it all comes down to the products. We are disrupting a trend-driven industry with valuable, trusted, beautiful products that are set to become part of our Australian life. Communicated in an honest, straightforward way - there’s no need for tricky marketing when the products are truly good.

Andrea on the cover of Sydney Times Magazine, 2017 

Invisible Zinc formed out of research from the University of WA, ETTO has followed a similar path by creating products that are based on the scientific research behind the botanicals grown in nature. Do you see similarities in the journey of Invisible Zinc and ETTO’s launch into the world in this first year alone?

Absolutely! These unique businesses take time and communication to earn their rightful place, both here and on a global stage. With ETTO, everything started with the research.

We looked at hospital trials where radiation patients were lowered into a bath of 10% Tea Tree oil to see the analgesic relief and treatment of burns (did you know every ambulance in Australia carries a burn treatment product with the active Tea Tree Oil)?

We saw that the antibacterial properties had the potential to replace the widely used, problematic ingredient Benzoyl-Peroxide to treat acne, and more recently the incredible anti-viral research findings from Curtin University proving our superior ETTO Melaleuca Alternifolia Tea Tree can tackle everything from flu to Covid-19.

As it was with Invisible Zinc, born from the particle engineering department at UWA, there’s a compelling researched benefit to bring these powerful and natural remedies to market.

A couple of covers from Australian Style featuring Heath Ledger & Kylie Minogue,1999/2000

As a serial entrepreneur, do you have any gold nuggets of advice to anyone thinking about, or in the throes of starting a business?

Anyone who tells you things like ‘do something you love and it won’t feel like work’ is either talking nonsense or has never actually run a business. Instead, let’s talk about how to structure a shareholder’s agreement, team planning, cash-flow, founder protections in the company constitution (learned the hard way!), market channel entry, growth and funding. And it IS going to feel like work.

At home with Boo the poodle. Shot for Bazaar Magazine

What do you see for ETTO in the future?

Beloved and trusted products that are part of our healthy everyday life in Australia, and around the world. If you have a cut finger - reach for ETTO! A flaky scalp -treat naturally with ETTO. Looking for protection against viruses in travel and transit? We have ETTO Forest Lungs utilising the anti-viral and decongestant properties of ETTO Blue Mallee. Shaving without getting a rash, use ETTO Premedicated All Over Body Foam. Itchy bites? ETTO has The Pure Oil Spray for that. This is where I see ETTO, a trusted, natural part of our lives.

Leonardio Dicaprio 1997 and Bob Hawke 1994 shot by Hugh Stewart for Andrea's Australian Style Magazine

The ETTO product you use the most (if you had to pick one!)?

It’s a tie:

1. Pure Oil Spray – I use it on everything… cuts, skin rashes, bites, garden scratches, as an antibacterial on pillows in hotel rooms, on gym equipment and mats, spray in wardrobes and linen cupboards… I pretty much have this on me all the time to spray on hands and inhale if I’ve been in crowds or exposed to germs.

2. Premedicated Foam - I am addicted,  everyday. Scalp treatment once a week, body cleanser daily, even as a facial cleanser. 

And if I'm allowed 3. The Skin Balm – I have super-dry hands from never wearing gloves in the kitchen or garden and our new medicated Hemp and Tea Tree balm is my saviour! I keep one in the bathroom to use on damp skin post-shower or hand washing, one by the bed for overnight hand and nail nourishment, on my desk as lip balm, hand balm and through ends of hair to nourish and stop frizz. Haven’t tried eating it yet…

Photo by Penny Lane 

At home you have free range chickens, two poodles, a bunny rabbit, a budgerigar and koi fish! Did you always have animals around growing up and how do animals enrich human life from your perspective? 

We can’t forget Alfredo the singing canary. My father and his family were farmers, so perhaps it’s in the genes, however I suspect it’s a basic human connection that we all crave.  

I am not a farmer, and any knowledge of such is rudimentary at best. So it’s most definitely amateur hour at home, we all survive (as long as one troublesome poodle is not allowed in the chicken coop) and the mayhem seems to work. 

I’ve worked out chickens love chilli flakes, poodles fur loves an ETTO medicated foam wash, a yellow canary will turn green with too much broccoli, and a pond-side visiting grey heron is never good news.

How do you stay connected to nature?

It’s the Western Australian lifestyle, connected to the big blue sky, the endless pristine coast to our north, vineyards and elephant rocks to our south, the ocean and the Swan river … being connected to nature is possibly the reason we all live here, return here, have our adventures from here (well that and the wealth of natural resources that make us the economic powerhouse of the country).

There was a palpable trend after Covid to reconnect with nature, or ‘rewilding’ as the Brits call it.  Whereas it’s easier to feel connected to nature here - up at dawn, bush walk around the river, home for fresh eggs from the chooks, feels like a more natural existence is possible here. Space.

How does nature nourish you?

Catching the first moments of the sun, sungazing directly at sunrise as the ancients used to, for pineal gland health and all the rest.

I make my way up to a special tree in troubled times, a giant gum, and we have a little moment that tree and I in the darkness before dawn. A sometimes needed reminder that deep roots need not fear the wind.

The simplicity of growing fresh greens, even a windowsill of sprouts is better than freeze-dried imported, and rocket keeps growing most of the year.  And at the end of the day I massage ETTO pure Blue Mallee Eucalyptus on the soles of my feet at bedtime, the magnesium and heavenly scent sends me into the calmest deep sleep. Happiness does have a smell  

Your favourite thing about Australia?

Quite simply Home. Where my family, my roots are.

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