Establishing Australia’s planet first natural belly and body oil to inspire.


Meanjin | Brisbane, Australia


Australia wide

Sector / Sharing:

Beauty - Skincare

Our role: 

Branding; Brand Strategy, Brand Identity Design, Creative Direction, Packaging Design.

Packaging; Creative Direction, Custom Packaging Design, Sourcing, Production Management.


Desert Island Essentials was dreamt into existence by founder Kate Ellis, a passionate environmental activist with a mission to inspire better, more Earth-loving consumer choices. Founded in 2020, the goal of Desert Island Essentials was simple: help women to both feel luxurious, while minimising their environmental footprint. From this, the award-winning belly and body oil was born. This divine beauty alternative allows Australian mothers to care for themselves, whilst simultaneously caring for Mother Earth. 

In developing Desert Island Essentials, Kate was determined to ensure the foundation of her business  and products was built solidly, with a holistic end-to-end ethical approach – from where and how the ingredients are grown, harvested and processed, by-products, through to what happens at the end of the product’s life.

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Our approach

We set out to establish Desert Island Essentials as a catalyst for action, a trigger that inspires women to put the planet front and centre.

Working closely with the founder to ensure her branding and packaging fully aligned with her ethos and business goals, each detail of Desert Island Essential’s brand experience was thoughtfully crafted to be properly reflective of Kate’s core belief, and to inspire a profound planet-first approach in Australian mothers.

We began our creative process with a thorough deep dive into the heart and soul of Desert Island Essentials, to better understand their brand proposition and ideal customer. In a highly saturated, and somewhat deceitful green-washing landscape, Desert Island Essentials had to establish itself as a legitimate doer of better — from start to finish. 

When we first met Kate, she had envisaged a self-care brand that provided the bare necessities — items that you’d need (and want) if you were on a desert island. Products that were natural, evidence-based, and effectual, yet luxurious. It was important that everything we did was right — stickler for the rules where it needed to be, while breaking those that needed to be challenged.

We familiarised ourselves with legislation, regulations and guidelines, from labelling to shipping requirements. And we learnt something new; any liquid shipped by Australia Post must contain absorbable material capable of absorbing the full volume of liquid. We searched every corner of the internet to find a material capable of absorbing 100% the oil, that was also sustainable. 

Working in partnership with Kate, we established the overarching brand direction — purposeful vogue  — that articulates Desert Island Essentials’ ambition, purpose and promise. We brought this to life through the brand's visual identity, and mindfully custom designed packaging.

People are more open to behavioural change while they’re experiencing a state of change
(a state of disruption).

A key insight during our research was that periods of disruption are the best time to enact needed change. While each disruption is unique, they all share a commonality — they temporarily eliminate inertia. The hardest stage of any change effort is convincing people that the status quo (aka inertia) is no longer a viable option. In fact, people tend to be resistant to change under normal circumstances and feel a strong sense of psychological ownership of the status quo. However during times of disruption — for example, going through pregnancy — they are more open, because change has become the status quo.

The solution

Our mission was to establish Desert Island Essentials as an activist brand that leads by example. A brand that is human, realistic, and does what it says — from the very beginning to the end.

We achieved this through thoughtful collaboration, generating a carefully curated brand experience brought to life through a strong identity and strategy that expands across a custom packaging and unboxing experience you’d want to take with you anywhere (yes, even to a desert island).

A monogram that takes inspiration from nature’s fluid forms, but is purposeful and precise in its approach. An intentional construction adapts circular forms, representative of inclusivity and Desert Island Essentials’ end-to-end ethical business model. The adjoining lines represent connectivity, and symbolise our influence on each other and our planet. A simple serif typefaces compliments the perfect, asymmetrical forms, establishing a sense of aspirational luxury. It is elegant, and it is strong yet feminine.

A luxuriously utilitarian eco packaging experience that was custom designed specifically to reduce the amount of packaging — creating a mailer and retail box all in one — and protect its delicate glass passenger, using mindfully selected and recycled materials. We sourced a super eco alternative to the absorbent material that’s required to accompany liquids in the mail — an environmentally friendly, fully compostable and biodegradable Natural Florist Foam made from basalt and sucrose.

Throughout the entire project we worked closely with Desert Island Essentials to truly embody their values, and show the world that luxurious body care can inspire change for the better.

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The results

The mindful direction of Desert Island Essentials’ brand was motivated by the founder’s passion for doing better by Mother Earth, by her commitment to social and environmental consciousness. It was our goal to better connect and share that message with their customers, positioning them as a catalyst for change, to inspire women to put the planet first.

Desert Island Essentials launched in 2021, and has expanded to help inspire change through virtual escapism and guided meditation. The brand secured its first in-store retailer in 2022.

We helped the brand establish themselves as an eco activist, a leader who embodies their values throughout the entire brand lifecycle. We designed a brand experience that minimised their costs as a start-up, mitigates breakage (and the emissions and waste that accompany it), and eliminates roughly 0.3 kg of carbon emissions per product. To put it into context, that's about half the weight of the product!

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Meanjin | Brisbane, Australia

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210A Days Road Grange Q 4051
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