20 Coolest Retailers: Five up-and-coming Aussie brands that are taking off


For the fourth year running, Inside Retail has put together its list of the 20 coolest retailers in Australia. It includes a mix of forward-thinking and innovative businesses that are doing exciting things across a range of categories. Some of these brands –likeBonds andCountry Road – are well established and well-known, but this article takes a look at five emerging businesses that are on the rise, bringing new products and ideas to the retail industry, and worth keeping an eye on

Single Use Ain’t Sexy: making soap more sustainable

Launched in 2020 with a glass soap bottle that can be refilled using dissolvable hand-wash tablets, Single Use Ain’t Sexyhas grown rapidly in the years following.

Over 6000 Australian customers have purchased products, with founder Josh Howard telling Inside Retail that its products have saved tens of thousands of single-use plastic bottles from Aussie landfill.

 “Not only is this better for the environment, but also it saves on product and shipping costs,” Howard said.

There are busy times ahead for the company, as it looks to expand collaborations with partners such as Memobottle, and build on its direct-to-consumer and wholesale business. 

Howard partly attributes the success of the brand to the fact that it has – as per the name – endeavoured to make sustainability simple and sexy for customers.

“Our belief is that we can empower people to reduce single-use plastic by making them feel good,” he said.

Astrid: a leading medicinal cannabis dispensary

Founded by clinical pharmacist Lisa Nguyen in 2020, Astrid has built up a community of over 10,000 patients in under two years. 

Emerging shortly after the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia in 2016, the female-led boutique pharmacy operates in an architecturally designed space, offers a holistic approach to customer service, and specialises in cannabinoid medicine, plant-based therapies and nutraceuticals. For its work, the business has been awarded The Australian dispensary of the year at the cannabis industry awards in 2021. 

Nguyen tells Inside Retail that she saw a gap in the market for a pharmacy that specialised in cannabis education, dispensing and support. With her husband, they cashed out their savings and super and sold almost everything they owned to generate funding for the business. Now, they are reaping the rewards, and plan to continue growing the business.

“This growth has been far beyond expectations, and we are so very humbled,” Nguyen said.

Good Citizens: making sunnies out of single-use plastics

Good Citizens started over a family dinner in 2018. 

Nik Robinson, a graphic designer, was chatting with sons Harry and Archie, who were concerned about the prevalence of plastic waste, and how it was trashing the planet. 

After some contemplation, he came up with Good Citizens, a Sydney-based sunglasses brand with products made out of single-use plastic bottles. The glasses are made out of recycled plastic, and everything – besides the lenses – can be recycled.

Designing the sunnies took over 752 days, and over 2500 failed attempts, before the brand launched online in 2020. Now, the concept has spread internationally, with the brand being displayed in the window of Selfridges’ London flagship for four months, as part of the British department store’s Project Earth Initiative. 

The business also practices ‘radical transparency,’ with its supply chain located a few hours from Sydney, in New South Wales. 

Pilot: the online health clinic used by men across Australia

Pilot co-founder Charlie Gearside tells Inside Retail that there’s been little innovation, in terms of personalisation or accessibility in men’s healthcare. So he and Pilot’sthree co-founders aimed to disrupt the industry, and change the conversation around men’s health.

Pilot is a digital healthcare platform that combines an online clinic – where clients can chat to a GP, and access prescription medications – with an information centre that is taking aim at stigmatised conditions such as sexual dysfunction, dermatology, hair loss and obesity. 

In 2022, the business partnered with early intervention mental health hotline TIACS [This Is A Conversation Starter], focused on a new obesity management offering and recently ran a controversial billboard campaign for R U OK Day.

“We’re breaking down the barriers to entry, and offering discreet treatment to all men, whether they’re from capital cities or out in rural communities,” Gearside said.

“When we discover an issue has slipped through the cracks, or the solution has become stagnant due to old-world ideologies, Pilot is ready to jump on it and drag it to the forefront of this exciting new future of digital healthcare.”

Sneaker Laundry: caring for your kicks

Former law student Eugene Cheng noticed that there wasn’t a business that would care for, or restore, his much-loved sneakers. Identifying a gap in the market for sneaker cleaners, he opened the first Sneaker Laundry store in Melbourne’s CBD in 2017.

A relatively straight-forward concept – a basic clean costs $35, a full restoration $150 – the business has expanded nationally and internationally, with stores in Sydney and Lebanon, and a pick up/drop off service in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Cheng tells Inside Retail that the business has cleaned shoes worth over $26,000.

“The pretty cool thing is that there aren’t many [competitors] in our category to begin with. In Australia, we’ve cleaned the most sneakers by a country mile, and it’s something us and the team get better and better at with every sneaker we clean,” Cheng told Inside Retail.

He adds that there are plans to expand more aggressively over the coming years, with the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia on the top of his list. 

“We also have some pretty cool products on the horizon, which we can’t wait to show our customers. We’ll be spending a lot of time improving what we currently have, too,” he said.


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