Words by Athena Dennis
Lea Rajendran is the Founder and instrumental Director of the sumptuous and all natural Sundari Cosmetics. A brand that pays homage to women of all colours and ethnicities.
During her 20’s, Lea travelled the world and worked in the corporate sector. She loved the business and relationship–building parts of her career, but felt a deep yearning for more creativity. Following extensive training in makeup artistry, Lea identified a clear gap in the market. No other cosmetics brand in Australia catered to women of all skin tones.
Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word for beautiful – Sundari Cosmetics seeks to reconnect women with their inner divine and sanctum. Sundari takes its palette from the vibrant colours of Australian land and sea. Unlike other cosmetics brands, Sundari doesn’t stop at medium tones. Their range transforms women of all ethnicities and skin tones into goddesses, from alabaster white tones all the way to deep ebony shades. The brand has developed a cosmetics range to cater to all skin concerns.
Their mineral make up contains SPF 20 and is sourced and produced in Australia from all natural ingredients. The powerhouse also creates blushes, bronzers, brushes, tools, pressed eye shadows, lipsticks and more. Silk Crème Foundation is a best seller that combines the benefits of a liquid and powder with light reflecting qualities, shine control and a smooth satin finish. It has an excellent coverage without being too heavy. Silk Crème comes in ten gorgeous shades for women of all ethnicities.
At its inception, Lea knew that one of the key aspects of running her cosmetics business was recruiting the right team. ”It was clear from the start that I needed a sound business plan to form the backbone of my vision. Key to this, was a good accountant and bookkeeper who were there to help and advise where necessary,” she says.
Starting up any business can be a white-knuckle ride for anyone. Lea recalls her moments in the sun, a round of exciting firsts, like her first stockist, seeing her products in a retail environment and the ultimate recognition from the fashion elites, not forgetting naming rights to an iconic Melbourne fashion event and gaining huge media exposure. It’s been an exhilarating ride so far and the ascent has just begun.
Although she’s creative and has a strong aesthetic streak, this is tempered with an organised and cautious approach to running her business. She says, ”I like order and a strong purpose for what I’m doing. I’m not someone who flies by night. Everything I do has a level of caution. It’s calculated to ensure that the outcome leads to bigger things that benefit the brand.”
Sundari has been a partner of many prominent fashion and racing events such as Melbourne Racing Club’s Fashion on the Fields and Milliner’s Night, Ted Baker’s Fashion Shows and many more. Sundari Cosmetics already has strong connections with LifestyleYOU channel, Ted Baker London and Melbourne Racing Club. Their products are fast becoming the cult must-have items for fashionistas.
Beyond its tangible success, there’s an underlying core of sisterhood to Sundari.
”I get a sense of satisfaction, knowing that I’m helping to empower someone and see their success come to fruition. I think it’s the law of attraction. I love working with people just starting out. Giving them opportunities and watching them grow and develop their careers. I know that my success is only as good as the people around me. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had.”
The goddess of colour also desires a deep sense of belonging with her own family. ”My family always comes first. They are the driving force behind the business. They keep me very grounded,” she says.
Lea’s family came to Australia in 1973. Her rich ethnicity stems from Sri Lankan and Portuguese-Australian cultural background. Her father was a business manager and mother ran her own small business. Lea had a middle-class upbringing in the affluent suburb of Middle Park, Melbourne. Racism and prejudice were rife at the time. But her parents encouraged her to rise above it and hold her head high. Lea learnt that race and colour don’t determine success, state of mind does. Also that anyone can overcome the challenges in life, if they have tenacity, positivity and clearly defined goals.
“Nothing beats having time with my three-year-old son. It’s so entertaining and makes me realise how blessed my life is,” she concludes.
Lea wouldn’t have it any other way!
Athena Dennis is a digital content manager having a life-long love affair with books, words and internet goodness.