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News & Media > Alumnae Awards > 2024 Alumnae Award Recipients > Leanne Haining (1987)

Leanne Haining (1987)

2024 Alumnae Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Leanne Haining is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Urban Rituelle, an Australian business success story.

Urban Rituelle is a multi-award-winning boutique manufacturer of natural, Australian-made bath, body, skincare, and home fragrance products, who are known as one of the most distinctive designers and manufacturers in the Australian gift and homewares industry.

Leanne is an exceptional entrepreneur with a passion for excellence and constant improvement who is driven to push for the best outcomes for her business, team, customers, and the community. She says her vision is ‘create a business that makes people feel-good. My passion is to create a sustainable business with a philosophy of passion, kindness, care, and unsurpassed quality.’

With her business partner/husband, Leanne started selling their Urban Rituelle soap in the 1990s at markets in Sydney, and later began partnering with retail outlets. Since then, she has steered Urban Rituelle into a multi-million-dollar global business is with a range of products stocked in over 1000 boutique gift and homewares retailers Australia-wide, as well as exporting to markets including Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

In the early days, Leanne and her husband did everything in the business: manufacturing, picking and packing the orders, answering the phones, invoicing, accounts payable and receivable, and new product development. They made their products on their kitchen table in their rental in Newtown. As they grew their product range, they started to manufacture at a larger scale so they could provide their products to retailers Australia wide.

As the Creative Director of Urban Rituelle, Leanne oversees the brand direction, including the look, feel, smell and the personality of the brand. She works with all departments in the business, but her main focus is product, people, marketing and finance. She directs all the innovation, design, packaging, products and scents.

Some of Leanne’s recent career highlights include:

  • A finalist in this year’s Australian Small Business Champions Awards (announced in September). Feedback from the judging panel: ‘The achievements of your business are truly impressive and stood out from more than 5500 entries received this year. You ought to feel very proud for demonstrating such excellence as an elite Australian small business in the Beauty and Lifestyle product category.’.
  • Winner of Australian Small Business Champions Award in 2023 and finalists in 2022, 2021 and 2020.
  • Recipient of The Organic Beauty Awards for Best Clean Beauty brand and Best Clean Wellbeing brand, along with the Editor’s Choice Award in 2022.
  • Recognized as winners and Editor’s Choice in the Clean + Conscious Awards, and Editor’s Choice in the Beauty Shortlist Awards 2022.
  • Asked to be an official stockist in the Australian Olympic Village for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Leanne is also someone who invests in herself and is an active participant in business events, retreats and conferences in order to build strong connections with other leading businesswomen. She says it is important to be surround by people ‘who know more than you’; an expert team of advisors, mentors and other business owners who understand the journey. She is an active member of multiple prominent women’s networks and communities and has spoken on business panels to audiences of over 1000 businesswomen and has been a guest speaker at multiple International Women’s Day events.

When asked whether she would consider manufacturing their products offshore to save costs or speed up production timelines, the answer was a definitive ‘No’. ‘Being Australian-made has been integral to our brand from the very beginning.… We’ve been passionate about our products being manufactured in Australia. We’ve also employed a local team in our manufacturing and production facility in Sydney (Caringbah, in the Sutherland Shire). Finally, the quality of the ingredients that we have here is second to none.’

Sustainability has also been a key component of Leanne’s business from the beginning. When discussing product development and the costs associated with sustainable options, Leanne says ‘if it costs more for a sustainable option then that’s what we have to do, there simply is no other option.’  For instance, they have replaced the silicon ring on the candle glass lid. ‘It took a lot more time and money to implement, however now we have a cardboard ring that goes around the lid to ensure they don’t break in transit. We did have a couple of customers call up and ask why we got rid of the plastic ring, and we replied ’so they don’t go around the necks of seals and turtles!’’ Also, their packaging boxes no longer have a laminate coating, and they have purchased a machine that shreds any extra or damaged boxes they have. That then becomes the shredding that’s used for packing orders. ‘We don’t bring in bubble wrap, foam, or plastic packaging into the business.’

Leanne is a visionary businesswoman leading an award-winning, sustainable company committed to local production. Her dedication to sustainability and community empowerment sets a remarkable standard for the business world. Through innovative practices and ethical principles, she has not only achieved success but also inspired others to prioritize environmental stewardship and support local economies.

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