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Business Envoy Digital Trade Edition April 2021 banner image

Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils’ COVID Pivot

In Western Australia, Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils pivoted to produce new health products, connecting customers with communities for global cooperation and discovering a whole new way to deliver on its vision.

Photo of Dutjahn Custodian giving the Western Australia, Dutjahn Sandalwood Oil to a little boy.
Teaching hand sanitisation in the bush. Credit: Dutjahn.

Born out of Aboriginal desert nomads ’ cultural responsibility to safeguard the Australian sandalwood tree (Dutjahn) found deep in the Gibson Desert, Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils sources and supplies sandalwood oil. It ’s a 50:50 partnership between the Dutjahn Custodians, which represent the Martu and Wongi Nations, and W.A. Sandalwood Plantations, and it has won national and international awards for its innovative, ethical business model.

Over 90 per cent of the organisation ’s revenues come from luxury fragrance exports, so when COVID-19 hit, it faced potential cash flow collapse. Of even greater concern was the danger the coronavirus posed to WA ’s isolated Indigenous desert communities. So Dutjahn shifted its focus.

Leveraging the power of partnerships, the business signed an Australian-first deal with Givaudan, a global fragrances giant, and Melbourne skincare company Aesop to produce and distribute 250,000 sanitiser sachets, containing antimicrobial sandalwood oil, to Indigenous communities.

Through staying relevant to customers by keeping them engaged in the project and tapping into their desire to assist, Dutjahn increased its exports by 44 per cent for the 2020 financial year and increased net profits by 220 per cent — an incredible achievement in such a difficult year.

“Nature-based solutions are one of our most important allies,” says Guy Vincent, Chief Executive Officer. “Business needs to be bold and understand that ethical business is good business.”

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