Stab Recommends: Standard Procedure Sunscreen
Nothing but honest lotion to stop you burning.
Dion Agius is one of the savviest figures in surf.
When he puts his name to things they tend to work (Epokhe being the premier example, with Octopus and numerous others close behind) and his latest, Standard Procedure sunscreen, could be his best venture to date.
“My business partner Zepha’s family have had a sunscreen factory on the Sunshine Coast for 35 years, and she called me and said that she was thinking of doing something,” Dion tells me, freshly returned to Tasmania after four months on the road in NSW. “The product they’d been working on blew my mind.”
Dion says that he really wasn’t looking to dip his fingers in any more pies, but when an interesting opportunity arises he “gets too excited” and “can’t say no.” The excitement in getting into sunscreen—a market that’s saturated, but not exactly perfected—came from the quality of the product manufactured by folk who’ve been doing it for so long. “I’ve struggled a little bit with sunscreen over the years,” Dion says. “Being a surfer and spending as much time in the sun as I do, being able to work with Zepha and tap into the epic formula that her family business has perfected just made sense. It’s a super hands-on operation too—there are three generations of the family working in the factory, so we know it’s made using the cleanest ingredients in the most ethical way possible.”
“I tested it a lot and surfed for ages, sent it to some friends and the consensus was that it was really good,” Dion says. “So we partnered up. Zepha as the back-end sunscreen guru and me being the test-pilot. I’ve been working with her on product development, put together a little surf team and worked on the branding and marketing.”
That was six months ago, and Standard Procedure went to market last week. Which is a remarkable turnaround, even when you’re working with folk who’ve been making sunscreen for three decades.
The final push to market involved dropping a box to Stab hq, and after a month of testing the stuff in the harsh spring sun, we can safely endorse it. It’s just nice, non-greasy sunscreen that works. Thick enough to feel like you’re actually protecting yourself (haven’t scolded the snoz yet), and nostalgic—both in the branding and the smell—which is refreshingly non-botanic.
Concept’s everything when you’re entering a crowded market, and Standard Procedure is beautifully simple. And, importantly, it looks great. “We worked with Bradley Pinkerton on the branding, who’s a really fucking good designer from Melbourne. I gave him a bunch of references: 70s wallpaper, curtains, enamel colour and cars. I just wanted to keep it fun. The whole idea is that it’s not trying to be uber cool or price anyone out.”
Standard Procedure’s stroke of genius was getting people to rifle through their family albums to create the look of the brand on social. Brands are always trying (nearly always in vain) to “interact” with their consumers, and Dion’s brainwave is an advertising’s exec’s wet dream.
“We wanted the campaigns to be reminiscent of childhood photos, and I thought of the treasure trove of imagery that people must be sitting on,” he says. “We put out the call and everyone went nuts and started submitting all these photos. The epic spin-off is that people have written in and said that they’d had such an amazing time going back through the archives and reliving childhood memories with their parents and friends.”
The “surf team” that Dion’s managed to rustle together is taking shape nicely (Ozzy, Creed, Craig, Jaleesa V and skate pal Austin Gillette’s a good start) and he tells me that, like everything he does, the ultimate goal with Standard Procedure (after protecting everyone’s skin with quality sunscreen) is to make surf films with his friends. Something that he’s been rather successful at so far. As a respectful aside, Dion and Zepha have partnered with Children’s Ground, a charity that works with First Nations communities to blend cultural knowledge with formal education to create positive futures for the next gen.
“Having a company based around having fun and enjoying Australia, especially the outdoors and the environment, I feel like there’s definitely some respect to be paid to the caretakers who’ve looked after the land for 60,000 years until we arrived here,” Dion says.
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