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Pandemic the catalyst for Yaye

Dianne Bortoletto -

COVID-19 was the demise of many businesses, but in Melissa Cole's case, it was the catalyst for Yaye.

Ms Cole said that constant use of hand sanitiser during the pandemic dried out her skin.

"I was wanting an antibacterial option that was a little less aggressive, I couldn't find anything on the market, so I made one," Ms Cole said.

"The first product I made was a hand wash using the extracts of plants native Central Australian that I knew had antibacterial properties.

"I realised pretty quickly that I couldn't have a business with just a single product, so I created a suite of complementary bath and body products."

The name 'Yaye', meaning 'big sister' in the Arrernte language, pays homage to her husband Anthony's heritage.

Ms Cole, who is of Warumungu and Luritja descent, grew up in Alice Springs and for 30 years, worked in the education sector and still holds a full time job while her passion project Yaye grows.

Yaye is 100 per cent Aboriginal owned and 100 per cent Australian made with three ranges, each with a different fragrance and bush medicine extract.

The products includes body butter, body scrub, body wash, bath crystals, and bubble bath.

The Dreaming range with a sandalwood fragrance contains white cypress pine, a native plant traditionally used as an antiseptic body wash.

Yaye body wash from the Dreaming collection. (Image: supplied)

The Ochre range with a sweet vanilla caramel scent contains emu bush, which helps soothe skin, reduce the signs of ageing, assists with after sun care and reduces dark spots.

The Summer range contains native silky lemongrass, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can decrease oil build up and reduce puffiness.

Ms Cole expanded the Native Silky Lemongrass range to include hotel amenities such as shampoo and conditioner.

The brand recently secured its first large resort at Kings Canyon, which offers Yaye to guest in their premium bathroom suites.

"Initially the shampoo and conditioner was exclusive for B&Bs and resorts, but I had people messaging asking where they could buy the range, so we now offer the shampoo and conditioner as a two pack online," Ms Cole said.

"That's what I've been doing, listening to the market, and making it happen."

Despite the challenges of balancing a business with full-time work, Ms Cole remains dedicated.

"It's not always easy running a business while working full time, but it's a work in progress to reach our goal," she said.

Ms Cole has ambitions to expand Yaye's stockists, presence and establish a robust Aboriginal supply chain.

Yaye is currently stocked in 60 Australian stores and is available online via


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