An Interview With Freda & David of Mr. Smith


Mother-son duo Freda Rossidis and David Justin started the Mr. Smith brand in 2015 to bring an Australian-made luxury brand built around style, substance, and simplicity to the market while also sharing their passion for the salon industry. As the newest addition to Premier Beauty, we sat down to chat about their origin and what they’re up to now.

Tell us a little bit about the journey that led you to start the Mr. Smith brand.

David: I grew up immersed in my mom’s salons from a very young age—sweeping, making foils, folding towels—and it became very apparent that this was what I wanted to do. I studied business and commerce and worked in the industry for five years when I decided it was time to start the brand, so it was a simple transition.

Freda: Had someone told me ten years ago I’d be working with my son, I would have said no way. I’ve had my own salon and worked in the industry for over 35 years. I was working internationally, and as an only child, David had to tag along. I love the industry, and David became a part of that, so when he started the brand, I knew it was time for me to focus on that with him.

What was your vision for the brand?

Our work is our life; we are working 16 hour days, and we love the industry, so while we wanted to create a brand that made a difference, at the end of the day, what we really wanted was to love what we do and the brand we stand behind. We wanted to share our passion with others and build relationships around that.

The brand’s mantra is Style, Substance & Simplicity. How does this play into the products, and what goes on behind the scenes with the brand?

We crafted the brand with an editorial runway influence, so it’s really about style above all else. Making the products is about more than what we leave out—parabens, sulfates, etc.—it’s also what we put in. We’re testing these products on ourselves and our family, so we have to be confident that they’re safe and not harmful.

Beautiful hair should also be effortless. Everything we do on the runway needs to be able to transition into the salon seamlessly; it has to be practical.

We know sustainability is a big part of the brand. Can you speak to how the brand practices and promotes sustainability?

Our family comes from a farming background. We’ve always grown our own vegetables and sort of lived that farm-to-table lifestyle, so sourcing ingredients we’re confident in is really important to us. We don’t use ingredients treated with pesticides; we use FSC-certified biodegradable cardboard for all of our boxes.

In early 2021, we transitioned our packaging to use all PCR plastic, which reduces the use of virgin plastics. Within five years, we’ll have saved 100 tons of plastic by using recycled materials. Because we use this recycled plastic, our bottles are not always exactly the same color; it depends on the plastic used in the recycling process, but it also makes the packaging unique.

Sustainability is really important to us, and this extends to our relationships with customers and distributors. So we are careful about who we partner with—they have to live up to these values, too.

The brand strikes an exciting dichotomy between luxury and sustainability. Can you talk about that convergence of two traditionally very different worlds?

Luxury and sustainability is actually the most seamless marriage there is when done correctly.

Every ingredient in its rawest form is at its most luxurious—packed with antioxidants and nutrients. We carefully choose our ingredients, like organic passionflower, Kakadu plum, and frankincense, and use them in their purest form to blend luxury and sustainability.

What are the brand values, and how do they differ from other product lines on the market?

We’re 100 percent family-owned, so we are able to do things the way we want, without external pressure to cut costs or increase margins. We are just an honest brand. We use premium, Australia-grown ingredients and manufacture our products in small batches. That’s just how we want to do things.

The packaging and branding feature a sleek, minimal, modern look. What led you to this visual style? How does this reflect the mission and values behind the brand?

We wanted the product and our values to speak for themselves—we knew we didn’t need to be the loudest brand in the salon. The minimalist design allows the products to stand alone and hold their own in any salon environment.

We also wanted people to feel like they bought themselves a present or spoiled themselves by buying Mr. Smith products, so we wanted a simple aesthetic that felt luxe.

We heard you’re looking to purchase a plot of land to expand into growing your own ingredients. Can you share more with us on what you guys are up to and how that’s going?

Growing our own ingredients means everything to us. This is so much more than a business for us; it’s an extension of our family’s love. It’s like feeding someone with food you’ve grown yourself—it’s a labor of love and pride. Growing our own ingredients will make the brand feel complete in our eyes.

We’ve been looking at properties and hope to secure a plot by the end of the year. This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and we want to keep it in the family for future generations, so it has to be the right fit.

How do you feel Mr. Smith plays into the bigger picture of what’s going on not just in the beauty industry but in the world?

Mr. Smith is a universal brand; we’re for everyone. We’re androgynous not because that’s what people expect, but because we’re just honest people. What you see is what you get with us. We’re socially conscious and want to help the community around us. We’re not afraid to have a hard conversation, and we want to give the people we work with opportunities and help them grow.

When we go home at night, we know that we’ve built something we’re proud of, and we’re making friends for life in the process.

Where would you like to see the brand in the future?

We are fortunate to say that we are exactly where we want to be. We have grown personally and as a company in the past year, and we’re really happy with where we’re at.

You’re a mother-son duo working on a major brand; what’s that like?

We work well together; we each have our own strengths, and they complement each other. In short, we love it!

To learn more about Mr. Smith and try Premier’s latest addition, go to the Mr. Smith page on our website.

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