Koskela x Rescue Brand

Whether for better or for worse, 2020 has certainly been a year unlike any other. After experiencing and witnessing many challenges, we wanted to take a moment to indulge in the silver linings, by shining a light on the design, business and workplace innovations that have emerged from the ashes of 2020.

As it became clear that there were no fast solutions in sight, normality as we knew it shifted into the 'new normal' and Koskela began to imagine how this would manifest in the workplace. Simple and effective design solutions can make an acute difference to the flow and feel of a space, cue the Spot Series. The Spot Series embodies minimal and sophisticated design with practical sanitation to engage the users upon entry into a space.

Our head designer, Todd Sidery wanted to avoid the sterile and clinical design solutions that were beginning to crop up and create something a little more playful.

Words like sanitiser, hygiene and pandemic feel very medical and clinical, rousing images of hospital wards and sickness. Most of the existing products we need to help us keep on top of COVID were initially designed to exist in this type of space, hospitals, laboratories etc which is reflected in how they look and in turn how they make us feel. The Spot series aims take the important function of hand sanitising in the workplace but make in a more friendly feeling, feel-good and approachable way.”  - Todd Sidery

Inspired by the utility of fluoro, reflective design in road signs and the playful nature of curves, the Spot Series makes sanitation look sophisticated and approachable. 

Simple, durable, functional and no fuss. We also felt it was important to give them visibility in a space to ensure they’re easy to find when you need them.”  - Todd Sidery

A key feature of the product is the sanitiser itself, something outside of Koskela's expertise. Therefore, we collaborated with Rescue Brand, a company that reflected our values of giving back to the community and choosing to produce locally if possible. Rescue Brand is a medical supplies business, co-founded by Brendan Sheldon and Nick Benson who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. 

Rescue Brand engaged our Graphic Designer, Louis Johanson to design a custom and captivating graphic to be used across the sanitiser bottles. The hand sanitiser would be sold in tandem with the Spot stands and in the retail market as a standalone product. His design process mirrored that of the Spot Series, by creating a design that teetered the line between premium simplicity and playful finishes.

"White ink is used for legibility. Its thick and opaque properties makes the typography pop against the frosted surface. A playful approach to the typography was taken – fusing the ‘an’ in ‘Hand’ and ‘Sanitiser’ in a dynamic and versatile execution." - Louis Johanson 

Sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do. Therefore, to reduce our carbon footprint we opted for a glass bottle that can refilled by businesses or the individual. 

We interviewed the co-founder of Rescue Brand, Brendan Sheldon to gain insight into the inspiration, impact and future of the brand. Rescue Brand embodies the essence of what the Spot Series is about: innovation through crisis. From what started as an inkling that his job was in jeopardy to kickstarting a brand rooted in Australian manufacturing and providing medical supplies for those in need, this is truly an inspiring tale. 

What inspired the creation of Rescue Brand?

Rescue Brand was born partly out of necessity, and partly to provide opportunities to others in need. As a Qantas employee at the time, I knew that I was most likely going to get stood down. So, I took a day off, went surfing with a mate (Nick Benson), and on the waves, we hatched a plan which led to my mate becoming my business partner and the launch of Rescue Brand.

After losing my job and seeing how a lot more people would be impacted, we wanted to create a business which provided products for people that were valuable. With the exponential demand for hand sanitiser, we watched as product shortages and price gauging in the market started to form. Through this, we saw an opportunity for high quality products at good prices… pre-COVID prices. 

Nick Benson specialises in setting up supply chains for personal care products. Through his expertise and connections with ExD, we were able to set up the Rescue Brand supply chain within 24-hours. Thanks to high consumer demand for medical supplies, we were processing our first order within 48-hours of launching. 

How many people started this business, and how many people do you now employ?

Today we employ seven people on a permanent basis. However, since our inception, we’ve employed 15 people across various capacities. As an agile business, we capitalised on utilising people’s skills who were out of work for shorter periods of time. Although, since we produce locally, there’s a flow on affect with employment through the Aussie warehouses and manufacturing that we use.

We love that you have partnered with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Association, can you tell us a little more about how that partnership works and what inspired you to incorporate it into your business model?

Rescue Brand is built on three core pillars:

  1. Access for business in the community for products at fair prices
  2. Employ people impacted by the effects of COVID-19
  3. Give back to the community.

Initially, we had conversations around which community-based charities and initiatives that we wanted to get behind. Even though we’re not Indigenous ourselves, we were passionate about supporting First Nations communities. Through our partnership with the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Association, we were able to set up a system which donated a portion of all products sold to Aboriginal communities and medical centres. To date, we’ve donated $70,000 worth of products.

It seems that Rescue Brand is more than a product, it’s a full-service business delivering live case trackers and providing employment opportunities to those who have lost their livelihood from COVID-19. Can you tell us a little more about the vision for the business and how you see it evolving in the future?

Rescue Brand was born as an emergency response company which means that moving fast and getting things done is in our DNA. As a small business, we have the advantage of rapid response times in comparison to larger companies. We aim to use this to our advantage by looking to future challenges such as bushfire season in Australia and the need for more sustainable medical wear products.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the single-use practices of the medical industry. Whilst necessary for safety, we see this as an opportunity for innovation to create more sustainable options.

The Spot Series collaboration with Rescue Brand demonstrated the potential for creativity and innovation to flourish in times of crisis. By working with like-minded businesses we were able to contribute a range of products which embodied our values of good design, sustainable practices and giving back to the community. 

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