Towards the end of last year we posted a story about Headlands Distilling Co. and the support they have given SpinalCure Australia to fund spinal cord injury research. One of Headlands’ founders, Dean Martelozzo, is a paraplegic so our quest for a cure is very close to their heart. The company was created by four friends in Wollongong with a desire to run a sustainable business that could help make a difference, and they are definitely keeping to their word. In addition to the 20% of profit that they donate to SpinalCure, they are supporting the community in other ways.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, Headlands has turned its full attention to producing hand sanitiser, which has proven hard to come by in recent weeks. Made from scratch in Wollongong, their Barleysan hand sanitiser is handcrafted in small batches – the same ethos that underpins their production of spirits; vodka, gin and whisky.
As the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged in Australia, Headlands identified that whilst hand sanitiser is an important element of the fight against the virus, very little was finding its way into Australian hands. Armed with this insight and the ability to produce ethanol (the primary ingredient in hand sanitiser) the guys set to work helping to plug the gap in the Australian market.
“We saw that hand sanitiser was a new necessity and yet there were very few local sources. It is everyone’s responsibility to do whatever they can to help fight the virus, whether that is resisting the urge to go out on the weekend and staying at home, helping your elderly neighbours with their shopping so they don’t have to go, or in our case, reconfiguring our production process to produce sanitiser” said Dean Martelozzo.
Headlands have put a pause on making their vodka, gin and whisky to focus on making hand sanitiser, and that’s just as well. As they were one of the first available sources of locally produced product, they were inundated with orders from members of the community as well as businesses from the public and private sector.
“We were caught by surprise at how vast the shortage was. Requests for hand sanitiser were coming to us from the public and private hospitals, from Wollongong Police, the university, doctors, paramedics, pharmacies… the list goes on” says Dean. “With demand stretching us to the limit of our capacity to supply, we realised that we were offering more than just sanitiser. By playing our part in helping the community, we were enabling people to get access to a product that would provide them with a sense of comfort and safety.”
When determining how to prepare the sanitiser, they turned to peer reviewed research articles that examined the best ways to slow the spread of the existing family of coronaviruses. Coupled with insights from two of the co-founders who both have PhD’s, (one of whom is also studying medicine), and drawing on WHO recommendations, Headlands rapidly pivoted the business to focus on sanitiser. “We acted quickly. There was less than a week between identifying the opportunity and having our Barleysan hand sanitiser available for purchase. There were a lot of long days and even later nights, but it was energising knowing that we were contributing to the health and safety of the people in Wollongong”.
With the ongoing threat of COVID-19, they plan to continue producing sanitiser and have added Barleysan to the list of products available for purchase on their website. Nevertheless, looking into the future, they are excited to restart producing their range of novel, Australian spirits.
“We’re proud to offer products that are made exclusively from native ingredients. We’re working on some exciting varieties that we will release in the future, but that’s another story…”
For more information on Headlands Distilling Co. or to view their products please visit; www.headlands.com.au