After trial and error, she cooked up a water-soluble gel containing honey, vinegar, molasses and lemon juice.
From its days as a homemade remedy, Aussie Nad's No-Heat Hair Removal Gel (which is named after an older daughter, Nadine) has mushroomed into a global business.
"I really created it to help my daughter, but I found so many people looking for a safe and easy way to remove hair," Ms. Ismiel, 42, says of her decision to expand from her kitchen to a full distribution center.
Unlike other depilatories, Nad's contains no chemicals and doesn't require heating. After getting off the ground in Australia, Ms. Ismiel brought Nad's to the U.S. in 1998. Three thousand units sold out in 8 minutes on QVC.
She then tapped infomercial impresario Hal Lederman, known for George Hamilton tanning and skincare spots, to promote Nad's, helping it gain distribution in stores such as those of Rite Aid Corp. and Walgreen Co.
For the 52 weeks ended July 15, 2001, Nad's jumped from no ranking (because its retail distribution started after July 2000) to the second best-selling depilatory, with sales in food, drug and discount stores exceeding $34.2 million, according to Information Resources Inc. Adding in volume from direct marketing, Nad's sales exceed $76 million in the U.S. and $140 million on a global basis.
About $45 million has been pumped into spending in the U.S. to support Nad's. All marketing is created in-house.