Kester Black drives international expansion with Airwallex

eCommerce makeup company minimizes foreign exchange fees, simplifies payment processes, and delves into new markets.

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Close up image of Kester Black makeup, including eye liner and nail polish, arranged on a shelf

$29,000 AUD

saved yearly from currency conversion fees on global expenses

$2,500 AUD

saved a week by not having to hire a finance manager

6 seconds

to do an international transaction

Kester Black produces ethical, cruelty-free makeup products that make people feel good and do good for the world.

Industry

eCommerce, makeup

Location

Australia

Company size

1-50 employees

Airwallex Products Used

Cards
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Anna Ross

Founder and Managing Director, Kester Black

“We wouldn’t have been able to move internationally without Airwallex.”

Named after Saint Kester Bay in Anna Ross’ home county of New Zealand, Kester Black quickly rose to the top of the sustainable, ethical, and cruelty-free makeup market. As a certified B Corporation, a certified carbon neutral company, and one that donates 2% of all revenue to social causes, it’s no wonder that the Australian-based company has seen explosive growth. Fiscal year 2020-2021 saw an almost doubling of customers and $1.2 million in sales. Their best year to date.

The challenge

With the goal of building Kester Black into a global brand, Anna Ross, Founder and Managing Director, and Fergus Sully, Director of Operations, needed to find ways to simplify processes, reduce unnecessary transaction and conversion fees, and easily and quickly start doing business in new countries.

“Our previous payment solution charged us two large transaction fees for each transaction – one for converting and one for the actual transaction. Sometimes a single payment would be pulled from three different currencies, resulting in six transaction fees. We’d get charged for having money in the account, not having enough money in the account, or having too much money in the account. Everything was fee based,” said Sully.

In addition to using the payment solution that was in place, Kester Black was also using a traditional brick and mortar bank. They couldn’t collect local currencies in a global account without paying excessive fees which is a major problem for an eCommerce company based in Australia with manufacturers in Australia, France, and Italy, and customers globally. 

“Airwallex presented us with a one stop solution!” said Sully.

Simplifying the Accounting process with an Airwallex partner 

Knowledge and Ease of Integrating with Xero

With the need to simplify their accounting process, manage up to 1,000 transactions going through Xero each day, and properly track cost of goods (COGs), something that none of Kester Black’s previous accountants could properly do, Kester Black turned to Bean Ninjas, an Airwallex partner and a specialty accounting firm in Australia that specialises and works with eight figure plus eCommerce businesses.

“We had no understanding of our financial position during the first seven years of the business. It was really frustrating. We couldn't find an accountant to be able to tell us or knew how to do it. Then we found Bean Ninjas in early 2021. They’ve done more for us than any accounting firm has in the last seven or eight years.”

With their expertise in working with eCommerce clients, Bean Ninjas was able to integrate Airwallex, multiple Shopify stores, and A2X with Xero to create a seamless and transparent record of all transactions.

“We love Airwallex for so many reasons! The integration with Xero is one of the best we have seen, particularly when funds are transferred we can see the FX rate in the description. Another great feature is setting up a credit card payment that automatically draws the funds from the correct FX source, if available, to avoid conversion fees. We recommend Airwallex as the best-practice virtual bank to all of our eCommerce clients,” said Tracey Newman, Director, Bean Ninjas Australia.

Fergus Sully

Director of Operations, Kester Black

“Airwallex presented us with a one stop solution.”

The outcome 

Airwallex Cards Protect Against Foreign Transaction Fees and Large Fraudulent Charges

0% transaction fees allow the Kester Black team to use Airwallex Cards to pay bills and purchase items without added costs. And, with its multi-currency wallet, the team can select the currency they want to pay in – eliminating the need for multiple cards and unnecessary fees.

Cards also allow the team to set daily or monthly transaction limits. This protects the company from overspending and from cards getting into the wrong hands and large fraudulent charges being made.

Easy Transactions and Less Conversion Fees 

Ross recently did a transfer and it took 6 seconds to pay one of her vendors in Europe. Airwallex also allows Kester Black to collect multiple currencies into their global account, without the tedious task of opening multiple local bank accounts.

“It is so handy because apart from the fact that we save loads of money without having to convert everything back into Australian dollars and then convert it back into Euros to pay bills, we can now pay on the spot,” explained Ross.

In addition to the ease of transferring money, Kester Black is seeing savings of about $29,000 a year on conversion fees. Previously a hefty fee would be placed on each conversion which could be as complicated as converting U.S. dollars to Australian dollars and then to Euros. Using Global Accounts, Kester Black can hold money in the global account and use it to pay suppliers and other vendors without doing currency conversions.  

Ross added, “With Airwallex, I am also saving a whole wage. I don't need a finance manager because Airwallex is so easy to use, I can manage it myself!”

International Growth Made Possible by Airwallex

Airwallex successfully removed the barriers of entry for Kester Black to do business internationally. As a result, the company now operates in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The addition of countries is allowing the company to dramatically expand its footprint without dramatically increasing costs and effort.

“We wouldn’t have been able to move internationally without Airwallex,” said Ross. 


Airwallex (UK) Limited (Company No. 10103420) is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (firm reference number 900876).

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