Adelaide hair salon product company Foil Me takes off, makes $4m

A happy accident has landed a South Australian couple in the millionaire’s club.

Emily Ciardiello could never have imagined that her decision to bring her child along with her to her hairdresser appointment would spark an idea for a multimillion dollar business.

On that fateful day nine years ago, the Adelaide schoolteacher called her husband to pick up her son from the hair salon.

“I had my little one with me, I needed some time to myself,” the 41-year-old recalled, speaking to

When her husband Iliano, 42, arrived, he saw foils in his wife’s hair which piqued his curiosity.

“When I came home he asked me what was in my hair. I said they were foils. He asked what they were for, I said the apprentices do it. He asked ‘why they don’t have pre-cut?’”

The light bulb moment could not have happened to a better pair; Mr Ciardiello was actually already in the foil business, selling packaging for burritos and burgers as part of his cheese chain.

And so Foil Me was born, a company that manufactures pre-cut, durable squares of foil for hairdressers across Australia, which has since expanded around the world.

Foil Me raked in $4 million in revenue last year and is on track to hit $5 million at the end of the financial year in June.

“He (my husband) is a serial entrepreneur, he comes up with the idea, I make them better,” Ms Ciardiello said with a laugh.

The pair soon got to work after stumbling across the million dollar idea.

They spoke to a mutual friend who worked in the hair dressing business to see if they were onto something. Her response was that it was “brilliant”.

They then interviewed hairdressers across Adelaide to find out what they would like in pre-cut foil.

“They wanted it to be strong but still malleable, they liked the kitchen-type foil, but it would rip and tear so easily,” Ms Ciardiello explained.

“When you had all these pieces (of foil) on the trolley and there was a hair blower, they’d fly around. So it needed to be contained like a tissue box.”

Her partner already had a manufacturer of foils for his cheese business, Muchos Nachos, and got a new prototype made.

As she was on maternity leave, the mum spent what time she could giving out free samples of the foil packages to hairdressers in Adelaide.”

“I went to eight salons twice a week, I would leave a whole packet, they were like 500 sheets,” she recalled.

But it wasn’t until she started working on the company’s Instagram with “dodgy” photography skills in 2014 that things really started to take off.

When Ms Ciardiello’s maternity leave ran out, instead of returning to teaching, she decided to stay on at Foil Me.

However, it was tough. With the business not yet properly established, they had to rely on Centrelink benefits to get them through.

Her husband “was grinding away” working at the cheese company, waiting tables and running a photocopying shop while she was devoting all her time to their budding business.

“While I would be cooking, I specifically remember I’d be stirring and looking at my phone and replying to messages. I would quite often burn dinners, I was so focused.

“At night time we’d put the kids to bed and stick all these labels on boxes in the living room and shed.”

With the long work days and the financial stress, the businesswoman acknowledged that their marriage “took a fair knock”.

Things got even worse. In 2018, they were hit with two pieces of bad news; they owed a massive debt to the Australian Taxation Office, and also their factor in China.

We talked about moving back in with mum and dad, but that was a last resort, we had definitely talked about it, we needed something drastic. We weren’t willing to give up Foil Me.”

Things reached a turning point when they were able to sell Muchos Nachos. Most of the cash went straight into the debts but they stayed afloat.

Fast forward a few years and Foil Me has taken off.

The couple now have seven staff working under them.

Their wares are sold in the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Croatia, Hungary, Sweden and Canada.

The pair have now launched Home by Foil Me, which is pre-cut foil to be used at the home for everyday cooking.

“What we’ve done with Foil Me, we’re now doing again with Home by Foil Me, hopefully we’ll do the same thing but in half the time,” Mr Ciardiello said. “I want to get (it) on supermarket shelves.”

They also hope to properly launch their existing products in the US this year.


Originally posted on, March 2023

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