What does it really take to build a successful business? Without question, it takes determination, consistency and the ability to continually readapt as challenges present themselves — at least, according to six leading beauty founders. In celebration of Her Black Book’s ‘Beauty Fest’, we asked six brand founders the biggest lessons they’d learnt since taking the plunge, as well as looking back, what the biggest challenges have been and how they approached them.
Despite launching in the midst of COVID lockdowns, Lizzie Waley’s now-cult ‘whipped cream’ body washes have seen dizzying success — now seeing themselves stocked on the shelves of retail giants Priceline and Woolworths. The rapid growth Waley has seen in such a short time is a testament to her clear vision, something she says is pivotal to any business.
“Your ‘why’ has to be strong enough to sustain you for what can be an extremely wild ride of ups and downs and will give you a sense of purpose, even when you’re doing mundane tasks like data entry or packing boxes,” Waley explains. “The same applies to your brand, coming from a place of purpose allows you to better connect with your customers and guides decision-making, it can also set you apart from your competitors. So in summary, nail your ‘why’!” Reflecting on the Sundae Body journey so far, Waley adds that learning to manage the business’ cashflow has been one of her biggest hurdles.
“I’m a marketer that never planned on running a business and have had to get up to speed very quickly on how to manage and forecast our finances and it’s been the most challenging part of starting Sundae. I’ve learnt the need to invest in good accounting software (e.g. Xero) and good people (i.e. Accountants or Financial Controllers). Don’t wing it, it’s an area of the business that shouldn’t be skimped on.”
Shop 15% off Sundae Body with code HBB15 until July 6.
Retreatment Botanics needs little introduction, as the famed beauty brand made in partnership with Olivia Newton-John. The premium Australian skincare range has since become known for its carefully formulated, highly potent formulas, all of which are made with natural, organic ingredients (as well as completely Palm Oil free — one of the first and only skincare brands to do so).
Co-founder Trudi Jaye pinpoints the brand’s success to consistently staying true to their purpose.
“Know your WHY,” she says. “Having a greater purpose and believing in something bigger than yourself is so important. A greater WHY will fuel your passion and keep you and your team motivated and inspired, during the challenging and good times. In our case, our team is dedicated to helping protect endangered wildlife such as orangutans, tigers and elephants, and their ancient rainforest homes devastated by palm oil plantations. This issue is recognised as a major contributor to climate change. Our skincare is one of the first premium brands to ever be free from palm oil derivatives (often hidden behind everyday ingredient names), and our team is passionate to prove that real change is possible — there is a better and kinder way to produce sophisticated skincare!”
While staying true to the brand’s purpose might have been what’s fueled their consistent growth, it’s also been one of their hardest challenges.
“There are a lot of pressures within the skincare industry to follow a standard path where processes are set up a certain way. For us, we wanted to drive change. We decided to not only create a palm oil free skincare range, but one that was performance-first and professional grade, scientifically formulated with the highest quality active ingredients. This hadn’t been done before. We didn’t want to compromise our ethics or our dedication to creating transformative skincare. This process took years of development. I heard many people say ‘no’ and ‘It’s not possible’. My biggest learning was to stay true to the vision, be persistent and not take no for an answer.”
Shop 20% off Retreatment Botanics with code HBB20 until July 6.
After struggling with her own skin for years, tbh Skincare founder Rachael Tyers decided to take matters into her own hands, spending time learning about skincare solutions, investing in formulas and eventually launching the brand’s very first product ‘Acne Hack’. Just years later the brand has launched several patented products that aim to fight breakouts, most recently collaborating with pharmaceutical scientist and beauty expert Hannah English to release the now-viral Rebound Serum.
“I think one of the most important things I have learned is that for every challenge you encounter there is always a solution if you are willing to accept new ideas and stay open minded. As your business evolves it is so important to continue learning and keep an open mind so that you can spot new opportunities when they present themselves,” says Tyers.
Reflecting back, Tyers says that staying on top of the unpredictability that follows launching a business has been amongs her hardest moments.
“I think the biggest challenge I have faced is just the unpredictability of the business in general. The marketing landscape within e-commerce has shifted hugely, especially in the last 12 months. It has been a real learning in terms of needing to make sure we constantly innovate so that we can stay on top of shifting dynamics within the digital marketing ecosystem. Innovate or die as Bob Iger says in his book ‘The Ride of a Lifetime’.” Shop 15% off tbh Skincare with code HBB15 until July 6.
Anyone who has followed Pia Whitesell will know that her skin is a glowing testament of the brand she’s spent years creating. MACABALM is at the forefront of conscious, organic and sustainable beauty, releasing its multi-purpose balm that uses high-quality ingredients which are all responsibly sourced, designed to hydrate, heal and illuminate.
Since launching, Whitesell admits to learning tremendously, including how to remain focused while evolving alongside her creation.
“Persist in what you believe in and don’t give up. Trust yourself, learn from your mistakes, keep trying and give yourself the room to grow and evolve with the business,” the brand founder says.
Within the Macabalm journey, Whitesell says she was consistently determined to create a product that was “completely circular, certified organis, sustainable and cruelty-free”, a mission that is far easier said than done.
“In building a business upon such important and significant pillars, it meant it took me four years to formulate and develop Macabalm into what it is today. Although it has been a difficult and long four years, it has been an incredible feat and one that I am so proud of. It has reinforced my belief that if you believe in yourself and your product/brand, don’t cut corners and take the time to develop something that you are 100% proud of.”
Bright colours, pigmented formulas and zero plastic packaging have all become unique signatures of the Flavedo & Albedo brand, founded by creative Emily Perrett, Aleks Allen and Toby Norris. In just a year since launching, the brand has become a staple in makeup bags everyone, thanks to its conscious stance and clear individuality. Despite the brand’s achievements, Perrot says the trio and “still learning everyday.”
“A load of tiny things done consistently, rather than any one, big moment. It’s tempting to think that there’s one thing that makes businesses an overnight success, and they’re often presented that way, but behind that you’ll always find five or 10 years of consistent hard work.”
Creating completely plastic-free packaging, of which the brand has become famed for, was as Perrett explains, one of the most difficult factors to overcome in launching Flavedo & Albedo — something their still learning as the brand grows.
“We learned persistence,” she notes. “The second challenge is ongoing, and that’s continually finding work arounds for plastic in our packaging and new product development. Plastic is light and cheap and everywhere for a reason. Practically, it’s hard to do things without it and it’s very hard to do things without it financially, when we’re still very much an independent start up.”
Shop 20% off Flavedo & Albedo with code BLACKBOOK20 until July 6. What does it take to build a successful skincare brand? Just ask Hey Bud founders Ollie Watts, Alex Roslaniec and Fedele D’Amico. The entrepreneurs founded the Hemp based range in 2018, and have gone on to consistently sellout of their signature products. Of the lessons they’ve learnt since joining forces, Watts says it comes down to understanding your customers.
“You can’t buy customer loyalty — you need to understand your customers’ needs and values and put out a product which aligns with those. Ensuring a positive purchase experience from the moment a customer first visits your website, to post-purchase customer service is underrated.”
As the brand has continued to see steady growth, Watts admits that finding the right talent to align with your own visions and values has been amongst the biggest learnings.
“Your employees are an extension of yourself & the business. We’ve struggled finding the right people who fit in culturally as well as bring the right attitude and work ethic required for a high paced, growing start-up. Initially, we thought we desperately needed experts in each field and ended up with a top heavy team. We quickly realised this wasn’t the right approach for us as it was costly and not necessarily productive. We have since hired employees with great attitudes who are willing to roll up their sleeves and are eager to learn along the way.”
Shop 20% off Hey Bud Skincare with code HBB20 until July 6.