Toni Barrett is the owner of Beauty Bliss, an ecommerce and bricks-and-mortar makeup store in Wellington. We asked her to share a mistake from the business’ early years.
Barrett founded online makeup store Beauty Bliss in 2012 when she realised there was a gap in the market for beauty products that weren’t readily available in New Zealand. The start-up has since grown from strength to strength, with a bricks-and-mortar store opening in Wellington in 2016 and another one scheduled to open in Auckland in March. However, the business almost folded early on due to being too reliant on one brand.
“We had a brand that was doing really well, so we kept buying more and more stock and we didn’t realise it represented over 30 percent of our revenue,” Barrett says.
When the brand in question, Lime Crime, decided to pull out of the Australian and New Zealand markets, Barrett was left facing a gaping hole in her earnings.
“I had staff to pay, I had rent – it was so scary,” she says.
She decided to tackle the problem by bringing on a variety of brands, as well as starting to measure what percentage of revenue each brand brought in. If a brand was doing well, she’d make a conscious effort to boost the marketing of the other brands around it so the business was more evenly spread.
“Now, if we lost any of our five top brands, it will suck but it won’t hurt us like that did,” she says.
This proved true when Beauty Bliss temporarily lost one of its most popular brands last year, Jeffrey Star, and didn’t suffer a huge blow. Another strategic move Barrett made was to introduce in-house brand Carousel, which is made by Beauty Bliss.
“Carousel’s been fantastic, it was the best move I made to help protect us and its one of our top brands now,” she says. “It’s enjoyable to have complete control over a brand, as well as being a safer business decision.”
She says small retail businesses starting up should be hyper-aware of relying too much on big, international brands.
“Here in New Zealand, we’re not even a blip on the radar of these huge companies.”
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 748 February / March 2017