Bondi Blades'a Ali Clarke bootstrapped her biz from $50 bucks to $1M in ARR, here’s her blueprint
Updated: Sep 16, 2022
Welcome back to the Female Startup Club podcast! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl. Today we’re learning from Ali Clarke, the woman behind Bondi Blades - Australia’s first at home derma razor company.
Bondi Blades launched as a pandemic baby with just a few hundred bucks and quickly turned into more than just a side hustle. Last year she did 1 million in revenue and is now stocked in more than 1000 stores in Australia alone! This episode is SO good because she breaks down her exact blueprint to getting her business off the ground and what she recommends every new founder do TODAY. The gem in this ep is where she breaks down her experience with cosmoprof trade show; what it cost her and the impact.
Some of her advice regarding cosmoprof centers around the idea that you should be well prepared when you decide to invest in a trade show of this kind and size. But that when that preparation is taken seriously, it also seriously pays off. Have a bit of data around you, shout loudly about anything that gives you credibility, and really show those retailers that there is an appetite for your product.
Today’s episode is powered by the lovely folks at DYMO which Ali uses every single day to help her business grow. They’ve been helping small biz owners just like Ali for over 60 years.
And while I’ve got you here -we have got something cooking and the time is fast approaching for us to release it!!! and I’m just so excited because it’s relevant to every single person listening to the show. Whether you own a business or not! If you head over to femalestartupclub.com/waitlist and pop your name there - you’ll be the first to know about it when we make the announcement. I would love for you to be part of it!
Lets get into this episode, this is Ali for Female Startup Club
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
So I'm Ali Clarke and I founded a brand in Australia called Bondi blades. It was at the time Australia's first at home dir Mariza company and I started my business because I was going to salons and having Derma planing done myself with the professional scalpel version And I was pregnant at the time and it was costing $150 a fortnight to go and have it done and I'm really hairy. So I love hair removal, but I also didn't love the fact that it was going to be costing me this much money for basically a 15 minute treatment of someone shaving my face and I thought, wow, I'm going on maternity leave, I don't want to burn through my savings, I put aside for that and be spending it on beauty treatments, but I still want to do that myself. So I started looking for a product that I could use, just thinking I would be able to buy it somewhere online here or in a store. And I was looking and I couldn't find anything. So I thought, okay, uh my first actual attempt at having a business was a drop shipping fast fashion business, which I learned a lot from that I've taken into this business. And so I did what people do when they're starting a business and I went on to Alibaba and I was searching, you know, face shaving tools, things like that and I found so many, I was like, this is cool, I'll be able to buy some from here and have, you know, two years worth and I won't have to worry about spending any money on salon treatments. So I ended up finding a really good manufacturer and they sent me a box with a variety of samples of plastic handles, which are all the different types. And I started using them at home myself and thought this is so good. And then I started to think, okay, I'm gonna save an absolute fortune here, surely other people might want to buy these as well. So little cogs started turning and then I thought, well how do I market this? You know what I'm gonna do? But the biggest lesson I learned from the first business or one of the biggest lessons was don't tell anybody that it's your business to start with. So for about six months I played around on instagram and how to week site to begin with, which was really clunky and hard to use and started to market it on instagram and people were liking things and commenting and I had a couple of orders and it wasn't really until lockdown hit that I was, I was actually returning to work full time at the same time as the lockdown, starting after my maternity leave. And it was perfect timing because work was really quiet so I could still work on this on the side and I actually to get it going. I thought I didn't know much about influencer marketing at the time, but I had a friend who was an influencer, so I cat fished her from the instagram page of Bondi blades and said, would you like to try some? Would you like to send you some free products? Because obviously I was like, I don't want to pay anyone at the moment. I didn't know if it was gonna work or whatever, so I don't want to spend too much on it. And I sent her the products and she did a story set on her instagram and within half an hour I had nine or 10 little pings on my weeks up on my phone and I was getting orders. And then I thought, oh my God, this actually works. And it kind of started to grow from there. And so I started documenting the journey on Tiktok and I just kept learning along the way, um, how to market. Then I discovered Campbell, which was a godsend for me because I have no graphic design skills whatsoever. But I, yeah, I also didn't even have, I forgot these orders. I thought, oh my God, I've got no label, printer or anything. What I'm gonna do is I was handwriting out, you know the postings? It was like, you just cringe when you look back. I didn't have any pretty pink packaging to ship them in that they were just came in, basically what the manufacturer had sent them to me in. But I had a pink sticker on it that said Wendy blades that I printed off vista print or something and it just started to grow from there. Oh my gosh, wow. I wanna, I wanna pause here because I feel like there's a lot to kind of dig into that. We should, that we should talk about. I love that. Great for podcasting. The perfect guest. Okay, so you launch and you, you've just kind of obviously spent money on a week site, which is kind of free or maybe a small subscription. You've had those original samples that you came from Alibaba that you got from Alibaba, if you had to kind of sum up like how much did you spend to get started? What was your startup? Capital, Couple $100, couple $100. That is so cool. And so when did you have to start buying into like, you know, more inventory and kind of getting ready for? I guess when this wave of the business started to take off at the start of the pandemic, I've been ordering lots of 500 and that even freaked me out at the time thinking oh my God, I'm never going to sell these because I only started with very small order quantity and when you start with minimum order quantity, they, they're not branded or anything like that, you've got to try and jazz the packaging up as much as you want. But the longer the lockdown went on and the more my confidence grew in the business and what I was doing and my marketing, the orders started to come through because people on Tiktok were resonating not only with the product being that they were in lockdown. All the salons were shut, but they were also resonating with my journey because I like to share and be quite open about it. Uh, and, and people loved to support me that way. So they say in the comments, once I switched over to Shopify, you'd see the comments saying, you know, I've seen you on Tiktok. I love your videos. And that really spurred me along and gave me even more confidence. Oh my gosh. And so just to summarize, you really just started by posting on Tiktok by posting on instagram and starting to reach out to influencers to gift them product and see what happens. Yeah, that's it. I just started off with gifting. I was going six months before I paid someone and I was horrified at the time for us to pay a blue tick influencer. Oh my gosh, how much was it? It was just for a story set and I think it was about $550. And at that time I was still like, oh my God, I can't believe I'm going to pay someone that might, it's a lot for a small business owner. Yeah. And for 45 seconds of footage for an influencer, you know, if you're an influencer um but it actually went so well that I, I made my money back plus more and I had so many orders, it was great. Then I thought, right, I'm gonna work with this person again because they can return it and then do the actual, you know, the real or whatever it was, the more expensive post. But yeah, it started to work off work and then I started to grow from there. But even, you know, back in when I was still gifting, I was actually fortunate enough to have lovely iness that was on maps. She had reached out to the page even in its infancy saying my sister and I would love to try this. This was sort of the, towards the start of the lockdown and I was like this, this would be amazing. I can't believe she actually wants to just try the product and you know, she shared that and that was probably my first big moment in in sales because I then use that money to purchase myself my first dymo printer because up until then I was handwriting the labels. So that was a, my little checklist that I needed to get this Dymo printer because I have seen on Tiktok people printing out all these streams of, I wanted to be one of them, but I hadn't made the money yet to invest to buy that. I didn't know if it was going to pay off and, and it did, and it did. So yeah, that was really exciting. I feel like this is a great moment to give a segue to Dymo there, today's sponsor. They have made this episode happen, and that is just so cool as a small business owner, kind of having that first pivotal moment where you're able to invest in machinery or whatever it might be. So, I'd love to kind of understand, I don't know if you're, well, first special shout out to Dymo, thanks a lot for making this episode happen. I'd like to dig in just one layer deeper for that particular, like, influencer moment that you had, are you able to share, like the numbers of what she drove in terms of sales? I don't have an exact figure because she didn't have a discount code. So it was an organic share. So look, it probably would have been, you know, 30 or 40 orders at least that came through that I could kind of match up to the timing of when she shared that to the aftermath of it. Got it, got it, I read somewhere in an article that in the first kind of nine months, you ended up doing about 150,000 in revenue or something crazy like that. If you had to kind of like, just distill what it was that you were doing to make that first kind of significant piece of capital as a full time kind of business owner, well full time in your job and then having your other business on the side. Is it influencer marketing? Is that just it? It was and that I want to clarify that is turnover, that's not profit. Some People just read the headlines. You made 150,000, but I want to be transparent with the listeners that because I like to be honest and clarify that that is a headline, but that's turnover, which is a very different thing to your net profit, which a lot of business owners will understand, but that was from just hammering Tiktok every day with content. It was influencer marketing. I started to run paid ads on facebook google ads. Tiktok ads, spark ads on Tiktok, There's a lot of investment and a lot of influencer marketing, I think in the first year we spent, It was not only 50 grand on influences when we looked at our tax last year, like it was a lot, but you've got to spend money to make money. So if you're not investing and while not every influence of returns, you know, return sales, you may not get your money back, but its brain credibility. People see someone who, you know, by the social media status is, you know, a credible person. They see them using the product and then you've got that footage, you can re share to say, you know, for example, we use Emily him bro, you can say Emily hem Brown, here's a video of her using Bondo blades and that was very powerful for us. So you've got to spend that money, but you've got to think of it as well that while you're spending that money on the influences, you're getting great content because you're paying for a great video that you can then repurpose however you want. Mhm When you say you were posting on, you know, Tiktok every single day, what was your posting schedule? Like? Like how many times a day were you posting? What were you talking about? Like how were you kind of leaning into that channel? I was actually doing lives every day as well every evening, Oh my gosh, About eight o'clock onwards in the evenings, once my daughter was asleep, I would just sit there on live and answer questions and talk to people talk about my product, my journey. And as I'd be on the live, that, you know, the Shopify live map would be lighting up and people would say they were on the store purchasing because I'd give a discount code in the live as well and I was driving business organically myself that way. So that was a big wow, how long would you be on live for? Sometimes two or three hours because we were in lockdown, there was nothing to do. So I just, you know, I would sit there and just talk to people and just talk about anything and you know, try to obviously talk about what I'm doing it then the law longer I did that and the more followers I started to get on my page, the more business questions I would get asked by people trying to help everyone answer their questions and just spend time getting to know the other small business owners on there as well. And you know, we formed this great little community on there of supporting each other and sharing tips and just trying to, you know, support everyone and share our best practices. Do you still go on live? Do you still use that as part of the strategy? Honest, I don't and I really should get back to it, but my, my life has changed a lot with my daughters a lot older now, so she's not necessarily in bed at seven or eight o'clock at night and much as I'd like her to be. So it is a bit more challenging to get on the live. But I did find as well, it worked particularly well in lockdown because people were just at home on their phones 24 7, I don't know that it would have the same results as it did back then. I do really believe as well. I got very lucky with the right products right time, which is then category into where it is today, totally. So you're still working full time at your job at this point? At what kind of moment do you think? Hey, I should quit my job and go full time. And did you like have a number of revenue you wanted to get to or a number where you could be like, okay, I can pay myself or what was your kind of like caveat to being like okay now I'm going to go all in. So I had to for three months. So I originally, once it got really full on, I put my hand up because I was a mortgage advisor which is quite stressful, but you've got to be, you know, it's full on job, great job, absolutely loved it. I do miss it a lot to be honest. Um and I did that for nearly 20 years, but I got to the point where I had to say to my boss, my little hobby side business is actually impacting my ability to do this job as well as I should be doing it um before I make a mistake or start to lose my focus, I really need to take some time away from work. So I was fortunate that I had all my, you know, I had annual leave, I had long service leave and things like that up my sleeve. So I actually started with taking a three month long service. I used three months of my long service leave so I could really give the business all my attention and in those three months, that's when I seen, okay, I can start making enough here to cover my wage. But then have that, I would have to reinvest quite a bit of that back into the business, but I can still pay the mortgage and pay the bills. I'm not going to be able to be out there buying lots of the fancy things that I used to like when I was working full time. But that's the sacrifice I made that I would have the money I would have been spending on stuff. Um, I'll be bested back in the business and I just kept working on it and working on and then at the end of three months, my boss rang me and said, what are you gonna do? And I said, I'm actually not gonna come back, I'm going to take a career break. So I did do a career break. I'm still actually on a career break. Like I'm particularly, you have to resign from your role. But because I've been there for so many years, if anything did happen with my business that it turns out in 12 months time, this has all been great. But it ends up, something happens and nobody wants anymore bon high blades, I would have that option of, not necessarily my job, but taking a placement for six weeks within that organization and be able to go back to work. I didn't want to just completely because then I also would lose all the benefits too. So I always made sure that that was my backup plan. I said to my husband, I'm not going to completely absolve myself from responsibility of a job because to give up such a great career and all the benefits to take a punt on something is very scary, especially when you've done that your whole life, you don't know anything different. You've not come from a, a, you know, a business background to be doing, going from mortgages to running an e commerce businesses, two completely different worlds. So that's what I did. Um, and here I am. And when was that? That you kind of took the career break at the end of that three months. What when does that fit in the timeline? That was March last year. All right. Coming up a year. Okay, if you're an e commerce brand owner, you've probably thought about whether your product suits being subscription based, maybe you've got a beverage brand or a beauty product that has a high repeat purchase rate, join fast growing Shopify brands like athletic greens and rise coffee that are growing their commerce subscription and retention businesses on apps. Scribe scribe gives you the out of the box tools that you need to build, grow or scale your Shopify subscription and retention business deploy a beautiful customer experience in minutes that treats subscribers like royalty and drives brand loyalty additionally, scribes knew reorder product makes it frictionless to capture reorders in a single click to help you increase your business's profitability and customer lifetime value, Give your e commerce business the charge that it needs today by visiting up scribe dot iO slash female startup club to learn more and you'll also receive your first month free. That's up Scribd dot IO forward slash female startup club. So let's talk about the last year I guess. I want to know like, you know, what does your day to day look like, especially when you were kind of, you know, starting to figure things out. You start, you just started working full time. Like what were the areas of the business that you were focusing on just day to day. Besides of course the social media aspect. So for me in the beginning it was have, you know, sort of a routine every morning before I started business stuff, I would still have to get up and go for my walk every morning, listen to a podcast or some music or something because I couldn't function and have my day laid out like two very organized. So you know, I would start the day with a walk, come home, make a cup of tea. Um, and I would sit down and check what orders have come through. Then I would go into the Australia post at generate all the labels print out from the dymo, all the streams of labels and there'd be times where you could isles of dymo labels on the floor and having to chop up all the labels and then just spend time packing orders. Um, then, you know, I have this set routine where, you know, they're just little things, but you know, I still have them on my white board next to me here, but they're just basic things, checklist things that I do daily, weekly, monthly for like every day. I will get up and, you know, once I've checked what orders have come through, you know, you check the emails and respond to anything. Then I go to google and then I type in the business name. Then I hit news, images and shopping. That's really important for me, especially now being in retail because sometimes, um because my distributor is quite busy, sometimes a product might have gone and launched in a store or anne taylor before he's sent me an updated sales report of where stocks gone. So I sometimes actually get a nice little surprise and find it like, for example, when I first online and that was just like, that was so exciting in my little um and also I like to check, not only news, but you can actually find articles about your business from google images. I've found quite a few organic articles that I didn't even know were getting written about either myself or my business from images. So that's a really important check that I do every day as well. Obviously, you know, I checked analytics on the socials, things like that. See if there's any content that we've been tagged in to re share, save that. Um Then of a sunday afternoon I'll spend two hours on the content plan are just making sure the organic content is planned out, things like that. Um then you know, normal day can be like for example, today, my husband and I spent five hours doing a stock take of what stock has been gone out, what's been invoiced for how many units are in the three pl warehouse, things like that. You get a report so fiddly things, you know, reconciling your books, everyone has zero. I do my zero accounting every day because otherwise as I learned in the beginning, if you leave it for a week it can take hours to go through it and check things off so that you know, that's another daily thing. Gosh, so many different things, many things. But another important thing I do every day is I will talk to one or two of my other friends who are in e commerce that are working from home or working from their office, but they're on their on their own or don't have much staff around them because it can be quite lonely working on your own because all my staffing is outsourced. I don't have direct staff. That was one thing I actually didn't want to do when after being in the bank and having At one point I think when I was managing staff I had 12 people under me and 12 people reporting to every day's 12 different emotions and personalities and problems and I thought I don't want to do with staffing issues. So my business works well with things being outsourced. I'm actually the same. I I also identified that within myself that I'm not someone that can manage a big team and I don't want to build my business like that. I have one core full time staff member, but the rest are contractors and other kind of businesses that helped me grow that way. And I think that's an important thing to think about and audit yourself because especially when building a business, it can feel glamorous to be like I have this huge company and you know, we've got not huge at this point, but you know, we've got five employees and its feel is very exciting. But actually, if you look at the way that you operate and whether that works for you or not, it's an important thing to identifying yourself. Absolutely, it's not for everyone. Like I've got friends that have got in house staff for graphic design or photography accounts or things like that and you know that works for them, but it doesn't work for me. I'd rather have everything outsourced because I'm only paying for people for the time they work for me. Like the photographer for example, she just sends me a select amount of images for X amount of dollars and that's the end of the transaction. I'm not paying her full time to be sitting here taking product photos all day, things like that. Who else do you have on your kind of, you know, contractor team? I have a pr uh have a pr lady that works for me, tests on contracted hours, She does pitching to media and all those sorts of things and I just bounce off things for her. Like for example, I have to go and do a speech at the ladies business um dinner and it was the first time I had given a public speech about my business. I had written the speech out and you know, send it to her to check it off, things like that she does for me. Um Pr photography, graphic design is outsourced distributor, which is great because while we're still learning the whole retail and side of things, having a distributor, while they take a fee out of the sales, it helps you learn the business and they do take care of a lot of things for you, especially negotiating with retailers, buyers, things like that. That could be quite daunting, I guess. Um you're pitching yourself. So yeah, that's all that and the account, it's obviously outsourced as well. Yeah, I'd love to talk a little bit more about the distributor and that side of things. And just kind of understand when you should look for a distributor, you know, is a distributor right for you as a small business owner. For those who are listening, who are like, oh, I'd love to get a distributor. Like, what does it mean? How do you get started? All that kind of thing? Yeah, absolutely. Well, let me tell you, it's not as glamorous and as everyone thinks, like, I actually, I didn't go looking for a distributor. Being in retail, wasn't really even on my radar at that point in time. It was, I was in the gym and I got a phone call from some random guy saying that he wanted to distribute my product. And I said, oh, look, can you just send me an email to blah blah. I'm just in the gym at the moment and I will come back to you. I didn't really grasp the extent of what he was talking about. And then when I got home and seeing his email and then had the zoom with him and he said, look, you know, my wife actually has been using your product, she's ordered it from your store. And she asked me why it wasn't somewhere in the chemist or the supermarket that she could buy it. And that's so cool. I was like, what is it? This is just like the universe sending this person to my life. And I kind of didn't realize how big it that meant that the distributor had contacted me and believed in my brand. So you know, we started working with him, but we, he changed the packaging because to get your product from e commerce to retail, packaging has to be totally, you know, it has to be completely different basically. You gotta have barcodes, I didn't even know how to generate a barcode, which I've since learned. Um there's lots of things that retailers need on packaging has to be tamperproof, especially because my product could be classified as a weapon or sharks. And when you actually go into the razor section of a supermarket, you do notice like all the shapers that have the security tags, things like that because they are easy for people to steal so that we changed the packaging um to be able to go on a hook and something like we had hang cells designed for stores countertops, all these whole different things. And he then actually appointed a sub distributor that we now no longer work with. They were charging a monthly fee of you know $6,000 a month to work with them. And it was good to begin with, there was a lot of traction fast. But then once they had done the things that we needed them to, you know, it was no longer viable because you gotta understand some towards the end of our relationship with them, we'd still be paying six grand a month, but they weren't selling six grand a month worth products. So you can't just having someone as an expense in your business that isn't bringing in sales to cover their feet because what they will do is they will take that fee regardless. So having a big tip is only working with a two shooter that's on a commission basis because then they have to work harder to move your stock to get their commission. So if they don't move it, they don't get paid, wow, That's yeah, that's a really big investment. Now, I know, you know, I read your in about 1000 stores in Australia, you're also in new Zealand, you're also in the US. What's your, like, how does it work with the distributor? Is it just them going out and doing everything or you still need to do a lot on the retail side of things? So we still have to work closely with them because the retailers want a lot of marketing budgets as well. We're just going through our invoices the other day with the distributor and we've spent last year on pharmacy, I think it was over $75,000 worth of market. And that's for things like catalogs, um, online adverts, uh special in store promotions. It's a really big expense. And I guess you don't really understand that, that no one talks about it. I think, um, for a lot of business owners and for me as well, when I've seen other people going into retail, I seen people glamorizing it and making out like, you know, it was this, you know, it is a great achievement, don't get me wrong, but nobody talks about the expense behind getting to those retailers. So that's something I like to talk about on my Tiktok that, you know, we have to spend money to make money. But sometimes you are spending with these retailers, but they might not necessarily be returning that in in sales. And that's where you've got to go back to them and say, hey, look, we've got an agreement for an ad placement. Like it's a catalog, it might be $4000 but you've got to order that much stock, at least for us to be meeting your marketing needs. So there's lots of costs in marketing and you know, there's minimum expectations. So you've got to have like a minimum of three catalogs per year with some pharmacy chains or every retailer has different expectations and marketing. And one we were going to, I think they've actually changed and we're looking at it again now. But at the time we were looking at Mecca and they were looking to take our product, but they wanted it exclusively. And when we did the numbers on it, it actually was going to be worse off because for them to have Exclusivity would have meant we'd have to cut out all the existing stores that we've worked hard to get into. So it wasn't for us. That's really interesting because obviously they stock a lot of brands that aren't exclusive to mecca. Yes, I understand that, but for some reason at the time they wanted it as an exclusive online in store product and we just said, look, and that was their condition of ranging us. So I guess they give different conditions to different brands, but it just wasn't right for us. So there's lots of things like that can happen. It's a bit weird to me because you're a small business owner, obviously that isn't necessarily the best decision, especially if you're already stocked in a lot of retailers. It seems like a strange thing to try and put that, you know, it's not like you're a new brand just launching and you're kind of getting them as your first stock est with exclusivity for a year or something. It's, you've already stocked everywhere. That's right. That was when we were in the infancy of getting it through the pharmacy chain. So, um, I'm not sure what that was. But anyway, as you gear up for fall, you need to find the right people on your team to help your small business fire on all cylinders linkedin jobs is here to make it easier to find the right people you want to talk to faster and for free if you follow me on linkedin or you're a subscriber to our newsletter, you already know how often we're sharing jobs that are coming directly through linkedin. It is so powerful. You can create a free job post in minutes on linkedin jobs to tap into the world's largest professional network with over 30 million people in the UK alone. It's why small businesses rate linkedin jobs. Number one for delivering quality hires verse their leading competitors. Then add your job and the purple hiring frame to your linkedin profile. So your network can help you find the right people to hire simple tools. Like screening questions, make it easy to focus on candidates with just the right skills and experience. So you can quickly prioritize who you'd like to interview and hire linkedin jobs helps you find the candidates you want to talk to faster and you can post a job for free. Just visit linkedin dot com slash F S. C. Again, that's linkedin dot com slash F. S. C. To post your job for free today and see supply. I want to move on to talk a little bit about trade shows. Specifically Cosmo Prof. I watched a Tiktok video that you were doing a bit of a breakdown and I thought this is so interesting. I'd love to talk about it and kind of understand when you did it in the journey, why you decided to do it in the journey and of course all the costs. That's a three part question. Well, to be honest, it wasn't even on my radar until my beautiful friend, theo had some friends do the bologna one for their product and they had given rave reviews about it and he rang me and he said ali we've got to go to Cosmo, we've got to go to cosmic rov. And I'm just like, I don't even think my products ready to go to something like this. Honestly, like I was so overwhelmed. Like he's got, you know, over 40 different products. He's no, and I still only had like three or four. I was like, I can't feel a standard at a booth. I just to me is overwhelming. But he, you know, he walked me through it and said, look, you know, we'll do it together because we're with the same distributor will do it with the distributor together, we'll split the costs and it will be great. And I'm just like, okay, well I guess. And I told my husband how much it was gonna cost. And he was like, like he was he was like, no you can't spend that. He's really onto me what I'm spending. And he's like, you know, I don't know. And then, you know, he came around to it after I booked the flight and said I'm going so it's locked in now because I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't consult you on that. That was really bad. But you know, I just got wrapped up in the gut intuition you got to follow it. The intuition just said book the flight because I could see the flat prices going up and up and up because it was it was in july that we went. Um But all in all Cosmo Prof I think I spent and I only flew economy, I was gonna I was wanted to fly business class but it was like really 3/3 and a half 1000 just for economy at that time. So I was like no I've got to be responsible, don't go all out. Um I the other day I was looking at the spreadsheet and it was just on just under 20,000 that it cost me to go for 10 days including the that was that was flights, accommodation and the cost share, sharing the cost of the booth sharing the cost of the decorating of the booth, getting my products over there and said you know the products that I gave out to people. Um Yeah so yeah it was. And what was the impact? How did it go? What was what happened at Cosmo Prof? Well it was so crazy like the first day there was so many people coming to our booth like we met so many buyers because you get in front of the altar, beauty buyers. The sally beauty all the big retailers in were there and lots from Australia as well to still for like you know the iconic and people like that were there. Um So you really get to show them how serious you are and how serious you want to take your business because you're obviously spending money to exhibit at this massive trade show. And sorry, just one question before we keep going, do you have to reach out to all those buyers in advance or does the distributor handle kind of making sure that you attract those buyers to your store? Yes. Or is it just like they walk past some just walk past. But there is actually a list of all the buyers that are attending the event. So my distributor had sent them all invitations to our stand, so they all knew that we were going to be there before and a lot of them did come up and say, oh you know, we got your invitation. So we've come to say hi, but there was still something that just, you know, turned up that we weren't expecting, which were great surprises. And from that, I think we ended up with over 250 qualified leads of buyers and distributors to work in other networks and things. And since then we have now signed a distribution partner for europe UK, Middle East South Africa and we're just finalizing distribution partner for the U. S. At the moment. We have minimum order quantities for international buyers because of the time frames of shipping and manufacturing. So um yeah, we're definitely gonna make our money back, looking back in hindsight, do you have any kind of, you know, key pieces of advice things you wish you knew beforehand or red flags or just anything that you can pass on to other small business owners who might be sitting here thinking like holy sh it, maybe that's an opportunity for me to take that leap and go and do a huge trade show, like Cosmo Prof. Yeah, absolutely. But I think if you're going to do something like the trade show, you need to have be stopped in some stores already because, um, you need to show the retailers that there is the appetite for your product. If you were just taking it to market and you didn't have any retailers, it would probably be a lot more challenging because someone's got to take a punt on it. But I was fortunate that I had all, um, the existing stock us and we had just gone into the big retail of farmers in New Zealand as well, which everyone has heard of over there. So that was more leverage you had proof points for your brand. Exactly validation validation to show you in all these retailers and obviously some of the pharmacies in Australia that they're familiar with too. So, um, I think if you're a business owner, I would probably start with working with the distributor to get your product ranged in some, you know, even smaller stores retailers like, you know, things that create incredible for us to like we're on sites like, you know, glam radar, for example, that's a big beauty site, um, that stock our product as hair and beauty there. Big retailers and, and just get yourself moving with e tailers even to begin with. Um, and you know, getting into a store is obviously the ultimate goal because it's the best feeling when you walk in and you see your product that you started from scratch on a, on a shelf. But definitely for a trade show, you need to have some existing stock and data that you can show them as well because they will ask for, uh, other forecasts from the retailers that are stocking a product run run sheets of sales, things like that. So you need to have a bit of data behind you as well. So I wouldn't recommend it, Cold Turkey. I'd recommend starting with working with a local distributor and then, um, going that way. But um, yeah, it definitely was worth it for us, Wow, that is so cool. It sounds like your, you know, the next 12 months are gonna be such a huge time for growth and expansion and I'm excited for you, wow. Yeah, because I guess I can announce it on here that's happening next week. We're going into all a countdown stores in new Zealand, which is that we're worse over there. So that's going to be huge for us. Um, congrats, that's so cool. Now we can nudge the buyer back here and say, come on all these Australia. you said no, last christmas, we're now in new Zealand it's time to be here. Um, it's a massive going over there. It takes about three weeks for them to send it from. So all the stock we've sent over there, it's all sitting there in the warehouse, but it takes about three weeks for well, worst distribution center to get it out to all their stores. So I'm going over in october once, it's all the stores to have a little trip and, and do some filming and you see it in farmers as well over there. But yeah, that's really exciting. It was so excited. That is huge, Congratulations. Gosh. Before we get into the six quick questions part of the episode, what is just one final piece of advice for small business owners and founders that you want to leave us with? It's probably just going to be cliche, but I guess it's just just start like I had no idea what I was doing and you're going to make so many mistakes along the way. Like I still make mistakes every day and think, oh my God, what am I doing? But you're learning from those mistakes and you know, everything's a lesson. It's, you know, you never treated as a failure. Um, keep, keep it as a lesson and just move on and just believe in what you're doing and if you're ultimately if you're really passionate about it and that will come through in your content in your branding and when people want to talk to you about your product, especially when you get to the point of getting in front of buyers, they're gonna see your eyes light up, they're gonna see how passionate you are about what you're doing and why you started it and that's really something important. So yeah, that's what I would say, I love that. Thank you so much for sharing.
Question # one, What's Your, Why? Why are you doing this every single day? My why is because I want to help people save money and give them glowing, beautiful hairy funds free skin because I'm very passionate about hair removal and also for my family, it's given us the opportunity, Uh, you know, financially to be able to be not doing 9-5 slugging out in jobs. My husband and I were working together. Now sometimes we want to kill each other, but my, you know, freedom as well, like um, if we want to now, you know, we'll be able to go on a holiday whenever we want without having to put in for four weeks and you'll leave, you know, those sorts of a few. Absolutely freedom is important. Question # two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? My favorite marketing moment I think was when lizzie first posted for us and actually sold us out and then I filmed a Tiktok of my little car, you know, the Australia post bucket. The plastic buckets had had about 20 of those on a car and it was overflowing with orders. And that was probably my in terms of a marketing moment was yet her catapulting it out there that way. That was awesome. That was so amazing. What a thrill Question # three, What is your go to business resource. If you have to think about like books or newsletters or podcasts. My go to is actually Tiktok would you believe besides google, I would definitely believe, you know, I find a lot of valuable information on, you know, Tiktok, the people I follow on Tiktok other business owners and that's a real resource for me. Other than obviously googling things like, and I don't think being a small business owner, half of my day would be spent googling things. But yeah, definitely. Um, Tiktok and other business owners love that power of network. Question number four, how do you win the day? What are your am or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated for me to win my day. I have to get up and go for my walk. If I don't go for a walk and have that out myself walking around the tent my day. It just doesn't, I don't feel inspired or I don't get that endorphin rush. So to win that, I got to go for my walk. Um, and yeah, that would be it. I love that. I need to focus more on a daily walk at the moment. I love a walk me. I can't believe how much my mood changes. If I don't go for my walk, I get cranky and irritated and yeah, Question # five, What's been your worst money mistake and how much did it cost you? My worst money mistake was the distributor with the retainer for sure. And that cost uh 12 5, 6000. Yeah, that's a lot. Yes. That's the worst mistake I made was agreeing to such a sign onto that. Yeah. Gosh, gotta have a cancelation clause. Yeah. And question number six, last question, what is just a crazy story, good or bad or otherwise, that you can share from this journey of building a business? I think the craziest story is just the fact that a distributor reached out to me randomly while I was in the gym and got my product to where it is like that. Is that not the craziest thing ever to happen to a small business owner who is just doing their business as a hobby on the side or working full time? I really think that would be the craziest thing. And to then have your product in all these stores. That is bloody crazy. Love that for you. Love it. Thank you Ali, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today and share all your learnings. I have loved listening to you. I'm such a fan. Love your Tiktok. Everyone should go check it out immediately. I'm gonna link it in the show notes for everyone who wants to check it out. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. It's been lovely talking to you. You have a great afternoon.