Hannah Drury shares her blueprint for building Peppermint Grove Australia and Moss St. Fragrances
Updated: Feb 24
This is Hannah Drury for Female Startup Club.
Welcome back to the show - if you’re new here! Hi! I’m Doone, your host and hype girl in business. Every week we learn from 7,8 & 9-figure female founders to understand their blueprint in business when it comes to money, marketing, and mistakes
Women like Hannah Drury the founder of Peppermint Grove Australia and Moss St Fragrances. Hannah started this business in 2014 with an investment of $50,000 and now she’s selling more than 100,000 products every month. Today we’re digging into Hannah’s story of building this brand over the last 10 years; what she did when her 100% retail model in business went to zero overnight when the pandemic hit and how she diversified her business by becoming her own manufacturer and perfumer.
Hannah also dives into her wholesale strategy in the early days and how she managed to secure her brand in 110 retail stores within the first 6 months of starting her business - as a one-woman show! I love her approach to pounding the pavement and owning her backyard which saw the brand incrementally grow across retail stores at an incredible rate. And the best bit? It was totally free!
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Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Hello, thank you so much for having me. I'm really looking forward to our conversation today. Me too. Me too. You're in Sydney, right I am. I'm just in Sydney today. I'm not always in Sydney, but today is a Sydney day, so I'm excited to Sydney day. Love a Sydney day, I usually start by asking people if they've had any wins or oh ship moments that they'd like to share, but it's only 11 AM, so I'm hoping you don't have any ocean moments to share, but what's going on this morning? None that will go into now that we're going to this morning. I've been to the gym, I've had a coffee, I've had a week with my marketing team, which has been great. I've checked into my office in barrel because I'm usually there today and I'm not, so I'm sure they're missing my presence. Not. Um, so yeah, gotten some stuff done. Hey, it's 11, 13. I've been up for men, we've gotten a lot done, but just now just been preparing for our chat. Love that. Amazing. Cool. Well, we always like to get started by going back to where your entrepreneurial story starts and this is circle. Like I'm thinking pre-2014 if you launched in 2014, so let's go back, where do you like to start? Oh look, let's start 10 years ago. Um I always had a passion for fragrance, uh, and homewares home decor. Um, it's my thing, you know, some people really, really love fashion. I do love fashion as well, but you know, the home has always been a really important part of my life. I think I got that from my mother who loved entertaining and had been people around and I was always buying candles and diffusers, but I found that the actual candle and diffuser yes it was you know really functional and smell really good but it wasn't actually aesthetically pleasing, you know, I found myself hiding them behind books, you know because there was sort of like an overly branded veggie might jar thing, you know, sticker on it and it didn't actually add to the decor of the home. So I wanted to create a brand that was both a functional, smell good and be aesthetically pleasing. So the entire brand came about because I wanted to develop a vessel, a really beautiful vessel that held the fragrance. So how do you do that? Well first before we get into that point because I want to I want to dive into that but before we get there are you like working another job, had you always known you were going to start a business or had you kind of just like what what was the life around you like at that point? Yeah, absolutely. So I was out of uni, I've done a three year commerce degree but while I did full time, you know I also did full time work, I come from a family of workers where workaholics, I love working, you know some people just getting out and going to work just makes me really happy a lot of things make me really happy, I'm a pretty happy person but you know uni was fine but what really did it for me was working, I loved the fact that, you know, all my friends at 18, you know, they had to borrow money from mum and dad or they couldn't afford to buy whatever it was that they wanted and you know, I was fully independent from the age of 18, I moved out of home because I was working full time on a salary, you know, you look back and I was earning no money and I was always for because you spent every cent you have at that age um but it was a really great time, so I was actually working for a fragrance business at the time and I ended up working for them throughout my entire degree and then when I finished I went and work for a marketing and communications agency. That was really interesting and quite a pivotal moment because it was interesting to be on the agency side and working for a really wide range of clients, but I was often working with clients and I wasn't passionate about the product and it just didn't give me that same energy and that same burst that it did when I was working for this fragrance brand, which I was really interested in and I was really passionate about it. So as I was working for the marketing communications agency, I just thought, oh my God, you know, why don't I just start my own thing now, you start off small, you know this all this planning and you know, this was at least a 12 month process and I was absolutely working full time in my marketing and communications job at the time, a month before I was ready to launch. So this is you know, a year and a bit into the process. I moved back home with my mom and dad, which was very interesting given that I'd lived out of home since I was 18 and I decided to start the business from their house. I don't think they knew that was really going to happen. I thought they probably just thought I was just moving in with them but you know, better stock came with me too. And you know the next minute I taken over and are you thinking like you had quit your job and moved back home to pursue it full time or you were still thinking side hustle, start small, you are all in okay. When we get to it, you'll learn why I was all in from that moment and it was because I already had pre orders. So I had 20 clients before I even launched. So I thought, you know what, I'm making the product, I'm being accounts, I'm being customer service, I'm being everything I need to give this my all and I was 24 at the time, I didn't have a mortgage, I don't have kids, I don't have a partner, you know, so it was, I thought if I'm going to do this, I'm gonna give it my all, I've got nothing to lose. Um you know, let's give it a crack. And I did, Oh my God, I Love that. I love that energy so much. I have so many questions. The first two parts that I just want to cover before we get to those 20 orders was so what was the product at this point? Like have you already ordered from somewhere else or were you like hand making products? Like what was the kind of product piece? And, and then following that, how did you start getting the word out there to get those 20 clients? Okay, so the first one was actually developing the product. Um, so because I wanted to have a unique vessel, I needed to design the vessel. And I worked with a manufacturer in china to design that vessel. That was easily the most expensive part of what I did. It was the innovative part where you know, you obviously have to have money behind you. Now, you've gotta remember, I've been working since I was 18 and then I was at that point, I've been working for six years, but really, I've been working since I was 14 and you know, I've been saving and you know, doing what I could, especially when I decided I really wanted to give this mile, I stopped going out and buying clothes and doing all that sort of stuff. I saved every dime. So I actually went over to china and I went to one of the big trade there and I found a supplier for firstly my glassware and secondly for my packaging. So I designed the vessel which obviously took a lot of time getting it right, making sure that it was safe for candle use that it looked pretty. Then obviously registering the designs, making sure that there was no I. P. Issues and that when I did launch nobody else could copy it. Um so that was probably the biggest part and of course I had to order the stock which you know takes 60 days to make then 30 days on a container. What used to be 30 days China China to Sydney. 30 days. Now we wish. Yeah exactly and so that stock was obvious delivered and I said about making my first batch which was obviously very interesting. Now there was obviously trial and testing and in that 12 month period I didn't just wax and wax in a jar and you know see what happened, there was a lot of testing that went into that. But yeah it was all pretty backyard, it was all being done out of my parents home. What was that? I mean I love to ask about the money piece. You you mentioned you had your savings and that's how you're funding the business. What did you put in to get that kind of first inventory? That trip to china, the R. And D. And getting you to launch with product. Yeah, it was about $50,000. Um you know, and that's just the start of it will go into my favorite topic which is cash flow a little bit later and how growing businesses absolutely eat money. Yes we love the cash flow. Yeah, but it was $50,000 to launch. And at that time like had you thought about, you know product based businesses, they require a lot of working capital as we know. Were you thinking about the process of fundraising? Was that even something on your radar or were you just thinking like I'm gonna invest in my own business? Like what was your mindset around money in the bigger picture? Yeah, absolutely. Look for me, I knew that if I sold my first lot of stock that I would at least break even. So I wasn't looking for investors or anything at that point of time. I mean you start really small, obviously you hope that it gets bigger, but for me it was just one step in front of the other. You know, I was if I got 20 orders, I was cheering at that time so there wasn't really focus on on that next level and that scaling and that grow. For me it was just all about getting my first, getting my product right and then secondly getting my customer base. So do you want me to talk about how I got my first customers? Yes, I absolutely want to talk about how you got your first customers. Let's go, okay, let's do it. So, I started off as a wholesale business. So I just sold my brand to retailers. I really only went online when Covid hit. So when I developed my brand, I was developing it for all of these beautiful retail and homeware stores. So what I did is I wanted to directly engage with my consumer throughout that new product development fades. So I went into these stores stores that I knew would, you know, that I wanted my brand in and I actually just spoke with them, showed them the drawing, showed them the fragrances, showed them the packaging design and I got their feedback. I think in this day and age, people are so scared and I speak with a lot of people who are, you know, in those development phases and they're really scared to show their product unless it's perfect. But I think my biggest piece of advice is directly engage with the consumer. It's all very well to show mom and dad or to show your friends, but are they the ones who are actually reaching their hand into their pocket and going to give you money for this? Not necessarily. So, I developed relationships with retailers and got their feedback throughout the whole process and it was pretty brutal. I've got to be honest, I've looked like what I just know we wouldn't stop that. No, that's ugly. No, that's polarizing. No, my customers not interested in that. No, that doesn't go with the decor of my shop, you know, and you've got to take each bit of feedback with a grain of salt because every single retailer, they're small businesses too, and you know, they've got a different customer base. But listening to that overall feedback was amazing. I actually found the other day the first packaging designs I didn't launch with it because remember I got that feedback throughout the development phase which is the best time to get feedback because you haven't spent a bloody fortune on stock that then they go, you know what if you've done that, it would have been better. And I actually ended up going with something completely different. I pared back completely because of this feedback that I got. So I developed these relationships and you know, you know, they got used to be coming into their store was probably a little bit annoying, but I've got no shame. So whatever, you know, and I feel like even today that that's still relevant, like 100% relevant, That's still the blueprint. Yes, we're 10 years on, but like going into a store and just talking to the owner or talking to the buyer is like the step listening to their feedback and then getting on the shelves 100% and you'd be shocked at the amount of people who do not do it. Oh no, it's not ready. I don't want to show them. They love the fact that you're involving them. These are the people who have these beautiful retail stores, they are your eyes and ears, directly engaging with the end consumer. These are amazing people who know what the customer wants. So I spoke with them and they sort of, you know, maybe they got a soft spot for me, I don't know, but after After that 12 month journey of speaking with them and showing them and you know, developing a relationship with them, business is all about relationships, they ended up taking the brand. So they would have been, you know, 15, 20 people that I was doing this with and after all of it, you know, they want to take the brand, they felt like they had been part of the journey and I listened to their feedback. So before I was even ready to launch, I had pre orders, this is whole sale pre orders of these people that I worked with. So that's why of course I needed this stock, I was all in, you know, making products for 20 and there's a wholesale orders. This isn't one candle, you know, this is 30 40 50 100 products. So I was all units, I should say, not different products necessarily because I only launched with a very small range, so that's why I was able to move back home and go, yeah, I probably need to quit my full time job and you know, throw ever everything into it. So that was step one, Step two was like, okay, cool, I've got 15 to 20 wholesalers, I need more. So I literally took the product, I walked into other stores and I said, hey, my name is Hannah, here's my brand. Do you want to have a look at it? And you know, some people weren't that interested and that's fine, but I always left them with product, burn it, touch it, feel it, experience it, taken home very important and probably nine out of 10 times. They call me within a couple of days and say, you know what? This is a really nice product, I'd say cool. And the other thing I did was I did sale of return. So I said, look, if it doesn't sell, I will take the product back. You know, there's absolutely no risk on your behalf. I needed these people to be the influences I didn't have, I didn't really know a thing about social media. I think instagram was coming a thing then, but I'm not very cool. So I didn't really do instagram, but they were my modern day influencers who were actually using their beautiful stores to showcase my product. And then what happened was that other retailers, because let's be honest, everybody looks at what everyone else is doing, they would see it in their store and go, oh yeah, you know Peppermint Grove, I'd love to to stop you as well. So it was all about getting it in the stores of each state and you know, slowly worked my way around and then the rest would follow suit. They'd give you a call. So that acted as my marketing tool and guess what? That's free, it was completely free. That's free. You are pounding the pavement. Hell yeah. Hell yeah. So it sounds like in the early years just to kind of like re summarize in the early years, majority of your time is walking in getting that relationship leaving product, making sure there is no barrier for someone to like engage in a relationship with you and then getting the product in that store and just rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat rinse and repeat. How many stores did you get into based on that strategy? I would say easily. Well over 50. Well over 50. So by the time, so I launched in early October or October of 2014, I started working on the brand in 2013 and then the following february. So february of 2015, I did a trade show. So the gift and homewares trade shows, they're on in february. There are in august, I went and I did a trade show and again like some people were like, oh God, that annoying girl who's been visiting me for the last couple of months, but you know, I was a friendly face, they come and say hello. Um but you know, my stand was busy because people, you know, the product was unique, you know, it was a beautiful piece of home home decor, it had a lid that was really functional, that you know, people could use as a coaster, whereas other brands weren't doing that yet. Um so you know, my hair stand was busy and I think people are attracted to something busy on what's going on there and then they come over. So from there I got another 70 retailers. So literally I had 100 and 10 retailers within six months of starting my business at this point, Yes, it's literally just me, it's literally just me and then within nine months I think I do recall, you know, I had some friends in the industry and I've gotten a page in Elle magazine or something and Maya saw the advertisement in Elle magazine and they gave me a call and said, hey, we really love to chat with you, we're really looking for a new home fragrance brand and I thought, oh my gosh, like this is incredible. So I flew to Melbourne and it was just just me and my box of samples. Like there was no, there was not a fancy presentation, like it was literally just me in a cute little candle and I walked in there was about six people in the room. I thought oh my goodness what have I got myself into? But I just chatted, I chatted about my passion for the brand, why it was unique what we were doing. And you know they rang me two days later and said look we'd really love to take a chance on you. And that was another huge turning point for the business. Yeah. Like how many stores were talking at that point that it launched into? They put It into also they had 65 at the time and they launched it into all 65. So you can imagine though they're working 4 to 6 months out. But I thought oh my God when I need to make sure I have the stock I need to have the infrastructure like I need to have the capital E. D. I. Yeah. Exactly. Right. And that's when you start going oh my God like how the hell am I gonna make this thing work. But also I needed people and also I needed a factory. So so no longer. Yes. Do you want me to go there? We want to go there. Yes. Okay. We can't be working out of mom and dad's anymore. Not if I want to remain their child that they really love. Um But also you know when you start ordering that level of stock you need pallets and you know you can't be delivering that to suburbia, it's not going to work. So I needed to get a factory, just a small factory, a small space. I I'm sure we all know what Sydney prices are like even if you go out, you know to Western Sydney to factories, they are still so expensive. So I ventured out a little further to a beautiful place um the Southern Highlands we say barrel. But the industrial area is called Bremer and I found this little space in Bremer 100 and 10 kilometers away but I could afford it what like what's the price at that point? So it's literally it was a third of the price per square meter. Um as opposed to Sydney factories. Like I cannot remember the exact amount. I got like a short term lease. You know, I was actually half of it was being used for storage and then the other half I sort of had this factory space. I literally got a de mountable and put it in, that was my office. Maya thought I was joking when I told them like I'm literally working out of a D mountable and sometimes it's like a temporary office, It's like you know you might be building something on a work site and you see they sort of dumped those cube looking things. So I was actually working on this. So this is 110 km away, right? I have no bloody money. Like every single dollar, I'm not paying myself every single dollar. I probably, let's be honest had to borrow some money from mom and dad. Like you know it was, it was quite desperado, but whatever I had nothing to lose and I was having a hell of a lot of fun along the way. You know, all of the winds of getting a store, you're jumping out like it was just so fun. So I moved into their, oh my God, I knew absolutely no one. I was 100 and 10 kilometers away so that's like 220 kilometers of driving a day. But I just got a blow up mattress and occasionally slept there definitely was not part of the arrangement. But you know whatever I was going early and leaving late and occasionally I treat myself to a room at the pub or a hostile. Um, and that was what it was like for like the first two years. It was absolute chaos. It was great. Sounds so exciting. I love a startup story like that. Yeah. I don't know if you feel the same as me, but today's mainstream news is not engaging, not unbiased and not enjoyable. The donut newsletter is all these things. It's also 100% free and hilariously witty, join 85,000 daily readers and get news that lets you make up your own mind at the donut dot co forward slash hype. That's T H E D O N U T dot C. O forward slash hype to sign up for free today. You know, when Maya specifically placed the order, you know, a purchase order, I'm sure that requires a lot of upfront capital. Were you just kind of funding those orders through the profits made originally or did you need to find more money? Yeah, exactly. Right. So it was literally about putting all of the money that I was making from those previous orders, just using every single dollar went back into stock. I also needed to then find staff. Now the other reason I decided to go rural was because there were government incentives for hiring staff in those areas because it was considered rural. So I went to these government agencies and they actually gave staff then, you know, they, the government was like 60 70% rebate. They didn't actually cost me a lot of money. That's amazing. Yeah. So that was the other great thing about being rural as well. And from there it started to grow and as we get a bit later in the piece, I did have to get an investor in. It was just impossible. Like I could not scale like I needed to remembering as well, this is not an e commerce business, this is a wholesale, I'm not getting the cash up front for those orders. I'm getting it 30 60 90 days, the om and with the life cycle of the product, you know, I'm buying the stock nine months prior that I'm not going to get paid for for 9 to 12 months. So it just became impossible. And I did get an investor in and you know, it's the best investment they've ever made or so I like to tell them, but they tell me too, and you know, and the rest is history, but I can tell you, I am still cash strapped all the time growing businesses eat money. I thought when I got to five mil revenue, that things would say what I thought when I got to 10 mil, no, your problems get bigger, Your bills get bigger. You know, that's just what happens. But I've been committed to putting every damn dollar back into that business. Obviously, I pay myself a wage and I pay my staff really well. And, but I don't, I've never taken a profit share ever. And I have, I have no plans to, I'd rather put it back into the business and reinvest. So for you, I want to get to the point of, you know, 2020, circa 2020. So in that time between the first two years in business getting to 2020, there's a bit of a gap there. What are the key moments that lead you to that investment? Let's talk about the investment and then let's fast forward to 2020. Yeah. So with the investment, um, it just got to the stage where, uh, you know, maya acted as a huge jump for, again, other retailers seeing the brand and I just couldn't afford to buy the stock. So I it was actually through one of my retailers that I ended up meeting, there was very much a silent investor, but I met them, they were really interested in what the business was doing. They were shocked at what it was doing in, you know, 18 months, two years and they decided to give me a lump sum of money for a portion of the business and they've given me that money and they, you know, I send them obviously through all of the results of my CFO does every quarter and they approved the budget. Um, but other than that, they've really been a silent partner and their investment is what literally allowed me to go to that next level in terms of scaling the business, there's just no way I could have afforded to do it otherwise. Um, so, sorry, where, where was the, where was the next part are we going to, where we can go wherever you want? We can go to Covid, we can kind of, you know, hit on the milestones that got you there, whatever you like to go forward with, Look, I think maybe we'll go to when I had to go online because a huge part of what I was doing was that I was a wholesale business. And when Covid hit and by this stage I had, you know, 607 108 100 retailers probab More. But also I decided operations overseas. I'd set up a distribution center in the UK. Um, I was operating in 14 countries using distributors, not necessarily distributing myself the UK I decided to do it a little differently. So when Covid shut the world down my business literally down overnight and we're talking department stores who had ordered stock six months out for Mother's Day. It was March that we shut down. Mother's Day was in May, my second biggest period of the year I am in gifting like that is my thing. Um, I essentially lost everything overnight and I was, I didn't lose it. I nearly did. I was walking around my factory and I was like, oh my God, like this is it, this is the moment. And um, I was then that I realized that ethanol is a huge part of what I do with the diffusers and as well I also had all of these beautiful vessels and I thought oh my God, I'm just gonna make hand sanitizer. Let's see. But of course I didn't have an outlet. So I built this dodgy woo commerce site literally overnight. I am not I t savvy as you learned before the call when we had all these tech issues for something as basic as a call. And um, I made hand sanitizer and I sold it on this website. Well I did $70,000 in the first hour. The website crashed. I had, yeah, I had no idea because nobody could get hand sanitizer. So did you put it up on social media or something or like you emailed your retailers yet? No retailers were shot, I couldn't use that but as in like to let them know like how did you get the word out? Yes, so literally put it up on. So social media, so I literally posted on social media, all of my friends, like my friends doing hand sanitizer, blah blah blah blah. Everyone needed sanitizer. Yes as well, we told our retailers somewhat open like things like you know pharmacies, so we have some pharmacies, they will open a lot of the guest doors obviously weren't allowed to be open and literally sold out like in an hour and at that moment I went, oh my God, like I think I'm actually going to be able to keep the lights on here. So that was a huge moment but also introduced me to the world of e commerce where oh my God, you put a product up, someone buys it and the money is in your bank account straight away. This is a whole new world. So that was an amazing moment and a you know it was only within you know 2 to 3 months that suddenly the home fragrance home decor market went absolutely gangbusters because everyone was suddenly at home, they weren't spending money on travel and restaurants, they were like you know what, my house is a sanctuary and yeah, exactly, and that was amazing. So we managed to build a proper website, not myself, Shopify expert and we entered the world of e commerce and it's been a very steep learning curve, I've learned, it's a little bit like building a house, there's just constantly bits and pieces and things that needed to be added and you know, and I've now got a whole e commerce team and a digital agency and you know, all of these amazing things. Um but it was a big moment for the business, you know, e commerce is now still only 5 to 10% of the business because it's only, you know, we're two or three years in and you know, suddenly were directly engaging with the end consumer, you know, even social media, we didn't really have a big social media following because we weren't really marketing to towards the end consumer, we were more focused on our retailers. Um so that's been a steep learning curve as well, but together the two are absolutely dynamite. So the manufacturing the wholesaling and then obviously the e commerce as well, it's it's been really cool and made the business jumped through the roof. It's been great. Yeah, I read something crazy, you're on track to like 40 million this year or something bananas. Yeah, absolutely, so I've now got a couple of different brands, I now manufacture for a lot of brands out there because a lot of people don't actually have their own manufacturing facility and when you invest all of this money in infrastructure and You know I've now got probably over 15,000 m2 of factories, you know across Australia. So you know you need to keep those machines pumping, you've got all the staff, so when there's downtime, why wouldn't I manufacture for other people? So you know people are shocked. I make a lot of my competitors products, you know. Yeah, that's amazing. You white label for the competitor a 100%. It makes sense. What percentage of the business is that? Uh the white label? So I'll just go into the third part. The third part is that I've vertically integrated into producing my biggest raw material which is the actual fragrance. So I now have a huge perfumery which is basically a compounding lab. It's a dream come true. Yeah and I'm basically vertically integrating into producing as much as I can as I can of that supply chain. Um so look the brow brands are still by far the biggest part of what I do, contract manufacturing would be the smallest. And then this perfumery which provides both my brands with its fragrance, the ones I white label for and then also just the industry, you look at cleaning products, there's fragrances in everything. Like I'm now providing huge cleaning companies, you know, home fragrance companies, there are so many beautiful, amazing fragrance perfume brand launching onto the market, they're not actually making their fragrance of course not they're using a supplier. So I now sort of got these three businesses that all integrate really beautifully with each other and you know, it's a really cool spot to be in because no one else in Australia in my industry is doing that. How did you think to do that? Like how did you kind of have that light bulb moment? Because I feel like that's so such a clever diversifying change slash not really a pivot, but you know, adding on how did you actually hit that light bulb moment? It was during Covid, I hate to bring up Covid because everyone is sick of hearing it, aren't they? But there were huge issues with supply during that time, so I hated that my growth was being restricted because my suppliers couldn't supply what I needed and I was like this is really annoying and as you've probably gathered, I'm quite far and I do things you know, if I've got an idea, thank God I've got an amazing team who now, okay, hand piped down like that's a beautiful dream, but let's revisit that nine months because I want to make everything happen yesterday. Um but it really frustrated me and I went, hang on like this is a risk to my business, like you know, and the biggest thing was the fragrance because obviously they had staffing Issues, the whole industry went gangbusters, so and you know, they couldn't get their raw materials because shipping was 90 120 days and this is a huge risk, but I also had a look and went, I'm also spending millions of dollars on fragrance a year, what if I could actually make the fragrance myself? And then it just so happened that a perfume arc was out of a job and gave me a call and it kind of snowballed the biggest issue is that setting up of perfumery? Oh my God, you need to have the capital. But because with Covid, I ended up doing really, really well financially I had the money to do it. I also, as well as I ended up getting a loan facility, so I used data financing for my brand, but I then also was able to, because of the way the business had grown, had access to a facility that I could draw down on, so they gave me a lump sum that I could draw down as and when I needed it, I needed the whole thing straight away and that is what allowed me to do it, wow, that's so interesting. What a cool story. It is cool. It is cool. I'm wondering like actually I've got two questions, so we'll stick on the kind of e commerce pathway just for a second longer, what is shifting the needle for you now when you think about e commerce as a channel, Look, I think for us, uh e commerce and I'm going to be the first one to say that I'm not an expert in e commerce, I'm lucky enough to have an amazing team who do run the e commerce side of things for me, I think our biggest thing is that obviously the industry is really, really saturated, like the candle, the fragrance industry, it's now, you know, it's really boomed in the last three or four years, so it's becoming really saturated and you know, it's becoming a lot more expensive too, play in that space and be competitive in the online world. So that's probably been a huge thing for us. Um and the other issue I guess with online for us is that, um, you know, if people don't know the brand, they need to smell and experience, you know, the product I really wait, waiting for like all of those, you know, techie smart guys to come up with scratch and sniff for online, you know, I'm just waiting, surely it's going to be coming for us soon. But what it's allowed my business to do is just, it's allowed me to release a whole lot of cash, you know, I suddenly have cash for products which then, you know, has just really increase my cash flow because I'm getting money overnight as opposed to in 30 60 90 days. So despite it becoming more expensive and being a really saturated space to play in. It's also though self funding in that I'm getting that money straight away and I guess for you it's very much a case of you have the retail presence, you have people who have bought your product for years and years and years and then they find you on e commerce and they come back around. So it's really two things that work in harmony with each other, 100% of that. When you think about your journey, you've been building this business for a decade now, do you think about an exit or you thinking long term, still loving the business? Like how are you kind of thinking about, I guess where I'm going with this is like, it's a long time to be in this business and I know you have three now, so of course it still adds a bit more like fun and diversity to what you're doing every day by building multiple things at once. But yeah, what do you think about your long term plan and the long term vision? Yeah. Do you know what? That's a really interesting question and it's an interesting question because I constantly move the goalpost, you know, people ask me this question and depending when you ask me, um you know, I could have a different answer because I think when you are geared as I am and you know when you're an entrepreneur, you're constantly moving those goalposts and you hit, you hit those goals and you think, okay, great, now I'm sort of going to slow down a bit, or now I'm going to do this or that and then you go, oh no, I should start a new business because I basically got a startup business again with this perfumery. So, so for me it's just continuing to grow and scale invest in the business, invest in my staff, I'm so passionate about my team, they are amazing. The business is absolutely nothing without the amazing people that make it go around every day. Um, am I open to an exit? Absolutely. Who is it? I think you'd be crazy not to be, I'm not married to the business. I, I've got 100 and 50 other things that I want to do. So I'm not scared of that and I'm not scared of someone wanting to buy me out, Hey, give me a call, you know, drop my hand. Um you know, I'm always really open to it, but for now I'm focused on one ft in front of the other and I think I've been given a whole new lease because I love that startup phase. It's such a wild time now that I've got the mature business, which is Peppermint Grove and most street and the brand and then I'm back in startup world with the perfumery. It's kind of given me that new lease that I needed because it's total mayhem and I, I operate really well in, in organized chaos is what I call it. So that's where we are for now, amazing. I love that. I love that for anyone who is in the fragrance kind of industry, whether it's perfume or candles or or diffusers and products like that. What is your key piece of advice for folks just starting out in the early phase, I think my first piece of advice is be really, really sure about who your customer is, who is it that is going to buy your brand or by their, you know, buy your product. It is a really, really saturated market now. So what is going to be your point of difference? What is going to make someone put their hand in their pocket and give you money for something? So that would be my first thing. Don't do what everyone else is doing. You know, it's been done, it's you know, we're not 10, 15 years ago when the industry was still quite new, it's quite a mature industry now, so you need to have uh that point of difference. So that would probably be my advice, engage directly with your customer and get that feedback and be really clear on who your customer is.
So question number one is, what's your, why? Why do you wake up every day and work on these businesses. Okay, my why would have to be two things one, The product, I'm really damn passionate about the product. I love fragrance, I love the way that it can change your mood. Make you feel really good. I love the science behind fragrance. I love fragrance. The second one is the people, I I'm a people person, I love my staff, I love seeing them grow. I love seeing the ideas that they come up with. I love my suppliers, I love my customers. Um that would easily, that gives me a hit every single day easily. I Love that question. # two is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? Who? Because I'm old school, I'm going, it's not some fancy pr thing because I didn't have money for any of that. It was doing my first trade show, you know the trade show acted as a moment for me in the retail space and it was Looking back at one stage, I went to get a coffee and I came back to the stand and there was like 30 people on the stand experiencing my product and going, this is really cool. That was a really exciting moment that will always be burned in my brain. It was awesome. Yeah, a profound moment in the journey. For sure. Yeah, definitely. Question # three is at the moment what a go to resources that you look to if you are listening to a podcast or you're reading a newsletter or you're kind of like getting a book podcast. 100% podcast. I spent a lot of time driving because I live in Sydney, but I have factories out west in barrel in the southern Highlands. I'm in the UK a lot trying. So for me it's podcast. I love that. I can listen to them on the go. Um, buns that come to mind how I built this diary of a Ceo with Stephen Bartlett. Um, I obviously listen to this podcast, which is amazing as well. Um, oh, I feel like I have a masters of scale. That's amazing as well. Um, the podcast with marc Boris as well, I think just listening to other people's stories is really inspiring because it can be a lonely journey. I've now got some amazing friends who also have their own businesses and it's so important to have that connection with them. People who work for someone else just don't necessarily um, understand. And it's nice to feel like you're not alone. And when I'm driving to barrel and I'm driving back at 10 o'clock at night and I'm exhausted. I think, oh my God, 175 things went wrong today listening to them and going, oh my God, you know, you're not alone. All of us. Yeah, I think that point of connection is really important. Absolutely. Stephen Bartlett just liked one of my videos on Tiktok and I was like the moment you have seen my face, Yes, that is the moment that's going to be burned in your brain for forever as well. Hopefully you'll be a guest on his podcast one day to one day we can only hope we can all dream. Absolutely question number four is how do you win the day? What is your kind of am or PM rituals and self care habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? Yeah, this is a really great question. Um, I'm a gym girl, so monday to friday, I am up at the crack of dawn and I am at the gym. It makes me feel so energized and alive and ready for the day. It's also the only time of the day when nobody can contact me, I have my apple watch on, do not disturb, everything is on, do not disturb and no one can contact me. So I go to the gym, I come home, My beautiful husband always has a coffee for me, I have my breakfast and then I'm, I'm off for the day and I'm really routine now in where I spend each day because I'm working out of so many different locations. It's nice to know that on monday I'm in Western Sydney on Tuesday, I'm in Surry Hills with my marketing creative team on Wednesday, I go to barrel on thursday. So I'm really routine about where I am and it also means that my leadership team and my staff, they know where they can find me on each day. That's really good for me. I struggle with the nighttime routine, I struggle with the concept balance. I think for me having a business is a lifestyle choice, there is no balance, you know, I still work saturday and sunday, but I love that it relaxes me, I still go out and have a lot of fun, trust me, you know, but it's a lifestyle choice for me and for me, I wind down by just checking my emails at the end of the day before I go to bed knowing what I've got the next day that makes me feel calm, it makes me feel centered. Um, so that would be my routine if you will, but it's not for everyone, that's how I operate. So you know, there we go. Got to go with what works for you totally question # five, this is a cracker. What's been your worst money mistake and how much did it cost you? God, how long have we got? We've had some doozies. Yeah, look, I know you said quick, so I will try and be quick. It would be a huge mistake with inventory management because I'm a man manufacturer, you know, I have thousands and thousands of raw materials, so it's not just that I got my end product, I need to focus on, I'm the guy making you know the product to and buying thousands of raw materials. Unfortunately, I took my eye off the ball. I had a new staff member responsible for inventory management and they went nuts with that ordering button. They ordered enough raw materials for 18 months, which you can imagine the effect that had a, my cash flow. So how much did it cost? It was millions and millions in terms of, obviously I got through the product, but the immediate impact on my cash flow was huge. I nearly went broke. It was that close because I had amazing relationships with my suppliers. They gave me extended terms, they helped me out. Like it was purely my relationships that got me through that moment and then being amazing and going, look, we can support you through this journey. But it was a big, big lesson for me in terms of taking your eyes off certain parts of the business and it wasn't the staff members, I can't say it's anyone's fault, it's my fault. The buck stops with me, it's my responsibility. But that was still to this day, a huge moment for me. That sounds like a Big one. I think I'm still recovering. Thank God for Botox. Honestly, I'd look about 107. Oh my God, love. 107. Okay, question number six, I'm sure you've got another one in the bank. What is just a crazy story? Good or bad that you can share over the last 10 years. Oh, I don't know how crazy this is, but I haven't touched on it. So maybe I might go into it now but I'll do it quickly. I think one of the biggest USPS with my brand, which I haven't even mentioned is the ability for the peppermint grove candle lead to be engraved and personalized. And when I was actually developing the brand 10 years ago I was in china but I'd gone across to Hong kong to you know, just do some shopping and looking around market research if you will. And there was a huge, huge, huge line um just, it was hundreds of meters long. People were learning something. I thought oh my God, what the hell are they lining up for? And I went and had a look and it was when one of the perfume fragrance friends, I think it was the or whoever it was, was personalizing the bottle. Now they were like engraving the bottle and I thought, oh my God, that's really cool. And I thought, look at these hundreds of people lining up for this and I thought, Aha, I need to bring that personalization into the home fragrance space. Nobody was doing it. So that was a really important moment for me where I actually changed the design of the lead because I wanted the lead to be functional but I also was like, it needs to be able to be engraved as well and that's become a huge USP for me. I have these engravers in not every store obviously because that's not possible but in my Sydney city, my Melbourne, a lot of my big retailers but also was an online offering as well and still nobody's copied it. I don't know why not in a scalable way because this is just this machine, it takes two seconds. But I'd say that was a crazy story that ended up becoming a really important part of my business. I love that. Just a little quick moment you see something you're like I love this, I get a good vibe, I'm going to try it and it becomes a big deal. Amazing. Gotta look everywhere for inspiration totally. It's everywhere it's out there. This was so great Hannah thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your journey and all your learnings and bits and bobs wow! Holy moly, I've loved chatting with you, thank you so much. I appreciate you sharing your platform and have a beautiful day ahead.