This is Kayla Houlihan for Female Startup Club.
Hi hello!!! It’s Doone here, your host and hype girl popping into your ears from Sydney Australia. If you’re new to the show - welcome - every week I’m chatting with some of the world’s most successful female founders to understand how they’ve built their businesses to 7 figures in annual recurring rev and above; what’s working and what’s not working. We also love to talk about the money piece and we LOVE to dig into the challenges and find the insights that come from going through those hard times.
Today on the podcast, we’re learning from Kayla Houlihan and we had the best chat about her company, Tribe Skincare. And Kayla also shares specifics about what she’s doing differently as she launches a sister company to Tribe. We dive into the blueprint for a successful Afterpay sales day and how they approach sales overall as a company, why she did switch off all her digital ad spend and the result of doing that, and a clever engagement idea for Instagram that you can launch today.
Kayla also shared her biggest money mistake since starting the business, going right back to the early days when trademarking (what became) Tribe Skincare wasn't top of the priorities list. Receiving a cease & desist ended up being super costly, and a big money mistake. In hindsight, it would have been a lot cheaper to just pay to trademark the brand over completely changing everything. Keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram for a post diving a little more into trademarking options later this week!
Please note, this transcript has been copy-pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Oh, thank you so much for having me. I've just been listening to a few back episodes and they're always the best interviews. So very excited to be in the interview chair today. Oh, my gosh. Oh, I love that for you and for me, thank you so much. How's your day going? Where are you, what's happening? Well, I'm at home now. Come home to record podcasts. It's a bit of a funny day. I'm at like a very stressful point in the business at the moment and usually when I come on to podcasts, I'm quite a cruz person. I'm usually like, yep, everything's all good and like super positive. But at the moment, I, I kind of, I guess feeling the opposite. I'm sort of more of like that burn stressed business owner, which is a strange place to be five years into my journey. So I think um yeah, I can kind of talk about it from two perspectives of having a successful business that usually I'm like, super positive and happy and proud of. But then also having the other side of me today, which is more like, burn out anxious, overwhelmed, you know, I love and like, really respect when people can show up and, and be that vulnerable and honest to say that that's how you're feeling today because a lot of the time, especially with social media and, and just in general, like speaking and interviewing people, of course, we want to share the highlights, we want to share everything that's going really well and all the good stuff. But where we often learn the most is from founders who are able to share when things aren't going so well and what those challenges are and like how they're dealing with it and, and what's coming from that. So I really appreciate the honesty. What's, what's causing the stress? I think just a lot going on. It's certainly not something I'm gonna complain about. It's all good problems to have, as they say. Um for me and my business, I'm either stressed if we're super, super quiet or really busy. And at the moment I'm stressed because we're really busy. So I guess after payday, after pay day, week, after pay week. Yeah. So that's been huge the last three months. We've almost doubled our online sales year on year. So we're just experiencing huge growth in the business at the moment, um which I'll be able to talk about some different viral moments we've had and how that's impacted the business. And um I'm also in the process with the team of starting up a sister brand Tribe Skincare. So I'm kind of five years into my journey with tribe. But then I'm also in the startup phase and startup phase is just so stressful. There's so much going on in different moving parts and aspects that you have to be all on top of. And I think um logistics and organization is definitely not my strong point. So I'm a bit out of my depth with it all at the moment. I'm excited to hear kind of, you know, your journey with tribe and what you were doing in those early days versus what you're like. OK, I'm definitely not gonna do that again. I'm not gonna spend money on that again. I am gonna double down on this again. I'm excited to hear the kind of differences in the blueprint. I guess you would say just one last question on the burnout and the stress side of things. Um I feel like often as entrepreneurs, you can hit a bit of a place of burnout and kind of being like, oh shit, this is, I'm just like, kind of not replenishing my energy levels. I'm like on a bit of a downward slope. How are you coping personally with burnout? And what do you do? Like, what are your self rituals that are helping get you through that feeling of burnout? Well, I think I do a little bit of a silly thing. It's the opposite of what I should be doing. It's almost like this self sabotage. But when I'm really busy and stressed, I take on more things and I think it's to distract myself from the business or stress or certain tasks I might be putting off because they're stressing me out. So then I start doing all these other tasks and it kind of has this snowball effect and makes it worse. And then it gets to a point where I'm at now where I'm like, ok, actually I'm really burnt out and overwhelmed. I've got too much work to do. I'm so behind on everything. And then the best thing I can do is just to delegate. So everyone in my life, including staff, I'll be like, can you pick up this and can you do this for me or really making sure some of the tasks that can be done by other people and making sure that they are being done by other people reaching out for help, making my husband pick the dog up from the groomers instead of me doing it. So I guess I'm translating that into my personal life as well of just um really just, yeah, delegating and asking for help is the best thing that I find helps me stop being overwhelmed because I can't really get rid of the tasks or not do them. So I still need them to be done. And I think um at the end of every day with the business, I always try to think about not just what I achieved because I can't go in every single day and achieve everything I want to do. But I just look at it holistically of what the business achieves. So what all the staff have done as well. And I guess that helps me feel less overwhelmed that I think even if I didn't get everything I wanted to get done for the day, we've still achieved a lot as a team. Oh, I love that. That's so true as well because yes, there's your to do list that you're working through. But everyone else that works for you also has their to do list that they're ticking off every day and collectively that that power and energy and and brain power is all pushing the business forward and, and helping you achieve the goals for the business and personal love that we always love to start these episodes. And I know we've jumped ahead a little bit, but we always love to start these episodes by going back to that kind of light bulb moment. The starting story. What was getting you interested in starting a business? And why skincare? I actually had another business when I started Tribe Skincare. So I had a skin clinic with my sister and we were looking for a brand to stock in our skin clinic for our clients that had sensitive skin. So it was very results driven clinic customers or clients we call them um came to us with skin problems and we would essentially find them a solution. The clinic was actually called Skin solutions. And we found our customers that had the sensitive skin, they couldn't use the cosmeceutical brands. So we're looking for something that would be super gentle on their skin. But then when we looked at gentle skincare brands, they often didn't have the active to actually get them the results. And that's when I saw the big gap on the Australian market. I thought there's really nothing out there that's really gentle and sensitive skin and free of all your harsh chemicals and common allergens, but still has all of the actives that a cosmeceutical would have. And yeah, basically, I mean, I make it sound simple, but I combined the two concepts into one to create like a hybrid skincare for sensitive skin that was still results driven. And what did that time look like for you? Because obviously you were working in the industry? So I imagine you kind of had some inkling of where to start or what to do. But for anyone listening, who's like, oh, yeah, I have a beauty idea and I wanna get started, but I don't necessarily know how, what were those early steps to finding a lab or creating a formula or going into R and D with a manufacturer? How did you get that, like kind of piece of the puzzle sorted? Yeah, I definitely think like being in the industry, I had a little bit of a leg up and I've got that authentic journey when I'm telling the brand story, like, I haven't just gone into skin a lot of people. I mean, I shouldn't say a lot but some brands you can sort of see the founder doesn't have a background in skincare, but they've gone into skincare because it's a very lucrative industry. Um, having a few contacts in the industry and people to talk to. I mean, at the time I wouldn't have even known what a contract manufacturer was. So even just having those people I could speak to that explained to me that you need to go through a contract manufacturer. So I'm like, OK, that's a term I can Google. Let's explain it. What does that specifically mean? Yeah, let, let's like, yeah, I don't know if I know specifically what it means. Yeah. So basically just the manufacturer that is going to produce your product for you because with skincare, you've got all your different compliance that you need to meet. And I mean, I'm not, you know, sitting in the back of the factory with um a hairnet on in the lab coat and doing all mixing skincare myself. Um It's just having like a proper manufacturing facility that produce your products on your behalf. So I started Googling that started talking to people. There's a whole spectrum I could be different between all different industries. But in skincare, there's a whole spectrum of different manufacturers that specialize in different products or some of them might have a minimum order quantity of 1000, whereas others will have a minimum order quantity of 20,000. So it was really just asking those key questions of who can work with me, who has research and development teams that can work with me within their manufacturing as well. Um Because I'm also not a cosmetic chemist. So while I can work to a brief and have an idea of what I want the product to do, what I want it to look and feel like and what ingredients I want in there. I still need a cosmetic pharmacist or chemist to come up with the actual formula. So, yeah, I guess um again, I'm just making, it sounds a lot simpler than what it is, but finding the manufacturer was the key. And then um I really had a vision in my head, I feel, feel like there's a lot of parts of the business where as a founder, I'm not necessarily the strongest with like numbers and figures um or logistics. But my strong point is product development and really knowing what's going to be good for people's skin and what sort of fits into the market. I really think that's my specialty area as a founder. So when I first launched, I knew the four essential products I wanted to launch with. Um and it's crazy like to look at the business. Now it's um even for me to look back, I'm like, how did I do that? But I've got to remember, I started really small. It was just the four formulas and the four products that originally went to market. Yeah, I love that. It's, it's easy to get swept up in the comparison thing where you look at someone who's five years ahead or 10 years ahead and be like, how do I launch like that today? But you've got to remember, everyone starts somewhere and they finish somewhere else. So you've just got to start small, do what you can and, and slowly chip away over time and eventually you'll get to where you want to get to. I'm wondering for you, you know, when you were going through that process of finding your manufacturer, we always like to understand what was the investment to getting started. So how much did you need to invest to get that kind of first order and get you ready to launch the brand? And like, what size order was it? Were you going for like, yeah, 20,000 units or were you like, let's start small and test a smaller amount? Yeah, I went for the absolutely smallest end of the spectrum. So your minimum viable product just so I could afford the opening order basically. But also, um, just to get it onto the market and test it, I mean, it's probably not something five years ago. I really understood because I just thought this is the best product ever. Everyone's gonna love it. But those four products we originally created don't actually exist today in their form because everything's been reformulated over the years just based on customer feedback. But as for the initial investment, I had about $40,000 saved. So I was like, ok, I need to start a business. I'm gonna spend $40,000 on my opening order of product and then all the money is gone and I had no marketing plan, no business plan. Um And then essentially no cash to do anything with so very poor planning on my behalf. I don't recommend anyone does it that way. Um But yeah, so I guess that's when I had to think, OK, how am I going to sell these products? And five years ago, Instagram was still sort of in its golden day where you really could reach new audiences and grow a following on that platform. Um So I really just started with gifting to influencers and um growing our audience over there. So luckily, I didn't need a whole lot of marketing budget to begin with. And then as the business has grown, I've always just invested the money back into the business. So the whole five year journey, all of our growth in online sales, moving into wholesale and going into store. I've never taken out a business loan and I've never put more capital investment into the business. It's just grown from that $40,000. Yeah, and I love that. It's easy to think. Oh, if I only had, you know, extra marketing budget or if I only had this or if I only had that, but actually by not having a budget to do those things, it forces you to be scrappy and find your true loyal fans and loyal customers who actually do just genuinely love the product and somehow discovered it organically, which I guess works out for the better. So in those early years, you are focusing on Instagram sounds like you're tripling down on Instagram micro influencers and spreading the organic kind of word of mouth. What are the pivotal moments that push you forward in the business over those early years? I always say that when we started working with Brittany Saunders, the entire business changed. So we were so lucky that early on in the piece, she started working with us. I think the brand had only been on the market for around about three months when we got her on as an exclusive ambassador. So we were the only skincare brand that she was using and working with. And yeah, we were so lucky to get that and as a small business that had just started up, we really didn't have like a budget. We weren't going above and beyond to sort of out price, other brands wanted to work with her. We just sent her the products and she genuinely loved them and said that her skin was just so good from using them. So we're very lucky in that respect that she loved them. And then um yeah, just basically had her on an exclusive contract for I think just over a year. Um And that's when I was like, oh, this business can really be a thing because we might be paying her $1000 to do one post, but then that night would get $20,000 of sales and I could see such an obvious instant return on investment that I was like, this is how I'm gonna grow the brand. Like before I put money into anything else, if you know, you're spending $5000 on advertising and you're getting $20,000 of sales in 24 hours, you can see that you're clearly getting a positive return. Um And then I guess being skincare, we're so lucky, it's a consumable product. And because we're for sensitive skin, when someone with sensitive skin find a product that works for them, they're likely to stick with it for years and years. So even now five years down the track, we've still got people who said I discovered you through Brittany Saunders back when she was posting and they've become basically a lifetime customer. Holy shit. That is so cool. I know that Britney, you know, now in the landscape is really well known, was she at that point a very known kind of influencer or was she still at a micro level? She was already very well known, um probably in the same way she is now, but her brand has changed a lot that now she's very entrepreneurial and um known as like a business woman really. Um and has all of her own really successful businesses back then. Brittany's main bread and butter, I guess was um beauty influencing and she was really known as like the one of the sort of key beauty influencers in Australia. She's just so personable and trustworthy. So I think um yeah, people know she's very genuine. A lot of loyalty to her as a person for sure. I read that in that first year. You did like $1 million in sales. It sounds like a lot of that growth really happened from the combination of finding that kind of unicorn influencer who really shifts the needle plus actually products that solve a real problem. So word of mouth spread. And I'm wondering, you know, that's so great a million dollars. Everyone listening is like, oh my God. Wow, how do I get to that point? But obviously on the flip side, there are also challenges that you can face with scaling and, and that kind of fast growth that maybe, you know, logistics and supply chain is, is a tricky thing. I'm wondering if you faced any challenges in those early in that early year, first year too. We had a lot of out of stock problems and as a consumable brand that is very stressful because if people, especially because I was saying our um clients or customers have sensitive skin, they don't want to be switching between brands. So if they're using our cleanser and it's working really well for their skin and then our cleanser is out of stock for two months. They can't just not cleanse their skin for two months. They've got to go and swap to another brand. So they would be basically saying to us, well, what are you suggesting we use in the interim? And I was like, we're really one of a kind like I can't suggest something else because you could use something that is super gentle, but you might not get the results. And if you switch to a cosmeceutical, you might have the adverse reactions. So I think um even now five years down the track, we keep way too much stock in the warehouse, but we just don't want to be having those constant out of stocks because we know that our customers need consistency with what they're using. We're out of stock of one product at the moment. And I'm stressed about that because I'm like, it's not ok because you, people can't just sort of swap and change with skincare. Um whenever you change to a new brand, you're at risk of um having breakouts or your skin purging. And we don't want that happening to the customers. I love how you have this, like, really direct relationship where you're talking to the customers. You've got the feedback and you mentioned at the start of this episode, you launched with four and they don't exist anymore because of that feedback, you were able to iterate and shift. What was the feedback you were getting that prompted you to change? So, oh, just basically feedback on any individual product. So just an example with our um cleanser. So we did launch as a balm cleanser from the beginning. People were like, we really love the balm texture. It's nice and gentle, but it's not removing my makeup well enough. So then we'll basically revive that formula and go. OK. How can we keep it? So it's beautiful and gentle and hydrating still, but add some different ingredients in there to help remove their makeup and then we'll relaunch it as a new formula when you're getting that kind of feedback. Obviously, someone, you know, over here might give one piece of feedback and someone over here might give another piece of feedback, but like what is enough of a kind of sizable group of feedback that prompts you to actually make a change versus like a one off kind of offhanded comment or something like that? I guess I'm just wondering like, how big does that feedback need to get for you? Be like, you know what I'm gonna listen to that and I'm gonna, I'm gonna change because you can't obviously change everything with every piece of feedback that you get. Yeah. I don't know what the actual frequency would be as such, but I guess, like, daily we have a, um, frequent feedback section on our whiteboard at work and we just write something up if we feel like, yeah, pretty much every day if customers are saying something. Um, or, I mean, even if it was something was coming up three times a week we might think. Ok, that's getting pretty frequent. Now, we need to work on changing that. Oh, I love that. That's such a great idea. Just having a little note there, visual, see what people are saying and put it on the whiteboard and fair. But then it's my job to change things. So I go to the white board. I'm like, OK, what, what do we need to fix? You're like, damn it. I loved that. Yeah. Yeah, that's it. It's not just about what I love though. It's gotta be about what the customer loves. Yes, absolutely. In the last couple of years, you know, in the beginning, you're focusing on Britney, you're focusing on Instagram, but obviously the landscape has changed a lot and you mentioned, you know, in recent times, you've had some viral moments that's impacted kind of your marketing and how things are growing for you. Now, what has your marketing approach been in recent years? And what are the things that are driving results for you now? So we did something a little bit crazy for an e-commerce brand in July of 2022. So last year and we switched off all of our paid marketing. So that's across tiktok, Google, Facebook and Instagram. And the reason for doing that, firstly, the initial motivation was I got banned from Facebook and Instagram ads and that was because I kept trying to sneak through before and after images in the ads so completely my fault and I got the warnings to say you can't do it. And then I tried to sneak a before and after in like the middle of a video thinking that the algorithm wouldn't pick up on it. And of course, it did and I got banned. So I was like, OK, great. I can only do advertising on tiktok and Google and Google has never really been that successful for us. It's very, very expensive if we want to bid on keywords like skincare for sensitive skin. And then the conversion is low because you're getting basically new people discovering the brand all the time. Um that may not necessarily know the brand's personality or have seen it that sort of seven touch points before they purchase. So Google just very, not cost effective. Um tiktok is cost effective, but we get very low conversions as well. And then Facebook and Instagram is working for us, but we couldn't do it anymore. So I guess when it got switched off, I was like, OK, what's gonna happen like this is gonna be a really big deal, really detrimental to the business. And then suddenly it wasn't and the weeks went on and our sales weren't changing. And I guess that's when I really thought, where are all our customers coming from? And we realized it's really just from recommendations with friends and family. So when you think about what skincare you're using, it's probably not because you saw a Facebook ad of a brand you've never heard of and decided to purchase it. It's probably because your friends and family have told you about it or someone you know, is using it. So we thought that's what's working for us. That's what we need to focus on and really scaling that. So the way we do that is um I guess, well, just getting more customers and hoping that they talk about us. But um E D MS and S MS marketing is a way we can kind of nurture our existing audience and same with Instagram because we've already got our community on there. I think it's quite known that brands aren't really growing on Instagram anymore. And then some brands think, ok, that's not working. We need to switch to tiktok whereas we see our brands not growing on Instagram, but we've got this amazing audience and community who we've nurtured over five years. We don't need to forget about them just because tiktok is a new thing. So we really think of Instagram is for nurturing our current customers and then we use tiktok for our new customer acquisition. So that's really about trying to show up on people's for you page and telling them the brand journey from the beginning to try to get new customers that way. I love that. That's so true. You shouldn't forget about your existing engaged community just because there's a new hot thing over somewhere else. Do you still focus on kind of micro influencers? And is pr a big piece of your strategy? Yes, pr I should have mentioned that. Um that's a big piece of the strategy as well and a huge sales driver for us because I think pr really allows you to tell a full story. It's not just an ad. People are so sick of seeing ads these days, they just scroll straight past them. Pr is really about storytelling and we can tell the story of Tribe skincare from the beginning as me as a founder. Um Like you do on a podcast like this, um tell the story behind the products as well. Um So yeah, pr is really effective for us. What was the other thing you just said, micro influencers or influencers in general rather? Yes. OK. So our influencer strategy has really changed as well. We're using influencers more as content creators. So a lot of the time we'll be paying them to create content if we've got a new product coming out and we want to demonstrate how to use it or what results it can give, we'll pay them to create the content. We're not necessarily paying them to post on their own page to reach their audience. Um So, and then we do um a bit of sending out to micro influencers as well and that's across tiktok and Instagram, but very different to years ago when I would have just basically pumped any amount of money into influence marketing knowing I was gonna get such a big return on it. I just don't think that brands are seeing the same return these days. You've got to be a lot more strategic about what you're doing. You're gonna get probably less results than what you got years ago, but you're also going to be paying three times the price. So I don't think that the return on investment is necessarily there anymore. Yeah, absolutely. I agree. It definitely feels like it's really shifted from those early days. Are there other kind of strategies that you look at now? And you're like, oh yeah, I'm excited to try that. I'm excited to like that. That's something that works even if it's on more of a, a limited scale. So for example, pop up events or brand collaboration and partnerships with, you know, overlapping audiences or um yeah, they're the two that come to mind of what I'm talking about. Love any kind of brand collaborations where you can um overlap your audiences. I just think that is such cost effective marketing as for pop-ups, we've just started doing these, we used to do events. So when we had a new product launching, we were really focused on doing these, I guess kind of Instagram events where it was all about getting influencers and ambassadors there and hoping that they post on their Instagram and stories and then people discover the brand that way and years ago, that was really, really effective for us. And then COVID hit, we didn't have an event for about two years. And then last year we had our vitamin C launch event and I don't, I want to say it wasn't a success because it was a beautiful day. Everything looked amazing. We had amazing influencers show up and I'm happy with how the event went. But as for the budget that we put into that event and what we got back from it, I don't think that the return on investment was there. So we tested out our first ever. We'd done pop up stores before at our own events, but we did our first ever like Westfield pop up in October last year. And that went so well for what we put into usually like a four hour event, we could afford to have an entire pop-up set up in the middle of a Westfield Center for two weeks. So to me, that was a bit of a no-brainer. I'm like, OK, that's where I'm putting the money now. What's the kind of budget for something like that. About 30,000. Yeah. And then you're also obviously getting so many different eyeballs from a variety of different people walking through, through the westfield. Yeah, for sure. So amazing for brand awareness. Um the way we see it is if we do enough sales at the actual pop up, it's essentially paying for itself. So it becomes like a free marketing exercise that we still have to put obviously a lot of time and effort into it. But that was hugely successful. So we're doing another pop up in end of May this year in High Point shopping center in Melbourne this time. Wow. And so did you find that from that first one? It drove more of an impact like it was well above and beyond breaking even? Yeah, hugely. Um It was just amazing how many, I guess we had a lot of customers on the actual pop up, but we could tell because it was in Geelong in Victoria. We could tell that Geelong and Surrounds even online, our sales for that area went up hugely in that time. So people would see it in Westfield and then they'd go home and Google it and purchase it or we would have people come in and they would see it and then they would go home and Google and then they'd come back two days later and say I saw your customer before and after I decided I want to purchase today. So it was really good to have that presence that people could come and meet us and try all the products I think. Um e-commerce brand, you really just don't have that same presence. Like you can try to create it online, but it's just so hard to do. Like it's great to get out in the community and actually meet your customers whether you do it through events or pop up. Um It's just a whole different ball game and I think people are starting to get back into stores now. So it's the right time that you can get brand awareness in, I guess, more creative in different ways rather than just um pumping all of your money into digital advertising. Mm. Absolutely. And I think even like if I look at my own consumer behavior, I often do want to go in and just see the product touch it, see if I like the smell of it like that kind of thing versus straight away committing to buying a full size product. And so of course, it makes sense that you see something in a westfield and you're like, oh, yes. Now I can actually check out that brand and that adds to the seven touch points in such a, you know, in such a strong way that maybe that was only touch point number two, but that's the touch point that's just needed for you to then take action and buy the product Yeah. And it really was that final touch point for so many people that would actually say to us, they're like, I've seen this brand everywhere and then this was the first time I was purchasing. So nothing had actually got them to sort of go through to the website to the, check out to the car and actually try the products. Whereas seeing it in person when they can grab their basket, fill it up with products and um purchase right there and then that was what got them to convert. I'm wondering if there's also the ripple on effect of then being very front of mind to buyers from certain retailers that you might want to be stocked in for sure. We um had a few people taking photos and um coming in and like asking us about it that we yeah, buyers for different places. Um Someone was sent down from Melbourne. She was like, I'm on a little sneaky mission here. I've been sent down to take some photos of your pop up a company I work for. Yeah. So there was um a lot of that happening and then yeah, great content you can then share across your linkedin and on your socials as well. Hm. Genius. I love it. Something else I noticed just to circle back one other second to Instagram, something else I noticed that seems to be working really well for you as an engagement driver is the ongoing giveaway that you're running and you mention it in every single post on Instagram I wanna discuss, I wanna discuss how long it's been running. What's that impact? And what are the results of doing that? I love it. Yeah, it's been for, uh, I would guess maybe two or three years now and the fact we haven't changed, it means it's working really well because I'm definitely not one of those people that starts doing something and then just keeps doing it and assumes it's working. Like I always think what we were doing 12 months ago that worked really well for us might not be what's working for us now. So we're always looking at our Instagram analytics and different data to see if we can change up the way we're doing things. But that has definitely just been successful right through um for driving engagement to the page. So just getting people to comment on every single post and usually it's the same people just commenting on literally every single post throughout the month, but it just keeps them interested in the page and because they're engaging with it, it keeps showing the content to those people. So I guess over the years as I've seen a lot of um talk in the media or different business groups about Instagram engagement, like really plummeting for business accounts and them struggling to still get that organic reach. Um We've stayed really strong with our organic strategy and definitely still have a really good reach and I think that the competition has a lot to do with that. Yeah, I love that. I've never seen that before. Really? Cool. Love it. Let's talk about after Pay Day just because it's super relevant and it's just happened. How do you approach for or for anyone outside of Australia? I'm not sure if it's just an Australian kind of Australia wide day or if it is international as well, but it's basically like a cyber Monday kind of day, right? Where you offer bundles or a promotion or something like that. And it's very like, here's the window of time, you can access it. And usually, you know, all of the brands in Australia I saw were getting involved. What is your approach to that day? And how does that day kind of go for you? Yeah. So we've literally just had after pay day. It's been very, very, very busy this year, I think. Uh I don't know if that's because the business is so busy at the moment and we've experienced a lot of growth in new customers or if it's because after Payday in general, as growing is growing as a day, like how Black Friday is getting bigger every single year because more people are waiting to shop at that time. This time, we've done a blanket 20% off site wide that always works really well compared to doing if we like launch a special bundle for it or something, it never performs as well. A little tip. So something we record all of our different promotions that we do throughout the year and the results we get from it and the promotion that just keeps coming up as our top promotion. So in terms of revenue and number of orders we're getting from it is when we do a mystery discount. So it's basically you have to get to the checkout and then you enter the mystery discount code and they don't know if they're gonna get 10% 15% 20% whatever, it's gonna end up being that promo just absolutely goes off for us time and time again. So we're getting a little bit lazy that we keep being like, let's do another movie discount just because we know that it goes so well. Um, but I think it's just because they've already gone on to the website. They've selected everything that they want and they're at that cart page. So they're just so close to purchasing and then they enter the discount and by that time they're probably like, I don't even care what it is. I'm just ready to check out. And, um, yeah, they're at that final step. Yeah, it was fun. I'm ready to buy or like, I'm ready to stock up for, you know, when I run out of my existing products, I may as well take this advantage. So you're doing that, like, on a yearly basis outside of your kind of cyber Monday after pay kind of day cycle. Yeah. So we might do a mystery discount. Like, we didn't fit this after pay day because we'd just done one. Um, but we also do some of our promos. This isn't so much about after pay day, but we keep some of our promos essentially like private because you don't want to always be discounting and every day advertising that you're doing something new. So we have a lot of like VIP and private sales, which will only be advertised to our S MS list and our email list. And it's a really great way of growing those lists. So we'll advertise on Instagram saying we're gonna have an S MS only promotion. Here's the sign up link and then we'll get a whole bunch of sign ups because they want to be a part of that promotion and then whatever promotion we give to the S MS subscribers, we're not um discounting publicly. So we're not, you know, kind of ruining the brand's reputation or value in that way. Um It's just giving our VIP customers a chance to purchase the products with a discount. Oh, that's so smart. I love that. Gosh. Well, I want to also talk about this new brand. You mentioned that you're, you know, in a whirlwind of all things going on, you are back in startup mode again and you're kind of figuring out like how to build this brand in today's landscape versus five years ago or six years ago. Let's talk about what you're doing differently. Let's talk about what you're doing the same. Mhm. So, I guess the similarity is this is a beauty brand as well. And then I know like my friends and family, I've spoken to about it. They're like, why aren't you just launching more products under the Tribe skincare brand? But the concept of Tribe skin care is a skincare sensitive skin. So I wanna stay really true to that and focusing on products that are for sensitive skin is specifically for the face. We only have one body product and I want to keep the range really simple and easy to navigate. So we've got a few product launches coming up this year for Tribe Skincare. But then there was like another or a few other areas of beauty. I wanted to go into that I can't do under the current Tribe skincare guidelines and values. So just one example is we've had our customers begging for an S P F product in the Tribe range. But because we're all natural, we can't actually create a product that we're happy with because it has to be zinc based and zinc is really thick and can dry out your skin. And I'm just basically not happy to put our name to it and put a product out there that I don't think is 100% something I want to use on my skin every single day. So I'm looking at doing, um, a sunscreen that doesn't have to be all natural. And so I'm doing that under a whole another brand's name so that it doesn't have to come under the same brand values. So, I guess it will be like a similar target market. But, yeah, just different. I'll just have a bit more creative freedom in that way. Um, with the new brand. Very exciting. Yeah, I guess um the things I'll do different, it'll be starting, I mean, we'll cross pollinate our audiences a bit. Um But starting fresh will definitely be focusing on tiktok because that's really where you can grow a brand now and get that new customer acquisition more so than on Instagram, I'm investing a lot more into, I guess the brand's identity and DNA. So when I launched Tribe, I was all about those formulas and what the skincare was going to do for the skin. And I didn't even really think twice about what the branding looked like and who it appealed to. So now, I guess it's a lot more focused right from the beginning on getting that branding perfect and getting the branding experts in so that they can create like a really visually appealing product that's going to be perfect. From the beginning with Tribe Skincare, we did a big rebrand around about 18 months ago now. Um So the product looks very different now to how it looked um back before the rebrand. So I guess that was something like later on down the track. I had to be like, the branding is not perfect and I had a few branding experts look at the brand and they're like your actual products really good. Your customers are getting great risk results and you're getting amazing reviews, but visually, the product doesn't look great. So then we had to go through the process of making the outside of the packaging look like it reflected what the quality of what was inside the packaging. So I guess I'll be doing that right from the beginning that this time really focusing on the brand identity. And um yeah, Tik Tok and probably a whole lot of other things I'll be doing different, but they're the two that come top of mind, tiktok, we haven't missed the boat on tiktok people. You need to be on there, you need to be trying. It is still like, absolutely the place to gain viral moments, new customers, organic community. Absolutely. I'm wondering if you're gonna follow the same approach to funding and capital, I E invest some of your own start up capital and then not put kind of more money towards it or not take on debt or if you're going for a different approach, that's the plan um is to just invest money into it and grow it from there. But I mean, I kind of, I'm going a lot bigger with the launch than what I did when I initially launched Tribe Skincare. So I'm thinking more like pop-ups and activations and um I guess investing a lot more in the marketing this time. Um So yeah, who knows? I might have to keep topping it up, but hopefully not. Oh my gosh. What's the timeline? When are you launching, hopefully um by October, but I'm open to it being December if needed just because um with S P F products and getting T G A approval, it's a really long timeline and huge minimum order quantities as well because it's like a pharmaceutical product. So I guess that's where my um, investments coming into it as well with um really having to be like, ok, I've got to go hard with this brand because it's gonna be a real thing. It can't be something that just trickles along with like a few sales every day. It's like, yeah. And so like what's a typical minimum order quantity in the Sun care S P F space? So about 10,000 units per skew and then you think if you have Yeah. So then if you have a few skews in your range and um for whatever you pay per unit, it adds up very, very quickly for what all the opening orders are gonna be. Yeah, absolutely. I'm wondering for you, you know, launching the second kind of business and having, I guess a portfolio of brands. Are you using the same team or are you hiring a different team who will be kind of 100% all guns blazing on that second brand? So for now, while the brands in the start up stage, it's um all the same team working on it. But once the brand actually launches and goes to market, that's when I'll separated and that's purely for budget, like, you know, can't afford to have two separate marketing managers and one working on a brand that doesn't exist yet. So it's really just, yeah, at the moment, start up grind. We're just getting things done and then eventually we'll have a few more resources come in and help out. Yeah, absolutely. I have one more question before we get into the rapid fire. Six quick questions. And that is just, what is the piece of advice that you love to leave early stage beauty founders with uh some advice that I got very early on in my business journey that's always stuck with me is there's actually two things, I'll go really quick and just tell you both actually. So um the first thing is you've got your product, your price and your service. I think that's the three things and you can only choose two of them to do well or you're gonna be out of business. So people try to do all three really well and um you actually can't really do so and be like a viable business. So, I mean, just an example that comes to mind would be Kmart and I don't want to hate on Kmart, but say they've decided they're gonna do price really well. And they're gonna do really good service by having 24 7 open stores all around, you know, in every single town in Australia. So they're doing a great price and a great service. So their product can't be great quality because that's the one that they can't do super super well. And then you think, you know, like Louis Vuitton might say, ok, well, we do a really, really great quality product with like the best leather in the world or whatever they do. And we've got really great service um with all our personal shoppers in our stores everywhere. So then they can't do a great price on it because if they try to do a great price, they're gonna go out of business. So, so what's yours? Yours would be product? So, product and service is what we do really well, we offer free express shipping on all orders. So that's what we're doing really well in terms of service, in terms of the product quality, it's really, really good. So we can't do it at a great price. The products aren't super expensive, but they're gonna be a lot more expensive than what you find in your chemist or your supermarket because we just can't charge the prices that brands that are in chemist and supermarket charge without giving up our product and service. So, yeah, that is such a great piece of advice and I feel like that applies for, you know, founders of any industry. That's something really great to think about those three aspects and where you can really lean into and kind of own that story around that. Yeah. And then you really just once you know what two you're doing really well, you can almost forget about that last one. So I mean, it does come into play but we just need to think like our customer doesn't need to be a super price sensitive person. They know we're offering a great product and a great service. So if we release a product, we don't have this anxiety around it. Our customer's gonna be willing to pay that price because we already know that they are. Mm Yeah, absolutely. And the second piece of the second piece of advice. Um So this is like the red texter theory that someone told me and um this is just before we did our rebrand, I felt like the brand had just got a bit messy. So we were just throwing so many different messages out there and we're like we're skincare sensitive skin, but we're also natural and we're vegan and we're Australian made and we're down and talking and just throwing all this information at people and this marketing person said to me, OK, so your main message you want to get across to everyone is skincare for sensitive skin. So that's the red text stuff that he is gonna throw at me and then us being, you know, all natural and vegan friendly and stuff that might be like a blue and green texture or whatever, all these different messages we're throwing out. And he's like if I throw all of these texters at you, you have to catch the red one. So you know, throw all the texters, you can't catch the red one because you've got all these texts being thrown at you. So the theory is with marketing, with what we were doing to our customer was we were throwing too much information at them because we were trying to get all these different points across. And that's where the marketing had essentially got really messy. So we just need to keep throwing our red texter at them, which is our skincare for sensitive skin and you feel like you're repeating yourself and just saying it over and over again. But that's essentially what marketing is, is having your one key marketing message and all of those other marketing things were still important, but we needed to just basically stop throwing them at everyone. That is so great. I love that. Yeah, it just gave me a bit of clarity. I was like, it's OK just to be repeating like the whole business is around those four words, skincare for sensitive skin. And I felt like I needed to talk about other stuff and you know, make it more interesting. But I was like, no, that's all I need to focus on. That's what you need to be known for repeat, repeat, repeat. I love both of those. And I haven't heard either. And I'm like, where are all of those things coming from? I, I want to find more of those little gems of advice. That's so cool. Thank you so much. They were great. They're the two that are really stuck in my head. Glad you love that I did.
So question number one is, what's your why? Why are you waking up every day and working on Tribe and a new brand? The why for Tribe skincare was really just creating that solution for skincare for sensitive skin that actually gets people results. And then I guess that why is reinforced every single day when we have amazing customer reviews and results and testimonials and people really telling us about their journey with their skin and how the brand has helped them. Love that question # 2 is what's been your favorite marketing moment so far? Favorite marketing moment? Oh I I I just have to say working with Brittany Saunders even though I've said it, I just think that's really that one standout piece of marketing or marketing channel that we've had in the five years of the business that really just blew my mind with the results that came from it. Um I guess any marketing, yeah, you look at the results that came out how kind of impactful or memorable it was and um that was really the most memorable, so good. Holy Moly and it's like forever onwards from there. You're trying to chase the same kind of R O I on a marketing campaign. It sets the precedent. I've just given up on it. I was like, I can't, you can't, yeah, you can't just always think like back to the good old days or what works for you back then. Like even thinking, OK, this is how we used to grow the Instagram account or whatever. I just can't think about it. Now, I'm like, it's a different time and a different place and you've just got to always be on to the next thing. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Question number three is, what's your go to business resource? If you are subscribing to a newsletter or you're reading a book or you're listening to a podcast, my go to business resource is definitely podcasts right from the beginning. Um That's something I've consistently done over the five years is listen to other founders journeys. I just get so much out of it just listening to the different things that have worked for them and the different struggles that they've had. Um I think, yeah, just hearing the stories and journeys of brands can really inspire your own story. And um also just make you feel less alone really in business because a lot of the time you think the things you're going through are very unique. But then when you start listening to podcasts and stories from other founders, you're like, oh no, everyone goes through that. It's very normal. Yeah, there's many ups and downs. Do you have any recommendations for the audience? Well, of course, I've got to recommend to your podcast, but they're already listening to that. Um, I've always listened to lady brains right from the beginning, that podcast actually started up around the same time as I started my business. So I think I've like consistently listened to every, to every single episode throughout the journey. Um and Mamma Mia do a really good one lady start up as well that um really similar, I guess that it's telling the whole journey from the beginning, really just as a story and then it's so engaging to listen to you just listening to a story of how someone started up their journey. But just with so many little amazing pieces of advice throughout. Yes, I agree. I love the gems that you get in a podcast that sometimes you don't get in a book or a newsletter. You've got to hear it in conversation. Yeah. And founders just don't have time to read 100%. I mean, I'm sure they do, but sometimes if you are reading or doing something, you want to do it for pleasure rather than it being more work that you're doing outside of work hours when you're supposed to be relaxing. Whereas I find when I'm listening to podcasts, it's still nice and relaxing and it doesn't feel like I'm doing work even though my mind's probably going a million miles an hour thinking about work while I'm doing it. Yeah, I feel exactly the same. I really read now for pleasure. And I really, I love to read and I love to just be immersed in a book, but it's, it's not a business book that I'm reading. I need a story. Yeah. Question number four is, how do you win the day? What are your AM or PM? Rituals and habits that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated? Ok. Well, bad timing because at the moment I'm going through my very burnt out busy founder stage and I'm not winning the day, but usually I win the day by um being very, very strict on my business hours. And this is something I didn't do at the start when I was um just starting up the business, a new founder. I was just working around the clock all the time. Whereas now I'm, I work from eight AM till four PM Monday to Thursday. And then that's just very strictly my hours. So if something doesn't fit within those hours, I just can't do it because I just found work was always creeping into my life. So it's nice to um I guess now that I've got a workplace as well because we've got the office and warehouse. It's different to when I was working from home. But I think it's really important to have those boundaries and really strict work hours. So then you essentially just feel like you have a job rather than feeling like you've got the pressure of growing this entire company on your hand. Mhm. 100%. I love that. It's so important to be strict with those kind of boundaries. Is your team also on a four day work week. No, so they're five days. Um But even in terms of boundaries, I'm very strict with them too. Like if we finish at four PM, we're all out the door at four PM, packed up, ready to go. If anyone's there at like two past four, we're like, what are you doing? Do you need help with something? Like it's, I just think like you really need that division between work and life and your work really expands and contracts. I know there's some theory about like, you know, work or whatever you're doing, fitting into the space that you give it. But I really do believe that, that your work will expand and contract. And if you work 12 hours, seven days a week, you'll find something to do for that entire time. Whereas if you only work for your um sort of eight till 44 days a week or when I do that, I just have to basically fit my work into that time. So then other things that come up, I'm not necessarily saying yes to every single opportunity that comes up, but I'm really having to prioritize what's gonna fit within that time so I can have that work life balance. Yeah, I love that, but at the moment I'm being really naughty and I've been on my computer at night so I'm definitely not perfect at it. Yeah, it's a work in progress. I was really good at it for a time, but at the moment not so good. Yeah, I know that feeling. Question # 5 is what has been the worst money mistake you've made and how much did it cost you? Oh, ok. Um Going back to really early days in the business, a big money mistake I made was I didn't trademark the business name. So this was before we were called Tribe Skincare. And the reason it was such a huge money, I mean, on the scale then it wasn't so bad. Um as it would be if I did something like that now, but I had invested into all of my packaging and product and then I received a cease and desist letter saying you've basically got 24 hours to get the brand off the market. Um So that at the time was really, really costly and a huge money mistake. Um I should have, I didn't even know what a trademark was at the time. So in hindsight to say I should have invested in the trademark. It wasn't the money that stopped me from doing it. It was like my lack of experience. But in hindsight, it would have been a lot cheaper to just pay to trademark the brand than have to redo all of your packaging and branding and website and completely change everything. So definitely it's crazy. Yeah. Yeah. Um What was the brand called before? It was called Lifesaver Skincare? Gosh, I hate that for you, but it is what it is and no one would really know the brand of that because it would have only been on the market maybe two months when it happens like it was very early days. Um But yeah, very costly, very stressful. It was one of those real moments where I had to think, am I actually gonna keep going with this to happen so early on in the business when I wasn't really equipped to handle it and wasn't really established. So I didn't have as much to lose. But I mean, there must have been something in there driving me to keep going and to um fix it all and yeah, here I am five years later, so glad I did and here you are. Thank God. Yeah. Oh my gosh. Last question, question number six is what is just a crazy story, good or bad you can share from this journey of building tribe. I'll give you a good one. This is just like very crazy and unexpected. But when we launched our vitamin C serum and we had this huge launch party for it and the launch was all like pretty successful. I was happy with how it went. And then that product was just like ticking along and part of the range. And then maybe like three months in, I shared my mum's before and after results because it was the first time mum had ever asked to use one of the Tribe skincare products. And it was only because her friends had started using the vitamin C and they're like this new product Kayla's released is so good. You should use it. And then, yeah, so mum got a bit of FOMO and she decided she was gonna use it and her results were phenomenal. She was trying to tell me she's like, oh, I don't really know if it works. Like it's been OK. And then I showed mum her own before and afters because I took the photos for her and she was like, oh wow, my skin really is so much better. So I shared the results across our social media and it went completely viral like all over tiktok and um people were like reposting about the results and all sort of things. So from my mum having this viral moment, I was like, this is the last thing I expected just asking mum if I could share her results. And then she ended up being like all over everything and she was like in a few news articles and the product went crazy and sold out like three times over and we just had to constantly keep ordering it and trying to keep it in stock. So that was a very, very crazy time when my mum went viral. I love that for her. Shout out to your mum. I'm wondering why you think that specific story went viral because you share a lot of before and after photos. Is it because she's mumm demographic? So it's different than kind of like a younger crowd or like what do you think? Why do you attribute that viral moment? Yeah, I think it was well, her results were so visible because she was never using any skin care. So to go from someone in their sixties that skincare has never touched their face to then having skincare products they use for a few months, like her results were so so incredible. And then I think it was something new for us because we repost anyone's results. But because we sort of have that millennial demographic. A lot of our before and afters are in that age bracket. So by showing mums before and afters, it opens us up to this whole new customer base and demographic of people who now are like, oh tribe skincare is something that I can use as well. Oh my God, I just love that. That is so cool. So awesome. Kayla, thank you so much for sharing all of these insights and gems into the behind the scenes of building a business. I've loved this. Oh, thank you so much for having me. That's been really fun.