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More Chips in the Packet: The Adorn Cosmetics Story | #132

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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

From the beginning, Briony Kennedy had a ground-breaking vision: to create positive social change with certified, ethically-made cosmetics that don’t hurt the earth or animals. Driven by her passion for environmental sustainability, Briony founded Adorn Cosmetics in 2009 to revolutionise the beauty industry. Briony deliberately chose to be the face of Adorn because it’s so much more than a cosmetics brand: it’s a powerful collective movement that aligns with all her values. She lives with purpose in all areas of her life, not only as an entrepreneur and environmental activist, but as a mother of three boys and an advocate for mental health awareness. When she’s not working on Adorn or trying to improve the world, you’ll find Briony donning colourful activewear and sipping a Dirty Chai after a KX Pilates class (or an Espresso Martini after work hours). Above all, Briony advocates kindness—to ourselves, each other and the planet.

Briony speaks (and sells) from the heart. From sharing how she did not take a wage for ten years through to the ambitious plans for Adorn today.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Brony Kennedy from Adorn Cosmetics.  Briony started the pureplay brand in 2009, to create a luxury beauty range with ethics at its core and their products are organic, vegan, low impact and sustainably packaged.  With their eco refill programme, colour matching and unique sample kits, they have grown a huge and devoted following of united Adorners of all ages.  In this chat, we discuss the major re-platforming project Adorn have just gone through, how a reluctant decision from Briony just five years ago, doubled Adorn’s sales overnight and why her team prepare alot of packages for royalty.  Briony speaks (and sells) from the heart and that really comes through in our chat. From sharing how she did not take a wage for ten years through to the ambitious plans for Adorn today – I dare you not to be inspired!

It’s not re-inventing the wheel, it’s perfecting it, smoothing out any bumps and just doing what someone else is doing better”

Briony Kennedy

Questions answered in this episode include
  • You recently re-platformed.  What big changes did you make?
  • What has been the biggest turning point on your brand’s journey?
  • How important is the Adorn community and how do you keep them engaged and happy?

Stable, engaging, seamless

“I’ve been in this business online for 13 years now and one of the things that became quite obvious very quickly and a mistake I think some people may make is that being online may be a cheaper alternative to retailing a product, and in some ways, it is, but really, building a really stable, engaging, seamless site is something that is just as costly as creating a floor plan and a beautiful retail store. Not something I realized until I had my foot too far in to step back again, but yeah. It’s very much worth it though. And of course, what I love is that with a store, you might not be able to track as well what’s going on, obviously, with a good e-commerce platform, you can.”

The moment that changed everything

“When it got to about year eight, we were literally getting funding from family to buy our groceries. This is how poor we were. And it was so difficult for me because the brand was doing well, but it just wasn’t tracking as quickly as I would have liked. It was so frustrating because I knew everyone loved the products that was using them, but it was like, “How do I get it into more people’s hands?” So, I was at a point where I actually had the conversation with my husband that I would start packing shelves overnight. He’d get a day job, and the little team that we had would just keep things ticking over until maybe we had to sell the business, or I don’t know. We’re just not sure, but we’ve got no money, and we are literally in dire straits. Do we go bankrupt? What do we do? This is just awful. 

So, my husband who had been in my ear for many years around me being the face of the brand, me representing the products, talking about them, showing them, he said, “You used to do the classes and everyone would buy from you because people like listening to you. Why are you not doing this for the business?”  I didn’t want to do it. And then I thought, “What have I got to lose? Honestly, I’m literally about to lose my business here. How bad can it get?”  So, I thought, “Well, this is the only thing I’m not doing that I can think that could maybe make a difference.” 

I was still reluctant, but I did my first video, precariously had my phone hanging on the second story with the window ajar so it had just enough lighting in so that it looked like I had the right lighting, and the crappiest bathroom you could ever imagine we were in at that point. It was echoey. I had no idea what I was saying because it was really hard looking at myself and speaking. It’s difficult as you probably would know. It’s like your brain’s having a delay. So, I said um about 50 times. It was the worst video ever. And there was two more that I did that week.

 Within about a week, I was sitting there with my mum, and I was refreshing the sales. And I thought, “Bloody hell. These bloody sales are being duplicated. There’s something fucking wrong with Magento.” Honestly, that’s what I thought.  Bloody Magento, honestly. And so, I even messaged the girls and said, “Look, please check the sales when you’re printing them out because I think it’s stuffed up and it’s duplicating orders.” And then, I get the message before I get in that no, no they’re all orders. And I’m like, “What?  This is not right.” 

And then from that day forward, it never stopped, and it was the moment in time that really changed the business. I look back and I now like to say that the first few videos I did definitely made the first few million for the brand.”

Fit for a queen

“One of the mottos we have here is that any of the parcels that go out, if you wouldn’t give that to the queen, it doesn’t go out. It’s as simple as that. If you wouldn’t be proud to hand that over to her, it’s not happening. And don’t treat a customer any differently to how you would expect if you’re on the phone. So, the girls in customer service have got free for all really. It’s all down to what they think. Thank goodness, we don’t have many complaints. It’s usually just a postage-related issue, but I always just say to the girls, “if in your mind this was you complaining and you feel that the results or the standard is unreasonable, don’t do that. Do what they say. If you think that it should be replaced, replace it.”

“It’s really that simple. Just treat people the way you want to be treated, not just a number. It’s very, very simple, and you end up with a cult, an army of people that are singing your praises.  And to me, I genuinely appreciate the fact that of all of the brands, they’ve given me their money, not someone else. I think that’s a real testament to any brand that if someone’s picked you, you should be proud of that, but also honor that because they could’ve given it to someone else.”

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