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Youth & Beauty: The Beginning Boutique Story | #095

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Youth & Beauty: The Beginning Boutique Story
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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.

Sarah Timmerman is the Founder and Director of one of Australia’s most successful fashion e-tailers - Beginning Boutique. Starting out in a spare bedroom in 2008, the company is now celebrating their thirteenth year in business. With the help of Sarah’s passion for pushing boundaries and challenging the realm of social media, Beginning Boutique has grown into a dynamic team of over 75 dedicated staff across three locations.

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Sarah Timmerman, founder of Beginning Boutique, the women’s fashion online destination that clothes the festival-goers, the pool-partiers and all the other style-conscious memory-makers in between.  Started in Sarah’s spare bedroom in 2008,  Beginning Boutique has attracted a cool one million instagram followers and now employs more than 75 staff over three locations.  In this chat, we discuss how Beginning Boutique coped when their biggest event of the year got cancelled, how they are challenging the notion that fast fashion is a dirty word and hear Sarah’s secrets to inspiring loyalty in your team.

There is so much opportunity. It’s about your risk appetite and your ability to come up with new ideas.”

Sarah Timmerman

Questions answered in this episode include
  • Who is Beginning Boutique’s customer?
  • What has changed for Beginning Boutique since COVID?
  • What is Beginning Boutique doing in the sustainability space?

Socials, socials, socials

“If you ever thought that it was easy to predict and there were only ever massive ROIs, you weren’t stretching yourself in the first place. If you’re not diversifying enough that there are some leaders and there are some loss makers, you’re not trying enough things. Our team has been exceptional at diversifying us pre iOS changes, because we were all concerned about that particular change.

But because of their extreme work on diversification, we haven’t had as a big an impact, but if we just sat back and watched and had a look, I think that we’d be in a lot of trouble. 

I think TikTok, Snap, and Pinterest are incredible platforms that we haven’t even scratched the surface of yet. There is so much opportunity. It’s about your risk appetite and your ability to come up with new ideas.

I do love hearing what’s going on in China and WeChat video live selling is incredible. I think that that’s such a cool opportunity. It’s so nuts though, that that’s like tell-sell.

I think that that’s an incredible opportunity for customers to really interact and to become more involved. I’m interested to see where the future of SMS goes. I know that that’s not really social but it is in a way. Like, WeChat is used as a social platform in China, and what’s the potential of that here? I think the convergence of the two is essential for relevancy, because if they stay in their separate lanes, it’s like having a storefront in the wrong place. Like, ultimately you’ve got to be where your customer is, and they don’t care about your URL. They’re where they want to be.”

It’s all about the event

“A high stress tolerance threshold (is essential). I definitely think every big event comes with its own level of stress, and you learn from every single event. And you just keep on getting better. So, I think in terms of a PR perspective, you need to make sure that you’ve got excellent plans in place, you’ve got A, B, and C backups happening.

We’ve had everything happen to us from a bus refusing to go up a driveway filled with guests for an event, and solving that issue through to like just pretty much everything you could ever think of. And I think the key to making a great event is keeping a smile, keeping focused, and being able to have all the solutions in the background.

In terms of monetizing, I think it’s really important to make sure that you have excellent content. Because you can do everything you want, but if you don’t have content that’s relevant to your customer, you might as well have not done it.”

How are we going to survive?

“…we lost a lot of sales. I mean, we just spent the biggest budget we’ve ever had on shooting Coachella 2020. It was the most phenomenal collection. It was truly stunning imagery and videography, and our team, they flew from Brisbane to LA, got off the plane, scoped the location, shot the first girl, slept, shot the next girl, shot the third girl.  I don’t even know if they slept a second night or if they flew back that night, so they could get home to edit and put it together, and we just smashed this epic project, and the day of launch was the day that Coachella was cancelled. 

It was like we’re an events based business, how are we going to survive? What are we going to do? …we just had to pivot. 

We had gone from thinking that 2020 was going to be this record year where the pressure was finally coming off. We had gotten to this tipping point where we could really do cool things, and then I had to put team members on leave, I stopped taking a wage myself, we had all of these things happen. And no control, no control over stock, nothing coming in, all our stock was late. All our stock was wrong, because who wants a festival outfit when they can’t leave their house? It was wild, but we are definitely a better business for it. We are a stronger, smarter team that are less reliant on external influences.”

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