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Pay Now, Play Later: The Oz Hair & Beauty Story | #050

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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.

Anthony Nappa is the CEO of Oz Hair and Beauty. At 19 years old, he started selling his parents’ hair and beauty products from the corner of a warehouse as a hobby and to get through uni. Now, along with his brother and the rest of the family, the company is one of the largest hair and beauty eCommerce stores in Australia.

You can contact Anthony on LinkedIn

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Anthony Nappa, Founder and CEO of Oz Hair & Beauty.  Anthony started out buying a business from his dad for $12,000 and worked hard selling products on Ebay to get him through university.  Now that business does over $50m a year in turnover and is one of the leading beauty and skincare brands.  In this chat he gives shout outs to the people who have helped him,  shares his biggest ‘aha’ moments and lifts the curtain on some of his most successful strategies. If you are building an eCommerce brand – in beauty or otherwise – this is a must listen. 

It’s the secret to a healthy business partnership, to just remove all ego.  When someone wins, everyone wins.

Matt Barnett 

Questions answered in this episode include
  • What have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned from such fast growth?
  • What are some of the eCommerce tools or technologies that have been critical to your success? 
  • What’s the secret to good business partnerships?


Don’t take it personally mate, but I think the problem is…er…you

The growth of our company, I think, has to be attributed to a lot of factors. But one of the factors is people saying no to us.  Because every time they say no, they give us reasons. So no, we’re not supplying you, your website’s not prestigious enough.  So all right, let’s go rebrand. We’ll do a rebrand, go approach more brands, you know, maybe 30% or 40% will say yes, 60% will say no, we’re not going to give you skin brands because you know, you don’t have a skin clinic. Ok, let’s go get a skin clinic. Let’s do that. Get a skin clinic. And then I go in and they say, nah we’re still not going to supply you.  I’m like, all right, well, obviously I’m the problem.  Maybe, a 25 year old wog guy going into a meeting, saying I’m going to give you a big opening order, isn’t the strategy here!

So, what I thought was, I’m not a good salesman. I don’t think I’m a good salesman naturally. You know, e-commerce guy behind the computer, I feel like I’m great at that, growing e-comm, knowing about all the paid search, Facebook ads, all that analytics stuff. So, I have good relationships with my sales reps that we do business and I’m chatting with one of them about how I can’t get skin grants, and it’s very hard and she couldn’t believe it because she knows how good our business was, because she serviced us.

So we ended up doing a deal and, on a contract basis she said, I’ll go in, I’ll represent you, let’s get a really polished deck of selling Oz Hair & Beauty. I’ll go in the meetings. And whatever, work it out on a contract basis.  From the five brands that said no initially, she literally got all five of them. Wow.  And I’m like, it was definitely me!

Everything is a learning curve, like that time Anthony booked his first ever Influencer

When I first booked an Influencer, I remember it was about two years ago and I had just watched some like Gary V video and he’s like, you should be doing influencers.  So I did this myself, I booked an Influencer. I was so excited. I organised an Influencer, just out of thin air. And we did it, paid her the money…and it went terribly wrong.

It was like she was a Time Square billboard.  We saw the ads she was doing that day, the story had like 20 stories and I was in the middle of one of the stories and I realized that she might have a lot of followers, but they’re probably guys looking at her for other reasons, rather than what beauty products she cares about.

The money I spent on that I may as well have got that money and just thrown it off my balcony. At least if I threw $8,000 off a balcony maybe some would flow back in. I would have got some money back. That was my first experience with Influencers. Now, I’ve got someone, a PR and social media manager, who just knows how to do it good.  Now we test influencers, the ones that work, we lock them in as ambassadors.  We do joint competitions with them, so you can get more followers if you both shout out a competition.  Making sure we get content out of them, so we can use that content. You’re not just throwing money at them to post something because, you know, it’s not going to work.

Brothers in business – the right balance

I’m growth and he’s stability.  So I make his job hard. My brother, he walks to go get a coffee, he’s got a system that he has probably written down for how he does it. He’s so systemized. I change my coffee order every day, I’m all over the place!  He’s just got a very different temperament and that’s why it works so well.

I think a balance is fundamental. I remember when I was stuck in my cocoon office just growing, growing, growing, investing, you know, doubling down on the marketing initiatives that were working. If it wasn’t for him coming to me and saying, you need to stop, and we need to get a new warehouse system, we need to organize the shelves better, so we pick things better. It’s just not my language. And if I didn’t have that, you hear the stories all the time, you just grow yourself broke and your customers would get upset and things wouldn’t be efficient.

Look, we do both crossover and I do have some ideas with operations and he has been contributing more to the growth as well, but naturally, that’s just how it’s been, we never actually had that conversation of how we operate. It’s just how it’s formed.

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