Shelley Barrett is the founder and chief executive of ModelCo, a renowned Australian beauty brand whose ambassadors have included Elle Macpherson and Dannii Minogue. Barrett recently hosted a ModelCo Women of Influence event on Hayman Island, where she told Kate Waterhouse about creating the business, balancing family life and working withTransformers actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
How did you first get into the beauty industry?
I have always craved a challenge, and after working with models, hair and make-up artists saw a niche in the market for innovative, quick-fix and multi-purpose beauty solutions … I certainly didn’t realise at the time that I was starting my own beauty company! What started as a pet project turned into a global brand before I knew it.
What has been the most challenging experience you have faced as a business owner?
Expanding internationally sounds glamorous but can be challenging to manage global distribution. I have learnt that it is far more strategic to conquer one market at a time.
What’s your best advice for someone starting a new business?
Understand the business that you are going into. Surround yourself with people who have more knowledge than you and who can guide you through the process. Work out the funds you need to start up and then double them! My motto is to never give in, never give up and never take no for an answer. I think this is what enabled me to build my business and succeed beyond my wildest dreams.
You recently hosted a Women of Influence event. What inspired you to do it?
Over the years I have had a long standing association with Hayman Island, hosting some of ModelCo’s largest and most influential beauty events and photo shoots on this island. I particularly wanted to bring together a group of women who could experience not only the picturesque location but also the supreme elegance of the One&Only Hayman Island resort.
What is the best part about your job?
I feel privileged and proud to be helping women look and feel their best.
What is the worst?
Trying to find a work/life balance and still be a present mother to my beautiful girls.
How do you juggle it all?
Like all working mothers, I find it incredibly challenging to balance a career with raising my children. I make it a priority to sit down and have breakfast with my girls before the hectic day takes over. I am fortunate enough to have great help at home and family on call, so this enables me to plan time around my busy work schedule to spend time with kids, exercise and have a great business. I also try not to over-commit too far in advance and keep my diary as free as possible.
What has been your biggest personal and career highlight?
My girls are undoubtedly my biggest personal highlights – watching their personalities grow brings me great pleasure. Career-wise I am always happiest when giving advice to young women in business and offering support to those starting out with just a dream.
Do you hope your daughters will follow in your footsteps?
I just hope to set a good example for the girls so they know that hard work and determination are important in whatever career they choose.
The beauty industry is a big business. How do you stay ahead of the competition?
The single most important thing we keep top of mind is to stay ahead of the curve by producing truly unique and innovative products which are smart beauty solutions, not trend-based.
Growing up and in your profession career, do you have a mentor or someone you look up to?
My mother! Mum has instilled a strong work ethic in me. I had an amazing example in Mum of a woman who worked so hard doing so many different things for our family.
What’s your personal mantra? “Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.”
You’ve had some famous people as the face of your brand. What inspired you to work with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley?
Rosie is wonderful to work with; she truly encapsulates the ModelCo brand. We love that she makes everything look so effortless and glamorous and appeals to such a mass audience.
What is she like to work with?
She is one of the loveliest, most down-to-earth models I have worked with. She exudes an English charm that endears her to everyone.
If you hadn’t gone down the beauty career path, what would you be doing?
Definitely marketing something creative and innovative.
What do you do for fun?
I love to travel; I love to entertain with my family and friends; I play a great game of tennis!
WE WENT TO Pacific, One&Only Hayman Island
WE ATE Just-shucked pacific oysters, steamed king prawns, blue swimmer crabs with dippers and squeezers
WE DRANK Perrier Jouet
SHELLEY WORE Zimmermann dress Pierre Winter Fine Jewels, Louis Vuitton shoes
I WORE a Jac + Jack shirt dress.