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career

Beauty, Lifestyle

Girlboss Q&A: Courtney and Kimberley Treacy, Founders of The Lip Lab

13th June, 2018

Sisters Courtney (left) and Kimberley (right) are the founders of multi-million dollar business, The Lip Lab

The search for the perfect shade of lipstick can be a neverending quest for most women and it’s this very problem that inspired sisters Courtney and Kimberley Treacy to start The Lip Lab. From a single salon to now 14 locations in Australia and overseas including Canada, Singapore and the Philippines, The Lip Lab has taken customisation into the beauty arena with great success. Being able to create a custom lipstick (right down to the texture and scent), lip gloss, concealer and foundation has taken the guesswork out of buying staple cosmetics and instead turned it into a creative and fun exercise. Here I chat to Courtney and Kimberley about successfully breaking into an overcrowded beauty market, the one thing that drives them and the biggest turning point in their careers.

What inspired you to start The Lip Lab?

We saw a gap in the market here for personalised, custom blend products and thought it was a great time to start something in Australia. At the time we opened we were the only people doing custom blend on this level. Everyone we showed our idea to loved it as much as we did and this is how we knew we were onto a winner!

What were some of the big learning curves you faced in the beginning of getting your business up and running?

There were a few learning curves—staffing was hard, as we were trying to find staff who shared our passion and commitment.

Our trademark has been a learning curve also. Knowing what we know now, we would have approached our opening differently.

What’s it like working with family?

Funny enough, it’s actually great! Kimberley mainly works from her salon in Camden still, whereas I work full time on The Lip Lab. Once a week we meet at our warehouse, where we grind the numbers and work on strategies to move us forward—be it new products, international openings and basically just a good catch up on what’s happening in the business.

We are great friends and see each other every day, as well as constantly texting and calling each other, so I guess we are lucky!

The Lip Lab allows you to customise your own perfect lipstick shade

What’s been the biggest turning point in your career? Why?

A plane trip to Dallas to see a supplier of our mum’s salon, where we discovered the concept in a store there… The lady there gave us a contact, and the rest is history!

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

We both draw inspiration from many people. For example our supplier in the USA has been very kind to us and has mentored us along the way, always helping us with things we had no idea about and guiding us in the right direction.

Our mum is very entrepreneurial and has started a few businesses from scratch. She has always just dived in the deep end, and always seems to make it work. I think we’ve just always had that approach that if you don’t have a go, you’ll never know!

How do you start each day?

Courtney: It’s chaotic! I try to wake before the girls are up (Dempsey 6, Evie 5) – and spend at least an hour working out by myself whilst the house is still quiet. I find it’s the best time to plan my day, and focus of the positive affirmations that I’ve been practising lately.

Breakfast and getting kids ready is a hectic race every morning and once I have the girls at school I head to our Paddington store to either work with customers, train new staff and new store locations.

Kimberley: Like Courtney, I work out each day, but I find that the gym is the best place for me! Both my boys visit the crèche whilst I do my work out (Maddox 4, Caynan 3), and I usually eat healthy food on the run before dropping the boys at pre-school as I work within my own salon five days a week.

For me not working out isn’t an option – if I don’t do it I feel sluggish, and off for the whole day! I’m a big astrology follower so checking my outlook for the day is high on my list when I wake up, and scheduling social media for my salon before the boys wake.

Mixing up a custom shade

What drives you?

Courtney: Being a single mum, I want to give my girls the best in life that I possibly can and show them that nothing is impossible. Knowing that everything I provide them has come from my own hard work alone is uplifting and pushes me very day.

Kimberley: I’m a perfectionist and I enjoy seeing everything I’ve set my heart on come to fruition. I’m very hard on myself in both a professional and personal sense, and it drives me daily to see how much further I can push myself!

What are some tools – whether it be a gadget, an app, a favourite site – that help you manage your business?

We love Get Timely for our online bookings, which has been a total godsend! It has freed up our phone lines so that customers are able to book online, and can book any time of the day or night. We use it purely for the appointment book, and market via MailChimp and SMS.

iPhone Calendar is a lifesaver, and both Microsoft Office and our MacBooks gets used constantly. Appswise, we love Shade Scout which allows you to spotlight colours in any photo and find makeup in the exact Pantone shade family. You can also try the makeup on in real time without ever opening the packaging. You just use your front-facing camera to start a video feed, and the shade will virtually appear on your face.

We also love [photographer] Kenneth Willardt’s book The Beauty Book and the apps Bellashoot, Nail Snob and Plum Perfect!

What do you think has been the key to your success?

Hard work and not giving up. It would have been easy to give up so many times, but we ploughed on.

Offering a product that was not only of a high quality, but a fun and interactive experience, is also helpful. We really researched this product before we launched and fine-tuned it, to ensure that customers would get the best experience and product

Where do you hope to take your business in future?

We have sold three licences under a different name in Canada, the Philippines and Singapore, and have just secured a huge deal in the Middle East. We are looking to expand in India and Pakistan (over 400 enquiries so far) and eventually Europe, USA and [more locations in] Asia.

Towards the end of the year we will be launching a Blend Your Own perfume series in store, which is exciting as it will cater not just to women but will also offer men’s fragrances as well.

The Lip Lab’s range of lipsticks

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career?

Keep your cards close to your chest before you open, so that when you do no one can pull the rug out from under you! We are currently working on a totally new business that is not makeup and, although we are busting to show everyone, we have to wait until launch day and trademark objection dates have passed until we shout it from the rooftops!

How do you stay driven? 

Regular meetings with each other and setting goals/ having a vision board works for both of us.

What’s your working style? I.e where do you love to work? What’s your most productive time of day?

Courtney: I’m very ‘by the seat of my pants’, in that I’m rather cruisey. I love the days I head to Paddington as I can also have a sneaky shopping day on the side, but I also love the days I can work from home!

The hours between 6AM and 9AM are my most productive times where I return emails, plan my day and get ready for the onslaught ahead. If I am at home, however, I do get distracted easily… And by 10AM, I’m off catching up with friends for coffee and then lunch.

Kimberley on the other hand is regimented down to the minute. She loves to be at the salon, seeing clients and working on her business. She is productive all day, from the time she wakes up until when her head hits the pillow. She multi tasks so much more easily than I do!

The sisters are still very hands on when it comes to the day to day operations of their business

What’s your number one social media tip for someone starting a business?

Make sure you have someone good doing your social media. We used some staff for a while to save on costs, and it didn’t look sharp or stylish. It’s worth every cent, especially when you look back over posts and see the difference.

Also try and do some one day courses in social media so you are across what is current and what works. Find out when your audience is watching and following you, so you’re posting at the crucial times and stay engaged with your followers.

Finally don’t limit yourself just to social media as you may be missing out on a whole demographic of people who don’t use [social media] platforms.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to anyone starting a business, especially in the crowded beauty market?

Firstly know your market, and what it is that they want. Is there a need for your product? Are there other similar products? If so, how can you stand out?

Secondly, network!

Finally… plan, plan and plan some more! Write down everything you want to achieve, and refer back to it often. We look back at what we wrote three years ago and we are on track 90 per cent of the time. There’s been a few ideas we’ve discarded along the way, and others we’ve honed and improved upon. Always surround yourself with good solicitors, accountants and PR/social media people… It will always pay off in the end!

Looking for more career inspiration? Check out my Girlboss Q&A with The Daily Edited founder, Alyce Tran

Fashion, Lifestyle

Girlboss Q&A: Tash Sefton

18th April, 2018

She’s one half of the hugely successful fashion blog, They All Hate Us. She founded an art business, Sefton Segedin with her sister, Hayley that produces beautiful paintings, prints and a capsule ceramic collection that will be released later this year and now Tash Sefton has a new business venture to add to her already busy schedule. Where Did Your Style Go is Tash’s new styling consultancy that’s helping men and women discover their unique style, and look and feel their best.

Juggling three businesses is no small feat however Tash manages to juggle it all, along with being a mum-of-two and make it look effortless. So, who better to share her secrets to success and achieving your goals than the woman herself. Here Tash chats style, staying motivated and her biggest tip for anyone wanting to get their own start up off the ground…

What was the catalyst for starting Where did your style go?

I am in an unique position to share knowledge I have gathered throughout my career. Where Did Your Style Go, is a consulting business aimed at assisting women and men look and feel their best. I get contacted on a daily basis through my social media and even stopped in the street with people desperate to ask me questions about fashion and style. Social media can be such an intimidating place for some and I have always found it difficult to answer people in detail through this platform. This lead to the idea of creating a place anyone can read my ‘real’ advice and implement it into their lives. To me, simple advice is the best advice, especially in the fashion world with so much information out there.

Having witnessed all facets of the industry and experienced insecurities personally, I have found that small changes can make a big impact on people’s perception of themselves, both internally and externally. It has also been important to create this next phase in my career. After years of gathering industry and personal knowledge about what works, what doesn’t and why—it is now time for me to share this. I am exploding with knowledge! I started in this industry because of my obsession and love of fashion—it’s never been about the bling or selfies but the journey of why I yearn to find the perfect item and treasure it.

What do you enjoy about helping others find their style?

What’s really interesting is I can help people with a simple things I take for granted knowing. And these simple things can be a major life change. Why is it so important to present well and feel good about ourselves? The impact of having a defined personal style goes far beyond making a good first impression. Great style is about approaching each day with confidence and the ability to feel, with conviction, beautiful in what we are wearing. Believe it or not, the right wardrobe can make a massive difference to your self-esteem.

What’s the biggest business challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

When I had my second child and left my ‘real job’ to start my own business was very daunting. You go from security to the unknown and I had to re train myself to not work in an office full of people. The quietness was hard to get used to. And teaching yourself to set goals while working from your lounge room is actually pretty hard. You have to learn how to do everything from warehouse, IT, accounts etc while still looking like you know what you are doing!

Stylish and successful, Tash is helping others tap into their own unique style

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

My parents. My mum and dad have their own very successful business and I remember sweeping the floors in the office when I was a kid. As my parents were always working, I knew no different and my drive comes from them. I like that my children see me working as they can see for themselves the sacrifices you need to make…and that money doesn’t grow on trees.

You have so many projects on the go at the same time–how do you juggle it all?

I am very good at juggling. As I worked for a very large company and managing a huge team working on many projects globally at one time was just what I did. I would travel overseas for three months of the year and learnt how to do it all because that’s what was expected of me. So now, doing what I do is actually much calmer…as I am the boss I need to report to! Also with technology you can work wherever and whenever and no one needs to know you are home with the kids or in your sweat pants.

How do you stay motivated?

I am motivated because I love it. I believe what drives you needs to come from within.

What do you think has been the key to your success?

I have remained me. I haven’t let ego take over, and I am surrounded by great friends and a very supportive family. Plus I have a true love of fashion. Everything I do is based around this—it’s never been about me, but about my passion.

Where do you hope to take your businesses in future?

My new business is all about a new philosophy I have. It’s about teaching and not preaching. There is so much NOISE at the moment, and it’s sometimes just too much. I am excited to share my knowledge with people who really want to learn.

SHOP my handbag guide – READ how they speak a universal language – link in the bio

A post shared by WhereDidYourStyleGo (@wheredidyourstylego) on

What’s your approach when it comes to juggling your family and business? How do you make it work?

My children come everywhere with me—they are around my work. They can sit next to me doing homework, while I am working. We spend lots of time at home just being together.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in your career?

Cash flow! Hahaha so boring but so important.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to anyone starting a business?

Keep working and start on the side. It takes to pressure out of it ‘being a success’ immediately. Learn from your employer before you take the leap alone. Just don’t tell them! Ha!

Who would you love for me to feature in my Girlboss series?
Fashion, Shop

Work appropriate shoes with loads of style cred

25th February, 2018

As I mentioned in this post earlier this week I wore heels all day, every day when I worked in an office. Granted I probably had a bit more leeway in the styles that I wore because of working in fashion but I was still conscious that everything had to be work appropriate. I know how difficult it was at times to find work shoes that were still on trend whilst not looking completely over the top for daytime whilst heading to the printer or doing a morning coffee run. These days however, there’s never been a better time for shoes that are totally ideal from 9 to 5 but are still cool enough to head straight to dinner or drinks after work without missing a beat. In fact, you may even want to pull them out for the weekend such is their style power. Here are some styles you should definitely become familiar with — they’ll up your work shoe game and turn more than a few co-workers’ heads in the process.

Kate Waterhouse street style balenciaga sock boots and maggie marilyn skirt

The slingback with edge

Kitten heel slingbacks have made a comeback and not only are they comfortable, you’ll find them in a variety of classic shades, and some with hits of colour to give them a sartorial lift.

Stylish work shoes Prada logo print glossed leather slingback pumps

Prada logo print glossed leather slingback pumps

Patterned mule

This style would look amazing with a cropped pant, but equally so with a dress or skirt —essentially anything that flashes a bit of ankle is ideal when it comes to the mule.

Stylish work shoes style Altuzzara Izy patterned twill mule

Altuzzara Izy patterned twill mule

Trusty loafers

Yes, you can wear flats to the office. Especially loafers which will save your feet and they look pretty darn stylish while doing so. Gucci do a great pair but as they’re such a huge trend right now, there are plenty of affordable options out there.

Stylish work shoes Gucci Brixton horsebit-detailed collapsible heel leather loafer

Gucci Brixton horsebit-detailed collapsible heel leather loafer

Classic pumps

A pair of classic pointy heels are work-friendly and can also extend to your off duty wardrobe. Black is of course a great all-rounder but for an alternative, try navy. It works equally as well but definitely has a bit more personality.

Stylish work shoes Gianvito Rossi 85 suede pumps

Gianvito Rossi 85 suede pumps

Sock boot

I love my sock boots (pictured above) and this coming winter I know they’ll come in very handy. They’re ideal for wearing with skirts and wide leg pants as they have a nice streamlined silhouette.

Stylish work shoes Gianvito Rossi cling suede sock boot

 

Stuart Weitzman cling suede sock boot

A touch of embellishment

Yes, a pair of black pumps is a failsafe as far as work shoes go but look for cute finishing touches such as a sweet bow to lift it and make it a little more interesting.

Stylish work shoes Ganni Sabine suede slingback pumps

Ganni Sabine suede slingback pumps

Cutout pump

This style means business! Whilst a super high heel would probably be better suited for those days when you know your desk will just be a few metres away these are sharp, chic and the kind of power work shoe you pull out for big meetings.

Stylish work shoes Jimmy Choo Vanessa 100 cutout textured leather and suede pumps

Jimmy Choo Vanessa 100 cutout textured leather and suede pumps

The Mary Jane

The ever adorable Mary Jane style shoe is a perfect style for the office but look for finishing touches such as a coloured strap or textured fabrication.

Stylish work shoes Gucci Sylvie grosgrain trimmed leather pumps

Gucci Sylvie grosgrain trimmed leather pumps

Tell me—what are your go-to styles when it comes to work shoes?
Fashion

How to look chic on a job interview

17th August, 2017

A job interview can be a nerve-racking experience so it’s important to feel confident in how you present yourself on the day. A polished appearance is crucial for making a good first impression and along with your top notch interviewing skills is one thing that could help you stand out from other candidates. Here’s how to nail a killer interview outfit.

Stick to the company dress code

A clean, pressed outfit is a given when going to a job interview but one thing to keep in mind is to dress for the company you’re interviewing for. Do your research into the culture of the business and tailor your outfit to suit. For example if you’re going for a job in a place with a creative culture then a suit might not be the best option—you want the interviewer to see that you can fit seamlessly into the company and the first impression they get will be based on your attire.

Keep makeup to a minimum

Heavy makeup can be a little off-putting in a job interview setting so a fresh-faced approach is best. Keep your beauty look clean and polished to maintain a professional appearance. Also, keep your hair neat and tidy and avoid any overly messy or flamboyant styles.

Go for a clean approach to accessorising

Over the top accessories can be distracting in an interview. This is definitely one instance when you want the focus to be on what you’re saying so save your statement earrings for the weekend and keep your jewellery to a minimum.

Comfort is key

A job interview is not the time to be worrying about your outfit when you should be focussing on being a standout interviewee. This is why it’s important to ensure that you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing—this means you should be able to walk in your shoes, not be fidgeting with buttons or straps and everything should be a perfect fit. If you feel at ease in what you’re wearing then you’ll present better, which can only mean good things for you and the end result of your interview.

What are your big interview no-nos?