Beauty junkie Kate Morris, founder and director of Adorebeauty.com.au, had her inspiration to start the business in 1999 at the age of 21. Having grown up in Launceston, Tasmania, she had always bemoaned the fact that all the hottest beauty products mentioned in the magazines were only available to those who lived in the big cities.
After studying a Bachelor of Business at Monash University while working on the cosmetic counters part-time, Kate was inspired to create an online beauty boutique that would allow women to access the products they loved and wanted – no matter where they lived.
Kate set out to make her vision a reality. But back in 1999, e-commerce was in its infancy and many brands were reluctant to allow a start-up to sell their products on an undeveloped website. It was a Catch 22: without products, the site could not launch. Another challenge was finance: banks were not prepared to lend to a 21-year-old woman wanting to start a dot-com business with no collateral.
Not to be deterred, Kate and business partner James Height managed to scrape, beg and borrow $12 000 seed money, and launched Adorebeauty.com.au in 2000 with two little-known brands. Without a marketing budget, Kate relied on word-of-mouth, search engine marketing and editorial promotion to raise awareness of the site – a strategy she continues to this day.
“I started adorebeauty.com.au in a garage, with next to no money and no business experience. When I look back on those early days it amazes me that we managed to get where we are today,” laughs Kate.
“Back then, online shopping was extremely uncommon. There was no such thing as broadband - I had to disconnect my phone line and then dial up the Internet to check the site and get orders.”
When it launched, adorebeauty.com.au made one sale a week. Today, the site attracts 1.1 million visitors per year and has over 3500 products and 113 brands on its virtual shelves - from hard-to-find niche and cult brands, through to the beauty industry’s big players like Clarins, Benefit and Lancôme. Stay tuned for more big name launches!
- Winner, Telstra Young Businesswoman of the Year, 2010 (VIC)
- Finalist, Commonwealth Bank Business Owners Award, Telstra Business Women’s Awards, 2010 (VIC)
- Finalist, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, 2010 (VIC)
- Finalist, InStyle Magazine’s Women of Style Awards, 2011