Who is Gina, and why so many hats?
As a woman we might be a wife, a sister, a daughter and a mother, on top of that most of us embark on a profession or career of some sort. So, if we want to have children, we have got to juggle all those things. I just happened to be sidetracked along the way because I wanted to do law, but then I loved fashion and I loved the arts. I studied at university, I did a law degree, a visual arts degree and a marketing degree for my Bachelor of Business. I was always business-driven and then there was law on the other side. I was a property developer for a long time as well when I had children, and then I was approached to do The Real Housewives [of Melbourne]. I hadn’t really thought of being in entertainment; it sort of found me rather than I found it. I have written a book about my life…so that ended up being another hat. I suppose if I didn’t feel that I was up for it, I would have said no.
How did the conversation start with the creation of Gina by Gina Liano - your first fragrance release?
I had already been investigating developing a fragrance and we had started to work on the key notes. A few months later, I happened to get a call from Chemist Warehouse and they asked me if I would be interested in developing a fragrance with them and Bondi Perfume Co. I said that it’s interesting that you are asking me that because I have started working on one. I had already worked out the notes that I wanted and the scent. I had already developed a logo and I was already a brand, effectively. I had launched a shoe range and a bag range, and I was working on the fragrance. So when I met with them I gave them the information that I had already compiled into the development of a fragrance.
How hands-on are you in this business and creation of the fragrance?
Very much hands-on with the whole process, because this isn’t an endorsement. It carries my brand and represents me. I wanted to make sure that something as intimate as a scent really captured something that I love.
Who is the Fearless woman, for your 2nd scent?
Well I think I was trying to capture the essence of my life with the name Fearless. Because fearless to me is not having no fear, it’s coming to a point in your life where you can rise above fear and so that’s the philosophy behind it. I think most people have had enough challenges when they get to a certain age. Women, young girls, who have had challenges in their life, and that’s really how they come out - fearless. Having experienced that, I have no fear of it anymore because it’s happened. But when it comes down to nuts and bolts, it’s about whether you like the scent and I’m hoping a lot of people like it. That’s one of the things I focused on when I developed the fragrance, is whether it would have a broad appeal.
Pricing is $39. How important in business is price setting and why?
Well for me it was important to get the right price because I wanted to make it accessible to everybody. I didn’t want to build a brand that was hard to access through price. I wanted to create desire in the market to have it, a want, like a Gucci handbag. Where you know that not everybody can afford it, so it naturally makes it desirable because you want it. I didn’t feel that I needed that for my brand. In a way, I think it was me giving back. I had such an outpouring of love and support from followers and people on social media going through The Real Housewives of Melbourne because it was quite a difficult time for me, in particular the first season. I thought, you know what, I would like to give something back and this is one way of doing it. Fortunately I could with the help of Chemist Warehouse because of volume. I have had people writing to me when the first fragrance came out saying: “You know, I’d just run out of perfume, I’m a single mum and I needed a new fragrance and I was so excited when I saw your fragrance that I could afford it, I saved up for it, but I could afford it”. They were thrilled and I love that. If it sold for $100 a bottle, the margin would be bigger and better, but that’s not my motivation. My motivation was to have something out there that was accessible.
You are a successful brand, can you share advice to future brand makers?
I believe the really important thing is that your brand is “your promise”, and whatever it is you are branding, becomes you. So if you brand a product, let’s say this perfume bottle was plastic and horrible, that would become me. So my promise is I am who I am, and I’m going to deliver something to you that even if you don’t love it, it’s not because it’s not good quality, and it’s not something beautiful.
Can you share some business challenges that you’ve had and how you overcame them?
Often challenges in business are a result of personal life. When I had cancer, my business suffered. When I got divorced, my business suffered. So unless you’ve got a huge organisation, where everything sort of filters in through the infrastructure of what’s happening, situations in life become lost. Most people don’t have a business like that. Most people are a small business I would say, and probably esprit Magazine’s readership includes many small businesses. So I think it’s really important to be prepared for personal life interfering with business. If you do have a setback, whatever it is, that you’ve got structures in place to pick it up. Whether it be insurance, whether it be a nest egg, whether you’ve got a fall-back position, someone there to help you.
Who are your role models or mentors in business and in life?
I don’t have a particular role model. I constantly look for inspiration from everywhere. I get inspiration from people that are successful and who aren’t successful. In fact, some people who are suffering the most are my biggest inspiration because I just see the human spirit in them. So I wouldn’t necessarily say there is one person that I could attribute as being my role model. I suppose that I am always hungry for information. I know hungry sounds aggressive but it’s not; it’s more that I’m really curious. So role models, no one I can name specifically.
What’s next for Gina Liano?
We are working on a third fragrance, a tanning range and skincare line. So what’s next? I think that, and possibly a Season Four of The Real Housewives of Melbourne. We are in negotiations at the moment with the contracts (at time of going to press).
If you could go back to 20-year-old Gina, what advice would you give her?
I would say to myself that there’s no rush. Just as long as every day serves a purpose and you are achieving something every day, things will come together. You don’t have to go forward with that knot in your stomach with the pressure. Enjoy it.
Image Credit: Gina Liano by Maurice Rinaldi.
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