Kimberley and Courtney Treacy Founders of Lip Lab talk business with Nicci Herrera
The Lip Lab is the first cosmetics company in Australia to use the Custom Blend technology as a customer service, combining product and blending machine together. In conjunction with one of Lip Lab’s professional lip colour consultants customers can whip up their own shades across lipstick, lip gloss and now foundation. Lip Lab’s franchise model opens a new store every week.
Having entered the beauty industry over 20 years ago as a beauty therapist before going into business for myself, I worked with a super savvy business woman, says Nicci Herrera. “Janine Treacy. This super smart woman made a huge impact on me at the time. A disrupter and first-mover in the beauty salon space. I remember her first IPL Machine business where Janine had a team of 30+ therapists moving from salon to salon to cater to the fast-growing market of laser hair removal. Fast forward 15 years, and most salons have their own machines and laser clinics are now at least 3-fold in most shopping centres. Janine was then part of the movement for 7-minute Brazilians – a concept she brought to Australia from the USA. This powerhouse who made things happen was the first successful business woman in my life to inspire me. There was always a solution and I watched her travel the hardest road of being the first to market. Now, today in 2018, Janine’s daughters have the same drive and tenacity. I met with Courtney a year ago and my mind flashed back to the fiery 10-year-old girl I knew so many years ago. The girls would frequent the salon after school and, no surprise, would be instrumental in their mum’s business disrupting the retail and salon space. I recently chatted with the girls about business and juggling family life: Courtney, mother to Dempsey and Evie Kimberley, mother to Maddox and Caynan, who both also have their own successful businesses outside of Lip Lab.
Why start Lip Lab?
We saw a niche in the market; a space for customised makeup. At the time we launched Lip Lab there was nothing like it here in Australia on the scale that we envisioned in our business plan.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Working with lipstick and makeup all day? What’s not to love! Seeing women come instore, have a fun experience and leave with a product they made and created themselves certainly makes our job a dream come true.
What part of the job do you not love as much?
Pigments and colours that stain clothes, or being away from families on overseas trips, though to be really honest it’s hard to find a negative in it all.
Biggest highlight since the Launch of Lip Lab?
Seeing our concept touch so many lives already. We’ve gone through approximately 48,000 lipstick cases and 36,000 lip-gloss wands since opening. Expanding into the luxury Middle East market is a huge highlight. We have also been approached by so many iconic brands to align and collaborate, which is a great honour.
Both juggling business and motherhood, can you share your secrets to success?
Having a good support network at home and behind the scenes is so important. Mum, Dad and our respective partners do all the school runs, babysitting and juggling in the background that no one sees.
We think it’s also important to have a plan from Day 1 and look back on it often to reassess and see what needs tweaking, what’s working and what’s not working. And lastly don’t expect success will happen overnight. Things take time, plan well, and be patient.
When there’s ups, there will be downs…can you share general challenges you have had in business and how you overcame them?
Without going into too much detail, as legally we can’t, after being open a few months, we were served with legal papers from a huge American beauty corporation to change our name and basically stop trading the way we were. Most people I guess would be intimidated by such an event, but we sought out a great legal team and are fighting tooth and nail to stand our ground.
Not only has it cost us financially but it has been a stressful time, especially as we move to expand and grow our wings in Australia, while internationally, we are being hampered in the background. To us, we guess it’s a case of a huge name, trying to bully a small start-up. We believe most people would be shocked at the tactics being used on us but we’ve not let it bother us too much.
What’s next for Lip Lab?
2018 will see us open in the Middle East but on a more luxurious scale and over the next two years five stores are planned across The Middle East. We have a lot of interest in Europe, USA and Asia, so that will keep us busy.
We have 4 new products launching in 2018 and ultimately concentrating on making our partners here in Australia successful.
And possibly a few weeks’ break to spend with family!
Kimberley & COURTNEY’S FIVE TIPS TO SUCCESS
1. Have a business plan and refer back to it often.
Remember, plans change, what you had in mind on Day 1 may look different in two years’ time. When we launched, we only wanted to concentrate on lipstick! Our focus now is growing and adding, hence, we have added foundations, lip scrubs and a brow range to follow.
Originally we wanted to be small, however, within three months of opening we had been inundated with interest from Australia-wide and overseas.
2. Surround yourself with a good team, eg: Solicitor, Accountants, Social Media and PR experts.
If you have an idea for a business or a name, put all the pieces in place before you tell a soul! That’s right, if you’re trademarking a name, make sure you give yourself ample time before you release that name to the public; let the objection period pass and then launch!
Good accountants will guide you through business structures and setups and of course a Red Hot Social Media expert and PR professional can be an outsourced agency or part-time in-house to start with.
We were lucky that our supplier from the USA was a seasoned businesswoman with many years of success behind her and she has greatly assisted us in so many key areas. We jumped on a plane recently and flew to the USA to meet her for a few hours and those few hours changed our direction again and ignited our passion all over again.
3. Stay up to date with the latest trends, or better still, set the trends.
We were lucky to find a niche no one had jumped on when we started so we grew quickly. In this world of imitations and people copying trends, it’s easy for others to jump on what you are doing and try to emulate it, therefore, be one step ahead when you launch and always be on the lookout to improve and build upon what you have.
We aim to bring out four new lines in 2018 and have aligned with Swarovski to wrap our limited edition cases, ATM we are the only lipstick maker with this opportunity in 2018.
4. BE passionate about what you do: For us, we loved makeup and we loved lipstick.
Entrepreneurs and passion are synonymous, of course, but when you are building a business whatever it is you do has got to run through your veins. We grew up around all things beauty so it was a natural progression for us. We could, and still can, talk about makeup/ lipstick/ ingredients all day and never get bored.
Share that relish and enthusiasm with your team and everyone you come in contact with.
5. Enjoy the success and give back where you can.
For us it was a delicious obsession to begin with, but now, it’s our livelihood. We dedicate time with family and give back to causes that we feel strongly about. We have been blessed with so many opportunities, it was only right to help those less fortunate and give our voice to causes we believe in. For Courtney it was Domestic Violence causes, something she experienced herself first hand immediately prior to starting this business and she donates not only her time to working at events but also corporate gifting on a large scale. For Kimberley, MS and any Cancer cause, again, we donate our time to attending these events and making lipsticks right through to gifting prizes and experiences.