Founder and director of Adore Beauty, Kate Morris (BBus(Mgt) 2002) says the two most important attributes you need to be successful in business are persistence and the ability to learn quickly from failure.
“Being an entrepreneur is pretty much a constant cycle of falling down, then picking yourself up again,” she says.
The self-confessed makeup junkie started Adore Beauty in her garage in 1999 at the age of 21, with a small amount of seed funding and the desire to give people access to products they loved no matter where they lived.
“I loved beauty products from the time I was 12, but grew up in Launceston wishing I had access to the products I saw in glossy magazines,” Kate said.
“I moved to Melbourne to go to Monash, and got a part time job working on department store cosmetics counters, where I realised that most women found that shopping environment intimidating and disempowering. So when I heard about online shopping, I knew someone had to do an online beauty store here in Australia... and thought, why not me?”
Adore Beauty launched when there was no broadband in Australia and e-commerce was dismissed as a pipe dream but Kate’s ability to recognise a gap in the market and capitalise on emerging technology has paid off.
From stocking a few products and making one sale a week when it launched, Adore Beauty now attracts more than two million visitors per year and has more than 4000 products and over 120 brands available to consumers.
Kate says she always believed the business would work despite evidence to the contrary.
“We’ve come a long way from having to crawl under the desk to unplug the phone every time we wanted to check emails!” Kate said.
“In the early days I had to do a lot of explaining as to why anyone would want to buy something online - I had to self-fund the business as banks wouldn't have a bar of me.
“For a long time there was also a lot of resistance to e-commerce from most of the big cosmetics brands.
“But you have to have belief when you start a business, as there will be many setbacks along the way - you need that belief to keep you going.”
Kate’s success has earned her the 2014 Telstra Business Women’s Awards – Innovation Award for Victoria. She also won the 2010 Telstra Young Businesswoman of the Year for Victoria and was a finalist in the Commonwealth Bank Business Owners Award, the Telstra Business Women’s Awards (2010), Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year (2010) and InStyle Magazine’s Women of Style Awards (2011).
“Winning the Victorian Telstra Business Women’s Award for Innovation this year is amazing,” Kate said.
“When you run your own business, you don't really get much feedback on whether you're doing a good job. I actually find it quite overwhelming to win such a prestigious award. Fingers crossed for the national awards!”
Kate said her next personal challenge will be to transition from being a small business owner to being the CEO of a medium-sized business.
“I still have a lot more that I want to achieve at Adore Beauty, and I've got some big plans over the next few years,” she said.
“I am looking forward to all that I'll have to learn.”