Yarra Valley beauty business My Glow 2 has seen sales increase by more than 1000% during the COVID-19 pandemic, and founders Catie O’Neill and Olivia Burrows largely put their success down to a loyal TikTok following.
My Glow 2’s flagship product is a silk exfoliating glove, inspired by a trip O’Neill took to Turkey, where she had a traditional hammam bathing ritual.
“When I say I walked out of that hammam spa a different person, I mean it,” she says.
In Turkey, O’Neill was introduced to a silk mitt that worked as a deep exfoliator. It removes dead skin, but can also have additional benefits.
According to O’Neill, the product can also help with things like reducing scars, helping prevent breakouts, and tacking the dry skin condition keratosis pilaris.
She purchased a glove for Burrows, and the pair later tried to find an Aussie version of the silk glove, O’Neill recalls.
“It just wasn’t available,” she says.
“We looked at one another and said, why don’t we do this?”
The pair launched the business in November last year. By the end of the year, they had realised TikTok could be a platform through which to introduce their products to the world.
“We recognised this platform was growing at a rapid rate,” O’Neill says.
“As a small business, marketing budgets are small. So we saw this as an opportunity.”
In the same way a lot of brands rode the early wave of Instagram, they set out to do the same with TikTok.
“We could ride this wave organically and not have to put in a lot of spend to increase our brand awareness.”
The founders started posting product and branding-based content. And while they got some traction, they weren’t typically going viral in the way they wanted to.
They took a step back, O’Neill says, and looked at what was working well for other business and brands.
“It was small businesses that were really doing well, and they were showcasing behind the scenes of their business.”
O’Neill and Burrows started again, launching a whole new channel to show what went on within the business.
It’s this that has “completely transformed our business,” O’Neill says.
Within the first few days, this channel had gone from zero followers to more than 50,000.
“We post educational content about our business, how we set up our business, our story — and give people a really authentic insight.”
@behindtheglow2Behind the scenes action 📦 ##smallbusiness ##businesstiktok ##entrepreneur ##businesscheck ##ecommerce ##business ##packingorders ##australia♬ Build Me Up Buttercup – Kina Grannis
Now, the new TikTok channel has more than 184,000 followers, and has racked up more than 33 million views. That’s equated to a 1077% increase in sales since.
But the business hasn’t grown and retained this audience by accident.
“With every single video, there’s an underlying strategy behind it,” O’Neill explains.
The founders think carefully about every song choice, every hashtag and every type of video they choose to do on a given day. The aim is to offer the audience valuable content they wouldn’t usually get from their favourite brands.
“To be successful on TikTok you have to be willing to think outside the box, and you have to be willing to try new things,” she says.
“An important part is investing in quality content that offers value beyond your product.”
But, ultimately, to get TikTok right is to embrace authenticity.
“Our strategy was not to show what our product was, but to show who we are,” O’Neill explains.
Instagram, for example, is all about beautiful images and showcasing the product.
“TikTok is a lot more raw and authentic,” O’Neill says.
“You can’t edit much … you can literally just jump on there and start speaking,” she adds.
“You grow a community and you nurture that community, and that’s basically been our strategy.
@behindtheglow2Thank you to everyone who is joining us on our business journey✨ ##smallbusiness ##businesscheck ##entrepreneur ##businesstiktok ##myglow2 ##skincare♬ original sound – Motivational Videos
A global rollercoaster
Of course, the next step is converting those loyal social media followers into paying customers.
And O’Neill has found that TikTok conversions are typically much quicker than those from other social platforms.
New followers can easily scroll through old videos and get to know the brand right off the bat, rather than being fed content gradually over time, she notes.
And, they’re quickly introduced to more, if they want it.
“They don’t just stay on TikTok. They go to your Instagram and your YouTube and your website.”
It’s also a global platform. While the co-founders were planning on growing their brand in their home country before taking it overseas, they’re now almost getting as many orders from the US as from Australia.
They’re also fielding interest from Canada, Malaysia and the Philippines.
“It’s grown our business at such a rapid rate internationally,” O’Neill says.
“TikTok is a rollercoaster. A worldwide one.”
As a business that’s less than a year old, all of My Glow 2’s growth is against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
O’Neill is feeling “very fortunate” to be thriving at this time.
“People are spending more time at home, not only looking after their skin but … scrolling through social media,” she notes.
The pandemic has affected stock levels, and led to some postage delays. But, again, this is where an authentic social media presence has its benefits.
“We use TikTok as a platform to communicate everything that is happening,” O’Neill says.
“We can keep the communication open with our community.”