In 2006 Nad’s was struggling. Founder Sue Ismiel, who had built hair removal system Nad’s from a kitchen-table company to an international success, had hired a CEO who unsuccessfully changed strategy. Ismiel had to step back in as CEO, retrench and refocus the business which had $28 million revenue in 2004-05 and is now aiming for $50 million in 2009-10.
Today on Lunch with an Entrepreneur Amanda Gome talks to the new “face” of Nad’s. Daughter Nadine Ismiel, head of research and development, has developed a new product: a treatment for acne that she hopes will be as successful as their hair removal business.
And she hopes to employ the same marketing techniques that shot Nad’s to prominence. However, instead of her sister on national television demonstrating how Nad’s products solved her hairy leg problem, Nadine will share her battle with acne.
So which one of the daughters are you?
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I’m the eldest daughter and I’ve got two younger sisters.
And how old are you Nadine?
So you’re quite young. Sue a few years ago hired a CEO so that she could step back and that didn’t work out so she’s running Nad’s again. Is it likely that you would take over as CEO?
That’s an interesting question. I can’t see my mum ever retiring. She’s such an energetic person that’s always looking for the next opportunity. But obviously I’m very closely involved with the business. I sit on the management team, I sit on the board, so I am involved in many aspects of the company and have a lot of input with a lot of the strategic direction of where the company is going.
How big is your company now? How much revenue have you got?
We are aiming for around $50 million turnover.
So in 2004-05 you had $28 million so you’ve pretty much doubled since then.
Oh well this is what we’re aiming for.
So where are you at now?
Gee, I don’t have those figures off the top of my head. But yes, for next financial year we are aiming around the $50 million.
Is that a big jump? Would you be around $40 million?
Yes, we have very high expectations.
In 2004-05 you launched into laser hair removal, started a clinic in Parramatta and were planning on expanding those. How have they gone?
We were in the hair removal field and laser hair removal was something that was gaining a lot of momentum. I do a lot of researching into new areas and new technologies, so this was something that I went and researched for about three years before we decided to enter that market. In early 2007 we opened our first store and since then we’ve opened three others and plan to roll out many more in NSW and eventually into the other states of Australia.
What have been the challenges in rolling those out?
It’s a different business model for us. We’ve always been retail, direct to consumer, so going into the service field was something different for us. But we have a very, very good team and an experienced retail operations manager who has had a lot of experience in service areas. It’s been very, very successful and that’s why we’ve rolled out four and are planning on opening up many more.
And what have you personally learnt on how to get retail model right?
Customer service is very, very important, so for us it’s about training and the staff that we hire. Also being a family business, culture fit is very important. You mentioned a few years ago Sue stepped out of the business and how that all changed and I think that was the prime example of it. When you don’t have the culture fit within the staff in your organisation, it just doesn’t work out. So for us it’s really important that the people that we have in our business all are following the same vision, all down the same path.
What ways do you have to ensure that they do that?
There aren’t those strict levels that you might find in bigger corporate companies. We have a very close-knit, very open plan working environment. There’s no problem for people to knock on Sue’s door and just come in and have a quick chat about something. It’s that kind of environment that people are comfortable in.
A lot of people’s input is taken onboard. We have monthly catch ups where everybody can just voice their opinions on what they think, new ideas, it’s just bringing all that among the environment that enables people to be able to communicate freely.
With the research and development, how much of your revenue would you spend on that? You spend a fair bit of time and money on coming up with new ideas?
Yes. Obviously in the research and development, we have a very small group. It’s myself and my colleague and obviously we have a network of people outside of the business too that we deal with and communicate to get products from concept to finished product.
The latest innovation is a product called PuraSkin and it’s an acne treatment product.
I was actually an acne sufferer for over 15 years. I suffered from acne from the age of 12 and tested everything that was available out there.