Sascha Griffin founded Pinklily in 2005 after noticing a gap in the market for clear, plastic shoeboxes for Australian shoe lovers. But the 42-year-old Sydneysider didn’t stop at just shoes, eventually expanding her company to cover all sorts of storage solutions, from clear boxes for handbags and accessories to a coat hangers that can be used to hang multiple garments, called the ‘hangtastic’. The business now turns over $1.3 million annually and employs five people.
I had worked in a family business for over 10 years but I wasn’t passionate about the product. The business sold commercial second-hand kitchen equipment. I wanted to create a business of my own that was based on a product that was easy for women to buy online and get delivered immediately.
The product was not important at that stage.
The first product I sold was a clear plastic shoe box, which was originally a storage idea for a pair of shoes I had designed. I had designed a matching pair of shoes, handbag and belt and I was looking for a packaging solution for the shoes when someone told me about a clear, plastic shoebox they had seen years before.
My previous experience helped me incredibly, from dealing with staff and logistics to being completely responsible for running an entire business.
I used my own funds to start the business. My first order was for 5000 clear shoeboxes and I had to buy a $3000 knife. I went back to the guy I purchased them from two weeks later and ordered another 10,000 boxes. He said to me: “I never thought I would see you again, love.”
I ended up ordering 300,000 boxes from him and I have now sold more than 1 million shoeboxes.
Once I realised I had a passion for storage, I began completely overhauling women’s wardrobes. I realised just how many different coat hangers women have in their wardrobes—wooden, plastic and don’t even get me started on wire—so I created the ‘hangtastic’, which lets you hang 10 items from one hanger. I had seen a similar product which held two items and I expanded it.
I have never used a business plan. The business was evolved since the first week when I placed an ad in The Daily Telegraph. It just took off.
I was very fortunate that no one had heard of my products. When I launched, every newspaper, magazine and current affairs show wanted to profile my business and I generated around $150,000 in editorial coverage.
This has remained with people, who still say to me, “You’re the girl from TV.”
I’ve never really spent money on PR, although now I do pay for television commercials which reach a much larger audience.
What’s important about my business is that half of it is online sales, and half of my income comes from my weekly live spot on the TVSN shopping channel.
The TV spots involve non-stop talking but it’s my passion and I can explain the benefits of the products. Because I design and create all of the products, I am extremely passionate about them.
I plan to expand the business internationally through overseas shopping channels. I would love to have my own TV show where I get to go in and organise women’s wardrobes.
Nine years on, there isn’t anything negative that worries me about my business. The passion and excitement of creating new products is what wakes me up at 3am to think about the business.
I believe I do have a great work-life balance. I get up at 5am and I am in the office until 11am. Apart from the one-hour TV spot on Saturdays, those are my office hours.
I’ve always run my business from my Blackberry, although I’m probably one of the only people who still has a Blackberry. It is so useful. I can be anywhere overseas and still run my business.
I have nearly 7000 fans on Facebook and it is very interactive. They know they are speaking to the owner of the business. I also have live chat on my website and all the enquiries come through to my phone. It takes two seconds to respond to people.
I think I am a really good boss. I employ mums who want to get to school on time and I employ students who study at night. I was a single mum for a long time so I needed that flexibility too. You get more out of your staff if they are happy.