28 Adore Beauty


$15.9 million




Kate Morris, 38 and James Height, 38

Head office

Northcote, VIC

Year founded





Retail and consumer goods



Adore-Beauty_Morris-02Adore Beauty marks its Sweet 16 by hitting the $15 million revenue mark for the first time – and with 124% growth rate over the past three financial years, the online beauty retailer has booked yet another spot on the Smart50.

The company has also added 15 staff members in the past year, bringing the team to 44. In 2013 the business embarked on a phase of concerted growth, and Morris says the process of running a bootstrapped business while also looking at long-term growth is challenging.

“This was a huge challenge and very stressful at times,” she says.

“We were distracted by also courting investors through a funding round. The only way we were able to get through it was to have only one founder involved in the capital raising; the other founder had to closely watch the business metrics on a day-to-day basis.”

Woolworths bought a 25% stake in the business in 2015 and at the time Morris told SmartCompany the sale placed Adore in an excellent position to increase customer reach.

“There are a lot of smart people there, there is a definite benefit from being involved with a company that is so strong,” she said.

Adore Beauty has always distinguished itself from stuffy department store beauty counters, where Morris worked while in university and quickly discovered many Australian women were put off by the intimidating staff and environment.

“Traditionally, prestige beauty retail has been in a closed-sell environment, with the products encased in a glass counter and the sales assistant acting as gatekeeper,” Morris says.

Adore’s expansion plans now involve framing its “from the couch”, empowered cosmetic shopping experience for customers in overseas markets.

“We launched into China via Tmall Global in April, and we ship to around 20 countries so far via our website, with more to come,” says Morris.

In April Morris told SmartCompany the expansion into China would be slow and targeted, with six brands initially sold through Tmall.

Let’s get China right first, it’s a big enough piece to bite off,” she said.

The idea of the “happy” consumer underpins everything the brand does, says Morris, from providing diverse product ranges to creating event purchases, like last year’s cosmetics “Advent Calendar” promotion. Morris understands the power of well-curated beauty products.

“We had to create something that was lust-worthy; a must-have for anyone who was obsessed with beauty and cosmetics,” she says of the advent calendar project, which comprised of 25 products and was highly shareable on social media – increasing leads from social platforms to the shopping site by 172% during the campaign.

While global expansion is in Morris’ sights for the next 12 months, so is balancing the day-to-day operations of the business with family commitments.

“Both [family and work] require my attention so it can sometimes be difficult to be fully present in either sphere,” says Morris.

But when it comes to inspiration, there is no shortage of ideas from team members.

“New ideas are encouraged at every level of our company – ‘courage to fail’ is one of our core values, so every single team member is tasked with trying new things,” says Morris.

“Everything we do revolves around creating a happier beauty shopping experience for the customer.”