Online beauty pioneer Kate Morris on the next major chapter for Adore Beauty

Kate Morris has had a huge year.

Her online marketplace for beauty products Adore Beauty has grown about 60%, she’s added more than 2000 products, and just launched in China.

At 5am on the day the business was due to move into its new, larger warehouse, Morris went into labour and gave birth to a new baby.

She’s since been managing her business’ extensive growth with two kids at home.  

After we last year learned how Morris gave up her law degree to launch her very successful eCommerce platform at the age of 21 back in 2000 – and at a time when such platforms seemed a long shot for success – we decided to check back in with the leading entrepreneur to find out what’s happened since.

You’ve had a hectic year! Tell us about your major 2016 milestones

It’s been a very big year, and it’s not over yet! 

Adore Beauty has grown by about 60 per cent so it has been exciting times. 

We moved to a new warehouse twice the size, added about another 2000 products to our range, and on top of that I had another baby in June.

You’ve also just launched the business in China. How has that been and what made you take the plunge?

It has been a huge learning experience.

We decided to give it a go after hearing so much about the success of Aussie brands like Swisse, Blackmores and Bellamys; health and beauty is one of the fastest growing retail categories in China, and the new cross-border e-commerce regulations made it possible for us to ship directly to consumers.

We’ve always had a bit of a specialty in amazing Australian beauty brands, and many of those had never been available to Chinese consumers because of the animal testing requirements; cross-border ecommerce meant that we could sell those brands directly without the testing.

Sounds like a wise move, but no doubt demanding. What have been your biggest challenges this year?

Growth can be challenging at times (albeit a nice problem to have). 

Finding the right people for an ever-expanding team can sometimes be tricky, but we’ve learnt to hire for cultural fit ahead of skills or experience. 

The warehouse move was a bit of a nightmare and was delayed several times due to internet issues at the new property; I’d planned to have it all done before the baby arrived, but wouldn’t you know it, I went into labour at 5am on moving day.   

Great timing from baby Esther! Speaking of your new addition, how have you managed the daily juggle, in between expanding your empire?

I have a fantastic partner who takes an equal role in the parenting; he and I share all the responsibilities, the only things he can’t do are the gestation and lactation! 

I didn’t have much maternity leave – about three weeks, and I was still on email during that time – but I have been able to create my own flexible work arrangements which is one of the great perks of having your own business.

At the moment I am in the office two full days and three and a half-days a week, and that feels like a good balance to me (the half-days are shared with my partner, we switch over at lunchtime).

As a business ‘Adore’ continues to thrive. What do you see as the key to its success?

I think the key is that we always put our customers first, and we spend every day thinking about how we can improve the customer experience and how we can solve their problems. 

More than anything, we want to create an empowering beauty shopping experience that helps our customers find the products that are perfect for them. 

Right now we are doing that through offering the most comprehensive range of the best brands, and combining that with incredible service, opportunities for trial, and online tools to help with product choice.

Not to mention the little things that top it off – free shipping, pay later with Afterpay, and of course the little Tim Tam that comes with your order.

What would be your advice to other emerging entrepreneurs?

One: Stay focused on your customer.

Get to know them; find out what is important to them; and then spend all your efforts on delivering value to them.

Two: Resilience and tenacity are tremendously important.

You will get knocked down plenty of times. The key is learning from it, then getting back up.

This article was originally published on Women’s Agenda

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