Stephanie Mason – Founder of Showpony Hair Extensions
Stephanie created Showpony Hair Extensions in 2009 and hit turnover of $1 million by year three. Launching in 2009 meant that Showpony launched shortly before the 2009 financial crisis hit where she witnessed local salons around her were closing during this time which gave her the drive to help those salons and learning just how she could do that. Stephanie said after a few tough years in start-up mode, the business exploded overnight. Stephanie prides Showpony on being about exceptional product quality and salon education. Stephanie was first a model and noticed during her time as a model that the demand for high quality hair extensions was vital and from there, she came up with the idea that today is known to be Showpony Hair Extensions. Showpony Hair Extensions is the official partner for The Voice Australia and Miss Universe Australia.
Lydia Jordane – Founder of Lycon cosmetics
Lydia created Lycon Cosmetics in Australia in 1978 and had been waxing since 1968. Lydia grew up around cosmetics manufacturing with her father working in the industry since she was just a baby. Lydia took it upon herself to do the research and began secretly ordering ingredients under the disguise of her father’s business, Lydia secretly created her first wax on her family kitchen stove in 1968 when she was only a teenager. Lycon has quickly become the most trusted wax of choice for spas and salons across the world.
Kate Morris – Founder of Adore Beauty
With a $12,000 loan from her father-in-law, Kate Morris was able to turn her once garage project into a multimillion-dollar business named Adore Beauty. Kate was a university student who had a part-time job selling cosmetics in a department store and was only 21 when she launched her ecommerce site. When Adore Beauty launched it only offered customer two brands, but Kate had more than a hunch that it would work and take off. Come 20 years later and Adore Beauty is now the home of 220 brands offering 15,000 products serving more than a million transactions a year. In 2018, Kate joined the Financial Review Young Rich List with an estimated wealth of $30 million and in 2019 she ended the year with the sale of a 60% stake in the company to Quadrant Private Equity with Adore Beauty estimated to be worth $110 million at the time. In 2017, Morris bought back a 25% stake held by Woolworths saying that both companies’ strategies diverged so they parted amicably after hearing people do not understand the business with remarks being made such as “Amazon is here, why would you want to grow?”.
Jo Horgan – Founder of Mecca
Wrap tenacity, persuasiveness and determination in a bright and energetic shell and you have the founder of Mecca, Jo Horgan. Mecca was born in 1997 because Jo saw an opportunity to bring seven of the most exciting, niche beauty brands Down Under that were not currently available to the Australian market. Jo is the mastermind behind Mecca Cosmetica which is a curated edit of cult high-end beauty brands, Mecca Maxima which is curated for a slightly younger audience of beauty addicts’ as well as Mecca in Myer which has a shop-in-shop concept. In 2017 alone, Jo opened 17 doors and launched her own brand within the business aptly named, Mecca Max. Launching in 1997 meant that Jo was established for when beauty-related content generated more than 55 billon views on Youtube, the launch of Facebook in 2004 and the double-tap sensation that is Instagram in 2010. Jo Horgan firmly believes that luck plays an enormous role in any businesses success so when Mecca launched, she is adamant launching happened at the right place at the right time with taking her hat off to the digital platforms that have unlocked the appetite for all things beauty which assisted in the growth of her business due to the demand. Jo moved to Australia with parents at the age of 14 before her university studies took her to the US and back again to London. When in London, she landed her first gig at L’Oréal taking her to the launch of M.A.C at Harvey Nichols which subsequently planted the seed for Mecca after seeing the excitement for such brands – it was then that she knew these brands had to come to Australia.
Jaimee Lupton – founder of Monday Haircare
Jaimee Lupton comes from a luxury PR background where she learnt what it takes to create a product line of shampoos and conditioners that Coles and other supermarkets can hardly keep in stock. MONDAY haircare is a cult-worthy brand with glowing reviews that will not break your bank, it is salon-quality products you can afford. Amongst the MONDAY haircare brand, you will find four shampoos and conditioners duos called Smooth, Repair, Sensitive and Volume. Jaimee created a brand and a product made with a high-quality formula containing 11 amino acids, plant extracts whilst also being SLS and paraben-free that is wrapped in a minimalistic pink bottle made from recycled plastic – MONDAY haircare has been coined “Liquid Gold” in the media after selling out during the first six weeks of launching. Come early 2021 and Lupton signs a deal with US Target worth $40 million and American beauty chain, Ulta making the final potential worth $55 million for the Australasian company.
Catherine Wong – Co-Founder of Black Swallow
Catherine Wong is your class-A example of a person who was dealt with the wrong card in life to only turn it all around with the sheer motivation and work ethic that would make any business owner want to step up their game and work harder. Catherine grew up with a father who was consistently in and out of jail combined with the difficulties of her school years where she openly admits feeling like she was the slowest of her peers. However, this did not hold Catherine back when finishing high school because Wong went on to study nursing at university where she graduated at 21 with a nursing degree and worked full-time for five years in IUC after that. It was during her years as a nurse that she met the love of her life (and now business partner) Alex Baro and launched their successful ecommerce website, Black Swallow. It was late 2015 when Black Swallow launched – a website built for Australian women between the ages of 18 and 25 to shop the latest in fashion & beauty. What separates Black Swallow from other retailers in its field is the exclusive rights to distribute household international beauty brands such as Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Milani, L.A. Girl and more. During the first two years of opening for business, Black Swallow almost folded numerous times however come the end of the second-year, things took a massive turn around and Black Swallow turned over $10 million. Catherine is a woman a mission, with a mission in sight and nothing can hold her back – not even her family! Catherine worked tirelessly through both of her pregnancies where she could not be stopped, nor could she sit still for more than an hour before having to get up and get her hands dirty in the warehouse. But Wong’s work ethic does not stop there, come the time she’s giving birth to her second son, Catherine could be found in hospital on her laptop tending to emails and staff concerns around the big launch of Jeffree Star’s latest collection, her husband Alex had to pry the laptop from her just-given-birth fingertips to get her to relax. Come the next day, Catherine is back in the warehouse packing orders for that very same launch after giving birth… with an emergency c-section – she’s a real-life superhero.
Jessica DeLuca & Alexia Inge– Founders of Cult Beauty
In late November 2014, a beauty empire was born, Cult Beauty. CB came from the simple event of when two friends decided to go through their stash of beauty products and calculate the lump sum of the barely used products they owned, horrified knowing how much of their hard-earned money they wasted, they set out on a quest to provide women around the world with a platform that presents them with only the best in the business – those two friends are Jessica DeLuca and Alexia Inge. Jess and Alexia are two beauty fanatics who grew frustrated from the empty promises made by global beauty brands having invested dollars into ineffective creams and more than disappointing serums. Cult Beauty prides their business on being a team of devoted beauty lovers forever on the hunt for the “coolest cult” products that the world has to offer. What sets Cult Beauty apart from their competitors is their transparency – Cult Beauty shows the FULL ingredient lists and publishes every review whether it is good or bad and will only sell products that genuinely blow them away. Jess and Alexia were inspired by the annual InStyle Best Beauty Buys which was a panel of hair and beauty experts that handpicked the best hero products available on the market to create a hall of fame concept that consumers could shop from, this is also where the name Cult Beauty was inspired by. Jess comes from a background of impressive business acknowledgments and Alexia came from a Fashion background studying as a Fashion designer and working as a fashion journalist and it was during 2007 when Alexia was working in PR that she met her Co-Founder, Jessica DeLuca. Jessica DeLuca is an advocate for women’s rights and gender equality and in addition to the role she plays at Cult Beauty, Jess also serves as an advisor to non-profit foundations and social enterprises that are dedicated to helping women in developing countries to become financially independent through entrepreneurship – not to mention Jess is a distinguished speaker at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Jess and Alexia attribute their success to their authenticity after their personal qualms dealing with the manipulation of the negative sides of the beauty industry, the side where people saw the “beauty vertical” as the ultimate way to make money out female consumers and their insecurities. Alexis believes that luck was on their side when launching Cult Beauty, adamant that it was a matter of launching at the right place, at the right time. They know that launching in this day and age Cult Beauty wouldn’t have been such a success because of the competitors they have now who were born with substantial budgets online, simply put – they wouldn’t of had enough money to make enough of an impact to knock down competitors such as Sephora or Ulta. Cult Beauty was built on Jess and Alexia’s combined savings which meant their growth depended heavily on word of mouth to lift to the business off the ground, but both girls believed it was the best way because it earned their customers trust which was vital for such a fickle market. When launching the website for Cult Beauty, the team was dramatically behind schedule, so they launched a Cult Beauty blog to help start conversations about hero products that they felt cult worthy to build a loyal following before the site was launched.
Zoe Foster Blake – Go-To Founder
The founder of Australia’s 10th most followed beauty brand, Go-To is a tenacious woman who wears many hats – meet Zoe Foster Blake. Zoe was first known as the beauty editor for Cosmopolitan Australia to then become the beauty director of Harper BAZAAR Australia which around the same time she launched her own beauty blog, Fruity Beauty. In 2008, Zoe was the founding editor of Primped and wrote a best-selling beauty book, Amazing Face where you can find all her insider tips and tricks that she gathered over the years in the beauty industry. Come 2014, 10 years after working as a beauty editor with all her hats, Zoe launched Go-To with only just five products – with one of them selling out in a day, her Pinkey-Nudey lips product which was only meant to be a filler product until the next product came out. Go-To is a simple yet effective range of skincare essentials using the best botanical ingredients and do not contain any nasties, Go-To is a skincare brand you can count on to protect, nourish and strengthen even the most sensitive skin. Zoe created Go-To after learning firsthand that the questions women were asking were how baffling they found products, its ingredient list and how to apply certain products so with a mutual agreeance to the common qualms of women facing the same issue with skincare, Zoe wanted to create a skincare brand that was simple, to the point and most importantly easy to use. She wanted to make skincare fun! With its distinct pastel peach packaging and delicate white font, you will find formula’s that do not contain “faux science bullshit”. The range of products found under Go-To all take years before hitting the shelf because Zoe wanted her products to be developed and perfected to perfection, Go-To are products that “won’t piss off your skin” – that is the quality Zoe strives for. The big idea behind Go-To was that Zoe found gaps in the industry because she noticed she, herself would be packing more than one of the same product when travelling because one product alone didn’t bring her skin everything it needed and during her time as a beauty editor with all the products she was reviewing and trying she openly admits that she’d think those products could of been different and a bit better or what she personally wanted, wasn’t available on the market yet. Zoe knew what she was doing as all the beauty editors knew what they were talking about because they were all educated for the title, she knew which products were marketing scams and what was going to do something. Zoe was introduced to her brands formulator through a friend who already had an established beauty brand, that same friend was the one who asked Zoe ‘Why don’t you start a business?’. Once her formulator was locked in, Zoe brought in her ‘digital guy’ because she knew Go-To would be an e-commerce business (you can find Go-To in previously mentioned Jo Horgan’s, she then went on to recruit a managing director to help with the business. Zoe with her many hats went on to write more books with one of them being turned into a television series, The Wrong Girl. Zoe wrote a childrens book called ‘No One Likes A Fart’ which was named picture book of the year at the 2018 Australian Book Industry Awards – Zoe is a woman on the go and refuses to stop.
Emily Weiss – Glossier Founder
If you are familiar with the 2000’s hit reality show, The Hills you may recognise the founder of Glossier, Emily Weiss. Emily was introduced to America (and the rest of the world) in 2007 as she marched the marble lobby of Los Angele’s Teen Vogue offices as ‘The Super Intern’ who had an impressive resume at such a young age. Emily was only 29 when she launched global phenomenon, Glossier in 2014 and come five years later Weiss’ company is said to have an estimated worth of $1.2 billon having raised $186 million in venture capital in 2019. Glossier is the home of 36 products so popular that both concept stores in LA and New York plus any temporary pop-up stores invite a queue that wraps around the street and sends Instagram into a frenzy of Glossier tags + mentions. Emily has built a brand made for millennials and its minimalistic approach is the canny part of its identity with every product feeling like an essential. Glossier’s values are built on being inclusive and aware of the power of millennials and gen z– all staff are known as ‘offline editors’, sporting pink boiler suits and wearing their gender pronouns on badges. Weiss is all about bringing people together and prides Glossier on that point with the goal in mind for people to leave her stores and go to lunch the next day to boast about being at Glossier the day before. When Emily created Glossier, Weiss was running a cult-like blog aptly named, Into The Gloss which she started when she was working as an assistant to Elissa Santisi who is the style director at US Vogue. It was on her blog where she would ask women to show her their beauty routines to gain insight on what women wanted instead of being told what they needed. For example, her Boy Brow product was made because women found brow gel to be crunchy, so Weiss created a formula for the perfect feathery brow – in year 2018 on Boy Brow sold every 32 seconds! It was during her time at Vogue that Emily noticed at every make-up artists table, amongst their laid-out products she would see half a pile of make up and half a pile of skincare – it was not all makeup. Passing this revelation onto her friends and blog readers, Emily wanted to spread the news that there was an earlier step before starting with your makeup. Emily grew up in Connecticut, her father was in business and her mother was a stay-at-home mum. Emily always had a passion for fashion but found it inaccessible because she didn’t grow up with money to go buy designer clothes. When she was 15, she babysat for her neighbour who worked for Ralph Lauren and just at the age of 15, asked if she could intern for the company. Later Weiss went to study art at New York University, interned at Chanel then went onto Teen Vogue in New York. When Emily graduated university she became a fashion assistant for W Magazine, from there she landed her role at Vogue. When working at Vogue, she was running Into The Gloss between 4am-8am and she knew she had a choice to make because doing both wasn’t plausible – so she took the leap of faith without any fear of failure. In 2018, Weiss was named as one of the Time Magazine’s Next 100 where they called her “one of her generations great disruptors”.
Raelene Mara – Founder of MODELROCK LASHES
Upon leaving a management role after 20 long years, Raelene Mara launched arguably Australia’s #1 worldwide eyelash distributor, Modelrock Cosmetics in April 2012. Raelene set out on a mission to first provide Australia then the world a product that was special and unlike anything else on the market. First and foremost, the values behind the brand are no doubt its quality and true-to-type customer service, but Raelene also prides Modelrock Cosmetics being a brand that produces vegan and cruelty-free products due to being a dedicated animal lover and never wanting to use animals to produce her lashes or cosmetics. Come 2019, Raelene is ready and set to launch their official expansion into the US market, focusing on vegan & cruelty-free colour cosmetics. Launching The Rock Chic Collection meant the inclusion of a 20-pan eyeshadow palette, 25 shades of matte lipsticks, waterproof liquid eyeliners and a customisable 5-layered magnetic makeup palette.