Emily and Sarah Hamilton are Aussie twins with two successful beauty businesses under their belt.
Yep, not one, but two.
The 40 year olds launched Australia’s first beauty subscription box Bellabox in 2011 after just six months of planning, but its their latest launch, Australian skincare brand Sand & Sky that’s really appeared to be an overnight success, with half a million customers in the first year.
The brand launched the first product, Australian Pink Clay Porefining Face Mask, in April last year and sold out in Australia and the UK in just 12 weeks. A waitlist of over 5,000 people then followed.
Huge online beauty names like Huda Kattan were giving it glowing reviews and stockists like Harvey Nicols were contacting them instead of the other way round.
At $69.90, it’s not cheap, but after one use the difference is immediate.
Now the pair are stepping it up with the launch of Sand & Sky’s second product, the Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment, $59.90.
Mamamia had a chat to the sister duo about all this business and beauty.
“It took a while to build momentum, then suddenly sales just went through the roof and huge online identities like Jeffree Star were trying the mask and promoting it,” Sarah, who is based in Melbourne, while Emily lives in Singapore, told Mamamia.
“Reviews and comments on social media were all positive and customers shared the love everywhere. We sold out in Australia and the UK and had to create a waiting list.”
It doesn’t seem to be a one hit wonder either, with the Flash Perfection Exfoliating Treatment already earning a wait list of 10,000 people.
“Social media has become the medium people go to experience and learn about new beauty products so creating a product that looks good on social media and has that experience was important,” Emily told Mamamia.
“Australia is such a unique environment, internationally they love Australia and the perception is we’re really fun and friendly so that’s what we were trying to portray.”
Perhaps most interesting – and crucial thing – about the brand’s success has been the sisters’ decisions to go their own way rather than follow trends.
“We wanted to create something really unique rather than just going on the trends, even with the packaging.”
“The trend in beauty at the moment is very monochrome, sleek and minimalist but we wanted the brand to be fun, stand out, the kind that you would look at on your shelf and really notice it,” says Emily.
It certainly has.
The Australian Pink Clay range uses all Australian ingredients and most importantly works very quickly, helped by the fact the sisters were persistant in their pursuit for the perfect formula.
“Working with the Australian manufacturer, they found us very annoying because we wanted it to be perfect, but now they love us!” Sarah said.
“They found it refreshing because they manufacture lots of brands and no-one is that into the product.”
“We wanted to know everything and leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of really great results.”
Interestingly, the pair didn’t expect it to be so successful back home, and instead targetted overseas markets like the UK and US.
“Australia was actually our fifth market. We wanted to be able to focus on the US and Europe and we did not expect that,” Emily said.
“With Bellabox we learnt that everyone wants international brands, not Aussie ones, so we went international first, but Australians have been great.”
Sand & Sky now has 12 retailers, including Harvey Nichols, ASOS, Cultbeauty.co.uk and online.
While they took their time creating and launching the first two products, it’s all guns blazing from here.
“We’ve got 14 products in development. Before it was one at a time now we want to be able to launch products faster, about five to seven a year,” Sarah said.
Their advice to people considering launching their own business? Do it.
“Create a plan but don’t put it off for the next two years. Have a goal with a deadline, and say to yourself ‘I’m going to do this’,” Emily said.
“A lot of people scare themselves out of it and find reasons why not. Until you do it you’ll never know.”
Both also point to getting experience in companies where you want to build your own business or a start up where you’ll get 10 years experience in one or two.
“Saving up to money and and having some safeguard is also very important, it’s a lot more difficult if you are going in with no money.”
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Despite concerns that mixing family and business can be tricky, both say that working so closely together is actually their “secret weapon”.
“We have different backgrounds and experience, which are ultimately very complementary. We know each other perfectly and know how to work well together,” Emily said.
“We are also a bit competitive which pushes us to always give 200 per cent whenever we work on a project together.”
With five children between them – Sarah has three and Emily two – finding a balance between work and family can be tricky.
“It’s hard to balance, you can’t listen to what others say and you’ve got to do what makes you happy,” Sarah told Mamamia.
“I make sure my fiance Jamie does 50 per cent and is a supportive partner. I enjoy work, love the challenge and it makes me a better parent.”
“Structure and routine is important. You need quality time with your kids. I love my job and wouldn’t give that up so sharing the load with my husband and being in it together,” she said.
“If it is busy or too stressful, stop and compromise to find a solution.”
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