Inspirational Women: Fleur Madden
Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Tell us about your role? What is it? What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am the CEO of Lulu and Lipstick, an online beauty company that sells exclusive and hard to find beauty brands from the US and the UK. As well as this, I am also the CEO of The Red Republic, a consumer PR agency in Sydney and Brisbane and Design by Republic a boutique graphic design studio.
How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?
I have spent the last 14 years of my career building brands for my clients through The Red Republic. I love building communities; brand experiences and seeing brands evolve. I have always had a passion for beauty and indeed over the years we have launched many beauty brands into market. I was living in NYC in 2012 and when I returned to Australia, many of my new favourite brands were no longer available to me or anyone else in Australia, which is when Lulu and Lipstick was born. I believe in the power of online and I am excited to see where Lulu goes. I have a passion for beauty and building brands, so hopefully this is just the start of a wonderful journey.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I definitely look at international trends in business and other brands that set the benchmark, I always have. I make sure my circle of influence is not just Australia and my competitors. Competition is good and it is healthy, but I absolutely do not spend my time watching my competitors. If you have a good product and you continue to evolve, you will continue to grow, so I don’t look over my shoulder. I also love watching different entrepreneurial businesses in niche industries doing some super creative campaigns that push the boundaries, while staying true to their values. That inspires me for my businesses to do the same. DryBar in the US, a chain of highend blow dry bars, is my current favourite brand and I love everything they do. It is authentic and their branding is always impeccable, clever and it is rolled out through every aspect of the customer experience! There’s the line and they live above it. I definitely want Lulu to be known for that in time.
Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?
My Father has always been my mentor for any of my businesses. He is a very successful entrepreneur with a global business and he is my sounding board. He bought me my first computer and printer when I started The Red Republic and he recently helped enormously on the IT side of launching Lulu and Lipstick.
I also do look up to other women in business and follow their journeys from a distance, such as Sara Blakely from Spanx.
What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?
I have been in business 11 years and every stage of your career as a business owner has different challenges. When I first started The Red Republic it was learning how to run a business when I was previously a journalist. Now at Lulu and Lipstick it is learning to work with IT people and becoming an expert at importing in a week. All of my businesses have been self funded, which has its’ own set of challenges. It is always my backside on the line and there is always a lot of pressure on myself to achieve success, quickly!
How did you overcome these?
Knowledge, experience, time and employing talented people that helped me to grow. Make sure you take yourself out of your comfort zone, so you can take things to the next level. As they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
What are your goals for the future?
Lulu and Lipstick only launched in September of last year, so we have big goals for our growth and where we want to be. We certainly hope we become known for being an exclusive online destination for unique beauty brands. Our Lulu and Lipstick signature 12 piece makeup brush set is divine and also a best seller and we are looking to expand our own range in the next 6 months also. We are also looking to launch internationally. Watch this space.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
Don’t take it personally. Don’t expect success to happen overnight, the journey of a business owner is a long one. Employ the best people you can. People who share your vision and have passion – you can’t teach passion. Back yourself every day, because if you don’t no one else will.