Inspirational Women: Sarah Hamilton
Each week SHE‘SAID’ features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chose 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.
Name and role:
Sarah Hamilton, co-founder of BellaBox.
Tell us about your role. What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I run BellaBox with my sister but we continue to reach these different levels where we test our difference facets as a business. A beauty box business is very glamourous from the outside and it’s very much about getting product in a box. But when you dig a little bit deeper, it’s a large amount of customer service, logistics and delivering a great marketing and sales campaign for the brand. Ensuring the brands get research reports with additional feedback. My day-to-day is literally trying to be more strategic about how we deal with all of these elements. The great thing is that I feel that we are really on the cusp of actually being more strategic, and we’ve actually got the resources in place. This includes key staff members who can start to take care of the day-to-day workload.
How/when did you know this is what you wanted to do as a career?
My sister and I both had successful careers in our chosen fields and but our family is very entrepreneurial, so when we started Bella Box we laughed that not one of us was on a wage (there’s six of us in the family). Instead, we have all gone out and taken big risks to run our own business. I feel like as I grew up through companies where I evolved in positions and strategies, you always feel like you’re ready to take the next step. The thought was always in the background, but Emily came to me with this idea in May 2011, and from there it was full-steam ahead to launch – which we did in October 2011.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I feel like it is everywhere! I’m one of those people that enjoy getting outside because it’s a new day and I think of all the new things I can conquer. There are a lot of people such as my parents who also have their own business and I find that inspiring. Also my friends through their different career choices, and I also think that’s inspiring. But I also think it’s up to you who makes the decision to run your own business and also take that big risk. So you’re also inspired by the employees that you have around you as well, who are also very excited and can be very innovative with the day-to-day life at BellaBox.
Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?
Our parents were really involved in our career, but it’s interesting because I started in accounting but I never actually worked for an accounting firm. But that was more through finding very cool companies and then working for them. I don’t think I’ve ever really had a mentor, but I do talk to my close girlfriends about work a bit, so I supposed they mentor me! But in terms of a set-mentor, I haven’t got one.
What were the stumbling blocks initially getting started on your career path, and since then?
Again it’s a big multifaceted organisation so there is a lot to learn along the way. We needed to learn about logistics, contacts within the brands and how to approach brands to convince them that this is a great concept. There was no thought that we would ever fail – it just felt like there were new challenges every day. There was nothing seamless in our business; it was all about breaking new ground. It was a stellar concept that globally was booming but in Australia especially it hadn’t been. So you’re starting up from scratch, especially when you’re bringing brands on board to sell. Plus I had never worked in a sales role before. With BellaBox, we’re just learning about every facet of the company and trying to improve, which we saw as challenges and we always try and improve for our brands and members. Some people might call them stumbling blocks along the way, but for us it’s an occasion to see how much more we can improve.
How did you overcome these?
Just challenging ourselves to learn more about it! I feel like I know so much about logistics, customer service and social media engagement so it’s more about not being satisfied with the status quo. Then really questioning how you could improve – and you get very good at anticipating what could go wrong, and becoming quite cynical. It is such a forward facing company and if you get it wrong; your customers will let you know.
What are your goals for the future?
At BellaBox we’ve had great success to date, but we see a huge amount of growth potential. We like the idea of new markets, and would always launch conservatively into those markets. Then we are always talking about new ideas so the business will continue to expand but we are still very focused on the process of BellaBox which is our highlight right now. Every two weeks BellaBox brings up something new, so I do find it personally hard since there is no five year plan. We want to remain agile and adapt to changing market conditions, and how we have been able to operate thus far doing it. So we’re really taking advantage of the oppourtunities coming our way. The goals are just to keep growing a successful business, and always improve for the brands and the members.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
I always say to people now if they want to get involved in a start-up business, get a CEO on board as a co-founder. There is a lot of day-to-day help that would have been good for us. I received some really valuable advice recently and I’m totally appreciating it now. I think sometimes when you begin a start-up (and we’ve had great people on our team, so this is more in hindsight), it’s sometimes really good to bite the bullet and hire someone senior and pay for them. Recently one of our investors started another company and they hired a general manager to be involved, which would also help very much with the day-to-day. BellaBox is very multifaceted and we’ve always had to hire quickly and in the right areas, but in hindsight I would hire more senior staff earlier on.