DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO CONVERT YOUR IDEA INTO A BUSINESS?
Why? Because the time is now.
Today’s business environment rewards the brave and creative. Thanks to multiple digital platforms, small business ideas no longer need huge advertising and PR budgets to gain momentum and a cult following.
Bondi Wash embodies the notion that powerful ideas can be quickly transformed into successful brands and businesses with global appeal. Since debuting in November 2013, the brand has enjoyed overnight success. In 14 short months it has evolved from a fledgling local to an international player, featured in major lifestyle publications and has a range of stockists in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Canada.
Bondi Wash launched with a core range of hand, body and household washing products. Today, with a strong and diverse product pipeline, the future looks bright.
Belinda Everingham is the passionate, clever and courageous Australian entrepreneur behind the brand. I spoke with at her local café in Bondi in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs to gain insight into the success behind Bondi Wash.
“Nowadays starting with a good product is key and word of mouth can help it spread very quickly, which is what partially happened with Bondi Wash. It’s really interesting and I don’t really know why it’s gone as well as it has so quickly but I have a theory”
Read on if you want to learn more.
DO YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO FOLLOW THROUGH?
Because that’s what it takes.
The idea for Bondi Wash was brewing for five years and gained a real impetus from a desire to swap a 20-year career as a strategic business advisor for something more creative. Like many great ideas, it originally stemmed from personal frustration. Tiring of commercial cleaning products and the nasty side effects, Belinda was convinced of the need for a natural alternative.
But inspiration came in many different forms; insight into the power of scent while reading Patrick Suskind’s book Perfume, time spent amongst Australian Native plants whilst on a family holiday in the rainforests of North Queensland and a chance encounter with a friend cleaning with eucalyptus oil all helped to spark and ultimately shape the idea for Bondi Wash.
With her youngest starting school, the timing was right. Belinda finally had the space to create.
The idea for Bondi Wash was authentic. The vision bold.
Belinda wanted to showcase the unknown, untapped antibacterial and other wonderful properties and fragrances of native Australian botanicals. All the while delivering a range of beautifully designed and scented natural washing-related products. She saw and still sees an opportunity for putting Australian botanicals on the map.
But it was steep learning curve and a huge career adjustment from her role as business advisor.
Belinda was forced to venture into unfamiliar territory. Despite an obvious lack of expertise, she was determined to make it happen.
Bondi Wash was 18 months in product development. Belinda immersed herself in the entire process, dedicating her time to researching, testing, trailing, and studying the art of developing fragrances.
“If I was going to sell it then I needed to understand what was in it”
And all of this from her kitchen in Bondi juggling the responsibilities of caring for a young family.
SO WHAT’S THE SECRET TO GETTING AIRBORNE?
It’s simple. Courage and fearlessness to break rules along the way.
Belinda wasn’t compelled by the need to follow a conventional marketing launch plan. In fact despite being counseled against it, Bondi Wash launched with products across several different categories. And like many other small businesses there was no marketing plan or PR budget.
When quizzed by friends as to how she was planning to market the product – Belinda didn’t have an answer.
But the philosophy behind Bondi Wash remains simple: create a product that comes from a place of integrity. Create something that people will love and they will come.
And, boy, have they have come; in droves and in the form of followers, customers, advocates, designers, magazine editors, stylists, stockists and international distributors.
“For example Vogue asking me for product images before the brand had launched was pretty incredible. When I got that phone call, I didn’t believe it would happen until it did and it took about six months before the bottles actually appeared. But that’s an example of the sort of wins that I have had and they just kept coming, House & Garden Magazine, GQ, Inside Out, Marie Claire all approached me. There has been virtually no PR.”
Belinda attributes her success to serendipity. No doubt it has been a factor but it doesn’t explain the success of Bondi Wash.
The truth is, Bondi Wash started from a place of authenticity.
Brands that are authentic are magnetic. People can’t resist them. In doing so, Belinda has been able to create a local brand and a product worthy of a fan base.
And fans are powerful. They are your tribe, your brand advocates. They talk enthusiastically about something they love and believe in.
They galvanize behind your idea and spread the word. Bondi Wash has no shortage of them.
“It feels like an enormous amount of serendipity… for example meeting the stylist Jason Grant. My kids got me onto Instagram and I posted some pictures of Bondi Wash sample bottles. They were the first ones I did myself, with my graphic designers and Jason commented on them. That sent me into a bit of a tailspin. This was about March – very early on. I had no contact with him again until I hired a website designer who happened to be working with a Website Design/PR agency who was great friends with Jason. So he came and did the styling for the photo shoot and so that has been very productive relationship. He has been very supportive and made a big difference in terms of getting the brand known in a very short space of time”
As the brand grows so does a curiosity to learn about the person that created it. This has taken Belinda by surprise.
Reflecting on our conversation, I’m a little clearer now on why people want to know more…like anything with a loyal tribe of fans there is an inherent desire to connect with the human story behind it.
DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO CREATE PRODUCTS WORTHY OF FANS?
Creativity and imagination for a start.
It’s well known that best innovation happens across disciplines. Bondi Wash is no exception. It is a product and brand that straddles disciplines. It combines the art of fragrance, great design and the powerful properties of nature and science. The elegant packaging design, natural antibacterial properties and stunning fragrances position it in a unique and premium space.
“Bringing all of that into the one package I think is what people really like – why people have embraced the brand in a really theoretical sense”
Perhaps the most potent weapon in Bondi Wash’s arsenal is Belinda’s ability to work with natural botanicals to create unique fragrances. Maybe it’s one of the reasons why people keep coming back. Is it that Bondi Wash brings the pleasure of fragrance to an otherwise mundane task?
But it also takes vision.
The desire for an authentic product made with integrity has also kept Belinda focused on her vision for Bondi Wash.
It forces her to think strategically. No matter what the decision.
From carefully selecting the right stockists, partnering with the best designers, suppliers and experts, down to the quality of ingredients used. Even the percentage of active ingredients or the style of hand pumps chosen all evidence Belinda’s unwavering desires to uphold the integrity of Bondi Wash.
Make no mistake the competition is fierce. The challenges are great. But these only serve to strengthen Belinda’s resolve for Bondi Wash to be the real deal.
Lastly I asked Belinda to share some advice and tips on what she believes it takes to get ‘airborne’ – here are her words of wisdom.
“Involve others early on in the process, people who are experts in their field because they can get where you want to go”
“Trust your intuition, it’s always right”
“Have a passion for what you want to do”
“Make sure you are in the right headspace before you start. It’s all consuming and if you aren’t in the right frame of mind it won’t work”
So don’t you dare give up! Find your idea and create it for your tribe. They will come.
I’d love to get a conversation started. Let me know what you think – post in the comments below and subscribe for more great stories.