From working the grill at Maccas to running a beauty subscription business with a 15-strong team, Sarah Hamilton shares her highs, lows and biggest lessons in business.
- Industry: Beauty
- Number of employees: Around 15 office staff members
- Operating since: 2011
What was your first paid job?
I worked two jobs, every Sunday morning at a local Geelong bakery, then on the grill at McDonald’s! It was all about buying a new Miss Shop dress from Myer for that weekend’s festivities.
What made you get into your current business?
I was living in New York and my sister was living in Singapore. Subscription boxes were just starting out and we saw a gap in the beauty market in Australia and Singapore, so we set out to create and launch bellabox within five months.
How did you get your very first customer?
Social media was our best tool. The Australian beauty industry was already aware of subscription boxes overseas, and now there was one for Aussie beauty enthusiasts, too, so it happened quite organically for us online.
What has been your biggest triumph in business?
Running a successful business and still making it home in time to switch off from my day and give my kids my full attention. There’s nothing more rewarding than a great day in the office and walking out of the door on time so that I can spend time with my family.
Conversely, what has been your biggest mistake?
Not listening to my instincts more in the early stages. We took a lot of advice from other entrepreneurs, which ended up being a help and a hindrance. While the advice might have worked for other businesses, I do wish we made more decisions based on our own experience and logic.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
Inspiring others. I love that I am a business owner and my own boss, but I love the thought of inspiring and encouraging others to work to the best of their abilities and seeing where their enthusiasm and drive can take them.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Listen to your gut: only you know your business inside out, and only you can make some of those hard decisions.
Who do you look up to in business and why?
My family – we’re all entrepreneurs! I grew up learning that salary and figures should never be the end goal; we were encouraged to generate business, and success would follow. Now all of my siblings are very successful in their own rights, and I always look to up to them for inspiration or to bounce ideas off them.
What do you do to get away from work?
Spending time with my three kids and my partner is the best way to distract me from work. It’s so important to me that I have a healthy work-life balance, which was definitely a driving force behind our latest Welcome To Wellness subscription box.
Name a little-known fact about yourself.
I’m crazy about Roger Federer (most people know that after chatting with me once!) I just need to make it to Roland Garos to complete my grand slam of seeing him play! My friends laugh at the thought of me being upset when he loses…
What is the funniest thing you have come across in business?
After living in New York for four years, I was pretty impatient and was used to the fast pace of life and especially in a work sense people/companies jump at the opportunity for more business. But when I moved back to Australia to start bellabox, my same impatience didn’t yield results.
We had an event on and I needed a courier on a Tuesday at 4pm to get bellaboxes to an event; when I called “rapid couriers”, they told me that it was 4pm and everyone went home.
Safe to say I was pretty annoyed, but the team were roaring with laughter once they heard me pointing out that their company name was a little ironic given not being able to service my rapid request…
If you could change one thing to make life easier as a business owner, what would it be and why?
Red tape in Australia. I totally understand why the laws exist, but it is almost as if they are drafted for government agencies only. The cost and resources required for implementation are quite hard for a young business to take on board.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.