How I Started a Successful New
Acne Treatment Skincare Brand
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Rachael Tyers and I am the founder of tbh Skincare. I founded this Australian skincare startup in partnership with a leading medical R&D company. Our aim was to bring a completely new patented acne treatment into the direct-to-consumer market.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I struggled with acne for over 7 years. I switched between antibiotics, the contraceptive pill and prescription topical treatments throughout. While working within the medical devices industry, I was introduced to what is now the tbh acne hack cream.
I used the product to clear my own breakouts that I was suffering with at the time. After having the product work for myself, I was inspired to get it to those who needed it most. Having suffered from acne, I understand that it is just as much a mental battle as a physical one. Over the years, it had such an impact on my self-confidence. I wanted to create a brand that respected the sensitivities around acne and truly related to the end customer. As a digital marketer, this was pretty much my dream job, so I jumped at the opportunity.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
I would say one of our biggest challenges in the lead up to our launch would be predicting lead times. We were working across the Chinese New Year, which impacted a lot of our packaging lead times. This, of course, had an effect upon the manufacturing lead times, as until we had the packaging tested through the manufacturing process, we weren’t able to begin production. When you are doing everything for the first time, it is tough to navigate the logistics and predict some of the delays you may experience.
Another challenge we encountered was the physical storage of our stock. We planned to start off as an at-home business and keep the stock at a residential property. As soon as we got our first batch delivered, we realised this was probably naive of us! We eventually hired a storage facility and a few weeks later received a huge delivery with all of our outer packaging. This literally filled the entire storeroom and had to be forklifted off the side of a truck. I think that is when we truly realised just how much room we really needed!
Who is your target market?
tbh aims to resonate with a young female audience. Our brand is focused on self-empowerment and self-care, so appeals to the independent modern-day young woman!
We’re a fun brand, but we’re serious about the stuff that matters. We want our audience to feel like they are the best versions of themselves, and if our product can help enable young people to go forth and be the most confident versions of themselves, then we have done our job! In that way, I almost feel like we are in the wellness space more than the beauty space… I think skincare is self-care, and it is about feeling good rather than fitting a specific “image”!
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
Social media is tbh’s primary platform for finding and attracting new customers. We use influencer marketing as well as paid advertisements to introduce customers to tbh. Our organic content is also a key part of initially attracting customers to tbh’s brand and product offering.
Following on from this, tbh. focuses on the nurture and retention of high-value customers. Our marketing is underpinned by technical platforms or as it is commonly referred to, its ‘MARTECH‘ stack. This means that once our customers are introduced to our offering, we have technical platforms in place to ensure a high-quality customer experience.
Our website is hosted on Shopify and is integrated with a variety of platforms that underpin our marketing. For example, our Facebook Pixels, review platform, email marketing, rewards and referrals program. This is key to tbh nurturing and retaining its highest value customers, as well as broadening its customer base through referrals programs.
These platforms allow for a personalised customer experience that drives loyalty, whilst giving us the relevant data that we need to optimise for future campaigns. The shorter this feedback loop the better, because it allows us to become more and more targeted in our approach to marketing with increased accuracy and visibility to what our customer wants.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
I am a huge believer in a product or service “selling itself”. If a product works, you are guaranteed to generate word of mouth referrals. In my opinion, this is the highest value of marketing you can achieve. There are ways to enhance your ‘word of mouth’ marketing, and for tbh it is through our review and referrals platform.
After customers have time to trial the product, they are asked to review it on our website. This provides an opportunity for us to engage directly with our customers after the purchase. It also allows prospects to hear, directly from the customer, on whether they would recommend the product or not. Research shows that customer to customer recommendation is one of the most effective pieces of marketing you can get.
Additionally, the referrals program provides an opportunity for loyal customers to be rewarded for referring the product to others. This not only drives customer loyalty but is also a key source of bringing in high value leads. This is how we work to increase a customer’s lifetime value at tbh.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
We are in such early days, so haven’t had the pleasure of building a team yet. There are only two of us that work day to day in the business. This is one of the elements of building a company that I am most excited for. There is so much to be said for establishing a great work culture, and I think would be one of the most rewarding parts of establishing a small business.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
Our entire business is underpinned by software, as I mentioned before. Our website is hosted on Shopify, which is an absolute dream to integrate all of our third party apps with. Shopify is integrated with our accounting system, Xero, our shipment software,Shippit, our reviews platform, Stampd, our referrals and rewards platform, Smile, our email marketing platform, Klaviyo, our Google Analytics and Search Console accounts, as well as our payment gateways (Afterpay, PayPal etc.).
On top of that we work on Adobe Creative Cloud to create a lot of our graphic design and videography content, and also have a Canva account for quick social media content creation and presentation templates etc. All of these platforms are critical to the successful operation of our business!
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
One of the biggest things I learned from starting a business from scratch is ‘size is money’. The bigger your product, the more your freight will be, the higher your outer packaging costs, and ultimately the more expensive your postage will be. You would be surprised how a few cms will impact the cost of your postage per package when it comes time to sell!
The other thing that I have learned is to always get samples first before committing to an entire production run. If you are coordinating with overseas manufacturers, it is a good idea to either get a prototype made in your home country first so that the manufacturer has an end product to work to, or pay for a sample run to ensure you are happy with the size, colour, quality etc. of the product. This may cost you more upfront, but the risk of getting it wrong could be much more expensive in the long run!
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
There are many, but I think the best thing is that if you have the courage and commitment to think big and go for it, you can really be in charge of your career and the impact you are able to make! The other thing I love is being able to learn so much on a day to day basis. You really have no other option but to teach yourself how to do things a lot of the time, and although that can feel overwhelming , what you learn along the way is invaluable.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
It can be lonely sometimes! At the moment we have only just launched, so we haven’t really had much time to scale yet. We don’t have a team, so a lot of the time you have to create entire campaigns yourself from start to finish, and when you don’t have a team to bounce ideas off you can lose energy and momentum pretty quickly.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
I love to read books on marketing strategy and general business strategy. Prior to the creation of tbh I read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, The One Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib and Thirty Essentials: Strategy by Andrew Laurie.
These books really helped me to lay out the foundation for tbh and create a vision. In particular, The Lean Startup really reminded me to focus on key activities that would have meaningful impact on the success of the business, and ensured I was validating the assumptions I had based the concept of tbh on.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I see the business with a team of creative and inspired minds behind it. I would love to build a dynamic team behind the brand to grow and expand it. It would also be great to explore international markets. This would broaden our reach and expand our offering to continue to create a perfectly tailored product line to our core customers’ key needs.