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More than skin deep


“Time and time again they would say ‘you are just a mum with a hobby’.” – Bec Connolly


A smiling woman stands with a garden in the background


Bec Connolly became used to beauty industry experts telling her the skin care range she was launching would go nowhere. 


“Time and time again they would say ‘you are just a mum with a hobby’,” she says, before adding “but that just added fuel to my fire”. 


The first product from her company Botanicals by Luxe was a modest 200 units of skin hydrating hyaluronic serum. 

“When we first launched, I didn’t have a website, only Instagram direct messaging. The 200 units sold out in 12 hours,” she says. “Which was $10,000.” Bec realised she was onto something. 


But she had no idea how fast it would grow. 


Bec’s first big goal was to make a million dollars in five years. That figure was reached in 15 months. The company – which is still run from Bec’s home in Newtown, Geelong – will be four years old at the end of April. 


“It started as a way to help pay the supermarket bills and has turned into a seven-figure business run from the spare bedroom,” she says.


Beauty spots


Bec was born in Warrnambool and as an adult moved to Lorne to work at a day spa and earn her skin therapist apprenticeship.  She then moved to Geelong and worked at a spa for a few years before starting her own salon from the front of her home she shared with her husband Nato and two young sons. 


With a growing family Bec decided to give her idea of a skin care range a shot.  It wasn’t a total leap in the dark: she had studied cosmetic chemistry and understood how ingredients work with skin and what makes them skin safe and effective.


She wanted to make a product that was natural but still active, a "science meets nature" approach.


After many rejections from suppliers, Bec found a Victorian manufacturer who makes the special mixtures she had developed with a cosmetic scientist. 



Skin in the game


She still markets predominantly over Instagram, with the business making 88 per cent of sales through social media. Bec attributes the success of her early products to having been in the industry for a while and having trusting relationships with customers. 


“I didn’t have too much of a strategy,” she says. “On Instagram I didn’t tell people what was coming but they knew something was on its way.” 


The Botanicals by Luxe range has 19 products including cleansers, exfoliants, masks and boosters, moisturises and eye products.  


Despite its hardships, Bec found the challenges of COVID lockdowns offered her an opportunity to better engage clients. 


For example, her Instagram profile became a destination for people stuck at home and looking to research skin care products. Now with 32,000 Instagram followers, Bec has been surprised by her growing social media prominence. 


“I’m not a classical Instagram girl. Like a lot of small businesses, I just had an idea and went with the flow,” she says.


“But the business went bananas when COVID happened. With people not being able to go out they wanted to treat themselves.” 

An important part of maintaining trust with customers is a weekly Q&A session on Instagram. 


“I was getting slammed in direct messages, I was getting 200 a day.  I thought ‘I will try to condense this down’. So, I put up a question box and I would answer the most common queries,” Bec explains.  


“It is about trust – it is a relationship.” 


Of course COVID wasn’t plain sailing. Like many Bec had to balance home schooling her young boys – now five and seven – while also running her million-dollar business. 


Now she’s not resting on past achievements.  Botanicals by Luxe recently launched a line for teens, a market not in the original plan. “(But) we have had so much interest from mothers and fathers who use the range. It is going really well.” 


There are two more products to be released this year, one of which is a moisturiser with sunscreen, now undergoing clinical testing. “We are hoping to launch by spring,” Bec says.


Keep it simple


With the business growing, Bec is thankful for the backing of ANZ and her Geelong accountant for helping her with a plan to set up the business on a sound footing. 


“I’m self-funded – I saved up money and never had a credit card,” she says.  “ANZ has never been pushy, I liked that.” 


Like many entrepreneurs, Bec says an important aspect to staying focussed as the business evolved was staying true to herself. 

“There is a lot of pressure to stay fresh and keep up with things. But I also like to keep things simple. I try to surround myself with like-minded people,” she says.


And she particularly likes demystifying the skin care process for customers. 


“Big companies will try to sell customers a morning cream, a night cream. It is all the same stuff, it doesn’t have to be that hard and complicated.” 


The human side of helping people is what ultimately keeps Bec motivated. 


“I think the important thing for me is when people reach out and say ‘you have actually changed my life’. That is why I am doing it."


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