Five years ago, Emily Hamilton and her team at Supernova decided to approach the wellness and fitness industry from a completely new perspective. Rather than find a niche product or service, they would devise an entirely new approach to how products are created and sold. Since then Supernova has launched four incredibly successful beauty and wellness brands including Bali inspired coconut hair masque Coco & Eve and fitness and nutrition brand BodyBoss. And in doing so the business has forged millions of connections with customers from across the globe.
The company’s 360-degree process starts with product ideation and development, continues to branding and packaging, social media marketing and e-commerce and ends with shipping and customer service. Crucially, Supernova owns and controls nearly all of these steps from its five offices around the globe, including its headquarters in Singapore. And the results across the company’s four brands are staggering – shipping to 151 countries, amassing 70 million video views across social media, 46,000 website visits per day, and 1.4 million Facebook followers.
With a further 100 new products in development, Hamilton has ambitions to expand the social e-commerce company, with niche brands that stand out in an increasingly competitive market.
Here, the Australian entrepreneur lets Welltodo in on her secrets to branding, owning the whole value chain and the key to scaling quickly………..
On brand differentiation……..
For example, Sand & Sky is an Australian skincare brand and all the ingredients are sourced from Australia. BodyBoss is a fitness program we created with fitness professionals in Singapore and LA. Each brand has its origin story and we have manufacturing partners all around the world depending on the brand story of where we make it.
While there is a similar formula to each brand, it’s really only the backend that unites them — what powers the websites, warehousing, customer service, finance, and HR. But the customer should find them different. They don’t know they belong together, so it is challenging.
On owning the whole value chain……..
We started working on the concept five years ago and we were trying to figure out how to do e-commerce in a profitable way. I had launched Bellabox with my sister in 2011 but it took us a long time to be profitable and the margin was small.
So, with this new venture, we realised you need to own your brand, you need to own your own products, you need to own the whole value chain. We don’t manufacture our products, but we create the brands and the products and sell them on our website direct to the consumer. There is no one between the consumer and us and we own the entire journey.
Skinny Mint was our first brand – it is a detox tea program. We knew that it had to taste good and it had to be effective and so we created our own formula. I think owning your own formula and owning something unique is really important so that you can tell that full story.
On disruption in the wellness industry……..
Today, if you are going to launch a new brand you have to be unique and disruptive. We don’t do much traditional retail – it’s nearly all online and on social media.
We use social media in a unique way – no polished images. We use real content that we film ourselves or source from influencers who are regular people. People connect with how the product is used and how it can be applied to their own lives.
With social media you can launch a brand within a few hours – you don’t have to go through a retailer. With our brand Sand & Sky we reached out to all the retailers when we first launched and got no answers. But now, we are launching with Sephora US because we focused on social media and they found us. We could have wasted years trying to get into a retailer. If you just focus on social media you can immediately connect with customers.
Think about how can you disrupt. ‘Disrupt’ is used a lot, and I didn’t want to use it for so long. But, if you say to yourself ‘how am I going to disrupt what’s out there?’ it makes you strive to be unique and do things differently. That is a high aspiration, but I think that’s really important.
On brand positioning and protection……..
Over time, we have realised that you have to build a really strong brand and a unique identity because there are a lot of people who will try and copy your ideas.
Building global brands is our newest goal. There is so much more strategic thinking and positioning in that than we’d realised. If we’re going to build a long-term sustainable brand that is successful, then we’ve got a lot of work to do.
On navigating the startup landscape……..
Getting the right manufacturing partner is a real challenge. There are a lot of great companies in the industry, but there are also a lot of not-so-great companies as well.
The other challenge is getting great employees that want to go through the good times and the bad times. There is a misconception in the startup world that you grow fast and it’s all amazing, but there are a lot of tough times — that’s where the learning comes in. We have ninety employees now and staffing is always a challenge.
On scaling quickly……..
Our products are quite simple, and we’ve been able to scale quickly because we have five warehouses around the world. We knew from the beginning that we were global, so we were able to scale up because that was the set up from the beginning.
We have five offices around the world – India, Australia, UK, Singapore and now the US. The US is our biggest market, but Singapore is where our headquarters are because we live here and it is a really great place to do business.
On thinking big……..
We have got 100 new products in development – literally 100. We are coming up with amazing new products and building really strong unique brands. We will grow our online presence and also grow our retail presence. There’s no point thinking small when there is so much opportunity out there.
Emily Hamilton will be joining the Welltodo Founder Series – Asia on 24th October to share her industry insights, business strategies and advice from challenges she’s faced along the way, get your tickets here.