Aussie Biz Chic is an Australian based, monthly subscription box business that broke onto the scene early in 2020. They make it easier for female entrepreneurs to get access to valuable resources that could help them grow their businesses. Instead of you having to use up your precious time looking for answers, they'll do that for you, then deliver it straight to your door.
The way that they plan and manage their boxes means they are able to support small Australian businesses each month that supply the boxes. Their aim is to build a community that is willing to support each other.
Michelle Smith is the brains behind the idea and cofounder. She loves the work from home life, Disney, fitness and being her own boss. Michelle comes from a digital marketing background and loves to create videos. Her partner in life and business Luke Clowes is the other Co-Founder. A footy lover and movie buff. Luke comes from an accounting background but has found a new interest within the e-commerce space.
In this episode we talk about:
make sure you check out all her details and connect on her socials!
Hey, hey, welcome back to the podcast. It is awesome to have you here. You know, I love a good founding story, you know, somebody who just comes up with an idea, and just makes it happen. And that is what I've got for you today. I am super excited to be talking with Michelle Smith, the one half of Ozzy beach chick, which is an Australian based monthly subscription box business that broke onto the scene early in 2020. Yes, in the middle of a pandemic, they make it easier for female entrepreneurs to get access to valuable resources that could help them grow their businesses. So instead of you having to use up your precious time looking for answers, they'll do that for you then deliver it straight to your door. And the way that they plan to manage their boxes means that they are able to support small Australian businesses each month that supply their boxes as well. And their aim is to build a community that is willing to support each other. I'm super excited that play big brand bold is going to be in their December box. And I love what they're doing. So today I've got Michelle Smith on the podcast. She is the brains behind the idea and co founder, she loves the work from home life Disney fitness and being her own boss. Michelle comes from a digital marketing background and loves to create videos as well. Definitely check them out on Insta, she does love a good real and it's so great to see all the behind the scenes of how she's grown her business as well. And her partner in life and business. Luke Claus is the other co founder. He's a funny lover, a movie buff. And Luca comes from an accounting background, but has found a new interest within the E commerce space. So I loved this chat and a bit of an insight into how Michelle jumped into an industry in a niche that hasn't really taken off massively in Australia as much as it has in the US, and definitely not in the entrepreneurial space. So she is one of the first people in Australia to be doing it in this niche. And we talk a little bit about how she started, how she's going and how she's growing. Michelle, welcome to the brand builders lab podcast.
Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.
I know I'm really excited to have you on as well. I was just saying. And we'll talk a little bit about this is that I saw Denise Duffield Thomas's book and I and I don't think I knew your business at the time. And I was like, What is this? And then when I saw it, and we're talking all about what you do and your business, but it's amazing subscription box for entrepreneurs. And I saw her book and I thought I want to get my book in there too. So that's how we connected and I've been following you ever since. And so for my listeners, I've done a little bit of an intro. But how did you get to where you are? And before we do that? Tell me exactly what is Ozzie biz shake.
Yes, so were a subscription box for female entrepreneurs in Australia. So we include a book in the box each month, as well as some fun stationery items to keep you motivated. But the book is definitely the main part. So you can get some learning on how to grow your business, whether it be mindset, marketing, and then we also have a private Facebook group and an online learning hub as well with digital resources from amazing people that you can access as well. So it's like a cute little membership. But you also get a box as well, which makes it really fun. But so
And so why did you or when did you come up with this idea?
Yeah, so I came up with the idea way back in the height of the pandemic last year around February. And, you know, I was already in that mindset of I really don't want to be in my corporate job anymore. And I kind of just saw this article around some boxes and how you know, they're really huge in the US and UK. And they're only starting to kind of get popular down here in Australia and the pandemic definitely kind of brought that forward with the subscription box. And then I kind of just thought what would I like to have as a sub boss I'm a huge reader. I absolutely have a Maybe unhealthy obsession with stationary. And I love that. As a boxer, I kind of did that market research. But also, the idea was I wanted something that was rewarding for myself that I could help people. And that's how kind of the idea came about. And yet it's been in six months, I was able to quit my corporate role. We're at 500. Members now in just a year. So it's been a whirlwind of a journey.
Well, first of all, congratulations, because that is always so exciting. Yeah. What were you doing before this?
So I was a digital marketer and campaign manager at this huge technology, b2b company. And I made I actually really liked it, like, I loved the people, but it just wasn't kind of the space I wanted to be. I mean, I don't know if anybody else has been in corporate, but
you know, everybody's meaning. You have to work till like, I mean, they expect you to work till like 10 o'clock on times and stuff like that. And I remember though rewarding people for working like after hours going, Oh, this girl, she's done. So amazing. I'm getting emails from her at 10pm. And I'm like, Oh, my goodness, I don't want this to be my life. And I just needed that freedom as well. But yeah, I did come from a marketing background.
Amazing. And so when you kind of saw this as a gap in the market or an opportunity, because I think when I saw it, I was like, I don't think I've seen a subscription box like this before. And so when you were doing your research, I mean, I know that there's wellness boxes and makeup boxes and all of that. What did you find?
Hmm, well, there's actually, you know, it's so new that not many people have it niched down, so they're very mass market at the moment. And so I didn't actually know there was this huge female entrepreneur, space, right till I like form got into it myself. And I myself was looking up how to start a business and I found all these podcasts. And people like you, right, this whole female entrepreneur space. And I was just like, I reckon there's so many amazing books out there that, you know, I love to read, but it's really hard to go and booktopia go, which one do I read? Can I just make it easier for myself and get that delivered to me? So I kind of solved that problem in a way in that space. And I thought, I'm just gonna run with it, and see how it goes.
And so talk us through how you started up. So your part is that your partner or is it a friend or
he's my partner,
your partner? I wasn't sure. Say he's like the co founder or your ops manager as well. I've been communicating with his lovely. And so what did that conversation sound like when you were talking to him? Because did he quit his job? Or is he still in a job?
Oh, my goodness. He's literally today. In his resignation letter today, he was just texting your boys. I just done it. And I'm like, Oh, my God. Okay, I'll have to call you later.
Yes, he's just quit two days. So that's insane. But uh, ya know, he was like, in the same mindset as me like, Yeah, I like that idea of starting a business. And I was just like, can we please do this idea. And I obviously like he likes to be behind the scenes. And I like to, you know, I wanted to build my personal brand to and I just knew on Instagram, when I looked at that theme entrepreneur space, like people like seeing the behind the scenes, the face of the business. So it was kind of just like, obvious choice to kind of go with this idea. Yeah. And he was all for it. He's so supportive. And he's just, he's worked just as hard on this business with me.
Yeah, that's amazing. And so how did you start out like, how did you decide on what was going to be in the boxes? What about costings, connecting collaborating? Like what was the process that you went through?
You know what the first thing I did, I didn't even have a product like originally, I was like, maybe I'll just do books each month. And like only a little bit of stationery, not like this huge box. But I did, I started building the audience first on Instagram. And then I started I did a giveaway. And I did this survey in the giveaway where I said, Can you just fill out this survey so I could get a little bit more information about who these were? And I asked like, what are the problems do you what kind of things would you like to be given each month? And I kind of saw a trend where people were like, I'd absolutely love a book, but I'd also love awesome stationery items, and I just thought that They've spoken, they've spoken and this is what we're going to do. And it went through a lot, a lot of changes, like how many products we were going to have. I think in the beginning, like, getting wholesale, was a lot harder now, because we're doing a lot bigger now we can negotiate a lot better. But in the beginning, like, you know, trying to keep it to budget was really hard. I think if I didn't have Luke, I probably wouldn't be making money, I would have got over budget so bad. So yeah, keeping to that budget is super important. And I never had really networked before, either. So that was something. I'm actually an introvert. So that was something I was really scared to do. But it's so not scary. Like, everybody's so lovely. Oh, my gosh, and they get me. Yeah, they get the mindset, they get where I'm coming from. So it's always awesome to work with small businesses and having them in the box. Because we both get something out of it, you know. I kind of lost my train of thought, but
And so and so you were looking at wholesale, you were looking at, obviously putting the box together. And so how did you grow that audience before you launched? Like, did you kind of get people to sign up and say that they wanted it? Or did you create the first box? Like what was that process that you went through?
So I had a huge kind of like VIP founding members launch. And this was three months before it even launched anything like any other product at all. And then when was this? This was like in August, I think of 2020 2020. I mean, even the month before that, I think and I was accepting payments in for like these founding members. So people who wanted to be the founding members, that first one to get the first box and I did an offer. I said, Hey, if you join as a founding member, you can get 10% off your first three months of the box. I didn't have a product at all. Like I did this mock up. I just got some things from office works. And put I had a random box from Oh, Polly, like the Oh, Polly store that I use is to put that in. I just showed the behind the scenes. I even showed like the different designs and said, Hey guys, which designs of the box Do you like? And I had like different products. I said, which product would you like? So I really tried to get people involved in the process of creating that first box. So they really felt connected and felt Yeah, I felt like I had a say in this first box. I'm gonna join even though I had no product at the time.
It's amazing. Yeah, that's so good. And so how many founding members did you end up with?
I had 30. founding members.
So there you go, when you didn't have a product and you were just added. That's easy. That's so great. And so since then, what have the changes been like? What have you kind of learned along the way? I mean, it's like not even a year? Yeah, it's like a year since then. Yeah, but a year when you're building a new business, in the middle of a busy pandemic market is I'm sure moves a lot quicker than than other businesses. So what have you learnt kinda since that first box?
Yeah, the definitely first thing I learned was simplifying the offer. So I had like I had the box but I also had a mini version and then I just also had an online version that was all on the one website. completely confusing, completely confusing. I'm sure a lot of people could probably relate to this the minute I took off the other ones solely focused on the box, the conversion rate went up so much. So I definitely if I look back, I would have simplified the offer the message to the box. Yes, that is definite. Other things I learned is don't be afraid to invest money. Like when I come from a corporate role, you know how you just given budget budget for days and it's not that scary to spend that money but then when it's your money, like you kind of hold on to it a bit but I realized even if it's investing in ads or a coach or a course it's so completely worth it like I invested in the mentor subscription box mentor for myself amazing books, like I invest a lot but I get it back in return but in the Styles a bit like huh, so I want to but I think we all go through that stage of like hesitancy but how do
I love that you've come to that realization so quickly though, and I mean, I was literally like, I've just recorded a podcast, it'll go out this week as well. But just on that, like you've got to like your business and your brain is your big your biggest asset. And we invest in cars and we invest in holidays and we invest in all these other things. But you know, it's so important for us to invest in ourselves in order to grow this asset to become what we want it to be. So I think that that's awesome.
Exactly. Yeah. And also like outsourcing as well to free up your time to work on the business on in the business. Like that's been a game changer to like outsource a lot of things that I just really don't have the time to learn to do. Like I understand I have to do them like SEO, for example. But there's no way I'm going to have time to write blogs each month or find these key words. I've just hired like my little sister to write some blogs a day, every month. She's like, she's a she's a gun. She's so good at writing. And then I've hired somebody to do my analytics by box design. I didn't do I got somebody to do that. For me. I'm not a designer. So yeah, I just, I think it's so important to invest. For sure. And then I'd say definitely, one thing I learned as well make sure you put your health first as well. Because literally when I started the business, I wasn't even going out for walks. I was literally like a hermit in my home. I think I got square eyes because I was looking at the laptop. So bad hunched back, I wasn't exercising, we're eating Uber Eats McDonald's too much so. And that just really affects your mood and like your energy levels. So the health is really important for me now I've just started running, running again, making sure I'm going out enjoying the sunshine now that we're free a little bit. So that was that's really important. Something I learned. Yeah, the health is so important.
Amazing. And so and so obviously, like when we're recording this, we just come out of lockdown in Melbourne. But how did the pandemic impact the business? Like did you like what sort of things did you say?
I honestly only saw positives or successes did yeah. And like sometimes I feel a bit bad saying that.
Actually. I think that there were a lot of businesses that like went through the roof, because anything that people were buying online, some people were Yeah, like, you know, 10 axing their revenue and their profit, whilst others couldn't even work. So yeah, I don't think it's you don't feel bad saying it. But I think that there were really opposite ends of the spectrum for sure. Yeah.
I mean, it'll be I'd be really interested to see how my growth goes now that people are out of lockdown. I wonder if that will change? I mean, I don't know. We'll see. But yeah, the pandemic really only, I guess, helped my business and get people want to things delivered to their door. I don't think that's going to change. I still think people now value their time and want things delivered. But we'll see. We'll see what happens. And I know I've seen a lot of businesses actually turn kind of their products into a sub box and to go online because by can't do it brick and mortar. Like there was this great little restaurant who ended up turning into like a subbox. Every month, they would send recipes and different cuisines every month. Love it. Like how genius is that? It's a great way to pivot. In times like these, you know,
Yeah, I saw a pottery studio that did the same as well, where they created like, yeah, boxes, people could order in that. But that's Yeah, it's so good. And I do think that we've really changed the way that we shop and the way that we consume anyways. So I think that the whole online, you know, ordering online, I don't think that's going anywhere. I think people are just like, why did we not do this before? But yeah, that's so good. And so what sort of goals have you got moving forward? Like, obviously, you're at around about 500. Now, which is amazing. Congratulations. And so for you, what are you kind of see in the next 12 or 24 months for the business.
I do want to grow the membership, but I feel like I'd like to do things like events and not just have the box really try to kind of nurture the community is a big thing, because just looking at the group, and what everybody really likes is that community aspect of it. And so I really want to kind of grow that part I picture it being kind of a big thing. Like we can have events together, you know, network, you know, you always hear the saying your network is your network, you know. So I definitely see it kind of heading in that direction where we've all become a membership community. And we're not just a box, you know, because nobody ever stays the just products, if that makes sense. When if you are signing a sub box, you got to think what are the outcomes and I want to make sure that everybody is growing their business is getting value out of the subscription. So that's really, really important for me to nurture that community in the next 12 to 24 months.
Yeah, I love that and I tried labor. I mean, I started my business with events and community and stuff like that. And it's just continued to grow. And I do think that we're always looking to come together with like minded people. And I think that yeah, if you can connect that with the product or the service that you've got, it's just a smart, smart way to do it. And then you never know what else comes out of that as well.
Yeah, you know, I've just, I'm thinking of starting a, like sub box course, because I get a lot of Q and A's and all they all sub boxes going, how do I grow a sub box? So that's something just on the side that I've been thinking of doing? You know, so yeah, like so many avenues that you can take a brand. It's crazy.
Yeah, amazing. I mean, I have you kind of connected with a lot of sub box creators.
Yeah, like, there's actually so many in the starting phases down here in Australia, or a lot of ladies who run a common store and go, I want that recurring revenue model, I'd like to make a subbox out of it. But it's, you know, in Australia, there's not that many coaches, they're all in the UK or the US. And you know, the time zones are insane. So it's like, I'm kind of like the go to a bit at the moment. So I'm really excited where that can head off to, you know,
yeah, that's so great. And I do think like you said, like, if sort of the UK or Europe in the US are further ahead, and you can obviously see all the possibilities. And yeah, and connect with them, and obviously learn a lot from them as well, which I think is especially when it's such a young market here. And have the majority of your subscriptions come from Melbourne, or is it been all over Australia, literally all over Australia?
Yeah, majority is still Melbourne, Sydney, they got a few in Perth in the Northern Territory. Like, it's really interesting to see that it's all around.
That's so good. And so I think one of the things that I really wanted to ask you about as well as because there wasn't really a market for it here doing what you're doing, you know, for other people that are sort of looking at, well, you know, there could be a gap there, or, you know, I've got this idea, but I'm not really seeing a lot of it, like what sort of things would you say to them when it comes to, I guess stepping into a niche that isn't very big or isn't really there at all?
Like what I did, I just kind of tried to stalk as much as possible and ask as much as possible in groups. You know, even Um, I actually caught up with a friend, she runs Napolean swimwear, she's a friend of mine, and I said, Can I catch up with you for coffee? Because I would like to pick your brain about what are the problems you're facing? Would this be something of interest for you. So if you know, a friend or a friend of a friend, don't be afraid to call up and just ask them all those questions. Go into those groups, don't be afraid to ask questions and get some research in and get, you know, find who that niche is, as long as a niche has a problem. And you can provide a solution. I feel like you've got something there. But you never know if you don't try it, right. So find that niche, find that problem. Create your sub box.
we're gonna get some boxes. But I do I love that you did the survey and the giveaway and that sort of thing. I always say to clients as well, like, if you can survey people, if you can get more insights and ask good questions and kind of probe a little bit more, it just really gives you such a foundation for making decisions rather than just assuming what people want and what you need.
And sometimes you assume that you assume wrong. You're better off just asking,
Did you assume anything wrong?
You know what I was? Like, when I first started, I was like, I need to have so many resources on the hub, I got to quickly make things and blah, blah, blah. Because I thought like the online component was the only reason people might join the sandbox. I don't know why I thought that. But I did a survey to the Facebook group and said, Why did you join the sandbox? And it's just like, the books. The books are why I really really love it. And so that's why I make sure I read the books and choose the right books, because that's the main reason people subscribe are those books. So I was focusing on something else where I was like, No, I need to put back my focus on the box in the books. So sometimes it's really easy.
You could do book club.
Yeah, true. That's a good idea.
To like a mother I'm just like, Well, if you've got a whole community that I like, we love the books. You could like when it gets to live it and then maybe a month later you get the author on or you just have you know because the author that's coming in December's really good. Get the author in or you could just have a bit of a Facebook Live or zoom, where everybody comes in and Shares like what they got out of it. That would be I love that if that's one of the if that's one of the things that I love about it.
Yeah. We love a good book club. So good. That's also so good. I love I love that you kind of just went for it. I love that you did the research. You put it out there. I love that you have got 500 Faithful. Subscribe. That is so amazing. Are you looking to keep it in Australia?
With thinking potentially expanding to New Zealand soon?
Yeah, I will see.
postage is a killer, isn't it at the moment? Oh, my goodness.
Yeah. All right, you can build your empire here. I haven't had an Ozzy Empire, which I think totally works. Yeah, for sure. That's awesome. And so when you're looking at collaborators, so you've got your wholesalers, and then are you approaching people? Or have you found that you've got people that have been coming to you a lot of the time?
Well, in the beginning, man, I think I emailed like 50 emails, and you know, you get the one or two replying. So that was in the beginning. In the beginning, I wasn't doing maths classes. I was actually doing, like having people's courses for a set amount of month. But I realized everybody loves the masterclass because you come on for that hour in the month, there's not much like commitment too much time, but you learn so much in that 45 to an hour. And now I'm really lucky enough that yeah, authors will reach out to me, I've got people reaching out to me. But I still reach out to people, especially if I have a specific theme in the month and I want a specific expert that can really talk to that 100%, I'll reach out have a template, I make sure to talk about the benefits for them for jumping on and everything like that. But now it's a bit of both like I get people coming to me, and but I also like to reach out as well.
Yeah, that's so great. That's awesome. How exciting. Fantastic. So what's coming up? So we said this will be going live at the beginning of November 2021. And so what's in the subscription box for this month? And also like how much is it? How does it work?
So it is depending on the type of plan you go, but it is 79.95 for the month, you get the box or the learning resources. And then this next month, we have a Donald Miller book business made simple. I absolutely love Donald Miller. Other book marketing made simple there.
I don't think I've read that I've only read the story boy brands. I haven't read. So what's this one marketing Made Simple.
This one, this next one I've got his business makes him okay. He talks about leadership, managing a team, the marketing selling, but he talks like you're an asset, you kind of invest in yourself as an asset to the business. It makes more sense when you read it. I kind of
I totally get it. I love him. I listen to his podcast.
Yeah. And it's so good because this book has like videos as well, that goes with it like
Oh, I might have to steal that idea for my next book. Okay.
But obviously in December we have a your book play the brand bowls, which I think is going to be perfect for December because I feel like people are in that motivating stage where it's like I'm done playing small. I'm ready to go big for the new year. So I think your books gonna be perfect for that.
we've got you as a speaker as well in December.
kind of way and yeah, totally.
Like if you're going to do live events. I'm all for that. Now that we got out of lockdown. I'm like events, events, events, events, retreats, anything. I'll do it all
I need to go on a retreat. I've never been on a business retreat.
I've got a Bali one coming up. Very easy place to be like three years in the making. We put it out there in 2019. And now it's like, oh, eventually we'll get there but no, good. Amazing.
That's awesome. I love that. Congratulations. Thank you. So good. Fantastic. So Michelle, where can people find you will obviously have all of your links and everything in the show notes. But where's the best place for them to connect?
Yeah, so I'm on Instagram at Ozzie biz cheek no K just to see. And you can see my website Ozzie this chick.com.au
Yeah, well definitely go and follow say hi. Support another lady in business. And definitely check out the subscription box yes and play big brand bold will be in the December one with all the Christmas goodies. And stationery. We all love stationery. So good decision as well.
I like can't get enough of it.
Awesome. Well Michelle, thank you so much for being on the podcast and share this.
Well, I hope you enjoyed that episode. I love seeing new businesses come into the market. And when I saw Michelle's business, I was just like that is new. I have not seen that before. So I was so glad that she was able to come on to the podcast, and I'm excited to be featured in the box in December. So make sure you go and check out all of her details. All of the links are in the show notes as well. Well, that's it for another week. It has been amazing to have you here as always, and remember to follow me on all socials at Suz Chadwick. But thanks so much for listening. If you enjoy this episode, then I would love you to leave a review so that others can find the podcast and come and hang out with us every week.
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