I'm excited to have Stefi on the podcast today. We met at The Huddle in Orange this year and fell in love with her. She's such a powerhouse that I had to share her story with you!
A candle-obsessed former corporate dweller and founder of Celia Loves, Stefi Kerby started the business in her garage after making her own candles for around the home. The urge to burn (constantly) was becoming too expensive and so she started creating her own soy wax candles that she knew were good for her and her family (to-be). Naturally, this grew to gifting to family and friends and before long these great-smelling candles had epic designs to match.
Fast-forward to present day, Celia Loves is stocked in retail stores across Australia and ships globally.
The brand is known for their bold, vibrant and iconic packaging. Your scent BFF and candles made to burn, not collect dust.
In this episode we talk about:
and so much more
Make sure you connect with Stefi and check out Celia Loves:
Suzanne Chadwick 0:00
Welcome back to the brand builders lab. We are at episode 226. And today we're talking about taking risks with the founder of Celia loves Stephie Kirby. Welcome to the brand builders lab podcast. I'm your host Suzanne Chadwick, business and mindset coach, author and speaker, and the creator of brand builders Academy and the AMPLIFi accelerator. Right here on this podcast, you'll learn how to create an epic brand, and a profitable business and become the creative rebel you set out to be Now is the time to be courageous and become a bold and powerful voice in your industry. Forget average, it's time to level up. Hello, beautiful human. How are you? Welcome back to the podcast. I'm gonna say it Anna, it's always amazing to have you here. I'm super excited to share today's episode with you. I have had some pretty amazing interviews lately, haven't I? Have you been loving them? Have you been inspired by them? Have you been learning from them? Well, if you have, then make sure you go and you leave a review on the app that you use, letting us know leave a five star amazing review. I would love you to be able to do that for me. Otherwise, you can also just share it with your followers with your community. If you love this podcast and all of the amazing interviews and content that we share, that would be such a help. Yes. So listen, I want to introduce you to Stephie Kirby because I met her at the huddle. Lots of things have come from the huddle in Orange Through jumbled online this year. Very excited to have spoken at that event. It's definitely inspired some new content for me, some new ideas, things like that. But I also met obviously some amazing other speakers and women. So whether you're a speaker, or you were just there, then you know, I just met some incredible women all round in orange. And so I wanted to have Steph on the podcast, because she's such a powerhouse and she's so much fun. And she's so inspirational with her story and the things that she's done. So let me tell you a little bit about Steph, a candle obsessed former corporate dweller and founder of cilia loves Steffi, Kirby's started the business in her garage after making her own candles for around the home. The urge to burn constantly was becoming too expensive. And so she started creating her own soy wax candles that she knew were good for her and her family to be. Naturally this grew to gifting to family and friends. And before long, these great smelling candles had epic designs to match. Fast forward to the present day, sillier loves, is stocked in retail stores across Australia and ships globally. The brand is known for their bold, vibrant and iconic packaging, your scent BFF. And candles made to burn, not collect dust. And so obviously, because she's bold, and she's vibrant, there was a values alignment there. So I was super excited to invite her to come and be on the podcast. And you are about to experience and listen to her journey, the risks that she took the things that she says you need to start thinking about and learning from. And one of them is really trusting yourself as well. So I'm super excited to share this with you. Without further ado, let's dive in. Steph, welcome to the brand builders lab podcast.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to chat with you today. I actually wrote down some intentions. I remember watching you do it on the plane. And I've committed it to doing that before participating in extra fun activities like today.
Suzanne Chadwick 4:01
I love them so good. Obviously not obviously I was like obviously we met at the huddle. Like everybody already knows that. But it was so nice to meet you and find out more about your business, which was Celia loves. And you were so amazing on stage when you were talking on the panel. And I was just like I love sharing business stories of women who have done things that maybe they weren't planning to do. I just Yeah, I love the story. So that's what I wanted to talk about today with you.
Well, you would have led from the huddle. I love the chat. So
Suzanne Chadwick 4:43
so good. So good. So Steph, for my audience who don't know you and don't know who Celia loves. Do you want us give us a little bit of a snapshot as to what the business is now and where you're at and then we'll go back to the beginning.
Absolutely. So we are still your loves. We are a household Old at candle name, we are made to burn not collect us. So the ethos around our brand is not only to look beautiful, but to be part of people's lifestyle. I always found it interesting when brands say that their lifestyle focus, but that's actually at the center and core of everything we do. So we are part of your daily rituals. We are part of your routine, when you're welcoming guests, guests into your home, you're setting your space beautifully. We have created these beautiful soy candles for people to actually use and appreciate in their homes and we make them look iconic with our packaging. You know,
Suzanne Chadwick 5:38
you're in the right place on the brandbuilders lab and I have the little one that was in the goodie bag. On my desk.
I've got I've got like because I love being inspired by colors and greens like good luck color are so
Suzanne Chadwick 5:49
amazing. So good. So how did you get here? Where did it all start?
Wow, maternity leave it so my background is lawyer lawyer by trade I was actually admitted to practice which means my signatures on the Supreme Court registry. I'm an officer of the court, and I loved it, but I loved motherhood more. And I liked making money as well. So I do you know, it's it's true because when you go on maternity leave, you actually have to let go of your financial independence. And for me personally, I really struggled with that having to rely on someone, it made me quite uncomfortable. So I said about finding something that are not only fulfilled that productivity piece in my life, it also helped financially as well. And it started off in markets. And I remember I used to be stoked when I came home with like an extra 200 or $300 It was very stressful, you know, pouring 60 Candles before market and now we're packing 60 in like, and that's a small order for us. So it's yeah, quite interesting. But it all really started from maternity leave. So I left my legal profession and became a candle maker.
Suzanne Chadwick 7:12
It was an activity maternity leave journey, I guess I don't I was like, I don't know how I fixed that. So to be honest, I wanted to say productivity. When you're a lawyer, you're marking everything in six minute increments, you can really see how productive you are. When you're raising a child, you like to keep my baby alive today. That also is sometimes it cannot it cannot really feel rewarding because you can't really see the fruits of your Labor's until like much much later on. So and I really love being able to see a task started and completed. So I said about learning how to make candles, and it really fulfill this. Like I could be like, Oh, I I was a mum today. And I did all these things. But also Hey, I actually made 10 candles and they're burning in the home and I feel relaxed and I feel beautiful and I feel calm. And I really really loved that. And it have to be so transparent. It really started by accident. Yeah, so it will feel
Suzanne Chadwick 8:18
like a lot of businesses by accident. It's like I just I just thought I wanted to do this. So do you were you a candle burner before that like is that something that you loved and so that's why you went into it? Chronic candles
it is so expensive. It's an expensive habit but I really so I'm all about symbolism I really love that and I love that symbolic ritual of like coming home from a busy day lighting a candle your days done, you're actually allowed to like switch up gears you don't have to be busy anymore. You can just be super relaxed the ambience. I love I said is so special to me. I cannot stand the smell of like garbage bins. I like I'm really I find them so offensive so I'm always like any small bad smell. I'm like no cover it with a candle we find this burning candle. So my status of candle burning has always been chronic chronic.
Suzanne Chadwick 9:16
I love that. It's an official status. So good. So you are at home with your first Barbie. And you're making candles and selling them at market. Did you think when you started it like was this a hobby? Were you intentionally thinking? Let me think about something I could maybe do later down the track like what was the thought?
Well, again for transparency, it was always the intention to have fun doing it. Absolutely 100% of hobby I found so much joy. I it was actually a great sense of pride. I have to say, being able to like go to a friend's house and be like, Oh, I made these candles like he gari you It was just it was something that I could share with people as well. So I was filling my cup. But then I realized quite quickly, I could fill other people's cups. And I just, I had so much fun making them for friends and family. It was Yeah. So I never thought, hmm. Would I be in the homes of so many people? It was not even in my round of thinking at the very, very beginning.
Suzanne Chadwick 10:24
I love it. And so when did it become? Or when did it come into your realm of thinking that this could be more?
Well, for context, I never went back to the legal profession. After my first I had this realization that if you're going to be consumed by something eight hours a day, it has to be something that you love, and I loved being a mum, but I knew there was something else that I had to love more. So I resigned. And then I spent 18 months at home, which is an absolute privilege to be a mom, you know, it was the best time. But by the 18 month mark, I kind of started to have these moments of lack. What am I doing with my life? Yeah, I've got a law degree, you're, you know, you're making candles like, are you joking. And so this opportunity, this opportunity came up to work in a global company. So I actually followed a lawyer over to this global company. And it was it satisfied so much my business love. And that's when I really found out or discovered that I love business. I learned as much I love that adversity, I loved that it was his vortex of like overloading I know some people find that incredibly overwhelming, but it really matched my fast paced nature, quick thinking problem solving. But then again, it got to a point where I was like, Oh, I don't know. In that time, I've had another baby grace. And in that time, I've focused on labels and label design and packaging design. And that packaging design was so quirky, there was nothing else available like it on the on the market, we got picked up by my eyes. And then I was like, Ah, cool, like, didn't think that would happen. Didn't even know that that was going to happen. And then that was I think, I just kept going I was because I never had that intention to create a beautiful business at that time. It was something that I am still to this day love. I was always taken by surprise when people really resonate with our product. So when we got picked up by Beacon lighting, I was like, Okay, I've got two major stores that have knocked on my door. I'm kind of being a dick about it. I'm kind of like, Yeah, I'm in my eyes. Yeah, I mean, beacon lighting, like fabulous, you know, still shocked to this day. But then I was like, hang on a sec, you're doing something different. Can you like recreate this opportunity later on? Probably not. This is your moment. And so I handed in my resignation.
Suzanne Chadwick 12:56
Amazing. Now I want to go back to your story about your resignation, because you had an intention that you had set and that you had told them as well. What was that?
Well, they laughed. And I think also I surprised myself and them as well. So my intention was I said to my, my boss at the time, when I make my prorated salary for three consecutive months, I'm going to hand you my letter of resignation. And they are they honestly laughed, they thought, okay, like, Sure, give it a go. And four months later, I handed in my resignation. So it was a fabulous time I stayed there, I finished up on such great terms. They're so supportive, but really, I had to prove to myself that it was actually financially viable for me to take that leap. In that time, I was negotiating with beacon lighting, to go into their stores. And I just have to say they are one of the most beautiful companies to work with. I absolutely adored them. And I wanted to take that risk. These two, two big businesses are taking a risk with my brand. And I knew at that point, I had to go all in
Suzanne Chadwick 14:10
amazing. And so I just want to go back to the resignation and then I'm gonna make my prorated salary in the next three months or four months. What did you plan? What did you do? Like what was the thinking around it? When it comes to? Okay, like this is how many I need to sell this is what I need to do. Was it really just because Myron bacon had come on board that you were able to do that? Or did you have other like strategies in place for how you were going to hit that goal?
We have such a beautiful wholesale portfolio. So we had been building out wholesale portfolio follow up month on month so we have sales agents who are going out and finding stores for us. If it was a good fit, we'd go get them bought with them. So we have so many incredible Australian stockists behind us. And we will building that up slowly. So I don't want to say that I had too much strategy. And I find goals limiting, but I was like, Okay, I'm going to hit these pieces. And that means the brand is the brand is actually ready. And that was really pivotal in the sense that we really went from hobby to then business and I was able to prove that silly loves actually had the substance to go from hobby to business, and carry that forward. Because you know, I might be name dropping Maya and, and bacon lighting. They were the two pivotal moments in my life to keep pushing the brand forward. And along the way, we've collected all these beautiful families of stockists. So the strategy was build relationships, build community, save, outsource our pain points, and then really start setting the brand up. Also, one of my friends said to me, Hey, if you've got if you get the beacon lighting order, would you put redirect that money into a warehouse space? Again, I didn't think of that were working out of my garage. The team were like lugging orders up and down my driveway. And I was like, Well, yeah, I mean, I'm smart. I can make the money back. I'll flip burgers if I have to, to put you know, food on the table for the family. So yeah, give it a go. Sign the warehouse lease went all in? That was our strategy.
Suzanne Chadwick 16:36
Go all in is the strategy. I love it. But so good. Do you think that if Meyer and bacon hadn't come knocking, you still would have taken the business to where it is now?
Begun? Yes, absolutely. My eyes was pivotal in the sense that I was I recognize that as a brand, we're doing something quite different. They've got the scope to find an abundance of of talent and brands, and they for some reason picked out. So I knew that we're doing something right that that really pushed us into a whole different business direction. I was working really hard behind the scenes to still build up our wholesale portfolio, along with our agents and team. Also, for context on my lunch break. Before work after work. I was like texting the team instructions or answering any problem. Like I had two people working from my garage while I was working for a global company. So I don't I feel like we would have gotten to where we are potentially not as fast. We may not have scaled as quickly. But I do believe I love the products so much. And it really is something that I enjoy and what other people to enjoy as well that we would Yeah, I reckon we still would have been here. Yeah.
Suzanne Chadwick 18:01
Yeah, sorry. And so you say, you know, my I came on board and you know, they've got all of these other brands that they could potentially work with? Now that you've been working with them, like do you know why they chose you? Like, what was it about and even with beacon as well? What is it about the brand that really has resonated with these companies.
So we ended up only doing the buying set, so the Christmas season with my so we're no longer stocked in there. But what I recognize we have such a vibrant outlook on packaging. And so our packaging, our personality, how we deliver it, we have our consumer in mind like we we weren't like Suze, I want you to burn that candle when you're writing your intentions. I want you to go, I can't wait to go home, put my trackies on, take my makeup off, throw the brown on the ground, like my candle and chill out. Like we I want that joy for my consumers. And I feel like that translates in our packaging, because it's fun, it's vibrant. We literally want to spark joy in your day. So from first citing it to buying it to taking it home, I want people to always be that excited for our product. We put so much into our packaging design and I and I feel like they recognize that as well. Not just that it's really our everyday wholesaler that also recognizes that piece as well. So they might be the big two people, but there is a whole portfolio people stalkers that really know how much we would and how much energy in time and love and they'll get messages from me and I'd be like, Oh my God, have you seen what we've just done? I know genius. The colors I can't and then they I think that makes them excited too because it's such it it comes from it comes from my heart so I feel like they just recognize that point of difference being personality.
Suzanne Chadwick 19:56
Yeah, and I love that I mean you know I do I say the energy You put in is the energy that your your customer receives, like that love that energy, as I mean, when you talk about the brand, it's so clear to me what the brand story or narrative is around, you know, getting home, taking the bar off taking the makeup off being in the space of relaxing and that do you feel like you were always really clear on that story around the brand? Not really.
Because at the beginning, we had no intention of being a being a brand, there's a lot of there's a lot of difference between creating something, versus forming a brand, in my opinion. I don't know how to
Suzanne Chadwick 20:41
talk about that. I love it, let's talk about
it's, it's, you know, anyone can make a candle, like, but building a brand, building a community, if you don't see the value in that, and what you're giving to people, you know, are very, very, very first customers know where we've come from. And then we have these new customer acquisitions all the time. And we weren't really clear, but we we knew we're doing something. And at the end of the day, it was that recognition of community. So the story might not necessarily be relaxation, but the story is community and how we want to be part of your moment. So you know, there's a beautiful lady whose husband was deployed overseas, and he took outdoor food and sage candy, because it reminded him of home. That to me has stuck in my mind that what we do we attribute sense to your moments. And whether it is that relaxation piece, which is majority of our consumer, or it's entertaining, like we have playlists that go with our candles, because we want to set the movie will like it is so much fine. And you know it's dinner party sounds right. And we pair it with a cent for you. We're like, okay, it's getting cold. It's you need you need pistachio caramel, toasted marshmallow, check on our playlists. We've got the vibes covered babe, like, we are here to be part of your life. And it did take a long time to recognize that. But I do believe it's that community and and responding to them and their needs were actually really consumer LED.
Suzanne Chadwick 22:18
Yeah, I love that. That's amazing. And I feel like you've kind of covered like the whole brand experience with the scent and the music and the like the narrative of what life's like for your customer and things like that. I'm just like, so juiced by all of that. I think it's amazing. And I love that you've gone so deep into all of those elements as well. I think it's really unique. I don't think that I don't think a lot of brands do that really well. And I think you've done it really well when it comes to the packaging because you did say that that's one of the things that's really stood out. As far as differentiating you in the market. Where did that come from? Is that just your taste? Is that were you inspired by something?
Sorry. My tastes I am OTT and everything I do okay, I'm about to start geeking out just wanting you might have to do a lot of editing in this next little bit. So series, it's your birthday. I'm gonna paint a picture for you. You're like Steph Curry for dinner. Can't wait are like no worries. I've got the wine. I've got the present, but it's not just like, hey, it's a crappy ass bag. I'm like wrapping it up. I'm double wrapping. So it's really exciting. When you open it. I'm putting pom poms on there. I'm putting like, I've got a blue like it's over the top right. And that's also a lot of effort. I'm pretty time poor, always a little bit late. You know, like it just I have to I'm coming to your house for your birthday. I want you to feel excitement and joy. So I contacted a graphic designer and I'm like, Hey, this is my idea. I haven't seen it done before. There are these key brands in the market. And they all get solid colors. Everyone either does browns, whites, black and white and like I get it, but also I don't get it. Yeah, and then I was like, Oh, I'm just this is my idea. It's an amalgamation of these kind of illustration brought a little bit quirky, a little bit of fun, and we got all of that and we had our Tropicana range which is the to Ken and the flamingo and it's just so fun like people like how does a flamingo make sense with strawberry champagne on like, How can it not like it is so fun. Are you kidding me? Like, flamingos are the coolest animals out there? And that's really what that's really what sets us apart. Because we it was that kind which again, we're always so consumer led that I don't even think I recognized that early on. So I wanted people to pick up our product and immediately feel joy and excitement be like oh, what is this? What is going on? Oh my god, I can't know what and then open it and then it's that sensory like smelling and it's very tactile experience that Celia loves. Yeah.
Suzanne Chadwick 25:02
That was perfect. I think I think your packaging is beautiful. Even when we were at the huddle, you had like all of the candles in the pink retro sync with a party with a pink grapefruit and you're like, What do you think of this? Like, it's amazing. And I think you had guys who have done that, but I love that you experiment with those types of things. I think it looks amazing as well. And I think it is really unique. And I saw your candles at jumbled when I went into the store and they just stand out. And they're beautiful. And yeah, amazing. And so you've, you've taken on bacon, and you've, you know, expanded the business. So what are the plans now? And what are the things that you you're focusing on when it comes to growing the brand and the business?
Okay, so what are our plans now to keep delivering? A beautiful experience. So we're making sure there's some really boring stuff in that piece? Well, not really boring, because I really do tend to geek out on a lot of things. But I it's that process of like, from start to finish, what does it look like for our consumers? So how do they find us? So from all facets, we're really doing a brand overhaul you might have seen stage one of our brand rollout. So keep focusing, keep elevating the brand, keep pushing ourselves to delivering really unique, original designs, but really continue to, to extend that experience for our customer with things like the Disney, Disney, oh my gosh, dinner party playlists. So that dining experience goes hand in hand without our candles. So it's really about extending that community life in different ways. So I'm always will always be community focused. And that consumer experience just making sure it doesn't really have a shelf life in the sense that you don't buy product, and then you put it in the bin once you've used it. You got it. Oh my god, this is something I want to keep using. And yeah, just keep, keep being innovative. I think in our space, we have new products launching. And I'm very excited for that. I'm like, Don't give any
Suzanne Chadwick 27:20
secret. No, no, it's
like, Oh, God steps got a bad habit of getting so excited. They're like, everybody, this is what I'm doing. And then I'm like, Oh, I've been banned a few times. So it was like, Stop, you can't. So for us, it's really, relationships are so important in business. So whether it's our Instagram community, whether it's our wholesalers, whether it's our external companies that we work with, when it comes to marketing, or ads, or whatever it might be I'm I'm relationship focused at the moment, I'm a long term relationship, girl. So it's making sure we have good people around us that we're not getting too distracted by any outside noise. And that we just keep, like growing as well. I feel like some brands, they get stale. So they do the same recipe all the time. And then you cut it loses its magic. And I'm not prepared to lose that magic just yet. So I want to keep being sparkly, I want to keep introducing new things. And you know, candles aren't genius, but our packaging is the way we choose to show up for our community is also fun. So people will see a bit behind the scenes that we'll see the end product. They don't really see too much of like what goes wrong, but they see a lot of what goes right and which is the end product.
Suzanne Chadwick 28:47
Yeah, I love that. And I mean, I kind of think there's two things I want to talk about. I want to talk about geeking out and the analytics because I know you're in analytical, analytical girl, which I think is really important to talk about as well, because that is part of being intentional with how you grow the business. And then I want to talk about community and building that. So when it comes to the analytics of your business, what are the things that you look at? Like what do you think other things that actually help you make informed decisions?
Okay, so there's a lot. Again, you'll hear me say this throughout the whole entire podcast, if you're not listening to your consumer, you're doing this as your own, like, just 100% cannot grow. It's really important to distinguish between opinion and you've got something wrong. So people don't go oh, I don't like that said one person out of 1000 That's an opinion. 900 out of 1000 That's a fact. Do you know what I mean? So you have to you really have to be good at constructive feedback. Constructive feedback will help grow your business. So from a consumer point of view, I'm always be like oh you in joined it Oh, like, and then they'll tell you the good things or sometimes the consumer might go, oh, there's a bit clunky here. And I'll know that down and then we'll fix it
Suzanne Chadwick 30:07
basically, where are they giving you that feedback step?
So whether it's email, DM, they have COVID. It depends if it's a wholesaler versus customer direct. Yeah, customer feedback was taken on board. And then I put it in a little diary. And I'm like, okay, highlight repetitive things. Where can you improve? Data Analytics is really important in the sense that you have to make sure that stalkers are a good match. I call it one nightstands. If you don't get a reorder, I'm always like, okay, hey, Soos fine, that you didn't want to reorder. But can you give us any constructive feedback? They go, our customers don't like the fragrances. And, uh, you go, okay, that's fine, then you look at their demographic of their audience and you go up, do you know what our brand was probably a little bit too vibrant, that wasn't a good pairing. You want to make sure that you align yourself with other like minded businesses to grow. So it's really important to always, always take that feedback on board and don't take it personally either. Because everyone's got an opinion. You've just got to distinguish between which ones actually matter and which ones, you know, can be written down in a book and forgotten about. So the data that we look at is like, we always look at our product. If a product isn't performing, we ask why is it because we have stronger fragrance? That was gonna sound wrong, stronger products? Is it because it was too far out? Or what the Sealy loves scent palette is? Was it too polarizing? We always look at that piece in and grab that feedback. We look at like customer satisfaction, how quickly are we turning out orders? Why is there? Why is there lag? What what could we improve? So we're all we're constantly asking ourselves a series of questions so we can keep improving processes and product development and ultimately, the customer experience with us.
Suzanne Chadwick 32:13
Yeah, absolutely. I love it. No, no, it's great. Because I think that I think that that is something that some businesses just don't spend enough time on. And then they're kind of wondering why like it's not working. So just to go back to the stalkers and the sense and that sort of thing. When you've got when you've got your sales staff looking for new wholesalers? Are you targeting certain areas based on I guess, data of what type of people or socio economic groups? Or are you just trying different places? Like what's the what's the thought process around the sales? Yeah,
yeah, it's a combination. So we have sales agents. In some states, they know the areas really well. It's their job to know the stores in their territory to know them really well. And then to align us with them, basically, I don't like going into the stores for the sake of a sale. Because that doesn't benefit anyone. I don't think it actually reflects great on your brand. So you have to be quite careful. Do we take a risk? Absolutely. Is a calculated and educated Absolutely, as well. We know is our products, we can see by what's in there. It's a review process. And because me you have to have a lot of respect for other people's money. You have to go this wholesalers choosing to spend their hard earned dollars on our brand. I actually don't ever feel comfortable just saying yes, for sale. I'm like, Yes, because I believe our brand is going to do really well in there and benefit them. Ultimately, if we look at a store and go Do you know what we can tell, you know, that it's all florals and Nana vibes and all of that, then all of a sudden you putting in this Poppy vibe, it's not going to work? Well. It's too polarizing for that consumer. And so we'll say Do you know what I don't think we're a good fit. Or we'll say Do you know what? Not to show we're a good fit for you. These are our recommendations. Let's just scale the order back. See how your consumer response and then we'll go from there. I feel like that's really important. So we ultimately look at what are the brands that they have in their stores as well. When it comes to product development. We have to weigh up any judgment against ecommerce as well as wholesale because they ultimately are two different consumers. And suddenly that sells really well online might not translate in stores. And then if we can see that it's not translating. We'll just redirect the product either through wholesale or back through a car So as well,
Suzanne Chadwick 35:01
yeah, I can totally geek out with you on all of that. I think it's so good. Analytics are the best. So good. So let's talk about community. So how did you grow the community? How did you start the community? What are you doing with the community now? Like, what's your sort of thoughts around that?
Community is everything. So what are what are the flowers where you feeder, so we have deep roots in julong. Love the community here, it's as simple as sliding into people's DMS and saying, Hey, love what you're doing, you are done energy, whenever I got that from, you know, finding it's finding your tribe. And I really don't love saying that. But it's literally finding the people that resonate with you and investing in them, you're not going to be liked by everyone, you're going to be polarizing to people, you're going to be bloody annoying to people. So find the people that fill your cup, and you in turn fill their cup as well. So what I really try and do is locally, just pop in and say hi to stores where I can see our product is how's it all going great. Love what you doing. We also reinvest in those areas. So we might like go pick some stores and buy from them for the team or staff presence, whatever it might be giving them shout out some stories. So when people are buying a product reshare again, we make sure that we're like saying to everyone else, Hey, these are the people that we have following us. It's so great. Look at our product in store. We soon as I can remember the question
Suzanne Chadwick 36:40
is about building community. Yeah, so
it's literally like picking up a phone call and going, hey, the last few years have been really tough. I'm literally just genuinely checking in. How are you going? How are you? Because my, I don't love using the word my but the community around the brand Celia loves really, really, really, really matters to me. So when people are DMing me, I want to invest in those people because they're investing in me. And I think that's quite beautiful. We, again, will do story highlights the way we bring people on a journey where I'm such a storyteller. I'm like, Oh, my god, I almost died this morning. And my husband's always like, did you really like Well, no, I was inside the gate. And I was completely fine and say, but for the drama of it. I'm like, Just letting you know, I could have in an alternative universe totally died. You sat in bed, like what are you talking about? So you know, it's just bringing people on the journey. Like, I get so excited by product development, bringing them on showing them the behind the scenes, I really find it so incredibly hard to show up as an incredibly polished person, because I'm inherently not that person. So I've learned to really go it's actually okay, they see me in my head a little bit messy that day. Because this is literally how I am. It's taking them behind the scenes, showing them flashbacks showing them. You guys used to buy our products when I was putting them in my kitchen, then in my garage. And now we're in this warehouse. Now we're into our second warehouse. You guys are part of this journey. It's not just my story, you know, it's something that we can share with so many other people. And I get so excited when people are like, hey, remember that time your salad blew away in the wind? And I'm like, Yes. Remember that out of everything. And, you know, I also love just sharing finds along the way we are a lifestyle brand. So if I find a really cool clothing brand earring brand, I want to share those snippets as well, because that ultimately builds on your community and their interests too.
Suzanne Chadwick 38:50
Yeah, I love that. Yeah, so true. And the other thing is, is that we like it's not just say the product that we're interested in it is the founder It is the story. It is the employees it is the heart like what's working and what's happening in the background. Like, I think that that really gets investment as well. Like I want to know everything that's happening like for people that love your brand. I think that they want to be nosy and see what's going on.
If you think about it, they have access to the owner of the brand, the creator of a brand and the people who make the product. So the clothing that you're wearing today or that I'm wearing today, I haven't seen this made Have you seen your smile? Like, exactly. So when you get to take people on that level of detail that is the biggest asset to any brand. It is fundamentally so cool. I know the owner of this brand, and we don't see this product may or may but you see the process of it being designed. That is just as cool. But for us Yeah, I think people are nosy and they're like, do you know they're like, I wonder if my candle got poured today or I wonder if you know, is actually a handmade product they can see that process they, we invite them into that space. I think it's kind of cool. I love being nosy.
Suzanne Chadwick 40:08
Everyone knows is definitely love a bit of behind the scenes. So what have been what do you like when you look at the journey today? What do you feel have been some of the lessons that you've learned that you've kind of like that was quite pivotal or that was something that I didn't expect to learn. But yeah, that was like really amazing thing or a good thing or a bad thing, whatever it might be.
Yeah. I actually really love this question. There are so many things, I've got so many learnings along the way. So we scaled really quickly, we went, we scaled, I think it was like 250% 150% 75%, like that's a year on year journey. And when you get higher up in the numbers, your growth kind of starts to slow down, because then you get stuck in growing pains. And then there's this cycle of growing pains that sometimes can be sometimes really hard to shake, because you think you're shaking them, and then all of a sudden, you get to the next phase. And then you're like, Okay, this is the same set of scenarios, but then your financial resources might be a bit stretched, because now you've got, you know, X, Y and Zed commitments. So for me, it's really like, you don't have to scale really quickly. I think that's quite good. I don't want to offend anyone. But I think sometimes that can be quite a toxic culture around these myths. Everyone says fast, fast, fast, and like it's actually okay to be stable and scale at a slower rate, and not kill yourself in the process from being stressed and all of that. So it's kind of making sure that you are really firm in what you want to be you and your business, not to let too much outside influence into your brand. So having more brand control, I had this real pivotal moment where I let someone have too much say in my business that ultimately, we made some bad choices, because we invested in areas that didn't really make sense to us. And we knew that but we were like we held them to such a level that we were like, or maybe were wrong in our decision making. So being really mindful who you let in and influence your decisions. And it's okay to say no, it's actually okay to say no, if if you don't want to take on that opportunity, if it doesn't align with you, and that's your gut telling you don't do it, you'll regret it. Maybe that's just me. But that's how I feel on reflection. And there are so many learnings, there's not enough tech driven, things directed at girls, people using computers, technology, all of that I feel like there's a fundamental skills gap in girls and women. I don't know, that's just me. But I remember not really being a game or exposed to anything. So for me getting on Tech was really hard. And I was quite resistant to that. So I guess my biggest learnings is keep challenging yourself. And don't try and be the expert in every facet, but at least have a base understanding so you can give educated feedback to people. And if you don't know, just be honest, and be like, hey, Suze, when you said this, I actually don't know what you mean, can you say it to me in another way that maybe I can understand, that's really important in your decision making process, and probably something I didn't recognize until I made a little oopsies and had to sometimes learn the hard way. And then you know, it's really good. But it's, you know, I was really resistant to like, CRM technology, until we really needed it. And by the time we really needed it, we were really far behind. So it's just things like that. Just challenge yourself. Don't try and be the expert, but try and at least understand something. So you can give credible feedback as well.
Suzanne Chadwick 44:01
Yeah, I love that. But so good. I remember somebody saying, like, know enough to be dangerous, like you don't need you don't need to know it all, but just know enough so that when somebody is speaking to you about it, you're asking great questions and things like that. But yeah,
Suzanne Chadwick 44:18
So good step. I love all of that. And I think that, you know, I do love your approach to your brand and the passion that you've got behind it. And I can totally geek out with you anytime on all the analytics, like I love all of that, too. But it's Yeah,
it really is that sorry, I should have said this before. The thing that I love the most is to see how many people are in your portfolio, or how many new consumers you have, how many repeat people you have. When you start to appreciate that data. You're like, Ooh, how do I make these move like okay, well, where do we go wrong here and how do we push those numbers out? Like I Yeah, so geeky and get but yeah, it's very, very Fun. Yes. So
Suzanne Chadwick 45:00
good. Yeah, we ran. I ran a big report yesterday on, like all of our customers from the past couple of years and just getting my assistant to, I'm like, can you just make this like really consumable so we can see where everybody's coming from. And like, where you know, who they were referred by, and just starting to get a lot more of that information, too, which is so good. But I think it's, I think we have to, we have to understand our business at a deeper level in order to grow it intentionally as well.
Yeah. And also reach out to experts, or people who've done it before. I feel like sometimes we're afraid to go again. Hey, Soos, I've seen that you have achieved this. How did you get there? What are the questions that you ask? Did you have any resources you can share? Just think about the questions that ask them. They're not going to give you all the details where they go, Hey, I read this book, and I got I took away this Why don't you read it? And you might take away something completely different. So just keep asking questions from people who have done it, but before you. Yeah, there's a lot of knowledge to share.
Suzanne Chadwick 46:03
No, good. Awesome. Well, Steph, thank you so much for being on the podcast and for sharing your story. I know that my audience will absolutely love it. Where's the best place for them to find you?
They can find us online at Sealy labs.com.au Beacon lighting stores across Australia or hopefully their local store and if we're not there, please send me a DM so we can reach out.
Suzanne Chadwick 46:26
I love it. And your Celia loves on Instagram as well. Yeah,
thank you so much for giving me some of your time today. I've had such a great time chatting with you. And thank you for giving me a platform to geek out on I appreciate you thank you
Suzanne Chadwick 46:40
anytime lovely anytime. It's been so good. Steph is such a powerhouse and I love what she's done with Celia loves and she's a global brand and she's got new things coming out as well like a new business that she's doing with her daughters and I can't wait to share that with you when it when it goes live as well. But she's just such an amazing person to follow and I'm so glad I was able to share her story with you. 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 Sue's Chadwick. But thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed 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. Until next time, have an awesome week and make sure you keep playing big and branding bold.
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