Hot Mess Body soaking up the success of Stockland’s new Starter program

Sarah-Jane Strutz started creating bath products as a hobby. In just five years her thoughtful and female-led body and bath products business, Hot Mess Body, had amassed a cult following and was ready to reach new heights.

When Sarah-Jane decided she wanted to take the next step to grow her business, she joined Stockland’s S Connect Starter program to trial her business within a Stockland shopping centre.

For a small-business owner, taking the next step can be daunting but Sarah-Jane knew she was ready, and the level of support provided by the Starter program gave her the confidence to proceed. 

“I was at a point in my business where I wanted to go to that next stage of growth, and Stockland’s Starter program sounded like the perfect opportunity to grow while being supported.

The opportunity to expand my business into a more permanent, physical retail space at Stockland Shellharbour and receive business and retail coaching along the way was a dream come true,” Sarah-Jane said.

Hit the ground running with Stockland’s Starter program

The ‘Starter’ program is a way for businesses who have little or no experience in operating in a bricks and mortar space to trial a curated retail space in a Stockland shopping centre with industry-leading support and guidance along the way including in operations, marketing, and finance. There are three Starter spaces trading at Stockland Merrylands, Shellharbour and Green Hills, with plans to expand the program nationally.

Sarah says the experience of entering the market into a beautiful physical retail space, custom built for the Starter program, was made easy by Stockland and happened very quickly.

“It was as easy as putting my stock on the shelves. Having Stockland’s support to transition into a shopping centre retail environment has given me such confidence and peace of mind,” she said.

Just a few weeks into the retail space, and Sarah-Jane says it has been a rewarding experience. 

“I have felt very well supported and I have learnt skills that are setting me up for success, wherever my business ultimately takes me.”

Take your business to the next level

Sarah-Jane believes that the Starter program can help take any business to the next level, with a variety of flexible options on offer.

“I love that the program helps businesses grow into a space that matches their drive and ambition. No matter what business you have, the size or the category, you will have access to tailor-made ongoing support and inspiration. This gives you the opportunity to quickly learn, adapt and grow in preparation for a permanent space. I love that I can chat directly with the program manager whenever I need to and get help to fast-track my ideas.”

Her advice for anyone looking to grow their retail business?

“Trust the process and be confident you will flourish. Being in a retail space is a huge transition, so use the support and resources Stockland provides. Ask them as many questions as you need to and do not be afraid to step outside your comfort zone because this program will help you every step of the way.”

Our Retail Incubator Manager Phebe Chan is ready to answer your questions and help you take the first steps into a retail space. Get started today here via