This week we talk to Lisa Rickert, CEO of online home décor business Jolie Home. Determined to partner closely with local, independent small businesses, Lisa has developed a strategy that rewards her retail partners with 20 per cent of the profits from any online sale made on the website that is geographically close to them.
LR: I think it is an innate feeling as an entrepreneur and a creative to want to be able to offer customers what you feel is best for them. Ultimately, the only way to do that is to have your own brand to execute your own voice and vision. My family and I spent nearly a decade in the decorative paint business and it was definitely time to deliver something unique.
ISB: How did your previous experience in the DIY furniture paint market prepare you, husband Scott and brother Jason for going into business for yourselves?
LR: I often say that Jolie is a new brand with an experienced team behind it. If we had not been major players in this industry before, I may not have chosen to enter the market at this time given the number of brands competing for the same customers. However, because of our experience, we know the global industry, understand the challenges, and ultimately what strategies are needed to expand our customer base beyond those already familiar with decorative paint. There is still growth opportunity for the category, hence why we have launched with gusto.
ISB: Conversely, what was the biggest challenge in getting the enterprise off the ground?
LR: The biggest challenge that we have as a brand is differentiation! The industry is diluted with competitors all singing the same song and it is natural for customers to want to lump Jolie in with the rest. It is our priority to tell customers that our products are unique, our approach is catered to you, and the opportunity to customise is like no other. They need to know that there are loads of chalky finish paint brands, then there is Jolie in its own category. I guess in some ways, we are the market disruptor.
ISB: Please tell us a little about the way you support boutique shops around the world.
LR: As a brand, we believe in the tremendous value that local shops bring to customers. Jolie Retailers provide inspiration, service, and, most importantly, the rewarding relationships they develop with customers. Boutique retail has become so focused on the experience that customers get when visiting local shops — something that is not as tangible online. Our product range gives our retailers the opportunity to create a dynamic experience through events, workshops, demos, colour mixing services, style consultation, and encouragement.
In addition, it is our priority to help small boutiques be the best that they can be. We offer hands-on training for new and existing retailers to level up their skills in a number of painting techniques and styles. We have an online community where retailers can connect with one another, giving them the chance to expand their network and boost their support from other like-minded entrepreneurs.
ISB: What is your vision for the growth and development of the business in the next couple of years?
LR: We are working hard to expand our local retailer base in Australia to offer customers the one-on-one interaction I described above. There is already loads of consumer demand in areas waiting for a local shop to carry our products. We are also expanding our product range to include Jolie Paint in custom-tinted gallons for large scale projects, and new top-coat range, and an expanded offering of embellishment products. We are working on the expansion of the brand into new global territory, which is set to begin in 2020.
ISB: Finally, what is the number one piece lesson you’ve learnt on your journey you’d share with aspiring entrepreneurs?
LR: The world is a rapidly changing place, especially with technology, and the rate of adaptation needs to be fast. Just in 10 years as an entrepreneur, the changes I have seen are incredible. The way we advertise is different, customer expectations are different, economies are different. The bottom line is, never become complacent or stubborn. Stay grounded in your company mission and values, while remembering that flexibility is the key to long-term sustainability.