The Startup Diaries: The Rise And Rise Of The Microbrand - The Grace Tales

The Startup Diaries: The Rise And Rise Of The Microbrand

“Everyone should have a brand,” Lama Perin, owner of Bodibar told me...

“If you have the patience,” she cautioned. Two years on, the comment was still stuck in my head. Lama had successfully launched Bodibar, a luxe vegan mud scrub range with her sister and before that co-founded party accessories line Paper Eskimo.

Just like that feeling when you discover a new word and then hear it everywhere, since starting Summer Stories, an all-natural Australian shampoo and conditioner line that leans into our continent’s unique botanicals (quandong, kangaroo apple, finger lime and lemon myrtle) – I’m now hyper aware of all the great indie brands in the beauty and personal care space filling my Instagram feed.

Even before starting Summer Stories, I was a fan of Queenslander Ellen Newman who has just one sensational, versatile product, The Great State, a body balm in a reusable turquoise tin. I befriended Molly Dunkle of handmade lipstick brand dunkle authentic at a Brisbane women’s events. I’ve ordered my initials on a matte canister of Maarks lipstick in classic rouge. And I picked up a bright blue tube of Ultra Violette sunscreen to protect my freckles.

I knew the microbrands were coming. I had spent years working in New York City ad agencies and each Fortune 500 client shared a powerpoint that showed their market share being eroded by indie brands. Whether it was beer, soaps or soft drinks, every quarter these household brands lost a percent here, a percent there to artisanal, craft upstarts in amber bottles and hand-lettered labels.

The cost of entry for new brands is not what it was. A Squarespace website can be built in minutes. A Shopify storefront in an afternoon. And it’s fascinating to note how many large brands are using off-the-shelf web products. My smoothie supplement order arrives via the Shopify checkout. And those abandoned cart emails used by retailers are automatically generated by a Shopify plug-in that’s a $9 a month subscription.

In the past, supermarket brands needed million dollar budgets for television and print campaigns. Social media means you can find your niche audience. And you don’t need a football stadium of humans, just the ones who will buy your products and dig what you’re trying to do.

The internet also allows an unlimited opportunity for knowledge sharing. In her book Girl Boss Sophia Amoruso says she succeeded in business because she Googled everything. It’s how she worked out how to build a mailing list to warehouse economics. She Googled.

Add to this Facebook groups like Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine – where anyone can ask a question and find the right vendor, supplier, wholesaler, connector – anything they want. There’s this feeling, perhaps optimism, that the whole world has changed. That it’s opened up. That you can do anything. Anyone can have a brand if, as Bodibar’s Lama Perin says, you have the patience.

Go to Summer Stories