Interview with Kim Peirce, Babescrub founder and start-up-preneur

We’d like to welcome back Babescrub as a sponsor of the Bullish Conference.

Last year, we may have rubbed founder Kim Peirce’s coffee body scrub all over ourselves (exfoliating and caffeinating at the same time!), but we just didn’t think to ask Kim the whole story behind her company.

This time around, I (Jen) finally had that lightbulb go off over my head: Wait, isn’t this an independent, woman-owned company kind of like a lot of Bullish readers want to start someday?

So I asked Kim, who is in Australia, a few questions. And she’s amazing. For instance, she launched FOUR companies in 12 months, planning all along to kill off the weaker ventures and declare one the winner. And that winner was Babescrub. Keep reading for the interview.

Bullish: Is Babescrub your first company? What did you do before?

Kim Peirce: Babescrub is one of four entrepreneurial venture I launched in the past 12 months. The idea was to launch 4-5 concepts, and collect the data to understand what the market said they wanted and then go with what was working. I have always been entrepreneurial but approaching my 40th birthday 2 years ago I realised there was never going to the perfect moment to just start. No-one is ever going to walk up to you and say, “oh yeah girl, your idea is awesome and here is a 200k safety net to get you started”. It was time to step up and take a punt on myself and so I did! I resigned from my corporate management consultant role where I acted as a capital project analyst focussing on risk reduction and project success outcomes for my clients. Now I do this for myself! I also have three divine children ranging from 8 years to 16 years, so I am a family babe too!

Bullish: Hold up! You launched 4 businesses in 12 months? So when you sponsored the Bullish Conference last year, Babescrub must have been brand new?

Kim Peirce: The plan with launching four concepts was to get in, launch before perfection, measure as quickly as possible and pivot accordingly. From where I sit in the current season of my life, this was only possible if implementing lean methodologies, and collecting and interpreting as much data as possible—which is also tricky because the data is fairly limited at the very start. So yeah, when we sponsored Bullish 2014, we were literally 8 weeks old as a brand. But being a new brand, the main thing we wanted to focus on was aligning with other brands that we felt were like minded. It’s all about that connection.

Bullish: Your product photography is really glam and professional—this doesn’t look like a new, bootstrapped business. Tell me more about your marketing and vision.

Kim Peirce: Thanks for the ups about our photography and brand presence. It’s really magical when we get positive feedback like this because we are squarely in the start-up-ninja mindset and don’t allow ourselves to assume our vision is being translated as we intended…as I’m sure EVERY entrepreneur understands, you think you are striving for a certain aesthetic, but the reality is you are drenched in the day to day of running around running your business, so having a birds eye view can be difficult. Being objective about the outsider experience is super tough. Lean start-ups—or bootstrapped start-ups, are often run solo or by a few people, and so each person is across the myriad of functions that are required for running a business. The start-up-preneur doesn’t have the luxury of walking down the hall with an aesthetic directive to hand to said branding team. The start-up-preneur crafts each image, each word chosen, each posed shot on their own, and this is challenging because you can’t just assume you are effectively communicating a certain something, something!

Our marketing vision is really simple. I’m fascinated by people – I love their issues, their farts, their mono-brows, their individuality, and their choices. In this way, marketing comes naturally to me. For Babescrub, the aesthetic is really important. Every touch point is considered based on our values, from our social platforms to our order confirmation email. But yes, we are bootstrapping, so although I want Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin doing our shoots, we don’t have the budget to afford such talent. Instead, everything we make on the cart goes back into scouring the earth for the types of babes we want to work with to represent and create our brand. We reach out to many, hear back from a few, and make the magic happen when we can!

Bullish: I am feeling very impressed right now. Can you tell us anything about the other ideas/startups you killed off and why? What made Babescrub the winner?

Kim Peirce: The running theme in all of the projects has been about health, wellness and generally taking care of yourself and your environment. I only realised this recently. There was no intention set out to do this, I guess it’s just an extension of the core of my day to day.

I developed an App first. The Solar Calculator App predicts the amount of solar power your photovoltaic panels generate without the need to invest in expensive hardware to measure this. The algorithm was developed by my husband and I, using our statistical analysis skills. I initially thought that the App market was hot enough to float any seriously good idea. What I learned very quickly was that developing Apps takes a lot of hours and developing the App is the easy part! What I didn’t know is that after 6 months of time poured into development, as a solo-preneur you haven’t even begun to start marketing, let alone SELLING the App! The other crucial fail was realising too late that the largest demographic purchasing Apps and making in App purchases at the time, was women aged between 35-50 playing Candy Crush Saga while their kids were in school….Having a smart idea for an App means nothing. You need to know that someone cares enough to spend $3!!!

Of course, before all of these lessons were cemented in my thick skull, I began building the next great App idea!!! Double fail. Another brilliant idea about taking lessons learned from the safety practices executed in the oil & gas and mining industries and translating those into accessible and fun learnings for the construction industry to help lower safety incident rates…which believe me, needs all the help they can get here in Australia as safety rates are dire. But alas, no-one was really that stoked! I pitched it to government and other bodies but this idea was shelved before I spent any more capital in the development.

The third project was a organic health and wellness tea which is still operational. Tea with Benefits operates on autopilot, but a couple of months after launching TWB I launched Babe and so 99.9% of my time is focused here.

Babescrub was the winner because I enjoy it the most, and it was well received by the market from day 1. I have so much fun with Babescrub – she’s a gem and I love her. I was listening in to a Creative Live webinar a couple of years ago when the presenter spoke about the need to actually love your business, and I totally get that, because there’s times you want to weep with exhaustion, so feeling that love and gratitude for the business I’ve created with my own two hands really helps get me through the impossible days.

Bullish: Here’s maybe a weird question, but where are the scrubs made? To a lot of entrepreneurial ladies, physical products are sort of a mystery.

We manufacture all our products in Australia. We went out to the global market to find manufacturing facilities from Indonesia to Switzerland and everywhere in between, but it quickly became evident that even though it is more expensive to manufacture in Australia, I wanted to keep it local. It just didn’t feel right to head off shore. Manufacturing in Australia feels authentic and real and is part of the DNA of the Babescrub brand. We are also officially certified as suitable for vegans and cruelty free through Cruelty Free Australia which I am very proud of.

Bullish: Aces! And finally, what’s your best advice for founders?

My best advice to other founders is to start NOW, and don’t listen to every other wanker that tells you NO. Keep persisting. There are buckets of people who love the word NO, and I love them, because these are the ones you can leave behind to find the others with whom you will make the real magic happen!

Thanks, Kim!

We wish Kim were going to be at #BullCon14 in person, but you’ll just have to settle for these (full-size, amazing!) Babe Scrubs in the Bullish goody bags.

Follow Babescrub on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and order here.

Register for the Bullish Conference here.

Update: As a result of Babe’s help with #BullCon14, GetBullish now carries Babescrub in the store!