My Story - 3 Businesses in 3 Years

I was born and grew up in Auckland, NZ. From a young age I always seemed to be interested in buying and selling things, and going into Uni (University of Auckland) after graduating, I decided to do a Bachelor of Commerce. 3 tedious years later, I graduated majoring in marketing and management, and went on to work part time at a clothing store on minimum wage whilst attempted to launch my first e-commerce business.

First Business "I'll Take All Three" Instagram 

First Business "I'll Take All Three" Instagram 

I got the idea to start my own business in my 2nd year of Uni. I was obsessed with the American clothing retailer Nastygal (www.nastygal.com) - this is when Nastygal was the bomb, and years before it went bankrupt - and I aspired to be like the founder of Nastygal, Sophia Amoruso. 

Spending my life savings (Christmas money, Birthday money, working part time throughout school and uni) on stock and a web developer, and voila, my first website "I'll Take All Three" was born. It was hard. My stock wasn't moving, and I couldn't figure out why. I kept my part time retail job to cover my living costs whilst getting trying to get this business off the ground, and after a few months, I thought about giving up and getting a full time job.

In April 2015, I went to China to visit my family, and this is when I discovered the Waist Trainer product. I scrolled past on Instagram an American brand of them, and wanted one instantly. I thought, "If I like this product, other people like me might like it too". I found a supplier, ordered my first batch of product, and gave it a go selling them through social media, and it took off. To be honest, It was a combo of things. The right product, at the right time, and I was learning a lot of social media marketing techniques through trial and error, and learning off other successful businesses.

Home office in the spare room at my flat, this is where it all began...

Home office in the spare room at my flat, this is where it all began...

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I converted the spare room at my flat into an office space, and hired my first employee. We grew and grew, scaling our operations by the day, and within 6 months we were doing up to 700 orders a day to 90+ countries, and grew to a team of 8 staff.

I loved growing this business, and started planning my next business Luxe Fitness. 6 months later, in June 2016 we were ready to launch, and went to market with our signature protein powder.

In the same month, we did a celebrity collaboration with Kylie Jenner on Facebook and Instagram for Waist Trainer. Boy were we busy. Our tight knit team worked hard, and we made it work. People often get confused with this part - they think I got out a 6 figure loan to pay Kylie to launch the Waist Trainer brand at the beginning, when in fact Waist Trainer was already global prior to this.

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Luxe Fitness (Fitness Supplements and Apparel) was also a hit. Again we used social media as our main marketing method, and our products flew out the door from launch. Our marketing methods and entire business model was the same as Waist Trainer, so it was pretty much repeating the same methods again, only with a new product line.

Why did I pick supplements to get into? People laughed at me prior to launch. "It's an over-saturated market" "Too many supplement brands out there". Don't let comments like that throw you off. Same core product, different branding, different marketing - you'll find a winning combo if you do it right.

The first photoshoot we ever did for Luxe Fitness with my new Mercedes G55 

The first photoshoot we ever did for Luxe Fitness with my new Mercedes G55 

At the end of 2016, I made the decision to list my businesses for sale. I was only interested to see how much I could get for them at first, and then actually got a decent offer, an offer that meant I was able to build my dream home with the proceeds without a mortgage if I went through with it.

 

 

 

 

 

I remember visiting one of my dad's friends who lived in Coatesville (a beautiful lifestyle property suburb in Auckland, New Zealand), and it was beautiful. So much land and privacy, acres of fresh green grass, draped with tall trees, a pond in the yard and baby ducks... and from that day on, my life goal was to one day own a home out in Coatesville.

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And I'm so grateful to be able to say that by age 23 I was able to achieve this life goal of mine, something I didn't expect to be able to do until much later in my life.

I had a beautiful house designed, and we're currently in the process of building it.

This is more than I could have ever asked for.

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A friend of mine sent me this photo she took of the building next to her work, I didn't even know this was up!

A friend of mine sent me this photo she took of the building next to her work, I didn't even know this was up!

In December 2017, I decided to start a new business, Bambi Boutique (www.bambi.co.nz) by revisiting my original idea, an online clothing retailer. I've always had a passion for it, so I wanted to try again.

We had to start from scratch, but I certainly learnt a lot over the past 3 years, and it wasn't all that hard to get our social media and web traffic to the same level as my previous businesses, theres definitely a formula to it.

So... how did I create 3 multi-million dollar global companies from scratch in only 3 years? Here are my top tips:

1) If you have an idea, give it a go. You can come up with a business plan and projections but you'll never really know how well it's going to go until its going.

2) One of the biggest lessons I have learnt, is that no matter how great your product offering or service is, marketing is still a main determinant of how well you are going to do. So, make sure you get your marketing right. That's where I failed with my first business I'll Take All Three.

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3) Don't give up. Make sure you give it time. If you see it's not working after some persistence, see what elements you can tweak and improve. Seek help from others, and don't get offended by constructive criticism or other peoples opinions. Take everything into consideration.

4) It's not all about the money. I didn't start my own business because I wanted to make money, I started my own business so I could work for myself. I hated having to be at work at a specific time, and having to do what someone else told me to do even if I thought it was wrong, or there was a better option. I think as a creative person (and/or stubborn person) I just wanted to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted - and I wanted to work from in bed... sometimes. If you simply want to live a more flexible lifestyle, having your own business may be perfect for you.

5) What may work for someone else, may not work for you. Understand what you are good at, and work with your strengths. In my case, that would be digital marketing and e-commerce, so I will continue to work in those fields or at least utilise the skills learnt and apply them elsewhere. I now offer Social Media Marketing and Business Growth services to other businesses of all sizes, so please get in touch at info@iyialiu.com if you would like my help in adding value to your business.

Thanks for reading this, and I hope you continue to build the life of your dreams!

INTERVIEWSIyia Liu