Back in 2004, Bianca Kristallis started Pamper Hamper Gifts, an online gift store, after learning what types of gifts people like from her work in advertising and hospitality.
Did you believe when you started the business that you would have the level of success you’re having now?
I look back seven years ago and remember the day I started to jot down notes to begin my business plan. I was 26 back then and had a little less fear about the business world and you could say a little more guts. I thought big from the start and this ignited an energy that got the ideas flowing through me. The fact that I had so much confidence from the beginning enabled me to start on a positive note.
What was the biggest challenge you have had to overcome in the day-to-day of the business?
The biggest challenge I have had to overcome in the day to day running of the business is breaking myself away from the computer, mobile phone and iPad. I’m always monitoring the traffic on the site via the back-end system, I get excited when I see the different levels of customers searching and buying and get even more excited when I see return customers. I have well over 200 emails daily and they are pretty much replying to customers and wholesalers, the emails consume me and it’s hard. I find myself cooking and emailing at the same time quite often.
If you could go back and give yourself advice when you were launching your business, what would you say?
To be quite honest I feel I did everything right in starting the business as I went with my gut feeling and plan. I had a target market I was going to attract and played on that from the start. I didn’t over capitalise, I went in positive and confident, and was able to stick with my business plan and structure. If I hadn’t liaised, researched and written a business plan I don’t think I would have succeeded, it was just so important to have the right foundations and build on that.
No one is perfect and, yes, perhaps some advice I would give myself is that I could have spoken to more successful business people and surrounded myself with experienced business mentors.
There are a lot of negative stories in the media about the state of bricks-and-mortar retail; do you think this carries over into online retail?
Personally I think there is demand for both bricks and mortar and online retail. I can’t see the online retail sector completely taking over the shopfront store trade. Both are needed in our new technological world to help feed off each other. I took the online shopfront approach first, as my industry is all about a delivery service.
Online retail doesn’t mean the end of the bricks and mortar stores. Consumers will always require special service and assistance. Trying items, touching, feeling is always needed by anyone purchasing something. There is also the social aspect of shopping, it is all about enjoyment, fun, something to do and the overall experience.
What’s your strategy for dealing with the competition?
I love competition, it’s healthy. It actually gives me a buzz to know that we are being watched daily and monitored by our competitors. This is why my strategy is to always think ahead and know what’s around the corner. I keep up to date with the trends and focus on our target markets and demographics. I like to eliminate competition by being unique and setting the business apart from other hamper companies. I hate being the same, so I’m constantly changing and updating things. I certainly don’t like to be copied either.