PAIRING a hair salon owner with an IT entrepreneur may seem an unlikely formula, but James Patten (right) and Bradley Carr (left) are a cutting edge act.
While 35-year-old Patten bought hair and beauty salon Recreate Yourself in early 2006, it wasn't until he linked up with technology young gun Carr a year later that his vision for an online beauty retail store came to fruition.
"I was doing a TAFE presentation on e-commerce when a classmate and a friend of James recommended I get in touch with him," says Carr.
"James had the concept of selling beauty products online similar to overseas models, but needed someone with the IT knowledge on how it would work and the best way to execute it."
Patten saw potential in building a quality Australian e-store after being 'frustrated' with the lack of service available online.
"I felt that Australia was lagging behind the US and UK for online shopping and saw a gap in the market that could be filled. It allowed a company from the Gold Coast to compete with major global players and brands," he says.
"There is a stigma associated with online shopping because of a severe lack of customer service.
"We can't compete on price with some of the overseas websites, but our philosophy is to offer the same service you'd expect from a retail store but with the cost-saving and convenience of purchasing online."
Patten bought the Recreate Yourself salon in its Southport location before moving it to Fortitude Valley and eventually settling back on the Coast at Burleigh Heads.
The salon acts as a shopfront for RY.com.au which retails top brand hair and beauty products to customers across the nation.
According to Patten and Carr, the biggest ongoing challenges are competing with other online retailers such as eBay and easing consumer reluctance to give out credit card details over the internet.
It's becoming less challenging for the company as the online retail market evolves.
"Purchasing hair and beauty products can be confusing to the average consumer particularly when buying off the shelf," says Carr.
"Selling these online works so well because it allows people to read reviews from real customers and compare various products before purchasing. It's also a big bonus to have a wide range of brands available so they can pick and choose what items from what brand."
Patten says the philosophy of the company is to always try and double the results. By setting a specific goal he fears he will limit himself.
"When we first made $1000 a day in sales I was amazed, but then I thought 'I can't wait until we make $2000 a day in sales'," says Patten.
"We are now doing on average of between $10-15,000 a day and during the Christmas period it's up to $50,000 a day in sales.
"Sometimes when I walk into the warehouse and see half a million dollars worth of shampoo sitting there I have to pinch myself. I remember when I had to pack it myself out of my garage."
The duo attributes the success of their partnership to their ability to learn from each other and to move out of their respective comfort zones.
Check out Recreate Yourself (RY) at its newly launched location, The Brickworks Centre: http://www.ry.com.au/store/brickworks/.
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