We had the utmost pleasure of meeting and interviewing someone you will get to meet and hang with at the inaugural Nurture Her Fiji Business Retreat in October.
Olivia Carr, from Shhh Silk, this week told us how this little company from Melbourne is helping some of the most influential global celebrities get the best nights sleep they have ever had…
Shhh Silk is a fun-loving brand whose mission is to rid the world of regular cotton pillowcases for... pillowcases made of silk. We reckon that’s a critical mission because we believe that beauty sleep is essential for everyone, so why not add some benefits in the process, like the luxurious look and feel of 100% pure mulberry silk products.
With the ever-increasing research and education surrounding the benefits of sleep, Shhh Silk has a rather large market that includes any sleepyheads, but they mainly target girls and women aged 8-35.
So confident in their product that they believe those who sleep on silk pillowcases will never want to give them up, sooooo, Shhh Silk offers a 100-day trial for customers! We weren’t surprised to learn that since launching this option no one has sent back their pillowcase!
Publicity is always a positive thing for a brand, so with an impressive line up of magazines and celebs like, Vogue, Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen and Gisele Bündchen, obsessing over the Shhh Silk products, it helps raise brand awareness and spreads the word about the benefits of sleeping on silk.
Now, let's make a side note here. Shhh Silk’s relationship with celebrities is not a collaboration, yet a genuine love and endorsement of their brand through the users own personal use and regular request for Shhh Silk products.
Olivia says that “when any celebrity is spotted genuinely enjoying a product, particularly when it is not a paid endorsement such as ours, consumers feel a sense of trust in our brand. We also appreciate the sheer power of social marketing when we share these celeb spotted moments.”
To get these fantastic endorsements, you need to go the extra mile and add a personal touch to your gift. Olivia lets us in on how she managed to secure such glowing recommendations.
"We always gift celebs with matching monogrammed pillowcases and eye masks but we never just put things in a box and send it, we always make it fun and incredibly personalised to suit the receiver. We put in other personalised gifts that are tailored to that particular celeb, which makes the gift more personal so that the celeb feels special, not just another brand trying to sell them products. Do DIFFERENT – there’s no room anymore for same same!"
Shhh Silk has built their reputation on the quality of their products, and this aspect is essential to their success, so some of the challenges come in the form of not having weekly access to the factories where the silk products are produced in China.
Olivia has had to learn to employ patience and persistence when dealing with China. Being a steep learning curve she says, “you need to push hard and constantly fight for the quality standards you expect for your brand; you can never relax your attitude on this.”
She comments here on some further valuable lessons she has learned, “I would have sought help and advice sooner from successful business people who have walked in my shoes. I would have sought to understand the Chinese culture sooner, especially regarding manufacturing, and stressed less about everything! Oh, and I would not have stopped exercising for 18 months.”
We all know the roller coaster ride that is owning your own business can take you on. Some of these lessons are learned the hard way, leading to growth, eventually, but it’s also super powerful, and heaps of fun to celebrate the wins!
In no particular order here are some of Shhh Silks celebrated moments.
- Kim Kardashian requesting monogrammed king pillowcases in 2016.
- Creating the most iconic range of silk pyjamas in collaboration with the famous Beverly Hills Hotel.
- Being able to recruit my 64-year-old mother full-time to run our customer happiness team.
- Kylie Jenner sharing our silk eye mask on her 20th birthday… given the sheer amount of gifts she received this was amazing that she chose to share us!
- Moving from my home office into an office at the Chadstone shopping centre in January 2017 to then move into a 250+ sqm warehouse in June 2018.
- Building an amazing team of young Gen Z’s and allowing them to grow as individuals and set them up to build their own empires one day
- Reaching our first $1,000,000 in sales in our second financial year!!!!
- Seeing our competitor look to us for inspiration and product expansion.
- Selling into over 50 countries globally.
- Being able to share everything with my team, family, my two beautiful children. If I can help one person believe it’s possible and that changes their life and their future – that’s what really drives me!
It’s no surprise that we want everyone that comes to our Nurture Her Business Retreat in Fiji to take some time out of your business, unplug a little and nurture yourself so that you can kick ass even more than you do now. However, it seems like Shhh Silk make that part of their weekly priority.
Here’s just a few things Olivia has introduced to not only make her a better boss but have her staff working to their potential too…
- Reiki sessions
- PT memberships for group training
- Sailing (I surprised the team with a day on Port Philip Bay, we had lunch and had the best day!)
- Shining Star awards (every quarter the team votes for the staff member who shows the highest level of dedication, leadership and teamwork)
- Movie sessions (after work we go watch a movie as a bonding session)
- PJ days (for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries we have pyjama Fridays. We all commit and wear onezies)
- Pictionary (don’t get me started – I suck at drawing)
- Master Chef (we all take turns cooking for the team once a month)
- We dress the same (we wear matching outfits when we go to team training)
- We have funky girl gang jackets and the only male wears one saying SECURITY
- We don’t eat at our desks, we sit on beanbags and chat about non-work things
- We have a basketball ring in the warehouse and a treadmill climber
- We have walking meetings instead of sitting ones just to get some exercise make the meetings more interesting
You get the feeling that Shhh Silk isn’t just a regular 9-5 place to work! It’s not always possible to employ these nurturing strategies when you are a start-up business but how many companies do you know that are making the work environment a place you actually want to be? The traditional model of productivity is out the door, and it’s so refreshing to see that Olivia is focussed on not only making a profit but also on nurturing her staff and as you’ll read below, her kids too.
"My children were 9 and 14 when I launched Shhh Silk, my daughter was my first employee, and my now 12-year-old son has started his own e-commerce business with his sister. Sure, at times they get tired of coming into the office, however, I’ve made it both fun and educational, my son has a basketball court set up in the new HQ, and my daughter fits work into her VCE studies. My daughter continually drives my creativity with her love for all things beauty, fashion, and celebrity! We don’t see this as work, we all see this as our life, future and we all love the experience and very much feel blessed to have this brand."
So lastly I asked Olivia, who’s on your hit list of celebs that you want to add to your speed dial list?
"Ellen, Biebs & Baldwin, Ruby Rose, Channing Tatum and Beyoncé. The list doesn’t really stop, celeb gifting is loads of fun!!!!"
The Nurture Her Business Retreat will be hosted at the InterContinental Fiji from October 24-28. There are limited spots left so click here to secure your spot.