Australian footwear label Billini is celebrating its 10th birthday.
Providing fashion-forward styles at affordable prices, the Billini business has ridden the fast-fashion wave and experienced steady growth because of it.
Billini creative director Susannah Khouzame discusses the milestones Billini has achieved in its 10 years, as well as what's coming up for the business in 2020.
How has the business changed since it began?
Where do I start!
The business originally began as a one-man team - me! I was the designer, QC, salesperson, pick-packer, delivery driver, receptionist and everything in between.
Although today I am still very hands on, I am primarily involved in the creative departments and now supported by a passionate and talented team of 30 in head office, over 100 within our retail division, as well as sales agents in each state and internationally who service our wholesale customers.
Outside of the team, the business has gone through many changes over the years.
One of the biggest would be the opening of retail boutiques which commenced five years ago in 2014. We have seen a clear gap in the market for on-trend yet affordable footwear and now with our own boutiques, customers are able to view the full collection (well almost) in store and get the full Billini experience!
We have also changed our target market of late, focusing on a faster fashion product mix, although still ensuring our core styles still cater for the everyday girl!
What has the business learned in its 10 years?
The business has been through continuous learning curves, and being such a young business everyone is learning continuously! Some of the main learnings over the years have been:
Stay true to your brand and invest in it - customers are not only investing in a fabulous pair of shoes for the season, they are buying into a brand.
We have learnt to not only stay true to who the Billini customer is when designing our collections, but to also ensure we take her on a journey by showing her how to style her looks through the endless content we have created throughout a season, as well as ensure she has an unforgettable customer experience whilst shopping online or in one of our boutiques.
Know your numbers and ensure you are always planning with a capital P!- it is so easy to get caught up in achieving certain goals, rapid growth and producing amazing product and sometimes can be easy forget about ensuring the business is profitable whilst still maintaining affordable price points.
Thorough forward planning is also a key in everything you do and ensuring the team is aligned and thinking this same way is also vital as there is always so much going on at once.
Great talent and a strong company culture is vital for successful business growth- finding the right talent, investing in training and development, minimising micro-management of staff members and a ensuring staff morale is at the forefront is all beneficial in maintaining a strong and happy working environment.
Billini - Limited Edition summer collection
Please describe a successful marketing campaign over the years and what made it so successful.
Most recently we have had success with our winter getaway marketing initiative. This saw us partner with key brands and locations such as Bannisters Hotel and The Daily Edited to offer our consumers the chance to win a luxury escape.
This campaign was an initiative rolled out across our digital platforms as well as in stores where by making a purchase customers were entered into the draw to win.
This allowed us to broaden our scope digitally with these aligned partners whose demographics we may have not initially had presence with, as well as rewarding our customers for shopping with us!
We saw a visible uptake in purchases with this campaign, with very excited responses from consumers both online and in-store.
The success of this campaign then paved the way for our more recent summer getaway which we just wrapped where we stepped things up a notch again!
We partnered with Quay Eyewear, which we have recently launched into Billini stores, offering customers the chance to win a Bali Escape as well as a year’s supply worth of Quay eyewear and of course a whole new summer shoe-drobe!
Describe a challenge the business has had to overcome over the years and how it did this.
We are blessed to have experienced rapid growth in the past few years, but this comes with its challenges as growth requires man power, training, changes in procedures, more space, etc.
During this time, our senior management and I have worked to ensure we have more senior leaders within departments to ensure the team has enough support through these busy times, as well as extra training and development plans within each department and endless amounts of forward planning.
Without a passionate and strong leadership team behind the business, the growth wouldn’t have been possible.
We have also decided to regain internal control of our warehouse as opposed to outsourcing to a 3PL to better manage all of our stock and despatch, being a very wise move even though we have expanded our warehouse three times within the past two years!
Ensuring our culture is strong, our plans are transparent with the team and everyone involved is excited about the journey we are on as well as celebrating the wins along the way is key to continuing to achieve our business goals.
What is a highlight of 2019 for Billini?
We have been working on launching a new website for the past 12 months and is has officially launched on 3rd December. We have seen an instant spike in traffic, conversion and revenue since its launch which very promising!
What is on the cards for 2020?
So much happens within 12 months in the Billini world as we have so many ideas and goals that the team is working on at once! Apart from some of the best collections you have ever seen from Billini, we have two main focuses for 2020:
1. International Wholesale Expansion: We have recently commenced wholesaling to the US market which has been a long term goal on the cards for a while so it is very exciting that this is finally coming into fruition!
We will officially launch our first Spring/Summer 20 collection in March 2020 which features a mix of our best sellers as well as some amazing new product in a fresh new colour palette.
We are also launching the collection in other international destinations such as Greece, Cyprus and various parts of Asia at the same time and will continue to expand the brand in countries worldwide within the next 12 months.
2. Retail Store Expansion: There are currently 13 Billini boutiques within Australia with plans to expand our footprint across many more locations nationally within the next 12 months.
What are some long term goals (in the next five years) the business wants to achieve?
Apart from the brand opening boutiques Australia-wide, we have pretty huge global plans! We aim for Billini to be a globally recognised brand in all parts of the world including the opening of boutiques in selected countries in the near future.
Basically worldwide domination in a nut shell!