Samantha Lynn worked in marketing for the majority of her career, for leading brands such as Lincraft, the Western Bulldogs and Zoos Victoria. Then in 2019 she and her best friend and now business partner, Kezia, saw a gap in the Australian gifting market for truly personalised gifting options that allow consumers to pick the perfect gift for their friend or loved one. After starting the business in a part-time capacity, the increased demand for online gifting services driven by the pandemic, meant that running PersonallyPicked became her full time role in 2020. PersonallyPicked has seen an 80% increase in sales during the current lockdown and the platform is now one of Australia’s leading gifting websites.
Where did the idea for PersonallyPicked come from?
PersonallyPicked was launched by my best friend, and now Co-Founder, Kezia and I in April 2019. We found that there was a gap in the market for personalised gifting. There were a lot of hamper companies around, but they all just had generic hampers where you would send to a loved one and they might only use 2-3 things out of the gift, and not use the others. We loved the concept of allowing people to hand pick every single item that goes into their gift, so they can ensure they are choosing items they know the recipient will love and enjoy. There was that gap for a truly personalised, build-your-own gift style offering. So from here, PersonallyPicked was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
We usually start our day between 7am-8am, depending on how busy the orders are the following day. First up, I answer any emails that are in our inbox. Then we start preparing shipping labels and cards for the orders for that day. We then go downstairs and spend a few hours packing the gift boxes. Once gifts are packed and dispatched, we restock the shelves and clean the workspace. Depending on how many orders, we would have some lunch then aim to get to our desk in the afternoon to work on admin and strategy and any individual projects or tasks we are working on. We use Asana, which is a project management system. This allows us to assign tasks to ourselves and stay accountable, which I find really helpful. Often if we are busy, we don’t get to everything as packing takes up the majority of our day, so knowing what to prioritise becomes really important.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Brainstorming. I absolutely love sitting down and just writing a bunch of ideas on a whiteboard, then workshopping them. Figuring out together as a team, what ideas we can see value in and then building on these and creating a list of actions to make sure they happen. Ideas are only ideas, until you do the work to bring them to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Supporting and shopping from local businesses has been a huge trend as a result of Covid. We love supporting our Australian local makers and artisans. There are so many amazing products made in Australia that a lot of people don’t even know about. I am so excited to continue to have a focus on this and help these businesses gain more exposure.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being a list maker. I love being organised, knowing what I need to be focusing on and when. I constantly have a list for day-to-day admin, but also for bigger picture projects, so they can keep ticking along and progressing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be curious, read books, listen to podcasts, find what you are interested in and passionate about and then go after it. When you are young there is so much pressure to choose what you want to do as a career. I think if I went back, I wouldn’t have put so much pressure on a uni degree or career, but rather, find things I was interested in and see where it took me.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Working Saturday’s is underrated! We try to make weekends really fun at PP, we bring in some treats for morning tea, have the music pumping and even a cheeky wine when we knock off.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Look at your numbers. This is something I do almost daily. It’s so important to know what’s happening in your bank accounts. It can help you make informed and confident decisions in your business, especially when you are in a phase of intense growth, and some of those decisions can be a little scary. Understanding your margins and your numbers is critical and super empowering.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Backing our decisions and knowing when we need to invest in our growth has been really important. Over the last two years, we have experienced significant growth and demand as a result of an increase in consumer demand for online gift orders. We had two options from this, to just ride the flow and get through orders, OR we could use the opportunity to extend our reach and push ourselves to help with overall long term business growth. We have continued to market our business, hire a team, grow our space, invest in our website, product range and processes, all whilst not knowing what will happen when lockdown ends, but we want to give ourselves every opportunity to continue to be successful and capitalize on this period of increased demand. So a strategy that has worked for us is to invest while we can in things that will benefit our business in the future.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have had so many failures as an entrepreneur and I think this is completely normal and something that only makes you better as you learn from these mistakes. The biggest one that comes to mind is we launched a dog line of products in our first year of business. We invested a lot of money into the products and photography etc. and it just turned out to be a complete flop. The market wasn’t there and I think we were trying to be too many things to too many people. We ended up selling all of the products individually on Etsy! From this we learnt that it was important to nail what we were already offering, and make sure we did this better than anyone else. Then, we could look at areas to expand into.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have always had an idea for a local Australian pocket trivia brand. Almost all of the trivia games we have sourced or looked at are so focused on American or British pop culture. It would be great to have some Australian trivia, based on Australian music, pop culture, TV, sport etc. Whether it’s 100 trivia cards, packaged really well that people can play around the dinner table or at a bar. (We would definitely stock your product in PersonallyPicked boxes so you already have a stockist!)
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I purchased some amazing loaded cookies from a local lady making them from home throughout lockdown, they were amazing and I shared them with family. I have a huge sweet tooth so I was in heaven, and got to support a local maker at the same time!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I love Asana, as mentioned above it’s a project management system that helps you assign tasks and create projects. You can assign due dates, attach documents and tick tasks off as they are completed. It helps me stay productive and make sure things aren’t forgotten.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love all of Lisa Messengers books, they are really focused on being a disruptor, staying true to your passions and believing in what you can achieve as a female entrepreneur. My favourite from her would be Daring and Disruptive.
What is your favorite quote?
A quote from Zoe Foster-Blake, one of my favourite female entrepreneurs: “I believe that the universe rewards momentum. Just keep going forward like you know what you’re doing”. Basically saying that sometimes you have to just pretend you know what you are going, even when it might feel scary and you may be unsure, back your decisions and keep the momentum going.
- Support local businesses and producers – if the challenges of the last few years have taught us anything, this is a key learning!
- It’s essential to back yourself and your business to allow it to grow.
- Be curious and continue to learn about your industry and even complimentary industries.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.