Beauty truely does come from within and Elle Ferguson is the ultimate beauty. Known as the Bondi Beach babe, famed for her cut-off denims and blonde locks; it’s her kindness, genuine spirit and business smarts that shine through when we meet. An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, Elle is gearing up for world domination … but first we talk Elle Effect, the power of Instagram and creating the perfect fake-tan from scratch.
Launching Elle Effect back in early 2018 was a full circle moment for Elle Ferguson. After working on the brand for a solid eighteen months prior to its launch, Elle had spent years thinking about fake-tan and how it could be improved. “I never liked the smell or the colour of the tans available on the market” says Elle. So, what do you do in that case? Well, if you’re Elle Ferguson, you create your own fake-tan.
Elle, a former global visual merchandising manager for Seafolly, didn’t start with a business plan. “I knew business and I knew what I had to do; where I needed to be; so I probably had [a business plan] without actually writing one. In saying that though, it’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of late nights”.
Deciding to start a business is one thing, but creating a product from scratch; developing the concept, look and feel, and then manufacturing it is really next level. Elle admits there was a steep learning curve. “Elle Effect tan is manufactured offshore in California so even from the get-go we were working in different time zones with different rules. It wasn’t easy”.
With a “zero-debt” business philosophy, Elle made the early decision to use her own capital to create her product and her brand. Already considered an ‘Influencer’ there was no shortage of keen investors, but Elle was adamant that she should back herself financially. At one point when 100,000 Elle Effect product bottles were printed incorrectly, Elle had reason to pause. However, in true entrepreneurial fashion her take-out was as expected. “I have learnt so much already, mistakes happen; but I am learning new things every day and just taking it step by step”. Elle then paid to get new bottles printed and continued.
The other challenge when you are running a zero-debt business is of course how to market it; enter the true power of social media, Instagram in particular. Elle Effect has been largely promoted through Instagram to Elle’s 600 thousand plus followers. However, it was the power of Kim Kardashian that launched the brand on the world stage. Not long after the product launched in Australia, Kim took to Instagram holding the Elle Effect ‘little white bottle’. The business went nuts. In fact, Elle laughs at how annoyed her local Australia Post were with her; she had to have her own allocated time-slot to send out her product.
In January 2019 Mecca jumped on-board, Elle Effect became even more accessible and the product cemented itself firmly on the beauty market.
Environmentally conscious choices
Elle also has a strong resolve that her products should be kind to the environment. It would have been easier and a lot more cost effective, to create a product without the environment top of mind, but as a self-proclaimed ‘Bondi beach babe’, Elle had other thoughts. “We are trying to do everything we can to ensure we are manufacturing in the most environmentally friendly way” says Elle. Whilst this has taken longer than initially expected, Elle says the “most enjoyable part of all of this is I have actually created something from scratch and people love it. I am very proud of that”.
Jumping into your side-hustle
Following a successful career, co-creating the powerhouse blog They All Hate Us, and becoming arguably one of Australia’s most successful influencers; what advice would Elle give to someone wanting to jump into their side-hustle? “The great thing about the side-hustle is exactly that, it’s a side hustle. You can still have many other things happening at the same time. I always say, ‘just do it’, what’s holding you back? If you fail, try again. And if you fail again, go again. We are so lucky to live in a time right now that failure doesn’t define us”.
Dresses don’t pay the rent
Curious about her role as an ‘Influencer’, I ask Elle about the job and what it entails. “Influencing is a definitely a job; it’s a full-time job. A big misconception is that it’s all about ‘just taking photos’, but there’s so much more to it than that”. Elle was once told that “dresses don’t pay the rent”, she took that advice to heart. Whilst it was nice to receive all of the “stuff” early on, Elle learned that being an influencer is about being strategic, knowing your worth, and who you are prepared to collaborate with to create your brand.
Now with the ever-changing Instagram analytics and algorithms, the latest being the removal of ‘likes’, I am interested in Elle’s advice for the budding influencer. “It’s actually a numbers game. My advice would be to find your niche; what makes you different? From there ensure that influencing starts as a side-hustle. When you start earning a wage that supports your lifestyle make it your full-time job’.
What’s next for Elle?
“Ha ha, besides world domination”, booms Elle. “We have a handful of new products launching very soon; we are quietly working on them behind the scenes making them perfect”. And after spending only a short time with Elle I have no doubt that will we be seeing a bunch of new products soon, but I also suspect that world domination could indeed be on the cards.
Spend a minute with Elle!
Follow Elle @elle_ferguson
Buy Elle Effect