With talk of a retail downturn and big-name companies closing their doors, it is almost a surprise when a business makes it past the fifth year. For Postie Pop-Up Boutique ticking over 32 years in business was not a fluke. Their longevity boils down to something many businesses overlook – the power of relationships.
Thirty-two years ago, family-owned Postie started as a direct selling business with a clear focus to help women build their own business and create financial security for themselves and their families. Fast forward, three decades, that premise has not changed; the fundamentals remain the same. What has changed is how much easier it is now for women to start their own business and to get in front of their ideal customers.
You can’t be in business that long and not learn something. Steve and Ann Wilson, who founded the business back in 1987 at their dining room table, are still at the helm and have never stopped adapting, changing, learning and growing.
Their daughter, Kristina Wilson-McGregor joined the business nine years ago, bringing with her a background in street fashion, having worked for the Just Jeans Group. No stranger to the fashion industry, Kristina had many years under her belt travelling with Ann and Steve Wilson.
“I used to go on buying trips with them in my early teens; fashion has always been a part of my life – talks around the dinner table and accompanying them on the reward trips for Postie stylists,” she said.
“I came on board at a time when fashion was moving online. Postie had always been a face-to-face direct selling business, but we knew if we wanted to be around in another 32 years, we had to adapt.”
According to Statista, Australian ecommerce market value will be A$35.2 billion by 2021. Australia is currently the 10th largest ecommerce market in the world by revenue. e-Commerce in Australia will continue to grow over the upcoming years.
Despite this growth, and Postie’s pivot into online shopping, they don’t ever want to lose the essence of what has made it so successful in the past – the personal connection. “The best thing about direct selling is the personal connection with people; to compete with big retailers and online platforms we knew we had to use our strength,” Kristina said.
Steve Wilson agrees. “You have to value the people you work with – your team, stylists and customers,” he said.
Some of Postie’s stylists have been with them through the 32 years and have built great relationships with their customers. The stylists know their customers and what looks good on them.
“You can’t get that if you are only online. Everyone wants what we have got – stylists who know you, are interested in you and sell you a beautiful garment that fits you perfectly,” Kristina said. “A good stylist connects with the customer and the customer then feels comfortable to go online to order anytime they want knowing their size and the style that suits them.”
“They love the personal touch and the excellent customer service,” Ann added.
Another evolution in the business was embracing social media. For Steve and Ann, who started the business before Facebook existed, the transition was vital. “You cannot be in business and not keep up with the times. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business five years or 30. New technologies are released, and the way people receive information changes. If you ignore that, you get left behind,” Steve said.
“The direct selling industry has over 500,000 people in Australia who are involved in direct selling and the key to being relevant is not doing the same old, same old. While we are still a direct selling business, we keep up with what is happening in the world,” Ann said.
Another key learning is to accommodate as many people as you can. Women come in all shapes and sizes. Postie has always had a broad size range – from 4 to 28. “All around the world it is becoming the ‘thing’ to do – feature ‘plus size’ models – but we’ve been doing that for a long time. We’ve always acknowledged women are not all the same,” Kristina said.
For the Wilsons, business has to be fun. “That is the uniqueness of Postie’s styling sessions. Not only does it give women a platform to have their own business, with a fully supportive backend, but the sessions are an experience,” Kristina explains.
“We are always learning; you are only as good as your last range. This is why when we looked at the market, we created by Willa. We wanted to reach a younger demographic, reinvigorate our loyal customers and excite the sales team. Having a more ‘fashion forward’ label embracing the size and shapes of all Australian women.”
However, the ultimate key to success for Postie Pop-Up Boutique, is the underlying philosophy; be nice to people.