How Block faves Alisa and Lysandra launched a new brand during the pandemic

- January 14, 2021 4 MIN READ
Alisa and Lysandra Fraser

When we launched our personal care brand al.ive body in March 2020, it was a risk. With the country going into COVID lockdown and uncertainty, people questioned the timing of our start-up launch. However, we were confident we had the right product at the right time. It’s been a crazy ride with lessons learnt long the way, but we’re happy to have hit $1.3 million turnover in sales in just nine months, write Alisa and Lysandra Fraser.

Since winning The Block: Sky High back in 2013 we’ve managed to transition from two police officers walking the beat to running our own interior design and renovation business Alisa & Lysandra Interiors.

One thing we struggled with was not being able to source styling products that complemented our completed bathroom and kitchen design projects.

The personal care marketplace is saturated with brands that either place emphasis on aesthetic design or product integrity. Very rarely does one brand achieve both. Two years ago, we decided to fill the gap and launch our very own naturally-derived personal care range in a design-inspired way. It’s been blood, sweat and tears, but we’re proud of creating a thriving business despite the challenges of 2020!

Quarter 1 2020 – The March launch date goes ahead

At the beginning of last year, we’d planned to launch al.ive body mid-March. Little did we know what March would bring! We’d spent 12 months refining the product, worked closely with our business advisor and spent the 2020 first quarter finalising our systems, sales plan and logistics.

We also moved to a bigger office to cater for any predicted growth. We decided to press ahead with the launch date and schedule. As the product included a hand wash, we felt it’d be particularly relevant at this time. However, we’d be lying if we didn’t say it made us extremely nervous launching the same week that many parts of the country went into lockdown!

It was also important to build a brand supporting environmental consciousness and sustainability. We secured a partnership with environmental reforestation group, One Tree Planted, and pledged for every purchase made, one tree will be planted in Australia.

Quarter 2 2020 – The product takes off

To our relief, the range was a hit from the start, meaning our team doubled rapidly from three to six, which was a large expense but something necessary for future growth. This is something for start-ups to consider. There’s so much gloominess about start-ups failing, sometimes people don’t forecast for what might happen if their business is actually a success!

We’d spent a great deal of energy building our online presence and ecommerce store – a good move considering state lockdown restrictions. Having a strong business online is always beneficial. However, despite gaining new wholesale accounts it was clear some brick-and-mortar stores were struggling.

We did our best to support these stores whether through altering minimum order requirements, spending time promoting stores on social media and through email marketing campaigns.

Quarter 3 – We shift gears with some states

With Melbourne going into long lockdown, we had to think fast. At the time Victoria accounted for 40 per cent of wholesale accounts. Doing what we could to support Victorian stores, we had to focus on growth in other states. COVID-19 was clearly becoming something we had to adapt to.

Aside from sales, we realised it was important to spend time nurturing and growing our online community and email database. This helped to spread the word and formed a two-way communication channel between us and customers, another thing we found vital for development.

In this period, we saw a 40 per cent growth in al.ive body ecommerce and 60 per cent growth for al.ive body wholesale.

Quarter 4 – al.ive body reaches $1.3 million in turnover ahead of projection

With sales continuing to exceed expectations, our team grew from six to nine. This was al.ive body’s first Christmas period and let’s just say each employee worked their tail off. We weren’t prepared for how busy we were going to be – a good problem to have!

We learnt so much during this period. It was important we documented not only our sales growth but all marketing analytics weekly, so we had data to refer to in the coming year. We maintained weekly meetings to analyse what was and wasn’t working.

During this quarter we saw a further 75 per cent growth in ecommerce and 80 per cent growth for wholesale. Our goal was to reach $1million in turnover within 12 months but we managed to crack $1.3 million in our first nine months of trading which was a surreal moment for our team.

Through One Tree Planted we’ve funded planting 30,000 trees within Australia. Our first trees hit the soil in 2020 and we can’t wait to see more of our trees planted in 2021. We’re aiming to plant a 50,000 tree al.ive body forest in 2021.

Sometimes you overlook your achievements. Exceeding our target was the perfect end of year reminder that this little idea of ours has legs and there’s much more ahead.

Find out more about al.ive body here.

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