Nourished Life founder Irene Falcone left behind a sales role at Universal Pictures to start her own online business selling organic and natural products. Starting with just a $100 of stock and working out of her home, Falcone built up Nourished Life to become a key player in the beauty industry. Eight years on, Falcone has sold her business for a cool $20 million. It’s an inspirational story for any small business owner.
Yet, Falcone admits she was surprised by the success of the business and also the way in which Nourished Life evolved as a brand. Originally she set out to make Nourished Life a high-end destination for natural products, using celeb photos and glossy images to spruik the products. However, she soon discovered her customers preferred her honest mum opinions than that of influencers.
“I wanted Nourished Life to be one thing. I wanted it to be this glamorous beautiful brand that made natural, and organic and eco-friendly products. I wanted it to be the Rolls Royce of natural cosmetics. And I’m the complete opposite of that. I am an absolute dag. I’m a mum, I’ve got four kids, and there’s literally nothing glamorous about me at all. So that was really interesting because when I was on Facebook I couldn’t fake that. I couldn’t go and put some fancy clothes on and pretend to be all glamorous like some of those sort of Instagram people that are on there.”
With this in mind, Falcone quickly pivoted her brand, becoming a vocal spokesperson for eco-friendly organic beauty products.
“I thought, ‘How am I going to do this?’ And so, you know what, I decided I was just gonna be myself. So that’s how I built my brand, just being myself. You can’t go wrong doing that, ’cause you can’t get caught out,” she says.
“So many times, you do look on Instagram or Facebook, people can come across a bit fake, but for me noone could say that. If you go back through those old posts from ten years ago, Facebook photos that I posted in my house, when I was running it out of my kitchen, and they’re such daggy photos.”
Falcone says Nourished Life evolved considerably over the past decade and that her tribe of customers have grown with her. What began as a simple lipstick business has grown to encompass the sale of a huge range of natural organic products and Falcone has become something of an eco-warrior.
“Finding the right brands was interesting, because as I as started to get more and more momentum, I was approached by a lot of different brands. For me, there was this turning point, where I had to make a decision… what makes Nourished Life different? That is absolutely the number one tip that you’ve got to do, what makes your business different to everyone else’s?
“For me, it was that I had to be 100 per cent natural. It had to be a certified organic, and it wasn’t gonna just be like any other health foods store online that just sold stuff that was pretty natural, or said it was natural.”
Falcone said she developed very stringent guidelines around the products she would sell and despite being able to make enormous profits if she were to sell less environmentally friendly or organic alternatives, she stuck to her guns. Remaining true to her purpose and transparent in her processes has proved a winning formula. Although Falcone admits she’s not infallible.
“There was this one time that I sold this sunscreen – it was from another small business, a beautiful brand, and I sold it and I thought that it was 100 per cent natural. I made a mistake, and it wasn’t, and it had a couple of ingredients in there that are on my ban list. And I thought, “What am I going to do?
“My first instinct’s, ‘ust shut up, and don’t say anything to anyone, and just slowly take it off the website and don’t make a big deal about it.”
Instead, Falcone decided to come clean about her mistake and offer her customers restitution.
“I went and I posted a thing on Facebook, I said, ‘Guys, I am so sorry. I stuffed up, and for everyone who bought this product, I know who you are, I’m gonna give you a refund. You can keep the product if you like, but otherwise, I’m gonna give you a refund. I’m gonna take it off the site.”
The move cost her thousands – but according to Falcone, it was the making of her brand.
“I lost a lot of money by refunding everybody that product, because the brand didn’t reimburse me, and well by a lot of money, it was probably only a couple of thousand dollars then, but still back then that was a lot, ’cause I started the business with $100.
“That post was the one turning point, I have to think, in my entire eight years, that set the tone of my business and the integrity of my business, and now, even now, if you say, ‘What do you know about Nourished Life?’ I think most people would say, ‘Oh, no, she’s the real deal’.”
You can hear more about Irene’s retail story when she appears on Bricks & Clicks episode 3 this Sunday, March 10 on channel 7 at 1pm AEST. Missed the episode, dont worry you can catch up on Youtube or 7Plus