Dylan Mullan, Founder, Happy Skin Co
Dylan Mullan took an extremely unconventional path to entrepreneurship.
While he was in school, Mullan was convinced he wanted to be a lawyer, until he started taking classes at university and realized that he hated them. After that, he spontaneously took an acting course and spent almost five years as an actor. It was eventually a desire to have more control over his life that led him and his business partner to launch Happy Skin Co together.
Through a mixture of hard work, strategic decisions, and a deep investment in understanding their target customer, Mullan managed to grow his at-home hair removal business from $0 to $20 million in just two years.
In this interview, Mullan maps out exactly what this path to explosive growth looked like. He breaks down his approach to everything from market research to Facebook ads and explains why mindset is ultimately an entrepreneur’s most valuable tool.
If there’s any other type of content you’d like to see that would be valuable to you during this time, please don’t hesitate to reach out at [email protected] to let us know.
- The path from aspiring lawyer to aspiring actor, and how Mullan eventually wound up in the world of entrepreneurship
- A look into Happy Skin Co’s early days, from long nights of planning to packaging products in Mullan’s living room with friends and family
- The turning points that catapulted the company from $0 to $20 million in 2 years
- How Mullan approached market research and influencer marketing in the early days
- What the impact of Covid-19 has looked like for Mullan and his team, and the new opportunities it has opened up
- Mullan’s best advice when it comes to creating profitable Facebook ads
- An overview of the Happy Skin Co product development process and a sneak peek into what’s next
- How to deal with industry copycats
- Why Mullan is a huge advocate for visualization and believing in yourself
Full Transcript of Podcast with Dylan Mullan
Nathan: The first question I ask everyone that comes on is how did you get your job?
Dylan: My job is in, my job at this business, like w-what was my path to get here?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah. How’d you find yourself doing the work you’re doing today?
Dylan: Yeah. It’s, it’s actually a little bit of an interesting story. So, all the way through school, I, probably from like year seven or eight, that early on, I always thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I guess it was just the idea of, you know, wearing a suit and working in the city all day. And as a young teenage boy, you’re kinda thinking that was the cool thing to do or that’s a respectable job.
Um, so all the way through school, I was, I was really good. I, I was focused on business and legal and all that sort of thing. And got into uni, and had early entry into that, which, which was cool. Um, I was stoked. Literally, got there, six months in, I was done. Like maybe two weeks into the course, I was like this is not me. I was so unhappy, I hated it. I felt like it was almost destroying my soul to be there. Just, I thought that for the last five or six years, this is what I wanted to do, and I got there and I’m like this isn’t me, I can’t do this. So I deferred uni.
I was meant to go back the next year and just do the business side of the degree, um, but in that six months I had off, I thought, look, I was so done with that whole experience, university, I’m like what’s the opposite thing I can do to that. What’s just gonna be something that isn’t what I should do or what I think is gonna be a good job long-term? What’s just gonna make me have the most fun?
So I did, I did like, I enrolled in an acting course of all things, and I did that just for fun and I’ve really enjoyed that. Um, and one thing led to another. I ended up spending like four years, four or five years as an actor, so full-time at an acting studio, acting college. Got an agent, auditioned, filmed some things. Um, and it got to the point maybe like three or four years ago where I was really enjoying, um, but I just knew too many really great actors that, you know, in their 30’s or 40’s and still had to, to work second jobs like at a bar or as a cleaner. And I just thought, look, I, I wanted to take more control of my life.
I got, I got pretty close to a couple of big roles and then you wouldn’t get it because y-you have the wrong hair color or you don’t quite look like a dad. And I just thought, look, I love this, but for now, I need to do something that I can take more control of, of my own destiny. Um, and for me, that was always business and E commerce. I found like that was gonna be the best part. You don’t need a whole lot of upfront income to, or capital to start that.
So I got a job in the corporate space and spent probably a year or two just like living on Instagram, living on YouTube, listening to podcasts, building Instagram pages just for fun, just learning how it all worked. And then, that was the beginning of, of me really opening my, my eyes to the world of business and E commerce. And it was something I didn’t even think was possible when I was at school. I didn’t even know it was an option.
When I thought of what’s a business owner in school it was, you have a café or a gym or a trader. I didn’t even know about E commerce or all the other opportunities out there. So that’s kinda how I got to where I was today. It definitely wasn’t a straight path. I definitely wasn’t a kid that knew I was gonna be an entrepreneur, even though looking back, I probably had a, a lot of qualities that would be suited to, to what I’m doing now. But by no means was it a straight path. I kinda fell into this and realized I really love this. It-it’s my passion.
You can be creative, you, you can make things happen, you can build things. So, yeah, I, I think I would it kind of just by stumbling through life, and eventually the right, the right things pop up and you grab onto them. So that was me.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. So, you said you were kind of effectively getting paid to train, um, you working at a company, another Ecommerce company, and y-y-you only learnt the ropes or?
Dylan: Um, well, yes and no. So, I, I was working for a media company at the time and my job was to teach small business owners, like hair dressers, trades, things like that, how to advertise. At start, it was just the principles of advertising and marketing.
We were, we were partnering with like literally newspapers, radio stations, selling old school traditional stuff. But through that, I kinda learned the principles of marketing, um, and then later on in my time at that company, I actually got, got put in the, the team to, to work, um, and actually start building businesses with Facebook. I only did that for a couple of months.
But through that time, I was, I was travelling to Chatswood. That’s like two hours from where I am. So I had two hours on the train in the morning and two hours on the train in the afternoon, and I was constantly listening to podcasts, on Instagram, figuring out hashtags, figuring out what’s trending, what’s not. So it wasn’t just at that job, it was, I had so much time in the mornings and the nights around that where I just got obsessed with, with learning and education.
And even when I first started, I didn’t know I was gonna start an Ecommerce business. I was just like okay, Instagram, this is a cool thing. I want to learn how that works. And that was probably like five years ago now, and obviously n-nothing like the level of what you did with Instagram accounts. I was growing things to like 20-30K, and then okay, what else can I find, what’s a new niche. And I just learned that way and, and that was it. Started listening to a lot of podcasts about E commerce and then I realized, well this is a thing. So, yeah.
Nathan: So, was your first business Happy Skin Co? Yeah?
Dylan: Yeah, my first business.
Nathan: So, when did you launch?
Dylan: Yeah. We launched… Um, so I actually started this business with a mate. Um, we launched in April 2018, so almost exactly two years ago now. Um, we’ve probably spent about nine, between nine months, uh, and a year from when we had the idea for what Happy Skin Co was gonna be, or we knew we were gonna be in the beauty space until we launched, and that period was just grind. Like we worked our jobs, we’d get home, 7:00 pm to midnight… as many days a week as we can, three, four, five days a week, we’d work from 7:00pm to midnight working on the business, growing out business, putting business plans together, trying products, failing, learning, getting some things right. At some points we were like, “Dude, how we gonna do this?” There were so many times when there were obstacles and we’re just like, we just sat there for like a week, two weeks and your like, “How are we gonna get past this?”
And what I realized since that period, like we are two people at that time, um, who both really to, to get through it. We had kinda similar skillsets, but also we were good at other things, so we always found a way through. And I’ve seen so many people since then that come to me for advice, whether they’re friends or friends of friends, and I see people hit these obstacles and they, they let it completely derail their, their plan and they never follow through and never end up launching.
So I think it was good at that time, we had two people working together for the launch of the business, which was good. Um, but it wasn’t always easy for sure. The process to getting where we are today wasn’t, wasn’t easy.
Nathan: Yeah, so, so that’s rewind that. Um, so y-you started working on the product in 2018, April 2018, or is that when you launched?
Dylan: That’s when we launched. Yeah, so probably mid to early, um, 2017 is when we actually started working on it, um, and just-
Nathan: And you said there, there were two people. What do you mean by that? You mean, you and your business partner?
Dylan: Yeah. I started the business with a, with a mate. Um, so we, we were together for probably the first like nine months, 12 months of the business. Um, and now he’s doing his own thing. He’s in E commerce again. He’s, like, took time off, he was gonna do something else and then he ended up thinking, “No, look, I’m gonna stick with E commerce,” and he’s got another really great brand. U-uh, the moment he launched in haircare space at the moment.
But it was two of us then and literally the first core team of Happy Skin Co was me, my old business partner, my little brother who still works for us doing all the orders, and his mom. Literally, like working out of the home, packing orders, (laughs), testing products. It was, it was really … from the start.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. So, um, what was interesting to me is you guys have had incredible growth. When you guys pitched us this story, it was zero to 20 mill in two years annual revenue.
Dylan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: That’s pretty impressive, um, even for an Ecommerce business.
Dylan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: So, um, I’d love to unpack that and go a little bit deeper. But let’s talk about the product. Like, how did you, how did you find out about the product. I’ve definitely seen it around-
Nathan: … and yeah, I’m really curious, why that particular product? And tell us about the product.
Dylan: Yeah, yeah. So, the, the whole… Look, we didn’t try and reinvent the wheel, we didn’t try and do anything groundbreaking. We, we sat back and analysed okay, what’s some really successful E commerce brands that have launched over the last few years and what have they done. Obviously look at what happened with the teeth whitening space. Again, it was p-previously done in like a dentist chair, had to go in, book appointments, quite expensive. Look at what happened with, with fake tan that used to be. You know, you go to the beauty salon and they’d spray you in one of those tents, and then brands come along and it’s bought at home.
So if you can take a product or a service that’s generally done in a salon or a clinic session that may be a little bit inconvenient to, to book, maybe might be a little bit costly, if you can put that into an at home product, um, and still achieve the same, at least very similar results, you’re gonna really position yourself with a good chance to win.
And we wanted to do something that hadn’t really been done before as well. So, the way we came across this was literally, it has nothing to do with our product, but we saw literally it was some drop shipper, some random ad, was barely written in English, and it was for some shea butter. It had like a little white on it. That was it, just so you could see the hairs that you were trimming. We saw that and we’re like, “Hmm, what about, is it possible to get like a laser hair removal handset for at home?” And we probably spent three months trying to create one ourselves. Like we were talking to like product engineers, and that got really, really …looking at different technologies like burning the hairs and all this weird stuff, until we finally found, um, a manufacturer who was doing something similar, um, to what we wanted.
So we, we spoke to them in China, yeah, but it took a while to find that path. It wasn’t a clear yeah, okay, I know where I’m going and I’m just gonna look straight to a manufacturer, um, there. But we got, we got a couple that were doing something similar and we told them okay, we wouldn’t be happy with what that is, we want to change a few things. And, and it essentially was like a tender process. They all sent us like their best product, their best final packaging, product, rates, deals and, and their, and their like processes, who, who could work with us if we did scale. Um, and we got down to one and, and we’ve been with them f-for years and they’ve been really great. We, we completely redesigned, um, our brand new handset the end of last year with them, so it’s been a successful relationship.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Um, so talk to me, winding back… So you and your old business partner and, um, sounds like some family and friends were helping early days-
Nathan: … picking and packing and that kind of stuff as you do. So you didn’t have a three PL? Like you just-
Dylan: Yeah. No, no three PL. Still don’t. To this day, everything is, is sent from a warehouse in Sydney. Literally at the start, we, we had, we had our whole first, our whole first order was 110 units of stock, right. 10 of them were sent to influencers and 100 was to sell. That was it. So we had, we had… It was actually my, my mate’s living room, we had the stock that we had and sold on one side, we had the printer on the other side, and in the middle was like the, like the, where we packed all the orders and did everything, right. Um, so that was it, literally 110 units. Now, we’ve sold like well over 100,000 in like two years. So it, it went really quickly.
Um, we did-didn’t see it coming. Like we always believed this was gonna be a winning product, but to think we would, we would go from like… in my first year… Put it this way, my whole goal for 2018 was to be able to quit my, my full-time job and work at Happy Skin Co full-time. That was my whole goal. We probably ended up getting like 10 million revenue in our first year. Um, we ha-had to quit our jobs after two weeks. We had our first full-time staff like two months later. We had a office and a warehouse, um, not long after that. So it just, it just blew up.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Um, talk to me about, like you said that you believed in the product, you thought it was a winning product, but you didn’t think it would do that well. Like, like why did you believe it was a winning product?
Dylan: Well, you can just look at… for the reasons I listed before. Like if you can create a product that’s gonna give people more time or more, more, more money, like convenience and affordability are massive things. And then, just, you know, our market research, which was like probably n-nothing crazy, like maybe 100-200 people. Every girl that we spoke to between the ages of 20 and 30 had, had, either was currently doing laser hair removal or had done it in the past. I’m talking 95% at least had done laser hair removal before. Um, and if they hadn’t done it, they either stopped because they couldn’t be, they couldn’t keep up with their sessions, they couldn’t get the time or they couldn’t be bothered, it was too expensive, um, it was painful for some. There was just so many areas of opportunity that we thought okay, some people are gonna be loyal to their, to their laser clinics, that’s fine, but for a lot of people, we’re gonna solve a problem, um, and make it more affordable and accessible.
So, we knew it was gonna, we knew it was gonna be big. We thought it would take people time to get used to this new idea, this new concept. But literally like from the third day, the third day we launched, we had our first influencer post, and probably from then, it’s been, it’s been busy. Since our third day.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. So, um, talk to me… Yeah, like, what made it take off in even the first week, in the first couple of weeks. What did you do? Was it the 10 influencers? Were you strategic with the 10 that you worked with? Um, tell me about that.
Dylan: Yeah. So, the first day, um, no sales. I was going to bed… Uh, it was about 11:30 at night, just getting into bed first day, nothing had happened yet. We’re probably maybe like $50 to $100 dollars on Facebook ads that day, but that was it. Just about to go to bed, I get a phone call, 11:30. It’s my mate. He goes, “Dude, we just got our first sale.” I’m like, “What, that’s crazy.” I’m like, “All right.” He’s like, “Come over.” Like, “All right.”
So I jump out of bed, went over to his house and he’s like five minutes. We cracked a bottle of champagne and then we’re just like, “Dude, see, this, this proves the concept. People are gonna want this. This is a product that’s gonna work.” We’re like, “This is awesome.”
Went across the, the road to the ark across the road from his house, and we always just sat out there and talked about what’s gonna happen and kinda visualise the, um, what the process if gonna be like, those big milestones. Like, sweet, went back to bed.
The second day, again, probably spending like $100 or $200 on ads. Um, no sales. We’re like, “That’s all good,” like we knew this was gonna be a process, we’ve got to be patient, persistent. We’ll, it’ll pick up.
The third day, we had our first, um, influencer. It was about 7:30 pm at night, um, I was just starting martial arts three nights a week. I was just about to leave. He calls me, he’s like, “Dude, we just got our second sale.” I’m like, “Dude, no way. That’s awesome.” We’re chatting, I can’t remember what we’re saying. We’re just like little kids. Um, then we got an-another sale five minutes after that. I’m like, “Dude, what is going on?” And then literally 30 seconds later, that little goes off again. I’m like, “That’s it, I’m coming over. I’m not going to training tonight.”
I go over to his house. We like cracked another bottle of champagne. Obviously, every time we get a sale, we’re high fiving …working. And like our whole initial investment to the business was 20, $20,000. We probably made, in between probably 7:30 and midnight, we probably made like $7500.
Nathan: Yeah, wow.
Dylan: Just that quick. Um, so that influencer was our first kind of strategic thinking of influence. So what it was, our first influencer was from, I think it was Bachelor in Paradise. Um, we sent one to him not even knowing he was on the show, um, and then by the time we posted, it had been like an extra… The time we launched ’cause things got pushed back, it had been like an extra six weeks from when we first hit him up and he’d grown 30-40K since then, and he still, still was cool. He was so cool about it. He’s like, “I’ll still do it for free just for the product.” He posted it and it, it worked. We’re like, “Shit, dude, this is awesome.”
So I literally hit up every single person I put on that show. Um, they were like, “Yeah, we’ll do it for this, we’ll do it for this,” and we just worked with probably like anyone who would accept, anyone who would say yes, we’d work with everyone. And at that point, because it was such a new product, if we were to put our product in front of people, it was always the first time they’d seen it.
So we were making a lot more money back then, we weren’t paying them, so that allowed us… whatever money we got, we put all of the money into stock. So like we, we ordered 110 and then we saved all our money and ordered 200, then 500, then 1000, and it just kept growing from there. We didn’t take a dollar out of the business for like the first six months, and when we did quit our jobs, we like put budgets together. I mean, like okay, what’s the minimum we can pay ourselves just to get by. It was like $500-$600 a week, and we just wanted to make sure we could finally catch up and get ahead.
We’re actually behind in the orders like the first three or four months. Like there was just that much demand coming through. We’re sending like sorry cards, little gifts to our customers saying that it’s coming, it will be an extra week, thank you for your support. Um, it took us, yeah, probably three or four months to finally catch up in stock a-and be ahead rather than chasing.
Nathan: Yeah, no, interesting. Um, and I think that’s smart, you’re just reinvesting for growth.
Dylan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: And now, now you just keep on building, building, building, building. So um, one thing that you told me, which I thought was interesting, was you said, “When it comes to market research, you only spoke to 100-200 people.” Why did you do that and how did you reach out to them, how did you find them, what kind of questions were you asking them? Um, tell me about that.
Dylan: Yeah, well that was a little bit obsessive. Everyone that we both spoke to that we knew were friends of friends we met at a party or we stopped in a shopping center and they had a friend with them. I just asked what’s your experience with laser hair removal like. It was just that, it was just in person, and then we did a couple… Legit, this is super things, Survey Monkeys, did them, posted them, got as many people as we could to fill out those forms.
But like, that was important to, to a degree, but also like I just trusted my gut at that time. I just knew it would, I know it would work. I, I trusted that as long as it was effectively, that was the first thing. Once we got it, got the product, once we, we went through all the, the legal things and operational things and made sure that was all good, the next step was okay, if this works, it’s, it’s gonna take off eventually. It’s, we just need it to work.
And it worked. Tested it with a bunch of people before we launched. And like literally did it the first week, didn’t really see much of a difference. Literally from the second week, it was like who, you can see it. W-w-we didn’t, we didn’t, they didn’t tell us straight away. They wanted to do it for a few weeks until they came back with their results. And I saw the results after like the first four weeks. And they took photos every time and it was just like, dude, this is gonna, this is gonna be big.
So, there was a lot of work involved and, and that was our kind of research. But even if we didn’t do it, I, I probably would’ve trusted my gut a-a-and gone with it.
Nathan: Mmm, so, that’s awesome, man. So look, um, we’re actually doing this interview. We’re supposed to do it in, uh, in Melbourne. You were supposed to, uh, we were supposed to do it in the studio and, uh, we were really excited, and unfortunately, um… Yeah, look, it-it’s a crazy time right now and, uh, yeah, anybody listening or watching, I hope you’re staying safe and your family’s okay, um, and you’re doing okay.
So, yeah, basically we’re in lockdown right now. It’s March 26th, uh, Australia time. So, um, I’d like to know like how is everything going in these past couple of weeks. Like have you really been affected from, uh, you know, everything that’s happened with the COVID-19 virus? Like have sales been affected, and uh, I’d love to talk about what you’re doing now. And like, yeah, y-you talked about your marketing principles, I’d love to hear about that as well.
Dylan: Yeah, yeah. The first thing, the first way it impacted us was more of like… w-we’re still a small team. We have like 10 people that work here. Um, the first thing, like operationally that affected us. We’re just like whoever doesn’t need to be here, let’s get them working from home. So, it’s literally me, our operations coordinator, and one, and one guy downstairs who’s doing all the orders every day. That’s it. Everyone else, our marketing team, uh, our finance manager, everyone that doesn’t need to be here is working from home. So that was the first thing.
And then maybe two weeks ago, we had a weekend, I think the, the coronavirus just started to get really, get some more attention, started becoming a real thing in Australia, and we had a, a really quiet period of about three days. Like a Friday, Saturday, Sunday where we’re like okay, it is gonna start to affect us. But weirdly enough, I think it’s ’cause look, we are an at home product, we are that solution that you can use at home. Obviously, the clinics and salons are all shut in Australia indefinitely. The last couple of weeks have actually been really, like stronger than usual for us. We’ve had a lot of people who are reaching out with questions, um, that are coming from a market that, that we, that may not have been interested before. So, we’re actually doing okay. Again, we’re just making sure… Again, things chance so quickly with the, the situation right now, um, we’re just making sure we can do everything we can to support our customers, support people with questions. And even people that aren’t our customer, if they have any, and they just need to chat, whatever it is, we-we’re here to do the best we can.
We’re very grateful that we, we, we don’t have a business that’s completely blown to pieces from this, so we’re very grateful about it and we want to try and give back the best way we can. But at the moment, we’re okay in terms of numbers because w-we are that product people use at home, um, so we’re just gonna keep focusing on, on hopefully adding value and, and bringing things in, into people’s life that can make just that little difference. So, yeah.
Nathan: You know, I thank you for sharing ’cause, um, I know for, for many people listening right now, uh, a lot of our audience are just about to launch something or they’ve, um, they’re early stage in their journey and they might have been affected, or they’re thinking about launching something. What would, what would your take be there?
Dylan: Yeah, it-it-it’s hard ’cause I’ve got some friends, a friend that literally on Monday launched his E commerce site, um, doing like male, like hairstyling products. And, and I said, “Look, dude, just, I wouldn’t invest too hard.” It-it’s difficult. Y-you don’t want to tell people just to wait six months to, to get launched. I’ve actually got another, another product that I’m working on with a business partner, um, that I was meant to launch in the next two to three months, which may get pushed back to late August, early September. So I think you just have to play, play the market how it goes. You, you can always try. Again, now one’s been through this before, it’s certainly the first time me, as an entrepreneur has ever been through any sort of financial crisis, so I don’t want to act like I’ve got all the answers for people. I just say do your best, try, but be prepared to, to scale back and, and just manager what you can. That’s it really. It’s a difficult situation, yeah.
Nathan: Yeah, really depends on the industry. Because there’s some, some way, like you said, it’s perhaps opportunity, but then there’s others where yeah, it’s just, it’s just a, it’s just terrible time, you know.
Dylan: Yeah, for sure, so… Yeah.
Nathan: Okay. Well, thank you for sharing, man. So, let’s talk about, you said, you said something interesting how you learnt, um, some core marketing principals or basic marketing principals, uh, in your early days. What are they?
Dylan: Oh, look, these are, these are super different, like super simple things. Like this is just the first time I’ve ever been, um, I’d ever been like put in, in, in the marketing mind frame. Like I never thought I was gonna be a marketer or entrepreneur. Things just like repetition builds brands. Something as simple as that. Like okay, if I’m gonna put an ad in the paper once and it doesn’t work, I’m never gonna do it again. It’s like, no, rep-repetition builds brands. You need to be there consistently in front of your customer’s face. They’re not gonna purchase necessarily the first time they see it. Things like that.
Things like if you put out an ad and you’ve got all, every single value property you want to say and so much text and you think that’s it, that’s the perfect ad, I’ve said everything I want to say, that’s probably not the best ad to do. If you can put an ad out and it’s just relying on a few key emotional elements, um, and you’re, and you think maybe it doesn’t say enough, that’s probably the ad that’s the best one to go with. If it makes you feel uncomfortable and a little bit nervous, potentially that is the best one.
Just super basic things like that. It’s the first I’d, I’d ever been in that marketing mind, mind space. So, yeah.
Nathan: Mmm, and what has been more powerful for you? Uh, I, I assume the biggest channels for you would probably be a combination of influence and marketing, Facebook ads, PPC and also email marketing, would that be correct?
Dylan: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.
Nathan: Um, in what order?
Dylan: Yeah, so, uh, in the early days, it, it was influences, for sure, was the biggest thing. Um, we, we went through in probably the first 12 months of our business, we went really, really, really hard on marketing. We worked with as many really great influencers as we could. Um, again, at the start when you start a business… and this is one piece of advice for people that are starting out. People send me a message that say like, “Hey man, like I’m struggling to get, to get influences to buy in, to work with me. Um, I’ve sent like 10-20 DM’s and no one’s replied.” I’m like, “Dude, to start, we had to send 100 DM’s to get like three or four replies.”
So now it’s a lot easier to get replies once you’re a bit over a grand, but at the start it was just pure numbers game. Hustle as much as you can. At the start, you’re literally working with anyone who… Look, if they had the right demographics for us and they weren’t a bad person, we, we would work with them. We just wanted to get our product, get it in front of as many faces as we could in core markets, which was Australia and the US, and that was it.
Since we grew, um, we’re a lot more selective with influencers we work with. We want to make sure they are the right people for our brands. And um, the, the moment it switched over from influencers being our main, um, source of, source of sales to Facebook, which it has been for like the last year and a half, was probably our first Black Friday. So, Black Friday, 2018, that was the day our business kinda changed forever in terms of our numbers.
So, we were probably spending couple thousand a day on ads before that. We never really pushed past that. It was a nice little buffer. We always had, you know, 20, uh, 30-40 sales per day, we were super stoked with that. Then we’d have influencers coming and we’d see these big spikes, right. That was kinda how we ran until we first really figured out Facebook ads. Um, the first time we tried to push budget, build up, for, build up for the weeks leading up to that, um, a lot of, a lot of website visits so we could retarget them. And then since then, like from that, that week and a half there, we were probably spending five times our usual budget. And since then, we kinda learnt how to scale Facebook ads and, and how to, to, to grow, and we’ve never been the same since that day.
So since then, Facebook has definitely been the biggest driver of sales for us. Um, influencers now play more of a brand role, so we use them for our branding, making sure we’re partnering with the right people, um, the right amount of time. We don’t need to work with everyone every week anymore. Um, and then, yeah, of course, like emailing people, you see fall to the back of that, um, to do as much as we can through those channels.
Nathan: Yeah, I see, makes sense. So what kind of, look for a-and what kind of scale are we talking?
Dylan: Yeah. Well, look, I’ve chatted to a lot of friends, and there’s a lot of different business models. Like I know some businesses that might be in fashion, that need like a 10 to a 15 to be profitable because of their margins. We’re a lot lower than that. We can kinda cruise well below that point. I won’t give out our exact, but as long as we’re, as long as we’re bringing back more than we’re bringing in, then, then we’re, then we’re usually fine. Um, we, we don’t have to go too aggressive. Um, we just like to see sustainable numbers. So obviously that first nine months, that doubling in numbers every single month. And now that we’re more of a mature business, we find growth in other areas and we just try and, try and make sure we’re building slowly and holding the markets that we are at the moment.
And a big, big part of our next phase of growth is actually gonna be those new products that we launch.
Nathan: Yeah, I was just about to ask about that, more SKUs.
Nathan: … you’re raising, raising LTV and also average order value. But um-
Dylan: For sure.
Nathan: … before we move to that, I’d love to talk about-
Dylan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: … you know, there’s a lot of gurus out there that talk about Facebook ads and how easy it is, and, and, you know, all these agencies, and it’s very difficult to know who to trust or do you do it yourself. Love to get your take on that, mate, because there’s a lot of people that might have a brand and they think that, you know, or they’ve got that belief that, you know, Facebook ads is my cure and that’s gonna solve all my problems, and then you just burn cash, man. Like, seriously. Um, a-and I know you obviously know what I’m talking about, yeah?
Dylan: Yeah, yeah (laughs). Well, there’s… And that’s another thing. Like there’s so many gurus out there, and its funny, at the start you’re kinda open to them. Like you get that DM or that email and you’re like oh, maybe they can deliver what they’re saying. And like there’s so many people that over promise and just can never deliver on anything close to that. So we learnt that pretty quickly. We, we almost do everything ourselves. Um, since we’ve gotten to this point, we, we do sometimes partner with some like media by-agencies that, that support us in that form because they’re almost a full-time job with a full team on them ourselves. But everything called to our marketing strategy comes from in-house.
Um, yeah, just, I’d just be careful. I would definitely not… There’s one thing I see people, “Hey, I’m just starting a business, um, what’s a really good Facebook ad agency. Who should I go with?” The one thing I would say is fair enough if you don’t want to do your Facebook ads long-term, you can go to an agency, but don’t go to an agency until you’ve learnt how to get your ads profitable yourself. Even on a smaller scale, don’t go there and have no answers or no idea what to do. Get to the point where you can profitably spent on Facebook ads to a certain point and then say, “Okay, I understand that enough now, I know what works for us, let me take it to an expert who can take us to the next level.”
But like I said, going and just, ‘Heres, here’s my money,” to a random stranger who said I can do all these things for you, definitely don’t do that ’cause you need to be able to keep them accountable and there are a lot of people that just, just can’t, can’t deliver what they say. (Laughs) I’m sure you know about that a lot more than me as well. But um, so just be careful, be smart with your money in the early days. Your marketing budget is crucial in that first six to 12 months. Like it’s critical, so mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: Yeah, no, I agree. Like I think you still just need to understand the basics of Facebook ads-
Nathan: … like even if you don’t do the media buying.
Dylan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: Like I’m not a media buyer by trade, but I understand it enough to work with media buyers. Like and I know my numbers. Like what kind of are we gonna look for so we can be profitable.
Nathan: Or if we’re not gonna be profitable, okay, how do we, how do we break even on the front and then what does it look like on the back end. Like, just knowing those unit economics and, and you know, knowing what, like lookalikes, audiences are and like retargeting and all that-
Dylan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: … side of things, um, and really being able to hold your media buyer accountable. What angles are working, what creative’s working, what creative do you need-
Nathan: … like how much do you need, how, what copy do you need. Like that stuff, I think, is so important, um, even if you don’t do it yourself, you know.
Dylan: Yeah, for sure. Fore sure. 100% I’m with you on that. ’cause, uh, particularly as well, like may… I’m much more like an energetic, creative person. I like talking about content or strategy or growth, but I’m not the type of person who can sit in front of an ads manager all day and push and pull this and work into that. So understanding, like understanding it is crucial. Um, you don’t have to be the person that executes the nitty gritty every day. Understand a basic amount and like we said, be able to, to drive strategy or talk strategy, what’s working, what’s not working so you can keep people accountable. That’s the basic level that you need for sure.
Nathan: Yeah, I agree. So, um, it sounds like though in the early days, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve done the media buying or you’ve used agencies?
Dylan: No, in the early days we did it all ourselves. Yeah, probably for almost the first year we did everything ourselves. Yeah.
Nathan: Yeah. That’s, that’s the way I think to go. I think sometimes people find it intimidating and they want to outsource it. Same with Instagram growth as well-
Dylan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: … and like I would never give anybody externally to, to work on that kind of stuff. Just me personally from my experience.
Nathan: You’re the same, right?
Nathan: Like you didn’t use an agency for that, right?
Dylan: Yes. No, I never, never… even… influencer… Like anything, like anything you can control, like you should control. You might not have the skills to be a media buyer, but don’t give away the keys to your Ferrari to, to someone else. ‘Cause even if they do achieve great results, what is that giving you? Like you don’t know what happened, how they did it. So I’m 100% with you with things like that, yeah.
Nathan: Mmm, okay. So, so you’ve got the one product that does very, very well. Have you added any complimentary products or any other flagship products in the past c-couple years since inception?
Dylan: Um, so in October last year, we launched a Gen 2 version of our handset. So that’s the only thing we’ve launched since then. So, our product development process, given that it’s a, what the product is… It’s an IPRL laser hair removal handset. There’s a lot that goes into one of them. You can’t design one and get it to market in a month or two months. So there was almost a year behind the scenes of working in, in that. And, and we’re kind of the same attitude, we… There’s been… We’ve probably had 10, 10 products behind the scenes that we could’ve launched in the last two years, um, some that would’ve been potentially other flagship products, some that would’ve been really great for LTV. But it just got to the point where, as heartbreaking as it is, you put months and months into a product and you just can’t get it to the point it’d be something you’d be proud to sell, um, and we’ve just, we’ve not done it. So, we’re actually really close now.
This year is a big year for product launches for us. Some will be, will be good for LTV and, and another thing we just want to focus on. So all our products, we’re very picky with what we want to launch. We just want to make sure everything we do can help, you know, help people feel good about themselves from their own homes. Same thing as what we did with the handset, making things more affordable, more accessible. Um, anything we can do in that space, we’ll do. It might not necessarily be, um, in the hair removal space. We-we’re probably gonna step outside of that soon because I’ll tell you one thing, and this is something you don’t realize when you first start. Starting with the product that we did, like an IPRL handset was definitely not the, the easiest product to launch with (laughs).
With that being said, we went through a lot of difficult things and we know a lot about skin, we know a lot about technology and beauty. So, we-we’ve not started with something simple. We started with one of the more complicated products. And what that’s given us is, is a really good understanding of what works in certain skin types and what doesn’t, um, and how to engineer technology to get the best results, and what is a good product and what’s not a good product. ‘Cause on the, on the other side is gonna be people that, that pitch you a really great marketing agencies, there are gonna be manufacturers who really want to partner with you and say, “Oh, this product does this, this product does this,” and you just have to test it before you launch. And same thing, there’s a lot that don’t, that’s don’t do what they say they’re gonna do. So, mmm.
Nathan: Mmm, so it sounds like you are working on new products, complimentary and also flagships?
Dylan: Both, yes, correct. Yeah.
Nathan: In, in the skin space, right? Because you’ve got the-
Dylan: In the skin space, yeah.
Nathan: … brand Happy Skin Co-
Nathan: … so you might have a new product that’s a flagship that solves another problem-
Nathan: … around your skin but not hair removal.
Dylan: Exactly, yeah. Yeah. That’s what we feel we understand. Um, that’s the space we feel comfortable operating, um, and that’s the way we’re gonna go.
Nathan: Yeah. So, um, being a, pretty much a single brand product, uh, getting it to you know sub 20 mill annually, that’s, that’s pretty, that’s pretty great focus. Um, how do you know when yo move on to the next product? Because I see some E commerce store owners where they simply actually got too many, and it’s just, it’s just more SKUs, more headaches, more things you gotta send to different three PL’s, more costs, more stock on hand. It makes things more capital intensive. It’s just much easier if you start with just one product, right, and just really focus-
Nathan: … and get it to, you know, even past sub one mill, yeah?
Dylan: That was always the plan. That was always the plan. And to be fair, we’ve, we’ve definitely had planned to, to release more products. Like we’re almost two years in and we still haven’t. We’ve obviously done the Gen 2, which was a, a complete upgrade on everything we possibly could, um, and that was a big project. Um, but we always knew we were gonna build a brand around one product. Um, it’s gonna be easiest to manage, it’s gonna be the least capital that’s needed up front, and also you’re not confusing the market at the start.
If you can become famous for one thing, it’s gonna be a lot easier to get that grand resonance. Um, your people are gonna remember who you are a-and what you stand for, and then you can add things into it. But I wouldn’t add a massive product line to launch. It’s gonna be too difficult to manage. No one’s gonna really know what, who are these guys, what are they about. It doesn’t make sense to me. So I always recommend starting with no more than three products, uh, at the start. Even if it’s one really, one product you’re really confident with, I know that’s what we did. That’s what, I’m sure, like the, the teeth whitening guys have done.
You can launch a, a successful business with one product and that’s actually what I would recommend.
Nathan: Mmm, I see. Yeah, I agree. And talk to me around the copycats.
Nathan: Um, you’ve got some traction now so now I’m sure you’re seeing people… and even like perhaps, I don’t know what you did there, but sometimes these manufacturers, they supply to copycats as well if you don’t have any exclusivity, uh, like arrangements and stuff. So tell me about that.
Dylan: Yeah, well that’s something we know all too well about (laughs). Um, so, yeah, that’s been a big, it’s been a big part of our first two years. Um, it’s actually funnily enough… The first six months, there was none of it, right, ’cause everyone was so far behind. From about six months to 18 months, it was crazy.
So there was a year in the middle where everyone was trying to launch whatever they could to try and copy us. People would blatantly rip off our content, our design, everything. Um, that was really crazy for about a year ’cause like I said, that first product, we, we added to it and changed it, but we didn’t create it from scratch. So we didn’t earn any IP around that.
So, there were a lot of competitors, like competing manufacturers as well that could access their molds and do that. So there was a lot of that going around, but that’s why we, we, we knew that was gonna happen. We probably didn’t know it was gonna happen a-as aggressively as it did. Um, that’s why we, we almost as soon as we could started working on a product that was our own that was, that was accredited by us. We owned every single bit of IP. Um, and over the last six months, we’ve actually come out the other end of that because like a lot of people are probably seeing, they might’ve seen an article on us and thought, “Oh wow, they, they made how much money? I’m gonna, I’m gonna do that.” Or they saw what happened with teeth whitening and like, “Man, I really wish I did the teeth whitening business when I saw that.” They’re kinda waiting for that next big product category to come around and everyone who ever thought of doing it, a business kinda jumped on to it.
Um, and then, it just isn’t as easy as it looks from the outside, so now there’s probably only a few competitors that are, that are left from, at one point, we had like over 100 on the list and several of them ripping our content and stuff. And actually had a brief chat to like the Hi Smiles Guys at an event down in Melbourne and obviously they’ve gone through the same thing and, and, and their advice was something like, “I’ve learned the hard way myself and you just, you’ve got to as hard as it is not put too much attention on to it ’cause it does take away your focus and what you’re doing.” And that was the best advice ever.
Again, I, I kinda figured that, (laughs) I figured it out myself by then. But you do what you can, you do the minimum. Like you obviously put your take downs in, you have someone monitor that, that space, but don’t let it overcome you and your thoughts, and don’t let it get you too frustrated, too angry ’cause it’s nothing you can really do about it. That’s always gonna happen, and if anything, it’s flattering to know so many people are trying to copy what you’ve done.
Nathan: Yeah, I agree. Um, it is difficult. And, so that sounds like that’s why you launched your, your next gen version, right-
Nathan: … and now you don’t sell the original anymore?
Dylan: Um, look, we still have that on at the moment. Um, the reason we have that on is because our, our new product, it-it’s definitely the premium product. So we have the old one, which we still sell, which is actually $100 cheaper than the new one. So we wanted to, to keep that one in. It’s at a much lower price. Just for anyone who, who wants to go to that lower price point or can’t, maybe doesn’t want to spend that much money on, on, on hair removal. So we still have that there, um, as, as the baseline product that still… It’s got mo-, like thousands and thousands and thousands of happy customers on that one. It does the job, it’s really good. Um, but this one was just the upgraded next model.
Um, so we still have both and, and we wanted to keep that in so people could still access it if they didn’t want to go up to that $300 price point.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s all good. That makes sense. Um, so talk to me around… Like you’ve had a dream run to be honest. Like, yeah, that kinda growth is uncommon and rare, um, and it’s really impressive. Um, so talk to me… Like people watching this or listening might, might be thinking, “Oh gee, he makes it sound so easy,” right. Um, tell me what hasn’t worked. Tell me what, uh, hasn’t worked and kinda the sacrifices you’ve had to make to get where you are today. Because yeah, that kind of growth, yeah, not, not definitely common.
Dylan: In terms of sacrifices, um, to me it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice because this is truly what I want to be doing. But like my schedule is pretty tight. Like I don’t have any leisure time weekdays, um, and maybe I’ll get half a day to see my mates or hang out on a weekend. So leisure’s one thing that definitely doesn’t get a whole lot of time. But that’s fine to me ’cause I get pure enjoyment and fulfillment ’cause I know I’m building myself and I’m building my future. Um, I’m just obsessed with the journey. I’m already where I want to go, so it actually doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything.
And then, one thing that I don’t even really think about that my friends like to joke about is like probably relationships and dating. Like I’m not even, like I’m just so focused on where I want to go, that… It’s like if you want to be super successful, as you know, like there’s gotta be an element of obsess-obsession to, to what you’re doing. Um, and I feel like that’s the sacrifice you have to make. Even for me, I’m a very motivated person, but there’s time I, I don’t want to do it, you know what I mean. Like, you’re just like, I just, I just want to go to bed. It’s like, it’s like 10:30, I’ve been working since 8:00 am. I just want to go to bed. Like it’s almost too hard and you just have to think about in those moments what you’re doing it for and, and why you’re on this journey. Um, ’cause there will be a lot of sacrifices. And like you said, it’s not always easy.
We’ve had as many thing fail and go wrong as we have go right for us. You just… No one sees behind the, behind the screens the, the failed ads , the content that was horrible, the late nights trying to figure out problems. Um, no one sees it, everyone just kinda sees what’s on Instagram or this newspaper article or whatever. Um, but you have to be prepared for a lot of really long nights. Um, and you just, you’ll get through it if, if you’re, if you’re just listening to the market and always adjusting. But do-, it’s just, it’s just, it’s a full-time job.
Like one, one quote that I, I heard, um, from one of my mentors is that like, “When you’re, uh, when you’re a business owner, like you-you’re really a firefighter because every day you’re overcoming problems. And that’s, the bigger you get, the more problems you have. Um, and that’s something you’ve got to be prepared for.
Nathan: Yeah, 110%. Okay, awesome. Well look, uh, we’ll work towards wrapping up, man. Um, this was a great interview, a lot of gold to share. I appreciate just your openness, honesty and, uh, yeah, just really letting it out, like your whole journey. You’ve had an incredible journey thus, thus far, and I, I know it’s just the beginning for you, man.
So um, where… Like two more questions.
Dylan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nathan: One, what, what, what parting words of wisdom would you like to share for anyone watching or listening-
… that either want to start a business or they’re just about to launch something or they’ve only been doing it for a while in the income space. Um, what advice, um, you know, top three pieces you would give. And then, where’s the best place people can find out more about yourself and your work?
Dylan: Yeah. Um, so the biggest thing that we haven’t really spoken about, um, today, but I, I, I truly thinks it’s my secret weapon, it-it’s what makes me me, what I truly think, a lot of the success is off the back of this. Um, and that’s like… it’s two things. It’s self-belief, but like truly self-belief in yourself, in the process, in the universe, in God, whatever you want to call it. Set your goals, and, and you need to truly believe that you can achieve. And, and once I started that, once I figured that out, it changed my life. Like now I’m not anxious if, if the numbers go down for a week or there’s problems in my business ’cause I have so much trust in myself and the process of where I’m going that it takes all that pressure off you.
Um, one of the biggest things, the biggest tools I use every single day, it’s been a part of my life f-for probably 10-15 years and I didn’t know it, um, until the last couple years, like I learnt about it consciously not just subconsciously, and that’s visualization. Um, and I used to think back to that journey we had in those like nine months building the business before we launched and some of the clearest memories I have of that process was me and my mate at that park across the road from his house talking about what we were gonna achieve, those certain moments and milestones.
And I was, I was seeing it in my head and I was living it. And I was chatting to, to another friend, um, who I’m working on another business with, and he mentioned… I, I explained that to him and I tried to give that advice of, of how I got here, and I… There’s this series called, I think, Rewired by and he talked about, when you’re doing your visualization, one thing that’s really gonna make it so much more powerful is actually attaching the emotion to it.
So like when I was thinking about these happy things, I wasn’t just thinking them. Like I was overcome with joy. Like sometimes there’s tears coming out of my eyes. Like I truly, like it’s a full body experience to me, me living that. And um, and that’s the biggest thing I want to, I leave people with. I feel like if you want to be successful in business, there’s a thousand gurus and a lot of them don’t know what I’m talking about, but a lot of them do. You can find information whether it’s Foundr, whether it’s on YouTube, whether it’s podcasts, whatever it is. There’s information out there. But if you start with building that mindset and that self-belief, everything will build on top of that. That-that’s the biggest thing.
Particularly, I know it’s gonna be difficult for a lot of people in, in time like this, um, but a lot of people are gonna have time at home so it’s a good time to, to look inside and reflect and, and, and build yourself, whether it’s education, whether it’s starting to meditate, whether it’s letting go of negative thoughts. Um, I feel like you need to start with yourself, um, and then everything else can, can build upon that. That-that-that’s my main message, that’s my main thing I want to leave people with.
Nathan: Oh, amazing, thank you, man. And um, where the best place people can find out more about yourself-
Nathan: … and your work.
Dylan: Uh, at the moment… Yeah, yeah. So um, just on Instagram at the moment, uh, Dylan, @DylanMullan. Website’s coming, podcast is coming, all those sorts of lovely things. Um, I probably have to get better at taking my own advice sometimes (laughs). I should’ve been on these things a lot, a lot quicker, um, but I’m by no means perfect. So at the moment everything will be, will be on my Instagram @DylanMullan. So, if anyone has any questions, again, I’m, I’m totally open to you asking whether it’s about influence or marketing, mindset, whatever. Leave me a message and, um, I’ll get back to you guys as soon as I can so.
Nathan: And Happy Skin Co.
Dylan: Yep. That’s everything, uh, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, @HappySKinCo. Our website is happyskinco.com. Pretty simple. You should be able to find us.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, look, thank you so much for your time, Dylan. This is an awesome interview. And yeah, congratulations on all your successes thus far, man.
Dylan: Thank you.