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Top 50 Q&A: Carly Brown, Une Piece

Welcome to our weekly Q&A with Internet Retailing’s 2019 Top 50 People in E-Commerce. You can find this year’s Top 50 report here, and see our previous Q&As here.

This week, Internet Retailing interviews Carly Brown, founder at Une Piece. Carly ranked 23rd on our list this year.

Short on time? Here are the three key takeaways from the interview:

  • Being a founder is the most difficult and rewarding thing Carly has done.
  • Carly created a event series where female founders discuss their experiences to inspire the next generation.
  • Une Piece’s recent La Beach self tan was created after listening to its customers experiences and needs from a tanning product.

Internet Retailing: What does an average day look like to you? What are your daily concerns?

Carly Brown: I’m not sure there is a ‘usual day’ when you have your own business. I love the variety that comes with every day of having my own business – morning meditation, journalling and a cup of tea, time with my family before drop off time.

Checking in on emails, planning out my day, and then it could be any combination of things: social media planning, brand calendar planning, product design, print design, press interviews, campaign planning, P&L and forecasting stock, packaging reviews, operations and logistics planning sessions, website updates, speaking events, photoshoots, team meetings, marketing plans.

Then more family time.

I usually jump back online to finish up a few things and I’ve recently begun implementing an evening routine – reading, planning out the next day, chamomile tea and then early to bed – 9pm latest!

Since having my own business I’ve adopted an early-to-bed, early-to-rise lifestyle. As a former night-owl this was a huge change for me – but now I’m a morning lover.

IR: You’ve worked in branding and marketing across a number of high profile businesses – how different is the experience of founding and leading your own business? 

CB: Before I started Une Piece (which means One Piece in French), I worked in General Management and Marketing. Most recently I was Senior Marketing Manager for Uber. Prior to this, I lived abroad in London for seven years, and was the Head of Brand Marketing and Communications at Revlon for the UK and Europe. Before that I was in the head office at Coca Cola UK.

Today I am the founder of Une Piece, home of the world’s most beautiful one-piece swimwear, and creator of the Original Sexie Rashie. We launched the business almost 3 years ago.

Being a founder is the toughest job I’ve ever had. You are responsible for all areas of the business and the buck stops with you.

However, it is also absolutely the best and most rewarding job I have ever had.

I feel grateful for the general business, marketing and innovation training that I have had in my previous career. This has stood us in good stead as a business to focus on solid strategy, to always prioritise innovation, and keep focused on building a sustainable business model.

It has also helped me infuse maximum creativity into everything we do and to lead my team to build a truly happy, healthy and high performance culture.

I also have an incredible team who are so important to the business and me personally. They are an incredible group of individuals who are both talented but also have great energy to be around all day long. The saying ‘hang with the radiators and not the drains’ was made for my team! 

IR: Could you tell us a bit about the work you’ve done to support the start-up community in Brisbane? 

CB: I am so excited to be part of a growing community of Queensland-based start-ups doing exciting things.

I am especially passionate about creating and being involved in events for the Brisbane startup community which particularly focus on women. 

Une Piece created an annual International Women’s Day event in collaboration with fellow Queensland-based female founders, and which is in support of the Butterfly Foundation and UN Women. I also created the Female Founder Event Series, where female founders talk to other aspiring founders about creating their own business.

I am also co-founder for Praise You with talented artist and curator Alex Saba, of Lusid Art. Praise You is Australia’s largest all female art exhibition – its a body of work with the power to make a real difference, celebrating body positivity and empowering women.

Alex and I run the event a passion project alongside our businesses (Lusid Art for Alex, UNE PIECE for me), and all the incredibly generous artists donate their pieces to be sold as originals and as limited edition prints on the evening. This year we had 40 female artists involved. 

I have joined The Advance Queensland Regional Tour with Office of the Chief Entrepreneur Steve Baxter to share learning in e-commerce and entrepreneurship, have assisted at Advance Queensland events in Brisbane and spoken at River City Labs Women in Business Breakfasts. I also regularly speak at my old university, QUT, for start-up and e-commerce lectures and events when needed.

IR: Une Piece recently revealed it’s first ‘Mama and Me’ swimwear line, with matching swimsuits for mothers and daughters – where did this idea come from? 

CB: We focus on creativity and innovation. This means we continually deliver new and exciting products to the market for our customers.

We have been working on this range for a number of years – there are a lot of existing ‘rashies’ for children and we wanted our to be very special – with unparalleled quality in design as well as our prints. We’ve had an incredible reaction – so watch this space in the future!

IR: What’s the next exciting product?

CB: There are so many exciting things to come!

We will continue to innovate with beautiful new prints and one piece silhouettes for Une Piece. We have some super stunning new one piece silhouettes, more from Une Piece Active (including the most divine bike pants – I’m living in them at the moment!).

Probably the most exciting news is our new beauty brand La Beach – beautiful self-tanning.

La Beach is a 100% vegan, cruelty-free self-tan made with natural and organic ingredients to give you a luxe and natural bronze glow, and a flawless coverage from ‘tips to toes’. Our launch range is focused on creating a new self tan option that eliminates the mess and fuss of self-tanning. We have released an Express Tanning Foam and Tanning Water Mist. Both products work beautifully on their own, however the true magic comes when they are used together – our cult launch duo – ‘The Power Couple’. 

La Beach came about from listening to our Une Piece community and their experiences (good and bad) with self tanning. It became clear there was a need for a brand to make something that really hits the mark for women on natural colour, natural (and easy to achieve) coverage and brilliant wear (and wear off). It is also fragrance and streak-free.

The global obsession with looking tanned isn’t going anywhere soon so we are really excited about lifting the bar in terms of the type of product women can use to get a tan now. 

We also partnered with an incredible local artist Beth Moffat to create a bespoke piece of art for our brand. Beth’s piece is also included as a beautiful art print with each La Beach order purchased online. 

Everything ladders back to our overarching vision of helping women feel empowered and confident and delivering ‘Stylish Sun-Consciousness’. 

IR: How do you think the online fashion space is changing? 

CB: It’s a very exciting time to be in the online fashion space. Everything from product, operations, fulfillment, community and marketing is constantly changing and evolving.

I don’t believe there will ever be a moment that a ‘final formula’ will be perfected. I love innovation and variety, so this suits my personality well.

IR: Is there anything else you wanted to add?

CB: Our purpose is to cultivate empowerment and confidence in women, and celebrate body positivity globally.

We are a brand that celebrates women and their passions – we are inclusive and we actively support diversity of beauty at every touchpoint.

I want to do good for women and I want to challenge the norms of the industry. Our core campaign #unepiecewomen is centred around celebrating women from all around the world who proudly wear our product and support our brand ethos of empowering women.

We have seen an amazing reaction to this and some of our #unepiecewomen have the highest engagement across our social platforms whenever we share them.

We also support the Butterfly Foundation – Australia’s Australia’s leading national foundation for negative body image and eating disorders.

Since launch, we have helped raise $29,000 for the Butterfly Foundation.

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