Jaimee Lupton, co-Founder of MONDAY haircare, with Zuru's Nick Mowbray, talks about launching into four new markets and selling 7 million bottles of product in spite of Covid-19.
Q: How would you describe 2021 for your business?
A: In some ways the past year has been incredibly exciting for the brand and our business, and then in others it's been incredibly challenging. We've been really lucky all things considered, and have supportive retail partners who've helped accommodate shipping delays and their knock-on effects. We've still managed to launch into four huge new markets this year and ship 7 million bottles—they just took longer to get there than we would have liked.
Q: How is your business planning to tackle 2022?
A: Head on! We've really been reminded of the importance of remaining flexible and adapting quickly to change, but it's shown us that we really can handle anything. We'll be taking that approach into 2022 as we get ready to launch into new markets and with new product offerings.
Q: What will be the major challenges and/or opportunities for your industry?
A: There are so many brands out there doing great things, it's becoming more and more important to bring people—especially younger consumers—something that resonates with them and excites them. Big retailers especially are looking for accessible and inclusive brands such as MONDAY that tick all those boxes. TikTok is a huge growth opportunity for brands that are switched on and tapped into the demographic, and we've worked hard to leverage our natural connection with our audience there. We have a really strong following there and are now the most-liked haircare brand on TikTok!
Q: How do you think the Government has handled the Covid-19 crisis?
A: I think there was a lack of forward-planning and plenty of missed opportunities to make the most of our head start, but really the Government did the best they probably could with what they knew.
I think what made it tougher was feeling as though the rest of the world was moving forward when we were still in the throes of things, but it was never going to be a straight line, and probably still isn't. I do worry about the mental health of the country, and young people facing an uncertain future, but it's been heartwarming to see people largely treat each other with kindness and empathy.
Q: What are two key things the Government should do for economic recovery?
A: Invest more into our hospitals and building our healthcare system so it's more robust and resilient. We don't seem to have made much headway there and are still largely in the same position we were when the pandemic started. And I would have liked to see small businesses open sooner. It feels like we could have safely support them more, especially hospitality with outdoor dining like the rest of the world did.
Q: What was the most interesting non-Covid story of 2021?
A: As someone who has a vested interest in global supply chains, but also enjoys a good meme, there were some enjoyable moments that came out of the Suez Canal boat blockage.
Q: What are your predictions for 2022?
A: The pandemic isn't going to be 'over' in the way we probably expected it to be going into 2022. It's more about something we have to get used to living with. The goalposts for the new normal seem to be moving all the time, but it's just something we're going to have to adapt to.
Q: What's the worst mistake you've made in business?
A: People often talk about 'mistakes' in business like they're clear-cut moments you can pinpoint and think about what you would do totally differently, but often running your own business is a series of little mistakes that are really just little things you realise you can do differently next time, or make incremental improvements to. Things are rarely black and white, there's a lot of grey area. In the beginning I used to get hung up on things more than I do now. I've learned you have to keep moving and not let the fear of making the wrong decision slow you down.
Q: What would you rate as your greatest success in business?
A: There have been a lot of big achievements for us as a brand: we've now sold 7 million bottles and won 10 beauty awards. But for me personally it's about the people I'm surrounded with and the team I've built. Without them, MONDAY would still just be an idea floating around in my head.
Q: Where are you holidaying this summer?
A: We are staying local for the most part, visiting my partner Nick's family in the Waikato, Mount Maunganui and Bay of Islands. I'll hopefully be getting over to Sydney in early 2022 to see some of my team and friends. Like most of us I've missed plenty of engagements and weddings and babies and quite a few birthdays. I also have a trip planned with some girlfriends for later in the year, so I'm looking forward to the borders being open with no MIQ.
Q: How has the media reported Covid and what's your view of the Fourth Estate?
A: I'm always conscious that the lens that we see things through can be heavily shaped by the media, so I've had to be mindful about the way I engage with news. It's important to stay informed of course, but there comes a point where you need balance and to put your phone down or stop doom-scrolling. I stopped engaging with the daily Covid announcements a little while back because they were so long-winded and consuming. Almost like a meeting that could have been an email!