It was a Sunday just like any other when Jessica Niall — sitting nervously in her Melbourne home — bit the bullet and hit 'live' on her new website: The Skin Silking Company.
She never expected what would happen next, reports news.com.au.
"In the first 24 hours, I made my last year's income," she said.
"I worked as a freelance graphic designer part time the year prior, earning $22,000.
"I'm not even kidding. I was in tears. It's kind of like the new business owner's dream."
After launching the company in December 2018 — selling Turkish woven 'kese' mitts that promise skincare junkies the manual exfoliation of their dreams — Ms Niall, 30, scaled the company from zero to $30,000 before the year closed.
And in 2019, the breakthroughs have continued.
"We've got a projected sales revenue for the year of 2019 to be about $350,000," Ms Niall said. "And that's quite conservative; that's if I didn't employ anyone and continued doing things as we have been.
"Right now, we're barely putting anything into marketing and it's growing. So that's pretty amazing for a first year in business."
It all started the way most great things do … with Reddit.
"I'm a Google addict, and I found out about the method of the 'kese' mitt from a Reddit thread," Ms Niall said. "So I started looking into it and found the original supplier. I had some samples sent over and when I tried it, my skin just felt so different, right away. It's never been that soft."
Ms Niall says it best on her website: "Just a girl who accidentally discovered the holy grail of skin secrets."
Stumbling across an at-home alternative to microdermabrasion was Ms Niall's first key to success.
Her second? Finding a product that wasn't widely available but in high demand from countless acne sufferers left with scarred skin.
"It's pretty strange to find something in 2019 that hasn't already been tapped into and isn't readily available in the beauty market," she said. "When I came across this I thought, 'How is this not everywhere?'"
She said it seemed like a unique idea that just might work.
Along with one third of small business owners, Ms Niall got the ball rolling on her business with little to no savings.
"When I started the business I had less than $5000 in savings," she said. "You don't need a lot of money to start a business, you just have to be creative. A lot of people think you need $20,000 or $30,000 to start a business but I only invested about $3000 just to start mine. And that includes stock, everything."
With nothing but an article floating around online — sharing undoctored images of what her now radiant skin used to look like — Ms Niall let the pictures speak for themselves.
She could not have predicted what would happen in the days that followed her launch.
SOLD OUT IN A DAY
"They were gone within hours. And from all over the world! I thought, 'How are they finding me?'" Ms Niall said. "I was not anticipating it, I was sitting back just … not ready. It wasn't even a marketing tactic, I literally did not order enough. I thought I'd ordered way too much."
Without any of the staff or inventory management systems most eCommerce companies have at their disposal, Ms Niall and her partner ploughed through endless orders until demand outstripped supply.
"We had a few hundred units. And it was like, we were just selling every second," she said. "I stayed up until 3am packing. And then we took pre-orders from there. That's how quickly it gained momentum. Just mind-blowing."
Ms Niall said she was thankful she had the support of her partner, Alex Goodingham, when packing hundreds of orders in those first few days.
"The first day, I thought I'll handwrite notes to everyone saying 'Thank you so much for buying a mitt.' And then when hundreds of orders came in my boyfriend was like, 'Are you still handwriting those notes?'" she laughed.
Now at the helm of an incredibly successful start-up, Ms Niall is learning what it really means to be your own boss.
"Before I launched the business, it was full-time hours, at my desk, spending a lot of time working for myself in my home office. Calm, organised, scheduled work has gone out the window," she admits. "Now, I'm working 14, sometimes 16-hour days and it's just utter chaos."
The only difference is now, she loves every minute of it.
"I've really enjoyed it," she said. "I'd read stories like this because I've been quite entrepreneurial-minded, and I always wondered, 'How do you gain momentum that quickly?' But it really is amazing how quickly people can pick something up."
HERE COMES THE BOOM
"Boom!" Isn't that what sales are supposed to sound like when they explode?
Ms Niall said it sounded more like "Ping!" But a constant stream of them, coming through your phone at all hours of the night.
"I have to put my phone on silent and put it away because it's keeping us awake at night. It just keeps flashing with orders coming through," she said. "It's like having a baby, I feel like I've had a baby. I don't sleep anymore, I'm just crazy mitt lady."
Luck may have come into play and the stars may have aligned for Ms Niall's business to boom so rapidly overnight, but that doesn't mean things went off without a hitch.
The business launched days before Christmas. Translation: Expect lengthy postage delays.
"The timing was so bad," she said. "I thought, 'Oh my god, I don't think I could've picked a worse time to be shipping products to people when the postal system was probably at its absolute slowest'."
Poor timing aside, Ms Niall said she also struggled to find the confidence to actually launch.
"I hadn't told anyone in my entire life that I'd been working on this. So I'd had the idea in the back of my mind while I was using the sample. But I didn't even tell my partner — who I live with — none of my friends, my family," she said. "They were commenting on how good my skin was looking and I wasn't even telling them why.
"I kept thinking, 'No one's going to want to buy your little mitt'."
THE GLOW UP
With the business fast outgrowing Ms Niall's home, her choice to quit her day job was a no-brainer.
"It's really not worth working on anything else but this," she told news.com.au. "The first week was the litmus test, and it's definitely given me a clear message that this is what I should be focusing on."
But success revealed something that nearly sent Ms Niall back to her desk job: Showcasing raw pictures of her skin at its worst.
"The hardest part was sharing those pictures of how bad my skin was. And that actually wasn't the worst picture," she said. But the heartache was worth it.
"I had a lot of people email me and tell me rather than seeing airbrushed photos, it's refreshing to see just how damaged your skin was. A lot of people have had a really positive response," she said. "I want people to feel good about themselves, not disillusioned by perfect images."
The product speaks to every acne-sufferer's struggle: Months spent clearing the breakouts only to be left with scarred, damaged skin. Ms Niall understands that struggle, first-hand.
"All I ever wanted was my old skin back," she said. "And after I'd eaten through dermatologists and had the actual condition treated, I was left with really damaged skin.
"I can't even tell you the confidence it's given me just to have my skin resurfaced and rebuilding.
"To think that five years ago I wrote down on a piece of paper (that I still have) that my life dream was to create a beauty product that gives women beautiful glowing skin … no kidding," she laughed. "Life certainly had a plan for me."