June 16, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Samantha Lynn Co-Founder of PersonallyPicked

Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Samantha Lynn and I am the Co-Founder of PersonallyPicked, a gifting platform that allows people to curate a truly personalised gift for their friends, colleagues or loved ones. We are shaking up the gifting game, providing a fun, customised and innovative gifting solution for our customers. PersonallyPicked has over 160 different gift items to choose from and we pride ourselves on the variety and range of products we stock. We offer free personalisation on all of our gift boxes, and have bright and colour gift box options to choose from. We ship our gifts Australia wide.

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I launched PersonallyPicked with my best friend Kezia in 2019, after we saw a gap in the market for truly personalised gifting in Australia. I always wanted to own my own business, it was just a matter of finding the right idea. It took us 18 months to get PersonallyPicked off the ground and we started with a $20k investment that came from our own savings and some funding from friends and family. We built boxes out of my home for the first year of business, then moved into storage units, and now (fast forward two and a half years) we are in our very own warehouse space in Melbourne.

Describe the process of launching the business.

During our first two years in business we worked on PersonallyPicked on nights and weekends, while still working full-time in marketing roles. Over the last 18 months we’ve been able to expand the business considerably, with COVID driving the demand for delivered gifts. We now both work full-time at PersonallyPicked, finally letting go of our old jobs and this year we’ve even hired four casual staff to help us in the warehouse. It’s been a really exciting time for us!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We offer a custom built build-your-own gift box experience, which allows our customers to hand pick items from a range of over 160 products and curate a truly personalised gift, not a cookie cutter one, where the recipient only likes two out of the five items. We pride ourselves on the variety and range of products we stock, so our customers can create a gift for anyone and everyone. We were extremely proud to be the first gifting website in Australia to offer the ‘build your own’ gift box experience.

Every single gift we pack is different and I think that encompasses what we are all about. No person is the same, so no gift should be either. You can see the personality that goes into every gift box, from the personalised nickname on the box, to the message on the card and the mix of products. It is so much fun to see the amazing gifts our customers create.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We’ve been really lucky to be in a great position as a business lately. We’ve seen exponential growth over the past year as demand continues to grow for unique and fabulous gift options, with an 80% increase in gifting during the current NSW and VIC lockdown period alone.

The future is really exciting for us, we are launching a brand new full custom website in November, and will be really looking to expand in the corporate space and find unique on demand gifting solutions for corporate businesses.
We are also launching a new brand early next year, so we aren’t slowing down anytime soon!

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I’ve definitely learned the importance of great customer service! At the end of the day, without happy customers, you won’t have a business. Our customers are at the core of what we do, so providing an amazing customer experience is our biggest priority.

We try to do the little things well, like responding to emails within an hour, providing refunds or replacements with no questions asked, sending extra gifts to customers if mistakes are made, saying thank you to customers regularly and listening to customer feedback and making changes based on this.

I also think it’s essential to invest in your website! Make the user experience as simple and enjoyable as possible. There’s nothing worse than a clunky website and we’ve spent a lot of time working on ours to ensure our customers find it user friendly.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I love Asana! It’s a project management system that helps you assign tasks and create and manage projects. You can assign due dates, attach documents and tick tasks off as they are completed. It helps me stay productive and make sure things aren’t forgotten.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I’m a huge fan of all of Lisa Messenger’s books. They are really focused on being a disruptor, staying true to your passions and believing in what you can achieve as a female entrepreneur. My favourite from her would be Daring and Disruptive. I also love listening to the Lady Startup podcast on Mamamia which features a whole range of female business owners. It’s always nice to hear about other women’s’ journeys and know that you are not alone in the daily challenges of running a business.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

First things first, you need to have a fantastic offering, so that’s your product or service. Consider what is different about what you are offering compared to others in the market. Then you need to offer your product to customers in a way that is accessible. In retail, this is all about your website or your store. Think about whether it’s an easy, fun and seamless process. Then you need to close the loop. Ensure the product is presented well when your customer receives it, ensure they receive it in a timely manner and that you deliver on the experience that’s promised.

Where can we go to learn more?