Shelley Barrett’s never been one to miss an opportunity. Working as a receptionist at a modelling agency at 19, she heard girls complaining about being treated like cattle, so she established her own agency. Next, models told her what they weren’t getting from luxury make-up brands, so she started ModelCo as a “pet project,” eventually selling the agency to provide the capital to fund her new business venture.
Barrett ignored plenty of naysayers and went forward with her business idea, and before she knew it, Myer was stocking her cosmetics and they were being endorsed by the likes of Danii and Kylie Minogue, Elle Macpherson and Victoria Beckham.
Now, ModelCo is sold in department stores around the world and is an established brand in the international cosmetics arena – alongside the many luxury brands her models said weren’t delivering. Her ability to pay attention to what her potential customers weren’t getting and deliver what they needed allowed her to build ModelCo into a globally successful business.
Barrett talks to Dynamic Business about the importance of surrounding yourself with a great team, dealing with pressure and how to overcome the people who’ll say ‘no’ when you’re starting out.
Q. What qualities do you think it’s essential for an entrepreneur possess?
I’ve found that tenacity, passion, focus, a flair for marketing and a willingness to listen to advice are the key elements that really help me drive my business.
Having great initiative and work ethic is essential too – there is no laziness involved in creating success.
Q. What part do you think networking has played in your success?
Networking is not only a great way to meet likeminded and inspiring people, but it is also a great way to bounce different ideas and find new opportunities. Dealing with people is my forte so it was only natural that this would contribute to taking my business to the next level.
Q. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs to overcome the people who’ll say “no” to them when starting out?
When starting out, it’s essential to have a solid business plan, marketing strategy and funding. Without these elements down pat, it’s easy for people to shoot you down. You really need to be 100 percent sure in what you are doing and how you are going to make it happen.
Q. How important is it to have a good team of people around you when you own your own business?
Having a great team of people is an absolute must! The key to motivation is placing yourself in the right environment. For me, being surrounded by a team that is passionate, dedicated and somewhat entrepreneurial is really important.
Negative attitudes spawn negative energy – no one wants that in the work place.
Q. What advice do you have for women keen to build their own business?
When considering building a business, you need to be prepared to take risks. Having a strong marketing strategy and finances in place is essential. Owning a business sees both the high and lows, so it’s good to ensure you have the personality to deal with all scenarios and not take things too personally.
Q. What strategies do you have for handling the daily pressures of owning your own business?
One of the major pressures when dealing with retailers tends to be the financial sides of things. Ensuring that you have a strong budget plan and steady cash flow to manage and react to market changes is beneficial.
Read more about Barrett’s business successes in Nokia’s new online book, ‘In Hindsight.’