When a 19-year-old started an online idea from her parents’ kitchen with just an Instagram account, she had no idea it would be so successful.
When a 19-year-old started an online idea from her parents’ kitchen with just an Instagram account, she had no idea it would be so successful.

Sisters find sweet success with $0

At just 19-years-old, Holly Northcott launched Sugar Coat It from her parents' kitchen in Perth in 2019.

Sprawled across the dining room table, she individually hand-packed her deluxe gift boxes for each of her 10 to 20 orders a week which came through from her Instagram account.

Holly started with a zero-dollar investment, buying products when required for each specific order.

"Sugar Coat It originated after a restless night of searching for a last-minute gift. Once it was established there was clearly a gap in the market for fun, flexible and inclusive gifts, Sugar Coat It was born with $0 and a free Instagram account," Holly told news.com.au.

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The business started with $0 and a free Instagram account. Picture: Supplied
The business started with $0 and a free Instagram account. Picture: Supplied

"At the time, boxes were made and inventory purchased on an as-needed basis as and when payment was coming through for each and every box."

Since then, Holly has been joined by her sister Hannah - who returned home to WA during the March lockdown - while sales increased by a whopping 453 per cent.

The sisters are now bringing in more than 200 orders each week, seven days a week, which doubled to more than 400 per week during the festive season.

Now the growing Sugar Coat It Instagram page has 28,500 followers - and it's where most of their sales still come through.

Starting as a sole trader in April 2019, the sisters listed the business as a company in July 2020.

"There certainly wasn't the pressure when starting for it to be a fully established profitmaking business. When creating the Instagram account, it was on the basis of it being a hobby that could be done on the side of a nursing degree until graduation," Holly said.

After finishing the degree, not getting into a graduate program seemed like a blessing in disguise, allowing Holly to concentrate on growing the Instagram business.

"It was never dreamt that it would turn into what it is today," she said.

During COVID, sales went up by a massive 1088 per cent compared to 2019, and they even managed to land a large national order from Vodafone at the time, a gift from the business to their frontline retail teams.

In just a few months from February 2020 before the pandemic struck to April 2020 during the height of COVID, sales shot up by 390 per cent.

"During the pandemic we saw growth like never before," Holly said.

"People were all of a sudden unable to see friends and family for key events such as birthdays, Easter and the like this meant they needed a quick, efficient delivery service.

"A lot of people were also gifting at the time to support those going through struggles and dealing with the further impact that COVID-19 was having on individuals, businesses and families," she added.

"We were ready for them, we had the processes in place to be able to provide a contactless door-to-door service, which was one of the only ways people were able to gift at the time," Holly said.

"It almost got out of hand how busy it did get over this period. We had to slow down on advertising just to ensure we could meet all the demand we had at the time."

Their most popular product, the chocoholic brownie box, which is filled with Snickers, Twix, Mars Bars, family-sized Kit-Kats, rich, locally made chocolate brownies and classic Tim Tams, goes for $96.95 plus delivery.

There's a small box of goodies filled with Willy Wonka Nerds, mini KitKats, classic Caramello Koalas, nostalgic chocolate freckles and Reece's pieces for $69.95.

There's also a baby box complete with baby booties, pampering face masks, soft blankets and a selection of sweets, and there are also boxes with bottles of alcohol.

The sisters spend every day packing their boxes and zip around Perth in their two custom vans to deliver locally themselves. They also ship nationally around Australia.

There's also a team of casual workers who are out on the roads delivering and helping pack the boxes.

The sisters get to have hard-earned afternoons off most Sundays, when their mum and dad take over the reins.

"We have an extremely supportive family who are consistently giving up their spare time to help out where they can," Holly said.

The pair say they could really do with an extra pair of hands.

"We are certainly looking to grow the Sugar Coat It team further in 2021 as certainly the capacity to do so is there," she said.

"To say we have the capacity to grow the team would be an understatement. Some days are harder than others, however working with family and friends make the long nights and early mornings worth it," the young entrepreneur said.

"We have so many fun projects in the works for 2021 and we think it will be a really exciting year for the team."

 

Originally published as Perth sisters find sweet success with $0


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