A tiny spark of a creative idea has new mum VICTORIA BEATTIE, and her sister Emma, taking a style-loving social media world by storm. And no one is more surprised that people can’t seem to get enough of this humble, round beach towel and the seaside lifestyle brand the sisters invented almost by accident, than Victoria herself. So, how do you create a community of seaside lovers and become a worldwide phenomenon…with a towel?
Did you expect the reaction to designing a round beach towel to be so huge? No. My sister Emma and I started The Beach People company to be stay-at-home mums. We thought maybe we could ship off a few products while the kids were sleeping. We ordered a container and prepared for the scenario of having to give round towels to our family and friends every Christmas and birthday for the next few years.
Where did the idea come from? Emma and I were literally sitting on the beach watching our husbands surf when she turned to me and said she really wanted to make beautiful, plush, round towels. We had never seen them before. I was hesitant to go into business with my sister because we loved each other so much and I didn’t want anything to get in the way of that, but we took the plunge. The ‘Roundie’ sold out within weeks, so we released a beach pack, and that sold out just as quickly. I am just as surprised every time it happens. And now we are creating a bedding range.
Why are people so drawn to them? People are buying into the lifestyle of Emma and me, living by the sea with our kids, enjoying life. People are buying the experience more than they are buying a product. We had an audience through social media before we even sold a product. People were following the look. I was recently talking to a woman in the airport in Miami who travels everywhere with her Roundie. It weighs 1.5 kilos and people still want to travel with them.
Did you know much about towels, beforehand? I knew nothing. Now I’m the weird person who unfolds everything and checks through yarnage.
What was the time frame between idea to market? It took a year. I also worked at another job for two years into the start of the business and did this in my spare time. The round towel catapulted us into the market place when we started in 2013. We have just exploded into the German summer market and they are about to have The Beach People experience in Italy for the first time. No one there has a Roundie yet, but they are selling out in Paris, Israel, Austria, Panama, Denmark, Istanbul and places I have never heard of, like an island three hours flight from Mauritius, and the list keeps growing. I know God is in this because we’re a little business in Kingscliffe: a tiny little Australian town not known for global brands.
What would be your advice to someone who has a new product idea but doesn’t know where to start? Build your story, because products come and go and people are never buying what you think they’re buying. Kick-starter brands rarely last beyond the season. We’ve had to fight to stay there. And last season we had so many Roundie copycats. I don’t let that get to me anymore. It can drain my energy and emotions if I let it. I realised you need the copycats to ensure you as the original, but I am so aware of buying a fake product now. That choice can either help or destroy an industry.
What sort of journey has the Roundie taken you on? Personally, trusting in God. It can be so high paced and intense that I need to learn that every day. I need to learn how to bring peace in my home, in my family and my staff, rather than be a cyclone. My job is figuring out how not to be a train wreck.
If you weren’t doing The Beach People what would you be doing? I’d be doing a business of some sort and you will always find me volunteering at church. Even now, I still volunteer at our local church. I am a service pastor and run communications. I’m incredibly passionate about my local church. To know that every new person who comes through our doors is connected is probably what I am most passionate about. I need to be part of something that is making a difference.
How did you become a Christian? I was seven years old. I went to a Christian school for two years as a kid and in a school assembly I gave my heart to the Lord and never walked away. Ever. My testimony won’t draw crowds, but with my type of personality I would have put all my passion into myself, so I’m grateful I found Him when I did.
Can you let us in on your favourite beach? Our local Dreamtime Beach south of Fingal. It has fish, coral, dolphins and great surf. I don’t surf as much since I had my son Theodore, but if it’s warm and sunny, you’ll find me there.
A simple idea, hard work, and a whole lot of faith sees Victoria and her sister distributing their iconic lifestyle brand worldwide and blowing the theory of not working with family or friends right out of the water.