Adore Beauty marks its 16th birthday with a huge international expansion – StartupSmart

Kate Morris CEO / founder Adore Beauty

An ecommerce venture that began life in a Melbourne garage is marking its 16th birthday with its first international expansion into the highly lucrative China market.

Online beauty products retailer Adore Beauty will launch through Alibaba’s Tmall storefront to break into China’s booming cosmetic market, which is predicted to be worth more than $US100 billion next year.

Adore Beauty founder and CEO Kate Morris says the company will be adopting a lean startup model for the launch, initially rolling out six brands with about 50 products.

“We’re just going to test and learn,” Morris tells StartupSmart.

“It’s certainly the largest beauty market in the world.”

She says the next 12 to 18 months will be used to gauge the interest and level of demand for Adore Beauty’s products in China.

The move will be Adore Beauty’s first serious investment in an international expansion.

“It has taken a little longer that I would’ve liked but obviously there are a lot of complications,” she says.

Morris says a key challenge has been adapting to the starkly different Chinese market, one that is more focused on online marketplaces.

“We don’t have that same of kind of environment here,” she says.

“The opportunity in China is certainly pretty big but we wouldn’t kid ourselves that it’s a simple market.”

But Morris says she has always had global domination in her sights, and the startup is now a multimillion dollar venture enjoying more than 65% growth after selling a 25% stake to Woolworths last year.

“That growth is actually continuing even though we’re passing the 12 month point,” she says.

There is a growing appetite in China for Australian brands that are ethical and pure, she says, with cruelty-free campaigning leading to changes to mandatory animal testing and openin the gateway for more foreign cosmetics to be traded in the China.

“Cross-border e-commerce is now a possibility in China so big brands don’t have to undergo animal testing,” she says.

While more international expansion may be on the horizon, Morris says it’s all about this move for now.

“Let’s get China right first,” she says.

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