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My Essentials - Alyce Platt

Designing a dynamic business

Unable to find a stylish wrap to protect her from the harsh sun, entertainer Alyce Platt decided to design her own. Thanks to the Small Business Mentoring Service, the resulting business, My Essentials Alyce Platt, is already gaining traction as a unique and dynamic online operation.

Alyce’s range, which reflects her versatility and personal style, includes a classic micro modal dress which can be worn three ways. Inspired by old-style monocles, she also fashioned a unique necklace which doubles as a discreet magnifier for reading menus and maps.  All collection items are simple and beautifully combine function with form.

The business is a change of pace for Alyce, who became a household name on the popular drama Sons and Daughters and went on to be one of Australia's most high profile television presenters, co-hosting Sale Of The Century.

Throughout her 25-year acting career Alyce has featured in countless TV series, films and theatre productions. The in-demand voiceover artist is also a celebrated singer and songwriter, having released three acclaimed albums.

SBMS Mentoring Alyce Platt SBMS Mentoring Alyce Platt

Alyce wanted to create products with a distinctive combination of beauty, versatility and style. “They're reassuring and empowering, and are timeless in design - essential to maintain grace and style,” she says.

The collection, which comes in a range of fashionable colours, is sold online locally, interstate and overseas. “I wanted to create products I needed and couldn’t find,” Alyce says. “I’m a stand-alone brand with products other people don’t carry.”

Alyce was confident her designs were unique and had terrific appeal. But she wanted to ensure she had all bases covered before she launched the business.

When Alyce met SBMS mentor Joanne Tadmore at a mutual friend’s lunch, they decided Joanne was well placed to help with the fledgling business idea.

The SBMS is a non-government, non-profit organisation of volunteer expert mentors who give their time and experience to help Small Business.  It is supported by Small Business Victoria, which refers clients to it.

Joanne is experienced at all stages of a business from start-up to sale.  An entrepreneur, she started and developed a manufacturing/wholesaling business from scratch into multimillion dollar business with high profits.  She developed products, created brand names, sold products in Australia and internationally before negotiating the profitable sale of the business.

Alyce began seeing Joanne before starting her business, and ended up having 15 sessions over 18 months under the SBMS start-up program. “When I met Joanne I had already established a clear concept and designs for my products,” Alyce says. “I had a book with sketches and a plan for an e-commerce shop and some prototypes.”

As the business was new, Joanne helped from scratch, “getting it off the ground and running from becoming an idea to actual business”. “Initially I guided her in developing the products, selling the products, developing a website and then promoting/marketing the website,” she says.

Meetings covered things such as marketing, financials, general book work, product development, reviewing and commenting on existing plans. “As the business grew, Joanne encouraged and told me how to find people to help my business such as a bookkeeper, assistant PR person and Graphic designer,” Alyce says.

Rather than working on a strict business plan, Joanne helped Alyce with developing the “firm concept of what she was trying to create”. This included “a number of different products that were essential to her everyday – that made her life better for having these products.”

                                                  SBMS Mentoring Alyce Platt

“We decided to start with the two ‘most essential’ which was the focus pendent and the sun wrap,” Joanne says.  “So every time we had a meeting, Alyce would go away with a list of things to accomplish and once that was done we would meet again. 

“Initially it was about creating the products and getting them made at a price and quality that would work.”

Alyce was determined to sell via a website, so they worked on that first. Then when Alyce had the products ready to sell in commercial quantities, she had a launch party and a few “friends parties” to see how the range would sell.

“That worked well,” Joanne says. “When the website was ready, Alyce came back to me and we worked on PR, and getting the bookkeeping up to date.”

Soon after, Alyce appeared on The Circle and Good Morning Australia and in Women’s Day.  “And … My Essentials took off,” Joanne says. After appearing on the two morning shows, the website achieved $60,000 in sales within three months.

Since the mentoring Alyce has grown in confidence, improved her management skills, managed her time better and hired two part-time staff. She was thrilled that Joanne was able to offer “guidance, focus and direction.”

Joanne says Alyce’s business is now much more visible. The modern, classy website is the perfect way to showcase her products. Joanne is confident that Alyce has done everything right and that her business has a great future. “Alyce’s business has huge potential and this is just the beginning,” she says.

SBMS Mentoring Alyce Platt

Alyce is thrilled with her progress. “The business is going extremely well,” she says. “Joanne was and still is the most important part of my business. Without her help and guidance I don't think I would be where I am now. She keeps me on track and being a solo operator I needed someone to bounce off my ideas and having a report sent through after each meeting gave me a clear focus for prioritising tasks.”

Alyce uses micro modal, cotton voile, silk/cotton and merino wool to ensure her products are natural as well as stylish. She is proud of all her designs, particularly the wrap.

“Made from 100 per cent natural fibres, these wraps are perfect for those evenings when the sun has set and the ocean breeze is a little too cooling,” she says. “Of course they really come into their own on those baking hot days when you need respite from the harsh rays of the sun, but don't want to dispense with style. They can be worn in many different ways to give you several different looks... including upside down!”

The hooded natural fibre Protect Sun Wrap has extra long sleeves to provide perfect coverage when driving and a chic hood that drapes around your face and neck for ultimate style and protection. Clever design allows it to be worn nine different ways, making it perfect for driving, alfresco lunches and walking. Prices range from $139-$199 depending on the fabric.

The $99.95 focus pendant monocle has a high grade Perspex lens, monogrammed silver-plated highlight and black adjustable cord. Perfect for discreetly reading restaurant menus, its storage bag doubles as a cleaning cloth.

The versatile Beautiful Body Dress has a classic comfortable style which can be worn three ways; long, tied and in a knot.The $189 dress is made of micro modal, a recycled cellulose wood fibre which is light and silky smooth on your skin.

To download a copy of this case study, click on the PDF icon: SBMS Mentoring Alyce Platt