How Kate Flammea of PressPlay Cosmetics built a $2M business from scratch

How Kate Flammea of PressPlay Cosmetics built a $2M business from scratch

‘It didn’t exist, I wanted it, so I created it.’

BY Tiffany Tran, 9 min READ

In a morning rush madness while getting her son ready for pre-school, Kate Flammea came up with a simple yet million-dollar idea. With a half made-up face, she asked, “Why hasn’t someone invented a small makeup case that’s always packed and ready to grab on the way out?”

Then blossomed PressPlay Cosmetics, an Australian beauty company going global with its world-first PressPlay Capsule – a smartphone-sized unit that contains a customisable suite of skincare and cosmetics to keep you on the go and looking your best.

Kate – a skincare specialist for over a decade, and Founder of Smart Skin Clinics and PressPlay Cosmetics – proves how a little idea and perseverance can go a long way, and that really, anything is possible … even if you don’t have ‘the right experience’.

I came up with the product in my mind. Then as soon as I thought of a solution and found that there was nothing else like it out there, it was full steam ahead.

I just thought, “I need one so I’m creating one. If anyone else wants one, they can get one as well!” I want cake, and to eat it too. I want to achieve all my work and life goals while looking good and feeling good. And I want that for every woman. I don’t want women to be held back on “I’m not ready”.

So in the beginning, I sent out surveys to friends and friends of friends. Based on that research, I found that 70% of women need six to eight products for a full-face makeup application – that’s why PressPlay Capsule has seven. It wasn’t an in-depth survey but it did confirm that my product was needed.

Luckily, I’ve surrounded myself with passionate people in business who have given me great advice.

I have a friend who is an amazing designer and interpreted my ideas and drew it all into this tangible, functional thing. We then visited a test engineer to make sure it all worked fine then sourced out manufacturers. I travelled to Europe to source high-quality cosmetics – it has strict regulations and a lot more industry advancements than other places. Australia is renowned for skincare but not the cornerstone of makeup.

The challenge was trying to bring out a whole range of products in one go.

It took me two years to bring it all together but if you were only creating one product, it wouldn’t take nearly as long as I did. A lot of people – even celebrities – only launch one at a time to test the market. Everyone told me what I wanted was risky, but there’s no way I could’ve done that because my whole concept was for it to be a case of products! It needed to be this way. So I went all in.

I wish more women were involved in product creation. We have a natural ability to problem solve. We’re constantly multitasking and constantly being resourceful in our own everyday lives, and we could do this in business too.

My biggest struggle was being faced with “no”.

What I wanted wasn’t possible or too difficult to do. It’s so easy for people to put ideas into a hard basket. I had to remain faithful to myself. If I believed everyone around me, I would’ve given up.

I also needed a lot more money to start this business than I thought – let’s just say it was six figures. Everything takes longer and everything costs more. But you don’t need to know 100% of everything. You can be uncertain, and do things and be successful. That’s the beauty of it. It’s never a straight path and everything is trial and error. I didn’t know what the end product would look like. I didn’t even know 100% if all of this was even going to work out. I just went for it and took it step by step. And a lot of the time, I had to take a step back and go back to the drawing board.

You really get tested along the way. You think ‘oh, this is going to be fun!’ then sometimes you’re like ‘hang on a minute… no, it’s not’.

I knew it was going to be a more difficult journey for me with no experience creating a product from scratch … but I was inspired.

My son has been my greatest inspiration. I always want to be the best role model for him, and building a successful business actually simplifies my life and allows me to be with him.

Besides him, I don’t have one particular idol I listen to or focus on one aspect of the business. I really just take inspiration from everything, from life in general. When I look back on my growth, I just think there are limitless possibilities still to come.

It’s possible for others to do what I’ve done without 10 years of industry experience. You can catch up.

You just need to build a good support system. Good advisors. A good team to know every little thing about the industry. I’m grateful to find amazing people who worked on my business as if it was their business. They were taking better care of the business than I was! It feels like a family.

My partner has also been supportive since day one. It’s so important for women to have that – someone who’s always encouraging you, telling you the positive side of your ambitions and not so much reminding you about the negatives. If he told me all the things that could go wrong or “I told you so” on the days I’ve been doubtful, I wouldn’t be here.

Tackling the multi-billion dollar beauty industry has never frightened me. I’m not competing with anyone; I just try to be the best I can possibly be.

Even when I was young, I focused on what I was doing and didn’t care too much about what everyone else was doing. I just believe in my idea. I truly believe what I’m offering is unique and innovative – I would never offer what’s already out there! There are a lot of great trendy and artistry products out there, they’re fun and exciting, and are targeted towards a different age group. For me, I needed a solution being a busy mum and there are a lot of busy women out there. That’s why PressPlay isn’t just another beauty option – it’s a solution.

This article is brought to you by PressPlay Cosmetics.

Read next:

From Bondi markets to a $12 million empire: how Samantha Wills did it

Digital influencer Eleanor Pendleton on shaking up the beauty industry


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