If you walk into my bathroom, you can immediately tell that I have an obsession with Aesop. I love the functionality and aesthetics of their products and I think I own the majority of their skincare range! This obsession can be a rather expensive habit so I was interested to discover The Beauty Club, a members-only club that offers a wide selection of skincare and cosmetics brands (including Aesop) at lower-than-normal prices plus free delivery and giftwrapping.

On discovering my Aesop cleanser was running out, I jumped onto The Beauty Club for an emergency purchase and discovered that the business is actually based in Melbourne. I was interested to hear about how The Beauty Club got to where it is, so today’s HOT Chat is with Joana Calado, the Managing Director of The Beauty Club and mum to three kids. Thanks Joana!

Joana, tell me a bit more about your background and how you came to start The Beauty Club?

After spending six years at university earning my degree in Criminology I then worked at the Children’s Hospital for a little while before falling pregnant. I was working with children who were severely abused and it was a great job up until I had my first child, then I saw it from a completely different angle. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to work with the same objectivity.

I was really happy as a stay-at-home mum, such a rewarding task in itself, but opportunity came knocking in 2006.

Discovering a network of 16,000 leading-brand cosmetics, skincare and fragrances at unbelievable prices was too good to pass up. With limited time and funds the web seemed like the most logical and affordable place to start the business and The Beauty Club was born.

What is unique about The Beauty Club compared to other cosmetic, skincare and fragrance online retailers?

Our aim with The Beauty Club was to make online shopping more personal, supported and involved. When you join a club you join a community and our community is all about health and beauty advice and support. Of course one of the main drivers of the club membership sign up is access to a huge number of brand name products, such as Clinique, Dior, Lanvin and Laura Mercier, often at cost price – this makes us very unique.

How have you selected which products to stock in The Beauty Club?

The first selection criteria is that they are a leading beauty brand, the second is that prices should be excellent and third is that they are products that are wanted by our members.

Where do you turn for makeup and skincare advice and inspiration?

My mother introduced me to Paula Begoun’s Don’t Go To The Cosmetic Counter Without Me several years ago and it has been a beauty staple ever since. Whenever I am in doubt about a product, I will turn to her book.

I also love to read reviews by real people, so I tend to read blogs. Wanting to know about a product before purchasing it has also led me to add a product review function on The Beauty Club, so that our members can learn off each others purchases, and give advice about whether the product really works, or not!

What has been the most challenging thing you’ve faced in starting up your own business? What advice would you give to a small business owner?

Combining family and work – finding a happy and healthy medium.

Web technology and jargon it can be confusing and frustrating.

Advice: Be prepared for long hours as your business only relies on you at the beginning, be committed and passionate, find good companies/people  (eg. Web designers, accountants etc.)

What are your next plans for The Beauty Club?

Growing membership levels is really important for us, the more members we have the better prices and product range we can offer.

One of the most exciting strategies we have underway at The Beauty Club is supporting some amazing women’s initiatives. We will be donating product or providing financial support to these intiatives over the long term (some of them include The Tiara Project, Bizness Babes and Look Good Feel Better) and building strong relationships with them.

Finally, where are your HOT places to visit or things to do in Melbourne?

MoVida, Bar Lourinha, Collins Street (I could walk up and down visiting the boutiques all day! If only I had the time)  and the Melbourne Museum (keeps both parents and kids educationed and entertained!).