Businesses of Banyule’ presents – Hello Charlie, Bundoora
The love of an eco-friendly product from the UK led Vanessa Layton to start a successful multi-million dollar business in Australia. Vanessa is the founder of wholesale business Ethman and retail business Hello Charlie, and she now has much insight into the challenges and rewards of running online businesses.
After living in the UK, Vanessa wanted to bring back Bambo Nature eco-disposable nappies to Australia. After doing so in 2004, she started her wholesale business from the family garage.
While the wholesale business was a success, there were not many stores selling eco-friendly products, inspiring Vanessa to open a retail business selling eco-friendly, organic and non-toxic family products. Hello Charlie opened almost 10 years ago.
At first, it was a small show room in Eltham with an online interface but the online business grew rapidly. With online orders skyrocketing, Vanessa was faced with the need to expand to a larger warehouse, and moved to Bundoora.
“Online shopping was becoming more important to parents of young children, with the need to shop at a time that suited them. This was often late at night when the little ones were asleep. We evolved as our customers evolved. I also realised the product advice I gave to one person in store, I could tell thousands of people online, so that’s where our blog started.” Vanessa said.
Today, Hello Charlie is booming in the e-commerce sector with over 2,500 eco-friendly products available online for babies, toddlers and families. Products range from toys to feeding and changing gear and to baby skincare. The range recently expanded to include eco-friendly natural beauty, household cleaning and even pet products. Vanessa meticulously researches all products to make sure they are safe and non-toxic and customers comment on how well researched the products are.
All staff at Hello Charlie are working mothers, understanding the importance of buying the right product for children and excellence in customer service. Hello Charlie is happy when their customers are happy.
Excellent service is fundamental and especially for an online business. Staff listen and understand their customers’ needs and respond quickly by phone, email and live chat. The blog publishes product reviews and cheat sheets sharing health and wellbeing tips. These resources are freely available on Hello Charlie’s website.
“If one person is asking me, that means that lots of people are wondering about it, and I want to help as many people as I can. We ask the questions that other stores may not. So I spend a lot of time doing the research, reviewing ingredients and answering questions that many parents are concerned about,” Vanessa said.
The ethics of the business don’t just include stocking safe products. Staff all work flexible hours around their family commitments, and have a say in how the business is run. Everything is recycled, from packing materials and boxes, right through to the toilet paper. “Businesses shouldn’t just be about making money. It’s about treating people and the environment right, so that we can make a difference in the world, one purchase at a time,” Vanessa said.
For more information, contact the Hello Charlie team on 1300 725 876 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the blog.hellocharlie.com.au for free tips and resources.