A Perth mum has revealed how she turned a hair fail into a multimillion-dollar business, creating a global company out of her garage.
Nowadays, Tara Simich’s brand Mermade Hair is recognisable to anyone with an Instagram or TikTok account, with her tools spotted in the hands of the likes of Kim Kardashian and Hailey Bieber (and their hair stylists).
That was not always the case, with Ms Simich starting the brand as a side hustle from just $20,000 in savings.
The idea for the now viral company came from the fact Ms Simich “can’t do” her own hair with traditional tools such as curling wands.
“I just thought to myself how cool it would be if my old crimper from the ’90s could be bigger so it could have a nice modern wave rather than these kinds of zigzaggy little crimps of the ’90s,” she said.
“So it really was born out of that. I just really wanted something to kind of solve that problem.”
Mermade Hair wasn’t Ms Simich’s first business venture; the serial entrepreneur started the Jungle Body brand of workout dance classes in 2010, with the product running in 17 countries.
She also worked as a consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers before going on to set up her own consulting firm.
“I think I definitely have an entrepreneurial side, so I suppose it was quite typical of me to look at it and actually go ‘OK, well I can maybe turn this into something’,” she said.
However, going from an idea to setting up connections with manufacturers was a “daunting” leap into the unknown for the Perth-based businesswoman.
“I never had been to China, I never had been part of manufacturing or with consumer electrical, so it was all very new,” she said.
“Lots of mistakes and lots of learnings and we really just learnt as we went … we kind of threw ourselves into it and really tried to understand the whole space.”
For those who are considering leaping into the deep end themselves, Ms Simich warns people not to wait for the perfect time or moment.
“I think that’s what stops you from succeeding and I think it will never be perfect, especially with the way the world is now – it’s so competitive,” she said.
“When we launched we weren’t just competing with Australian hair tools. Once you go live, you’re immediately in a global market, so it’s important to move quickly.”
Though she encourages people to take risks, Ms Simich also says to make sure that the risk is proportional to where the business is at.
“How much can you forego and can you go and put yourself into something 100 per cent? Or do you still need to continue your day job and do a hustle on the side?” she said.
“That’s how we were for the first year, so we shipped from my garage. My husband was still running his company and I was still running Jungle Body.”
Ms Simich says it’s important to make the most of what’s in front of you, like using a global pandemic to your advantage; however, it is equally important to keep your eye on the future.
“(The pandemic) was a great time for online businesses to thrive, but what we did as a strategy is we moved into retail just as quick,” she said.
“I think that really helped us because once things levelled out and the world opened up after Covid, a lot of businesses that were just surviving on direct-to-customer services really struggled.”
As for the elusive answer to how to maintain a healthy work-life balance, the entrepreneur’s advice is to build it into every day.
“I want to still be there at school pick-up each day … I try to balance things day to day rather than getting so busy and working yourself to the ground then waiting for that one holiday,” she said.
“In the morning, I don’t touch my phone, I get the boys to school and then I do a fitness class or something once a day so I can have that hour to myself.
“I kind of try to structure the day. I’m really disciplined with it to make sure I don’t get to that burnout.”