How the founder of SkinnyMint and BodyBoss was driven to succeed by a lesson from her dad


Today, Australian entrepreneur Emily Hamilton is the brains behind some of the best-kept tresses on social media, and she presides over a small business empire.

But the success of her Bali-inspired hair masque Coco and Eve, and its string of accompanying beauty brands, was by no means guaranteed.

In fact, it might never have been if it weren't for a lesson from her late father, she told CNBC Make It.

Hamilton was in her teens when she received the insight that continues to resonate with her more than two decades on.

It was the 1990s at the time, and Australia was in the grips of its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. At its peak, interest rates shot up almost 18 percent.

The crash hit Hamilton's father's property business hard, and the family was forced to move out of their home in Geelong, a city near Melbourne, and downsize to a smaller house.

It was like 10 steps back and one huge leap forward.
Emily Hamilton
co-founder of Supernova

However, determined to not let in bring his business down, her father decided to buy a derelict building on the outskirts of Geelong and set himself the goal of redeveloping it into offices.

The site was a dive, Hamilton recalled, and to the family and outside observers, his goal seemed almost insurmountable.

But, against the odds, he pulled it off, and it went on to become one of the region's leading business hubs.

Emily Hamilton, co-founder of Supernova

"He said he was going to turn it into a business park — and he did," noted Hamilton. "It was like 10 steps back and one huge leap forward."

The experience had a lasting impact on Hamilton and her three siblings.

Not only did it drive each of them to become entrepreneurs in their own right. But it also enabled them to cope when faced with inevitable business challenges of their own, said Hamilton.

It really taught me that even when your back's against the wall, you have to keep going
Emily Hamilton
co-founder of Supernova

In 2014, failure to crack the Asian market meant Hamilton had to shut the Singapore arm of her first venture, Bellabox, an Australia-based beauty subscription service set up together with her twin sister, Sarah.

Unwilling to give up, however, Hamilton decided to change tack: Rather than provide consumers with monthly samples of products they might like, as was the Bellabox model, she set about figuring out where the demand lay then creating the cosmetics in response.

Months later, she and her husband set up cosmetics incubator Supernova and its first beauty line, SkinnyMint detox tea.

"It really taught me that even when your back's against the wall, you have to keep going," Hamilton said, drawing on the early lessons from her father.

That perseverance has paid off. Four years on, Supernova now boasts runaway success from its string of brands, including skincare mask Sand & Sky, fitness line BodyBoss and, its latest launch, hair care masque Coco & Eve.

The company remains entirely self-funded. However, Hamilton said she expects to soon take on investment to grow its Singapore headquarters, as well as the office led by her sister in Melbourne and smaller hubs in London and Delhi.

Beauty brands including SkinnyMint, Sand & Sky and Coco & Eve are showcased in Supernova's Singapore HQ

When asked what experience she hopes to pass onto other future entrepreneurs, Hamilton said it all comes down to getting creative and then investing the time to watch it pay off.

"What's important is to be very entrepreneurial because you're starting from zero," she said.

"It's all about looking at how you can be different and stand out."

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