Women With GRITT: The Department Of Brands Founder, Bex Gold, On Bootstrapping A Business, Trusting The Vision And The Importance Of Sustainability

“Success in business comes down to people. So, it’s about making sure that you’ve got strong dialogues and discussions with your buyers. Don’t be precious about things. Just because you think it’s a cool idea, doesn’t mean the rest of the world will.”

Welcome to Women with GRITT: a series where we interview the resilient, hardworking women who have kicked in the glass ceiling and inspire us to do the same.

When Bex Gold suddenly appeared on our computer screen ahead of our Zoom interview, there was an immediate sense of calm. Like chatting to a sister or girlfriend, Gold’s demeanour was warm, bright and overflowing with a humble tenacity. “I’m so excited!” she beamed, sitting cross legged on the floor in the corner of her office, “I get the best internet over here.”

As the founder of The Department of Brands (which prides itself on creating beauty brands that are as good for you as they are for the environment), Gold is one of those rare unicorns who seems to have a knack for just about anything. Her ability to walk the line between business smarts, understanding how beauty products can affect people’s mood, and the importance of sustainability, is what has led to her incredible success. Now managing four brands—Brite, Bar None, Kyn and Spot Medic—the Wellington-native certainly has her hands full.

In this interview, Gold speaks to Gritty Pretty about bootstrapping a business, trusting her vision, the importance of sustainability and why beauty products are more than skin deep.

 

Hi Bex! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. First things first, we would love to know a little more about you. So, where did you grow up?

Thank you for having me! I’m from Wellington, New Zealand, originally but I did spend a big chunk of my life living in Australia. I’d say my teens and a lot of my adult life was in Australia. I’ve been back in New Zealand for nine years now but I definitely feel a connection to the Australian beauty philosophy which I think inspired a lot of what I create with The Department of Brands.

 

And where would you say you inherited this drive and tenacity from? Or is it something that you feel has always been innate in you?

I think I’m very lucky that pretty much everyone in my family seems to have drive and determination in spades. I come from a big entrepreneurial family. Whether that’s hairdressing salons or publicly listed companies, I’ve always been surrounded by people who just kind of put their head down and get stuff done. I’m very fortunate in that respect because the concept of “no” or “you can’t” never really existed. I was always taught to give everything a go and that, in whatever I decided to do, I would be supported. But my family are also realistic so I think I was always prepared for the fact that there would be hurdles and barriers to face along the way.

 

Sounds like you come from a family of some pretty remarkable people. When would you say was the turning point when you realised that starting The Department of Brands was what you wanted to do?

Growing up, I’d always been exposed to beauty. Whether that was from my mum making homemade face masks or through fashion magazines. I remember sitting around at home and having to listen to my parents talk for half an hour about why those caffeine masks are the best. So, I’ve just always been around it. But I actually started in cleaning products and then, when I wanted to start over again, I realised that low margin beauty was better. I didn’t want to be prestigious, I wanted to bring fun and innovation to the masses and at the time, this opportunity was in the hair category. 

When we first started, we had no external investment. We just bootstrapped. I had a team of incredible buyers who really pushed the envelope and believed in my vision, which I’m so grateful for. We did seven figures in the first year because our formula works. I think making sure you have really, really strong relationships with individuals is insanely important. Without them, nothing would get across the line.

 

That is some pretty incredible advice. What were some of the greatest lessons you learnt in the early years of your business?

Business is never smooth sailing. I’m still grateful for every single sale. You can never truly high-five yourself and go, “Yeah, I’ve made it”. Essentially, business comes down to people. So, making sure that you’ve got strong dialogues and discussions with your buyers. Don’t be precious about things. Just because you think it’s a cool idea, doesn’t mean that the rest of the world will. Sometimes, I’d get so wrapped up in something that I couldn’t see where the flaws were. So, you need those people around you who are going to be honest and honour the business’s best interests. 

 

How has your role evolved since you first launched your business?

We’re definitely in the stage of growing the team. I’ve kept things very lean, which is important in a self-funded business. You never want to grow too quickly. I really value when people are investing time in the business. I’ve been very cautious onboarding hardcore employees. And the reason why it was such a slow progression was because, like I said earlier, we’re dealing with real people at the end of the day. I am very aware that when I employ someone, they are relying on me and it’s an immense responsibility. They give so much to the business and I feel that I owe every single person support and appreciation.

 

Moving on a little bit to how you manage your own work and life, we’d love to know how you avoid getting wrapped up in hustle culture? Especially given that now-a-days, being unbelievably busy all the time is almost worn as a badge of honour?

It’s no secret that my day-to-day is very business-focused, so I do love that I have fur babies that require walks twice a day. It gets me out of the house and away from my computer. I also love running. I run five kilometres every day. For me, it’s almost a kind of therapy. It’s how I manage my mental health. Each day is different so it doesn’t always have to be my hardest or fastest run, but moving my body always makes me feel better. It’s something for me and me only. 

 

And in terms of beauty, what is the greatest piece of beauty advice you’d like to pass on to the Gritty Pretty readers?

It sounds cheesy, but just embracing you. Embrace your own beauty and what you like and never apologise for that. It is certainly easier said than done but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely gotten better at appreciating what makes me unique and celebrating those aspects of myself.

 

Thank you so much for chatting to us Bex!

When Bex Gold suddenly appeared on our computer screen ahead of our Zoom interview, there was an immediate sense of calm. Like chatting to a sister or girlfriend, Gold’s demeanour was warm, bright and overflowing with a humble tenacity. “I’m so excited!” she beamed, sitting cross legged on the floor in the corner of her office, “I get the best internet over here.”

As the founder of The Department of Brands (which prides itself on creating beauty brands that are as good for you as they are for the environment), Gold is one of those rare unicorns who seems to have a knack for just about anything. Her ability to walk the line between business smarts, understanding how beauty products can affect people’s mood, and the importance of sustainability, is what has led to her incredible success. Now managing four brands—Brite, Bar None, Kyn and Spot Medic—the Wellington-native certainly has her hands full.

In this interview, Gold speaks to Gritty Pretty about bootstrapping a business, trusting her vision, the importance of sustainability and why beauty products are more than skin deep.

 

Hi Bex! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. First things first, we would love to know a little more about you. So, where did you grow up?

Thank you for having me! I’m from Wellington, New Zealand, originally but I did spend a big chunk of my life living in Australia. I’d say my teens and a lot of my adult life was in Australia. I’ve been back in New Zealand for nine years now but I definitely feel a connection to the Australian beauty philosophy which I think inspired a lot of what I create with The Department of Brands.

 

And where would you say you inherited this drive and tenacity from? Or is it something that you feel has always been innate in you?

I think I’m very lucky that pretty much everyone in my family seems to have drive and determination in spades. I come from a big entrepreneurial family. Whether that’s hairdressing salons or publicly listed companies, I’ve always been surrounded by people who just kind of put their head down and get stuff done. I’m very fortunate in that respect because the concept of “no” or “you can’t” never really existed. I was always taught to give everything a go and that, in whatever I decided to do, I would be supported. But my family are also realistic so I think I was always prepared for the fact that there would be hurdles and barriers to face along the way.

 

Sounds like you come from a family of some pretty remarkable people. When would you say was the turning point when you realised that starting The Department of Brands was what you wanted to do?

Growing up, I’d always been exposed to beauty. Whether that was from my mum making homemade face masks or through fashion magazines. I remember sitting around at home and having to listen to my parents talk for half an hour about why those caffeine masks are the best. So, I’ve just always been around it. But I actually started in cleaning products and then, when I wanted to start over again, I realised that low margin beauty was better. I didn’t want to be prestigious, I wanted to bring fun and innovation to the masses and at the time, this opportunity was in the hair category. 

When we first started, we had no external investment. We just bootstrapped. I had a team of incredible buyers who really pushed the envelope and believed in my vision, which I’m so grateful for. We did seven figures in the first year because our formula works. I think making sure you have really, really strong relationships with individuals is insanely important. Without them, nothing would get across the line.

 

That is some pretty incredible advice. What were some of the greatest lessons you learnt in the early years of your business?

Business is never smooth sailing. I’m still grateful for every single sale. You can never truly high-five yourself and go, “Yeah, I’ve made it”. Essentially, business comes down to people. So, making sure that you’ve got strong dialogues and discussions with your buyers. Don’t be precious about things. Just because you think it’s a cool idea, doesn’t mean that the rest of the world will. Sometimes, I’d get so wrapped up in something that I couldn’t see where the flaws were. So, you need those people around you who are going to be honest and honour the business’s best interests. 

 

How has your role evolved since you first launched your business?

We’re definitely in the stage of growing the team. I’ve kept things very lean, which is important in a self-funded business. You never want to grow too quickly. I really value when people are investing time in the business. I’ve been very cautious onboarding hardcore employees. And the reason why it was such a slow progression was because, like I said earlier, we’re dealing with real people at the end of the day. I am very aware that when I employ someone, they are relying on me and it’s an immense responsibility. They give so much to the business and I feel that I owe every single person support and appreciation.

 

Moving on a little bit to how you manage your own work and life, we’d love to know how you avoid getting wrapped up in hustle culture? Especially given that now-a-days, being unbelievably busy all the time is almost worn as a badge of honour?

It’s no secret that my day-to-day is very business-focused, so I do love that I have fur babies that require walks twice a day. It gets me out of the house and away from my computer. I also love running. I run five kilometres every day. For me, it’s almost a kind of therapy. It’s how I manage my mental health. Each day is different so it doesn’t always have to be my hardest or fastest run, but moving my body always makes me feel better. It’s something for me and me only. 

 

And in terms of beauty, what is the greatest piece of beauty advice you’d like to pass on to the Gritty Pretty readers?

It sounds cheesy, but just embracing you. Embrace your own beauty and what you like and never apologise for that. It is certainly easier said than done but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely gotten better at appreciating what makes me unique and celebrating those aspects of myself.

 

Thank you so much for chatting to us Bex!

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