ShortPress Small Talk series: Adore Beauty


Small businesses in Australia continue to push the boundaries of our ‘glocal’ economy. The ShortPress Small Talk series profiles a diverse range of small business owners to find out what they do and what makes them tick.


Based out of Melbourne, Adore Beauty is one of Australia’s leading online shopping destinations for beauty products and cosmetics. ShortPress sat down with the company’s founder and CEO, Kate Morris. 

ShortPress: Describe your small business in less than 50 words.

Kate Morris: My business,, is Australia's premier skincare, make-up and haircare e-tailer. We are official stockists of more than 140 brands, offering free shipping nationwide, complimentary samples and price-matching (with genuine Australian stockists). Plus, our customer service team includes hair and make-up artists on staff, who are always happy to give advice.

SP: What inspires you as a business owner?

KM: I was inspired to start my business as I was frustrated with the limited options I had to indulge my passion for beauty when I was younger. Growing up in Launceston, I found that so many of the brands and products I coveted were only available to those who lived overseas, or at least in bigger cities. Then when I landed a part-time job at a cosmetics counter, I realised that many women found the department store experience intimidating, pushy and unhelpful. I was determined to come up with an alternative way of shopping, and so Adore Beauty was born.

SP: What does a typical day for you look like?

KM: I have a four year old, so the start of the day is always a bit chaotic. After doing the childcare drop-off I get to the office about 9am, and try to spend the first half-hour prioritising and planning. My role as CEO is to guide the strategic direction for the business, and to develop new paths to growth. Some days might be back-to-back meetings or teleconferences, while others I might just be chained to my desk.

SP: What have your biggest challenges been so far and how have you overcome them?

KM: In the beginning, there were practical challenges – broadband didn’t exist 15 years ago and so it was a choice of using the phone or the internet. Online shopping wasn’t as common and so we faced quite a bit of scepticism and hesitation from brands. I also had very limited capital so it was quite a challenge to build the Adore Beauty brand without any marketing budget.

One of the biggest lessons for me has been to accept failure. Things don't always go as you've planned, so anticipate these flops and work out ways to minimise their impact.

SP: What about your biggest learnings?

KM: One of the biggest lessons for me has been to accept failure. Things don't always go as you've planned, so anticipate these flops and work out ways to minimise their impact.

SP: If you could start over again, would you do anything differently?

KM: I think it would have helped me to have a better understanding and education around the financial/accounting side of business, so I always recommend that to anyone starting out. But in truth, all the mistakes I made were learning experiences and part of the journey, and everything I did “wrong” still led me to where I am now, so I don’t spend time wishing I had done things differently.

SP: What advice would you give to budding small business owners?

KM: My advice to budding small business owners is to just get started! Rather than waiting for an opportunity to surface, begin making progress for yourself. Stop waiting for things not to seem so terrifying and don't be paralysed by planning. Find the cheapest, quickest way to get started – don’t wait for it to be perfect.

SP: Name the business leaders you look up to and why.

KM: I am full of admiration and respect for every single entrepreneur who has taken that risk of quitting a safe job to start something on their own. I especially admire women like Kate Weiss (Table of Plenty) and Mia Klitsas (Moxie) who put their heart and soul into creating authentic and honest brands that they really care about.

SP: Where to now for Adore Beauty?

KM: Adore Beauty is growing very fast at the moment, thanks to our recent investment from Woolworths, so it’s a very exciting time! We’ve rolled out some amazing new brands just recently, including Bobbi Brown, Sigma brushes, and Aspect skincare. Many more to come also – watch this space.

Image: Kristian Gehradte