Kate Morris, CEO and founder of Adore Beauty, was awarded the Industry Recognition Award at the StarTrack ORIAS last week – the first woman to win the award in the nine years of its history.
In an inspirational speech, Morris motivated the crowd receiving cheers from her many supporters at the recent StarTrack ORIAS awards ceremony held in Sydney on 28th July.
Morris went on to paraphrase Winston Churchill in her address:
‘We shall not fail, we shall fight in growing strength in data, we shall defend our island… whatever the cost will be… and we shall never surrender – so Amazon… come and get us.”
Kate Morris was one of the first entrepreneurs in Australia to take the plunge into e-commerce, and successfully take a traditional bricks and mortar beauty business into the digital sphere. That was sixteen years ago, “when e-commerce wasn’t a word commonly used,” she told Power Retail.
In 2000, Morris started Adore Beauty with just $12,000 out of her garage. The business has since grown to become one of Australia’s most successful online shopping destinations for beauty products and cosmetics.
Morris has been a pioneer in Australia’s e-commerce and entrepreneurial space, and an active campaigner for women in leadership roles, successfully giving beauty a “digital makeover”. She is widely respected within the industry for her many achievements, with this latest one being particularly special, representing a big score for women in retail technology.
Morris spoke to Power Retail about what it takes to build a successful beauty empire.
Having courage to fail
“Adore Beauty was the first e-commerce destination for beauty and cosmetics back in 2000, when e-commerce wasn’t a word commonly used,” she explains. After years of persistence, determination and overcoming plenty of “no’s”, Morris says that this is one of the keys to her journey of success, where her personal motto is ‘have courage to fail’ as a core part of Adore Beauty’s business values.
World first ‘Finadation’ technology
Morris’ personal journey in technology led her to the innovation of Findation; whereby she created an algorithm to assist women all over the world to find their perfect foundation match, without the need to try the product first. “The innovation currently returns results based over 997 global brands, 7866 products, 40,206 shades and over 1.64 million shade matches and is used across leading beauty websites from around the world,” explains Morris.
Reviving industries once dominated by women
Kate Morris is reviving industries like computer science to get women back into the field they started, by starting a scholarship for women across Australia who are studying the topic at university. “It is a technical skill that has helped to underpin the innovation of Adore Beauty and other retailers across Australia.”
Earlier this year, she launched the Kate Morris scholarship; aimed at female final-year university graduates who are looking to embark on their own careers within the science and technology industry. The scholarship will provide a successful candidate with a 1 month paid internship at Adore Beauty.
Morris’ sixteen years in business has included some key achievements, including: in 2015, Woolworths Limited became an investor by taking a 25% stake in Adore Beauty; and in late 2014, Adore Beauty signed an agency agreement with Estée Lauder Group, making it the first and only pureplay online retailer in Australia to sell luxury cosmetics including Bobbi Brown, Clinique and Estée Lauder. Earlier this year, Morris purchased her 25 percent stake of Adore Beauty back from Woolworths Limited, and went back to being independent.