Cash flow turnaround for beauty retailer

When Beauty Bliss CEO Toni Cox first engaged with Connected Accountants, she was on the hunt for an accountant who could provide end-to-end support. Toni needed a business advisor who could look beyond the books and understand and support her through the unique challenges of running a business. She needed a partnership. 

Founded by Toni in 2012, Beauty Bliss is a carefully crafted cosmetics and beauty e-commerce store. They stock world-renowned brands and ship to New Zealand and Australia. Toni has lived and breathed e-commerce since starting university in 2003 where she studied a BCA with a double major in Information Systems and e-commerce while working at TradeMe part-time. Toni founded Beauty Bliss as an online store that was run out of her spare bedroom with the help of one part-time staff member. Within less than a year, Beauty Bliss was Toni’s full-time job, the business was rapidly growing, and had run at a profit every year. Beauty Bliss was importing items that were performing well online from the wave of beauty influencers on social media. Influencers were showing products that were inaccessible in New Zealand to their large followings, creating a high demand for these goods. Beauty Bliss was the bridging element to give NZ consumers access to worldwide brands.

However, when Toni came to us in 2019, things had changed. The business was in a poor financial position and Toni was feeling the pressure. At this stage, Beauty Bliss had gone from being an e-commerce only business to running two brick and mortar stores, one in Wellington, and one in Auckland. The Auckland store had made losses for the first two years of its three-year lease, with no option to sublease and an annual rent of $100,000.

How Connected Accountants offered support

The first meeting between Jaimi McNeilly from Connected Accountants and Toni lasted a total of 5 minutes before Toni was in tears and confiding that she was knee-deep in debt, constantly making losses and felt like nothing was working. It was during this first meeting that Jaimi asked if Toni would consider closing the Auckland store. This was the first time Toni had considered the idea and was the catalyst for Toni to go on to make the call to close the store despite having a whole year left on the lease.

“The stores felt like 70% of the work for 20% of our revenue” - Toni Cox

The elephant in the room was the management of cash flow. Beauty Bliss had been using an array of excel spreadsheets alongside a small number of the functions of Xero and had no budget in place. Jaimi converted all of Beauty Bliss’s transactions and reporting through Xero and worked out a budget for the business. Once Toni had these resources in her pocket, she was equipped with greater confidence in her business and knew where money was going.

Alongside the business advisory support Jaimi offered, she and Toni built a solid partnership where Jaimi could play the role of the soundboard at any time Toni needed. Once a month, Jaimi would go and visit Toni just to chat. Jaimi never brought anything with her and would stop by Beauty Bliss to connect with Toni.

“Jaimi is just accessible. I could call her at any time and she would pick up the phone. She’s always there to answer questions that go beyond strictly financial!” – Toni Cox

With support from Jaimi and the team at Connected Accountants, Toni put all her energy into the Beauty Bliss website and the Wellington store to make up for the $100,000 rent for the remaining year-long lease in Auckland. Following the closure of the Auckland store, Jaimi received a phone call from Toni saying she was also closing the Wellington store and going ‘all in’ for the online business.

The Results

Today, the online-only Beauty Bliss is going from strength to strength with sales growing by 78% over the last two years. Toni now feels great about the future and has big plans for the business. She is set up to keep focusing on online business growth and doing what she does best - sticking to Toni’s passion for e-commerce. E-commerce has given Toni a lot of freedom, she now has a large home base for Beauty Bliss with a beautiful area for staff to relax, have lunch and host meetings, and have newfound workplace flexibility.

Originally intended to be a part-time business for Toni, Beauty Bliss is now a huge business and having outgrown multiple warehouses, they have moved into a warehouse in the Kaiwharawhara Gorge that has room for growth. Toni can sleep a little easier at night knowing they will always make payroll and that she can support her much-loved team. After working together since 2019, Beauty Bliss has transitioned back to its roots as an e-commerce store, and Toni now has the financial freedom to take drawings each year after a couple of years without. With the support of Connected Accountants, Toni has peace of mind in her day-to-day work knowing what the future looks like for her business.

If Toni could give one piece of advice to business owners, it would be to get help.

“If you realise you’re in a bad spot, don’t just keep struggling. Get help and take stock of where you’re at” – Toni Cox

So, if you’re feeling uncreatin about the cash flow in your business, call us. Take action. We can help.