Savant: A person who has exceptional aptitude in one particular field
Coming from scientific roots, Kylie Myatt spent years working in the skincare industry. Yet, as her knowledge grew, so did her refusal of obedience to the status quo of the industry. “I shy away from the typical beauty industry and see skincare as having to achieve important objectives. I could not find a brand that suited me or that met all my objectives both in ingredient quality, sustainability, brand position, and packaging” Kylie explains. Launching Savant Apothecary in 2016 at her local Newcastle Markets, Kylie has since scaled to two stores, with a third in the works — a true savant.
We recently visited Kylie in Newcastle to learn about how she started and scaled a business in a regional area, and her ambitions to challenge the status quo.
SQ: Why did you start Savant Apothecary?
K: Savant Apothecary evolved because I saw the skincare industry differently. I am quite practical, logical, reflective, and observant. I shy away from the typical beauty industry and saw skincare as having to achieve important objectives. I could not find a brand that suited me or that met all my objectives in ingredient quality, sustainability, brand position and packaging.
I had always found skincare intriguing on a cellular level and also psychologically as I know using it made me feel good.
I spent really well over a decade thinking about it and reading all I could find on new advancements and discoveries. I observed how the industry behaved toward customers. I disliked it more and more, to the point I really wanted to provide an alternative. Savant apothecary grew from a refusal of obedience to the status quo of the industry.
“Partly a chance to dream, to build something, to leave a legacy, to make a difference, to have made something that was not available before.”
SQ: How did it feel to start your own business?
K: Starting Savant Apothecary was an immensely driven feeling. I look back at what I achieved so quickly and with such a small amount of money and still today I am quite amazed. At times as the business grew quickly and bigger steps were required, I felt scared, stressed and experienced debilitating self-doubt episodes. I overcame these by looking to the end goal which helps the big steps today look small.
SQ: Can you tell us more about the challenges and benefits of starting a business in a regional location?
K: Starting a business in a regional location has its advantages in that there is less of a constraint on creativity, and there is still room for giving something a go. Newcastle has a strong small business scene that is well supported and as businesses, we all know each other. This builds a feeling of being ‘in it together’, you celebrate other businesses growing and taking big steps but equally learn from businesses who stay the same and demonstrate persistence and durability in an ever-changing world.
There is a strong market scene in Newcastle that is well supported by locals and businesses. Many Newcastle businesses have started at markets just like I did. There is a lot of creativity and excitement in Newcastle.
SQ: You’re now in two locations and online. Tell us about the challenges of expanding your business?
K: We want to build a nationally recognised brand that challenges the current big players. However we do not want to be everywhere, finding us is part of the experience too. Expanding has many challenges, the key ones to me are,
Organisation: Being organised and knowing how you want the stores to operate and having this documented clear and concise ways that are accessible to staff.
Finding your team: Hiring people to help you is very important. Knowing yourself and being honest with yourself helps you to hire the rols you need and who you work well with. Luckily these people have found their way to Savant and have stayed.
Funding: Capital is crucial to expansion, so making sure margins are good is very important. Money is very dynamic currently, more than we have experienced before, you need to have your finger on the pulse and respond quickly.
Expansion relies on all of the above never stopping really. It is a challenge but also a habit.
SQ: How has Square helped as you’ve expanded?
K: A rather nice synchronicity has developed as Square has offered more features as we have needed them. Soon after our team really started to grow, Square released Team Management. As our inventory management became unwieldy and demanding Square released Inventory Management and purchase orders. As we needed better systems, Square bought out stock counting.
Invoicing and rostering were pain points that Square solved for us. Invoicing means I can look after customers who live far away and who need special ordering or requirements. Seeing shifts and having staff be able to access shifts on one platform through Team management is great!
The system makes it easy to train staff as it is intuitive. Square hasn’t always got it right either but they listen and act which has resulted in a great point-of-sale system.
SQ: What feature of Square do you use the most (aside from taking payments)?
K: Checking sales remotely, from on top of mountains, on kayaks, in rivers, or when I’ve touched down from a flight.
SQ: One piece of advice for fellow or aspiring business owners?
K: For people sitting on the fence deciding to jump or not - make sure your product is good, really good. If you fall over, things will keep ticking along if your customers love what you are doing. Keep going, and don’t give up, you’ll learn to know what this means in time. Take time to dream, this is where the magic is, then have the tenacity to make it happen.
Love systems and want to simplify complex things. Be clear. It’s ok to learn as you go. Don’t worry if you’re the only one in the room feeling the magic, not everyone will be able to see your vision. Remember why you started.