The making of… CEE CLEAR
Welcome to The making of... blog series. To start, can you give us a bit of a background into who you are and where you’ve come from?
Hello. I’m Kat Moses, Co-Founder & CEO and my partner Morgan Tait Timberlake is the Co-Founder & Creative Director.
As you can probably guess by the titles Morgan drives the creative and design vision behind CEE CLEAR. She’s a respected name in the Australian fashion industry and her signature cool, clean and crisp aesthetic has attracted clients like BVLGARI Australia, P.E NATION, Melanie Grant and PALLAS Couture to name but a few.
Whereas, I’m more of the operational brain behind the business. I’m also the founder of a successful talent management consultancy, called MGMT, which is a leading voice in influencer marketing, social media management and personal branding in Australia.
With backgrounds in fashion and talent management, it’s easy to see what you’re doing as a natural extension of your collective experiences. Having said that, how did you come up with the idea?
In 2015 Morgan and I were planning to travel and we were looking for a trendy, clear cosmetic case to pack our in-fight liquids in. We're both all about aesthetics and didn’t want to take a zip lock bag out at airport security. Unfortunately, we couldn't find anything we liked and realised that there was a gap in the market to cater to this particular need... so we decided to create our own.
Thinking about airports and travel it does seem kind of obvious… doesn’t it? So knowing there was this opportunity in the market how did you go about your research? What did you do to arrive at what you've got now and how did you test your product-market fit?
We did extensive research on what was already in the market for all types of toiletry bags, including PVC and other materials. This involved purchasing different types of existing products and also reviewing multiple samples from our factory.
During this research, we noticed that there weren't a lot of brands offering durable PVC as an option across all accessory categories, so that's why we decided to extend our product options beyond just being a cosmetic case.
Initially, we kept our designs/thinking to ourselves because we didn't want other opinions to sway our initial thinking. We were quite confident with what we were doing.
As you’ve stated, getting other people’s opinions can definitely skew your thinking. Especially considering your collective background and experience. Knowing what you wanted to achieve… how did the first runs of your product go?
Our first runs were pretty much 100% to what we designed and requested. Our factory has been amazing in meeting our designs and briefing guidelines.
Fantastic. What about funding? How did you initially fund everything?
We are self-funded. Both I and Morgan invested our own money to start CEE CLEAR and we continue to be the only shareholders.
Smart. So full control over your future. Can you tell us about your branding process and how you arrived at where you are today?
The branding was a combination of Morgan's and my personal aesthetics, our personalities and our shared values. Morgan is an incredibly talented creative/art director and has managed to do an exceptional job at bringing our vision to life. I believe her creativity is our competitive edge.
We totally get it. It’s our belief as well that creativity can be a huge competitive advantage if executed well. With your branding sorted, how are you getting the word out there?
During the first year, we didn’t do any paid marketing. We focussed on organic social media, seeding to media and influencers. We are so thankful for all of the support we've received as we wouldn't be able to grow as fast as we have without it.
I would also say the combination of my business experience and Morgan's creative direction has been the key to our success so far. We are now scaling by investing in paid advertising and seeding into the US market.
We’ve been following you on social media and love how you’ve not only approached the market with your product but also how you have targeted potential influencers. That all aside, what about the challenges ahead? What would you say your biggest challenge or challenges are moving forward?
Scaling is always going to be a challenge but one we are excited about, and meeting the demand as we scale. We have an amazing product manager so I'm confident once we get to that point.
From everything you’ve said so far… it sounds like you both have everything under control. Which is great to see. With that in mind and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give another entrepreneur who is embarking on their own startup journey?
Nothing is ever going to be perfect so just launch, look at the mistakes as opportunities and trust the process. Timing is everything. Lastly, be excited to take a risk and embrace being uncomfortable, that's when the magic happens.