When you think of a CEO of a large multi retail e-commerce outlet business, a ballerina is not something that pops into mind. But when you meet Alexandra Mills, the chic young CEO and see her elegant petite frame, it starts to make sense.
Mills not only oversees Brands Exclusive, but also The Home and The Active, two of the other businesses of The Lux Group.
Under her leadership, Brands Exclusive is currently turning over 70 million alone with 1.5 million subscribers.
Brands Exclusive celebrated the launch of their latest marketing campaign over lunch at Bambini Trust, with reality T.V contestant, Laurina Fleure. Laurina who starred on The Bachelor, is the face of the campaign.
The Melbourne based brunette, a former model also has her own fashion label, Piala which will be available on Brands Exclusive for seven days starting from the 21st September.
Over a rose petal scattered lunch, Alexandra Mills discussed the latest marketing campaign, the Australian retail climate, as well as the business behind Brands Exclusive and importance of being humble in her position.
You have recently launched your campaign with reality star, fashion designer and boutique owner Laurina Fleure, what promoted this campaign?
The fashion campaign has the tag line “Celebrity shopping, reality prices”. We work with some of the world’s most famous designer brands, but we make them a reality by offering them to our members with great discounts.
Laurina was a natural choice to be our latest famous face for this campaign because she has impeccable style, and both we and our customers adore her clothing range Pialia.
The Celebrity Shopping, Reality Prices-campaign launched in June, and has also featured reality stars Lana Jeavons-Fellows and Zana Pali and Gianni Romano.
How does Brands Exclusive work and what does it offer the public?
It is a members-only shopping site – signing up is free! – and we offer our members insider prices for some of the best fashion, beauty, homewares and accessories brands in the world.
Unlike other clearance sites which can devalue brands by promoting the brands being discounted, Brands Exclusive is very protective of keeping the integrity of brands, how do you do this?
Because we are a members-only site, only our members have access to our offers, which means we can keep the integrity of the brands. We also did a redesign last year – the site is much sleeker and chic – which we believe better aligns with the premium brands we work with.
We are so careful with the presentation of each sale event we create. Our talented in house studio and graphics team create wonderful, stylish imagery, and our copy and editorial team produce descriptions and articles to support this. We care so much about our premium positioning, as well as maintaining each brand’s unique image and brand value. We are not a discount site with slashed prices and red noise everywhere – we offer exclusive discounts to our loyal members, and live by customer experience.
How many subscribers and members does Brand Exclusive have? Does this change much and where do you see potential customer growth?
We have 1.5 million members, and we gain about 1,000 new subscribers every day through various channels. Being part of Lux Group means we can leverage the customer base of our 15 brands and cross promote offers within this network of 10 million members, which is a huge advantage for us as a group! Our brands include well known websites such as The Home, Luxury Escapes, LivingSocial, TheActive and more.
Who is the Brands Exclusive customer and what are her purchasing habits?
She is a woman in her mid-30s who wants good value for her money – she doesn’t necessarily only buy designer brands, but she is after good quality. Although she likes to keep herself up to date with the latest fashion trends, she has her own sense of style. She loves a good bargain!
What are the key components to running a successful online business like Brands Exclusive?
A good team and a great company culture, exceptional customer service (we have always believed that the best way to acquire new customers is to provide an exceptional service to our existing customers), great relationships with our brand partners, smooth logistics and a clever marketing strategy.
How are you finding the Australian retail landscape and would you say consumers spending is down?
We work with many Australian brands, and help them move their excess stock, or act as an additional sales channel for them. What we have noticed towards the end of winter is that there was still a lot of winter stock available, because of the late change in the weather. This definitely had an effect on retail, as weather does!
How does a former Ballerina go to be a CEO?
I started my career at the tender age of 17 as a professional ballet dancer, training at the world-renowned Stuttgarter Ballet and dancing with the Ballet Theater Hof in Germany.
At the age of 25, I received a place at the University of Oxford to study Modern Languages and Literature, and graduated with First Class Honours and five scholarships to my name. I followed this with a year at EADA business school in Spain, and moved to Australia to become a management consultant with CapGemini.
A year later, I joined Rocket Internet shortly after its launch in Australia, before moving across to Lux Group when it acquired The Home and pop. I believe my career as a ballerina has shaped and perfected my leadership skills, and my twirling days taught me the importance of discipline, attention to detail and team work.
Blood, sweat and tears pays off both on stage as well as in the boardroom. You can’t give up, no matter how tedious it is or how impossible your goal seems – hard work and tenacity will get you the results you’re after
You mentioned the importance of needing to be incredibly humble in your position previously in an article, what do you think is important to be humble in business?
The retail landscape and the online retail space especially is constantly evolving, not to mention the ever-changing customers’ needs and wants. So although business might be blooming, you can never relax and think “That’s my job done here”. You have to constantly be on your toes and try to predict how you can keep your customers and business partners happy not just today but tomorrow too.
Being humble as a leader is important – everyone is human and seeing a vulnerable side and a real person who makes mistakes makes you approachable and ‘real’ as a leader.
What turnover is Brands Exclusive currently doing? And where do you see where there is potential growth in sales?
Brands Exclusive is part of the Lux Group Product portfolio, including Brands Exclusive, The Home, Pop and TheActive. We work as one group, with a turnover of about $70 million. Australian’s are becoming more price sensitive and online savvy, and this is the market we are looking at capturing more of in order to grow, as well as expanding our portfolio of brands that we can offer to our members.
What other areas fall into the group of companies?
Brands Exclusive is part of Lux Group, one of Australia’s largest locally owned e-commerce businesses. Lux Group is the umbrella head for 15 different retailers, including Luxury Escapes, TheHome.com.au, LivingSocial ANZ and TheGourmet.com.au.
Laurina Fleure’s brand Pialia will be part of the “Celebrity Shopping, Reality Prices” Campaign and will be available for 7 days only from the 21st September 2016.
Company: Brands Exclusive, part of the Lux Group Products portfolio
Subscribers: 1.5 million
Growth: 24% in FY16
About the Author
Phoebes Garland co-owns Garland & Garland Fashion, a fashion sales and consulting agency and is a Feature Writer to Exposed Online. Phoebes is also mentor to designers with Australian fashion industry body, Australian Fashion Chamber, is on the Advisory Board for Fashion Design Studio (Sydney TAFE) and an ambassador to Shake it up Australia Foundation.
Follow Phoebes Garland on Instagram