Jamee Parker.

Beauty is in Jamee Parker’s blood. As the daughter of the late Michelle Doherty, founder of cult beauty brand Alpha-H, Jamee knows what it takes to build a brand from the ground up. She started  a-beauty, an editorial / e-commerce site that features only Australian beauty, almost two years ago,  at the height of the pandemic. As the site prepares to celebrate its second birthday, the mother-of-two shares with Retail Beauty her journey.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in New Zealand and Mum and Dad made the permanent move across the  ditch when I was eight in 1995 so I suppose I spent the early parts of childhood in Auckland with the rest of my time on the Gold Coast.  I was a pretty adventurous kid; we were outdoors a lot and I loved to climb trees and I loved animals.

Your beautiful mother unfortunately passed away at the age of 57 in 2020 after a two-year battle with cancer – how does she continue to inspire you?

Mum continues to inspire me every day in all aspects of my life. She was a brilliant  businesswoman, a nurturing and supportive mother, a beautiful daughter and sister, and  a kind and considerate friend. No matter what challenges I am facing, I do often find  myself thinking about how she would approach things, and ask myself – what would Mum do?

The late Michelle Doherty,
What would you tell your 18-year-old self?

Say yes to things and regret it later, as opposed to saying no and wondering what if. This has been a mantra that has served me so well later in life so if I had just gotten onto the band wagon earlier, who knows where I would be today.

How do you plan your week?

Mondays we focus on social media and content for The Edit; Tuesdays are for graphic design, EDM planning and creation along with adhoc marketing tasks; Wednesdays we have a good look at on-site activity and metrics; and then Thursdays are usually a planning, replenishment orders etc. kind of a day and I WFH on a Friday as I have the girls at home with me.

What inspired you to start a-beauty?

Mum was diagnosed with cancer a week  after I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter Peaches. Alpha-H was also in the initial stages of acquisition so I felt a lot of pressure to try and keep things sailing smoothly so Mum could get the treatment she needed without it impacting the acquisition. I worked really hard – I was spearheading the brand’s launch into the Sephora network globally so was still flying globally until I was 34 weeks and no longer able to fly long-haul distances – and then I was back on a plane when my daughter was nine weeks old for a three-week trip to Europe to launch into 14 countries… so it was kind of around this time that I thought I needed to slow down a little. Sadly, once the acquisition took place (Riverside Company acquired Alpha-H for an undisclosed amount in 2019)  I no longer felt it was the right fit for me there so I resigned from my position and took a leap of faith into starting a-beauty.

How did the pandemic impact the business?

The pandemic created a lot of opportunities for eCommerce, however, it also saw  a rise in new online shopping destinations and multi-brand retailers. We are playing the long game and understand that running a successful business doesn’t happen overnight,  so we are focusing on laying the foundations to be here for a while.

Tell us about the benefits of working in a family business (Alpha-H)?

I loved working in the family business and one of the main benefits that comes to mind  is that it taught us to multi-task and get to know all jobs and facets of the business, not just the glamourous side. Dad had us in the filling room and packing orders from a young age, and Mum taught us how to answer the phones and help with customer care. They both believed that you need to know your business inside and out if you are to succeed. You need to know every role within the business so that was something that’s always stuck with me.

What is your biggest ‘failure’, and what did you learn from it?

Going too deep into a buy can always be a little much when you are starting out. I suggest working closely with a brand to on-board with their best sellers and build out your assortment from there so you can see what resonates with your customers.

Where do you see the future of the beauty industry headed?

People are still loving the convenience of online shopping for the products they already know and love, but exploring new brands and products will most likely continue in B&M because consumers still like to play with textures and smell things before truly committing. It’s been amazing to see our customers really embrace our philosophy which is to support local and think about where products are made and the faces behind them. We’ll continue to see beauty shoppers make the switch from international brands to homegrown ones as they discover what incredible products are being made here in Australia.

What is the one common myth about the beauty industry that you want to debunk?

Business success happens overnight. Total myth. Success is not built overnight. It’s a slow burn – so learn to ride the highs and the lows.

What’s your hero beauty product?

I am obsessed with the Ere Perez Carrot Colour Pots – they’re the perfect multi-tasking  makeup product for busy working mums on the go.

Access a-beauty online at https://abeauty.co.

This article was first published in the Spring 2022 issue of Retail Beauty.

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