Mum’s birthday gift now $1m business
WHEN James and Lauren Billingham's mum Vicki turned 60 a few years back, the Perth siblings were stumped.
They were determined to find a perfect, meaningful gift - but seriously struggled to find anything suitable.
In the end, they did find a great solution, and ended up gifting their much-loved mum 60 personal, heartfelt messages from all her friends and family which were placed into a Moroccan-style box.
"She started crying from the very first note she read, and so did her friends," Mr Billingham told news.com.au.
"It was from very emotional for everyone."
The present was such a hit the siblings decided to turn it into a business, launching NoteCube a year later.
The business sells stylish keepsake boxes filled with personalised notes and images, enabling customers to give their loved ones a series of heartfelt, customised notes based on specified characteristics, which have been analysed from their database of over 35,000 love notes.
Today, the company is thriving.
In their first year in business they turned over around $100,000 in sales which soared to $650,000 the following year.
Now they are turning over up to $20,000 per week and for FY19 they are on schedule to earn more than $1 million in sales by the end of the next financial year.
Around half of all sales are to US-based customers while a quarter are from the UK.
The Canadian and Australian markets are also big supporters of the brand.
However, Mr Billingham said it had been far from an overnight success story.
"It all started with my mum's 60th birthday, when my sister and I decided to collect 60 memories from family and friends - we gave it to mum and she absolutely loved it," he said.
"I was in between businesses then and started thinking this could be something, if we made the process a lot easier and more accessible.
"It got to the point where we had a photo shoot (for the product) and gave everyone a free NoteCube as a thank you - but no one took one.
"I thought if we couldn't give it away for free, how would we be able to sell them? It was a bit of a slump."
However, NoteCubes ended up being included in an online gift guide, which immediately led to two sales.
That got the ball rolling, and the Billinghams got to the point where they were selling one a day via Instagram.
From there they began advertising through social media, using influencers and word of mouth to spread the message.
Now, they've printed a million notes after a year of "crazy growth".
Mr Billingham said until a few months ago, around 80 per cent of NoteCube customers were women but now it was closer to an even split, with the vast majority being ordered by couples.
It's also a popular gift for milestone birthdays and other special occasions.
"People love it because it's a way of finding out about yourself - when your friends tell you that you make them laugh, for example, you might realise you're actually really funny," he said.
"You find out cool things about yourself, remember good memories and it can be a good pick-me-up when you're feeling down.
"People in relationships sometimes forget to appreciate each other and they might tell the other person they're amazing, but not why. NoteCube is a way of telling people what you want to say."