Written on the 19 July 2017 by Ben Hall


WHILE most teenagers are busy getting through their homework and social media, Jade Castle was already running a business and spotted a gap in her market.

The Brisbane girl was spray tanning friends, and friends-of-friends, at high school and kept running into the same problem over and over. They were turning up in totally inappropriate clothing, like jeans and tight leggings, which ruined the spray tan afterwards and also stained their own clothes.

And so Kaf.Tanned was born. It's a range of stylish garments, which began with just a kaftan, which are lightweight and loose fitting with wide necklines which don't ruin the effect of a spray tan. It's a family business with mother Michelle and sister Amber involved and it has a turnover of $195,000.

On Tuesday's episode of Shark Tank, Jade scored a $50,000 investment with a $100,000 optional loan from Steve Baxter in exchange for 25 per cent of the business.

Business News Australia spoke with Jade Castle and asked her how she evolved from an entrepreneurial high school student, to pitching an idea to some of Australia's leading business figures.

So where did the idea for Kaf.Tanned come from?

I was pretty young actually. I was tanning people when I was in high school, it a great way to earn some extra cash so I started tanning people and built up a clientele and I always had the question from clients of 'what do I wear to my tanning appointment?'

People were rocking up in inappropriate clothing, you know leggings, jeans, work clothes. So I came up with the idea of designing a dress that they could wear that would always ensure that their tan would not be ruined.

So, I did a few prototypes everyone loved them and then in 2013 we launched and we've been going ever since. We sold out of our first line in three weeks when we launched in 2013. We found a niche in the beauty industry that had never been done before.

How did it turn into a family business?

We kind of combined our skills so I had the beauty side of things, my sister Amber had the graphic design side of things and Mum Michelle had the operations side of things so we kind of put them all together and then created Kaf.Tanned.

How does the family dynamic work with the business?

I guess it's good and bad, as family you have your moments but I think at the end of the day we all have our separate work roles so I guess we all just focus on those.

You're manufacturing out of China, how did you go about setting that up?

Yep, it took us about two years to find the right manufacturer, before we launched obviously we sourced all our manufacturing, we did our website, we chose our name, we trademarked our name everywhere as well. Once we thought we had found a manufacturer I actually flew over to China to meet them and to see where it was going to be getting made and then decided, 'yep you guys are awesome' and then flew back and we started designing them all here and got them made over there.

Who helped with the decision to go with that manufacturer?

We went to heaps of business meetings and conferences and met people and it kind of went from there, just like networking and meeting people and getting good reviews. And going over there was obviously one of the biggest things so I could see it, meet them, you know get that vision so you know that where it's getting made is okay.

I went to a lot of networking events and there's a lot of courses and networking events around Brisbane, and they only go for about half an hour to an hour but it's great. Just meetings all the time, emailing, just not being scared to ask a question, I mean there's nothing wrong with asking questions, so I guess you've kind of just got to go for it, you learn that way.

Were you surprised that Steve Baxter was the only one who showed interest?

Kind of, but he's awesome. He also likes to get to know you. It's about the business and it's about you. He basically said we could work together, your head's in the game, your passionate so he's a good guy.

Were you happy with the deal in the end?

Yep, it's fine. I mean at the end of the day some people are mainly thinking about the equity and the money but I also think about the experience and the extra entrepreneurial skills I can gain from it. So I was happy, I was stoked to be able to literally focus on working with him and gaining more skills and networking. Being only 25 it's a great opportunity to grow personally and in the workforce as well. And he knows a lot of people as well, and all the conferences they go to, I'm there as well so it's like a little family and it's really good.

Now I suppose is the time to expand overseas, where are your target markets?

The US and the UK are probably our biggest. I mean everyone tans in the UK and the US. There's a big industry over there. A big network as well and it's got a lot of beauty expo's as well that we can showcase our product. It is a process, obviously you want to choose the right beauty expos and be able to go over there and do it right the first time. So that's the goal, global expansion.

Business News Australia

Author: Ben Hall





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