Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How We Built it: Olivia Burns, Founder of Olivia’s Haven

  1. Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us about your brand.

Olivia’s Haven is a digital-first, luxury home fragrance brand based on the North Coast of Northern Ireland. Having launched in February 2020 as the world was going into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Olivia’s Haven soon eschewed the traditional wholesale business model, withdrew from all existing retail accounts and instead pursued an innovative but challenging direct-to-consumer strategy. Selling the range exclusively through the company’s own e-commerce website, the main driver of new customers and sales has been word of mouth, social media and online collaborations, rather than the traditional combination of advertising and supplying high street retail outlets. 

  1. What inspired you to set up your company 

I was inspired to set up Olivia’s Haven when I identified a gap in the market for a home fragrance collection with a luxury, sophisticated scent profile that was visually stunning and at an attainable price point.

  1. What was your biggest challenge in year one

Starting a business during the pandemic was a huge hurdle to overcome. We used this challenge as an opportunity to focus on getting the direct to consumer business strategy right and pulled out of retail. This has been crucial in helping the business achieve such quick self-funded growth.

  1. What would you say has been your biggest marketing success

Growing our Instagram audience really quickly to +20,000 followers has been a big success. It is a great way of keeping everyone informed everyday about what we are up to every day. We show lots off behind the scenes and I think people really enjoy seeing that. 

  1. What has been the biggest mistake you made

As soon as we started the business we were focused on doing wholesale to grow our business and awareness. Although we did gain a lot from this experience and are so grateful for the retailers that took us on, it quickly became clear that the direct to consumer model was a better fit for our business growth plans.

  1. Tell us about your plans for the future

Whilst Olivia’s Haven will remain a digital-first company, the brand’s strategic growth plan includes a complementary ‘offline’ strategy which includes further pop-up shops, experiential physical retail and highly selective UK retail partnerships as the economy continues to re-open following the Covid-19 pandemic. The company will continue to use digital channels to grow throughout the UK and Ireland, expand into new markets, and develop an international profile and reach. Ultimately the founder’s ambition is to build a global company based on the North Coast of Northern Ireland.

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