A Frank Body of evidence about business building

Leadership

Frank Body co-founder Jess Hatzis took a while to discover her leadership style. She explains how much she values the things that the experience has taught her.
Key Takeaways
  • Frank Body was last valued at $100 million, a figure its co-founders attribute to the business’ customer centricity
  • The company plans to expand internationally
jess-hatzis at frank body sitting on a couch
Jess Hatzis | Image Source: Supplied

Frank Body has been in market for about nine years. Its main goal has been to redefine bath and body care, which its Chief Marketing Officer, Jess Hatzis, says has traditionally been dominated by bath-staining fizz bombs and fluffy products.

“We wanted to bring skincare quality ingredients into body care,” Hatzis says. She is one of the four co-founders of the company, who all still remain part of the company’s leadership team today.

But building a product is one thing – building a successful business is entirely another, Hatzis says.

“We didn’t necessarily know how to manage our team in the most effective way. That was a huge learning curve for us. You have to be everything to your team: part coach, mentor, boss. That can be really taxing because you are not a never-ending well of energy and knowledge.

“Sometimes you just don’t know, or you are just exhausted. I found that really challenging until I worked out my leadership style, which was to be an honest and vulnerable leader and talk to my team openly about all aspects of my life and we created a two-way channel in that regard.”

Hatzis notes that in a startup you are often left doing everything, and learning how to delegate can be difficult.

“If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. For someone wanting to start their business but is scared of it going wrong or not working… It is definitely not going to work if you don’t try.”

– Jess Hatzis, Frank Body CMO

“That was hard for us. When you start, you have to do everything. It doesn’t matter if you love it or hate it or you’re good at it. Eventually, being able to bring on some team members to support us, being able to hire experts in the field, that was one of the biggest wins.”

The growth of the business has been exciting and slightly unexpected, Hatzis says. The most recent valuation was $100 million in 2020. But Hatzis credits the company’s success to its customer centricity.

“If you are not putting that person front and centre, you are never going to succeed,” she says.

What does being customer-centric mean? For Frank Body, it means reverse engineering their products based off of what their customer needs. It’s this ethos that has helped the business build an incredibly loyal following.

“Our customers are the reason our business took off. You can claim all of your strategies, but it was the customers that used the products and shared the reviews. That was what made the business. That remains core to everything we do today.”

Hatzis has a tattoo on her arm that reads que sera, sera.

“That mentality of whatever will be, will be has been a part of who I am for a very big part of my life. Potentially because I am an overly anxious person, so I’ve been trying from a very young age to train myself to accept the ins and outs of life.

“I can be very stressed about an active problem, but what I try not doing is worrying about a problem I can’t change. It’s completely a waste of time and a waste of energy and it’s taking away from what I could be doing next. Definitely, think about things and take lessons. Have grounded people around you.

Hatzis has a couple of suggestions for anyone wanting to start their own business.

“If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. For someone wanting to start their business but is scared of it going wrong or not working … it is definitely not going to work if you don’t try.

“People can get too stuck in the big idea. You need to have a big idea, but the only way to get there is to break it down into really simple dot points that are actionable things you can do.

“I see a lot of people who can’t go from the big idea and drill it down into: What are the five things I need to do today to take a step towards this happening? We have a real habit as humans in making things more complicated than they need to be. That includes how we work and how we start businesses.

Having a balance with the people you are going into business with and the team you are building around you is key, she says.

What’s next for the company? International expansion, of course.

“The next stage for us is about market depth. I don’t think we have even scratched the surface, especially when it comes to international markets. To become a household name in those key international markets is what’s next. That is going to require a lot of work.”