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Suite Talk: Supernova’s twin co-founders on clarifying family vs business roles

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Not only do Emily and Sarah Hamilton, Co-Founders, Supernova, (pictured above) leverage their different strengths so they don’t stand on each other’s toes, but they also agree on what needs to be approved together, as shared with Aditi Sharma Kalra.

Q Being family (and twins) and co-founders can be confusing – how do both of you distribute your roles and responsibilities?

We have certain roles in the company and they are defined like any role. Luckily, we have different strengths and so we don’t stand on each other’s toes. We also have an agreement on what we need to approve together. It helps that we have worked together in a company previously, having gone through a process of defining what the board would do and what each founder would do.

Q Even so, how do you ensure these don’t conflict?

One of our company’s cultural values is “talk about it”, so simply, we talk about issues before they escalate. It’s hard not to have an opinion on all aspects of the business, but it isn’t seen as stepping on toes, it instead shows how much we care about the overall success of the business. It’s a team effort so despite having individual roles, we are all striving towards the same thing.

Q How would you describe each other’s leadership styles?

We are very hands-on, but with over 80 staff across the world, we are looking to evolve our management by building a small professional team that can help in leading our staff.

Q SkinnyMint, Sand & Sky, and more, – the products you’ve created aren’t new, yet are novel in their approach to social e-commerce. What’s your recipe for crafting such products?

You have to lead with an amazing product; the platform that social media gives customers is powerful and very transparent. The product also has to look amazing. We love colours so we reflect them heavily in our product designs, ensuring that each brand has its own identity.

You need to create a new niche, a brand and product that is unique and will stand out, and it will pique interest as it is something customers have never seen or experienced before. A lot of thought, planning and innovation goes into this.

Once you see an opportunity in the market to build a business, do it as a side hustle. When you can see a way to profitability or strong growth then you can focus on it full time.

Q Emily, having led eight business ventures, what is your advice to upcoming entrepreneurs?

I would encourage them to work in a company where they can learn the most and quickly gain responsibility. Once you see an opportunity in the market to build a business, do it as a side hustle. When you can see a way to profitability or strong growth then you can focus on it full time.

Throughout my career, I always had a means to support myself, with an income stream. Launching a business is risky, but there are ways to mitigate that risk and still win.

Q Sarah, with you leading lean methodology in Australia, what are its key success factors?

We started this with Sand & Sky where we ran the brand like a start-up, producing enough to sell and then only reordering once we were confident in the sales numbers. The team went through a process of “unlocking” the budget once we reached each milestone, and it was great fun.

Q How important is the HR function to a rapidly growing business like yours?

Extremely important, it is an area we are trying to improve as we have had a few false starts. We have an ex-Google consultant who has just started to review our performance management tools, career development, culture and succession planning.

Q What aspects of talent management are most critical to your growth story, and is there a specific initiative you’d like to show off?

We believe in developing our staff, as they are our greatest assets. Without the amazing work they have put in behind the scenes, it would not have been possible for us to grow this rapidly and successfully.

We love promoting from within and building a path for career development and progression. When we create brands, we have an open position for a co-founder, and we have been lucky to hire these from within Coco & Eve and Sand & Sky, who now get to run a brand.

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