Online gift registry aims to be the biggest in NZ

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2014

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Online gift registry The Lovely is taking advantage of the growing wedding market and a change in consumer habits.

George Kivell and Sarah Melrose set up The Lovely in July last year after becoming frustrated with the registry offering in New Zealand when planning their weddings.

The e-business plans to become the largest gift registry in New Zealand by 2017, with 5000 users forecast by the end of the year.

If the duo makes it to 5000 users that would mean a return of $250,000 for their investment of $15,000.

However, The Lovely expects most revenue will come from retailers paying for their products to appear in the featured section of the site.

Kivell and Melrose, who both work in the design industry, say they also plan to launch the site in Australia and further afield.

Melrose says the fact that the site is geared for all celebrations and no physical stock is held would allow the concept to translate to international clientele.

Why did you start your own business?

Melrose: Without starting a business we'd have just been left with a really good idea.

If not exactly by accident, The Lovely was started by happy coincidence.

What have been the biggest obstacles in starting up your business?

Melrose: Finding time. And business meetings . . . We are at home talking about ideas, design, functionality and customer experience but learning to talk money and being shrewd businesswomen is a work in progress.

Name one thing you've learnt in your business journey so far and from who?

Melrose: During the past few years I've provided creative direction to some of New Zealand's most trusted and successful brands.

While they're all different, the key thing I've learnt from them is success is based on remaining true to a single idea and purpose.

Kivell: We've also learnt the value of our customers' feedback. It's the best way to make the customer experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

What are your business and personal goals?

Melrose: From a commercial point of view we are targeting a 30 per cent share of the New Zealand gift registry market in the next three years.

However, we are equally excited about working with the community of kiwi designers and boutique retailers that have struggled to get a foothold in the registry market to date.

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Melrose: Design matters. Whatever your industry, today's marketplace is increasingly competitive and your edge will not necessarily come from technology or exclusivity.

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What have you sacrificed to be an entrepreneur?

Kivell: A bit of extra sleep. Balancing full-time jobs, family and a new business is demanding but not impossible. Being disciplined is the key. And never be afraid to squeeze in some extra work in the wee hours and on weekends.

Are you prepared for failure?

Kivell: No. It's not something we've thought about but equally we don't consider ourselves prepared for success.

If we fail of course we'll be disappointed but we'd have been more disappointed if we hadn't had the courage to develop our idea.

Who is your "business guru", or who do you admire, and why?

Melrose: It has to be Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

You couldn't find a better person to teach you about leadership, creativity, communications and success. There's a quote from him that we've always tried to keep front-of-mind when starting a project: "We've got to make the small things unforgettable."

What has been your biggest disappointment since you started on your journey of establishing your business?

Melrose: We still don't have any same sex couples using our site. Come on boys and boys, and girls and girls!

Where is your favourite place to relax?

Melrose: A white sandy beach on a hot summer's day.

Kivell: Our family farm at Muriwai

What is one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?

Melrose: I'm obsessed with Alexander Girard wooden dolls from the 1960s. They're all unique in their individual beauty or strangeness but collectively they provide me with a constant reminder of the importance of imagination. And I'm slightly addicted to Licorice Allsorts.

Kivell: I'm animal crazy to the point where my dog was the ring bearer at my wedding. My friends refer to me as Dr Do-Kivell.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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