Kate Hodolic of Afternoon Pick Me Up

Cold-pressed juice, lifestyle magazines, raw chocolate and fresh blooms, bundled up into a gorgeous package... does that not sound like perfection?

I have the woman for you! Her business has been featured in Elle Australia and Party with Lenzo... all while she works on the side as both a nanny and for an event styling company!

I came across the gorgeous Kate Hodolic, Founder & Creative Director of Afternoon Pick Me Up, many months ago and have been following her business journey on her incredible Instagram account since (you're going to want to check that out here!).

Afternoon Pick Me Up is a Melbourne-based fresh gift box delivery, designed to 'pick your afternoon UP and help you through that afternoon slump!'. 

Kate collaborates with like minded brands that have a big focus on sustainability, design and health and she 'gets' how to use Instagram strategically to build her business, with it bringing in 90% of her sales. She also has great humility when it comes to the learning process and 'fails', and big, exciting goals she's working towards too.

Without further ado, meet Kate...

What’s your background Kate and what led you to starting up Afternoon Pick Me Up

I've always been creative, from my kindergarten days I would always be in the art area, and forever bringing home crafty things for Mum. At school I gravitated towards all the art and humanities subjects and repelled away from anything remotely related to maths and science. I still did some maths and science, but I hated every second because I just didn't get it! Going to a high achieving high school was hard, I just never got the grades my friends did in the academic classes. All my subjects got marked down because they were art related, so I got a pretty low enter score.

I had no idea what I wanted to do, but went to study Hospitality and Tourism, I was good with people and with my hands, so it made sense. Again I never got as high grades as my friends, but I started interning with some Event Styling companies which changed everything for me. I did lots of Event Management, Retail, Hotels, Hospitality jobs but learnt pretty quickly that I loved the creative side of Event Styling.

I've been freelance event styling, nannying and event styling with a few companies for quite a few years, but have always had the desire to forge my own path and create the job that I want.

APMU came from this place, of wanting something to call my own, from wanting to create my dream job. It also came from a place of giving and serving, I love to love my friends, and hated what was on the market in terms of gifts.

So APMU was born! I sat on the idea for about two years before my husband asked the pivotal question of, 'What if someone else did the same thing as APMU?' my reply was that I'd be devastated, and his response was, 'Well, you have to do it then huh?'. It was the push and permission that I needed and APMU was born!

Can you explain what the ‘first version’ of APMU looked like - was it very different from what it is today?

Ha! It felt quite DIY, I had had cards and swing tags printed just at Officeworks, my floral wrapping skills were awful, and I was just using one type of bloom for a whole bunch of flowers. My floral wrapping skills have improved ten fold - still lots to learn, I have gained more confidence in my floral abilities and now mix my blooms, and my cards and tags are now printed in the 1000's! Overall the entire appearance of the box just looks so much more refined!

You offer deliveries twice a week along with limited edition boxes and a subscription service. Could you tell us how you chose this business model?

Good question! I knew that I wouldn't be making money off APMU straight away (we've just broken even! WOO!), so I needed to make sure that I could still pay rent etc. while I was working on APMU. I chose Mondays and Fridays as delivery days because it made the most sense for when someone would want to receive a pick me up - dreary Mondays and celebratory Fridays. But it was also what worked with my nannying schedule! 

The limited edition boxes are what I'm most excited about, I LOVE collaborating with like minded businesses, and seeing what we can come up with! Offering something unique and completely new is so exciting! 

Your product styling and photography is STUNNING. How do you pull these shoots together and what does your process to create content look like? 

Thanks so much! I have an event styling background, and have always had an eye for the details and what looks good. I do all the photography myself, mainly on my iPhone (sometimes SLR). Sometimes my shots are planned out, where I'll purchase specific blooms and bits and bobs, others (most) are just using the things I have at home, and blooms leftover and using my bed or desk as the backdrop! It's very very simple, and then I just pick my faves and edit them! 

What are some of your tactics for getting your audience from social media to converting on your site?

I find that bit really hard. As a small business owner you wear ALL the hats, it's just me (and my delivery girl Luisa!) so I'm answering emails, fixing the website, posting on Insta, forming collaborations, doing accounts, everything. Some things I find SO much harder than others - hello accounting! And converting is one of them!

I try to use language on Insta as if my followers are my friends, that's how I find I relate to people best, and respond to marketing best, if it's personable and approachable. I try not to bombard my 'followers' with sell sell sell, but try and input my day to day business life as well as things that are inspiring me. 

Could you tell us about a business ‘fail’?!

Haha where do I start! Business fails happen ALL the time! I am brand new to owning my own business and I'm the first to put my hand up and say there are so many things I'm not great at! I think that's the nature of the job, constantly learning, and learning on the fly!

Probably my biggest business fail is when I feel like a product isn't doing well, so take our Christmas Boxes, they just weren't selling. I had no idea why, too expensive? Not what people wanted? So I chatted to some friends and with a FB group that I'm apart of of other female business owners and asked them what I was doing wrong.

Lots didn't understand some of the products, others thought they were too expensive. So I broke the boxes down into smaller bundles at a cheaper price and they sold a bit better, but still not amazingly! I still don't REALLY know what I was doing wrong, but trying to learn from everything is where you end up growing the most!

From what you have tried, what have been the best types of marketing for your business?

Instagram. 100%. I've tried FB ads, I've tried some PR boxes, I've tried flyers in goodie bags at festivals and Instagram is still the best. Instagram brings in 90% of my sales. It speaks for itself, it's a platform I feel comfortable with and it works for me!

And what types of marketing have you tried and found didn’t work so well?

I found FB ads SO confusing, don't know if it's just me, but I just didn't get them! Have been trying some ad words too, and I find it SO complex too! Haha! Instagram is easy for me because it's visual!

If you could give one marketing tip from your experience, what would it be?

Consistency. Be consistent with your style, when you post and what you post. Make sure you're posting new content consistently and often! 

What are some of the challenges you've experienced, or continue to, in running your own business?

Having to do it all and time management! My husband is great at helping me with handy things around my office, but I really struggle with accounting, marketing and website issues! Time management is also hard too, I work as a nanny, and for an event styling company as well, so trying to fit in APMU work around that and deliveries is hard, I would love to be on APMU full time, and that's the dream, but it's just not feasible yet! 

And what are your greatest rewards?

The best rewards are the feedback! When I get emails of people gushing, it's just so great and makes the hard times worthwhile! The other thing is getting big brands' attention! Party with Lenzo contacted me to do a shoot and I literally jumped out of my seat and cried! Same too for when Elle Australia contacted me to feature in their Christmas Issue, I nearly died!!!

What’s in the works for APMU in the near future?

In the near future, I'd love to be working towards working on APMU fulltime, the ideal would be to have a studio of my own, instead of the second bedroom in my home (which I love for now) but would love to have a studio with a bunch of employees, so that I can focus on collaborations. Would love to have a whole bunch of other creatives working in the studio and to have the ability to hire it out for shoots and events too! Oh AND would love to grow APMU nationwide!!

A BIG thank you to Kate for sharing their business story and insights on marketing. Keep up to date with Afternoon Pick Me up on FacebookInstagram and at afternoonpickmeup.com.au and explore some of Kate's gorgeous boxes below.

Emily OsmondComment