ModelCo Interview Shelley Barrett on how to create a beauty brand

. Posted in Sydney

shelley-barrett-modelco cosmetics


What it takes to be a beauty innovator and how to stay ahead of the curve. We find out.

It doesn't happen every day that a model agency owner launches a beauty brand, but for Shelley Barrett, that was the only way to go. Lucky for us, she did. Thanks to her, we don't have to spend hours in the sun anymore to get that gorgeous sun-kissed look. Instead we use an award winning tanning product, bottled up, and ready to use, in our own bathroom. 

We caught up with Shelley Barrett, CEO and founder of ModelCo cosmetics, to learn more about how she got started and what makes Australian beauty brand ModelCo so special. 

ModelCo is a very innovative brand. Tell me, how did you come up with the idea of a TAN in a Can?

I have always craved a challenge and after working with models, hair and makeup artists, saw a niche in the market for innovative, quick-fix and multi-purpose beauty solutions. I started with TURBO Lash Wand Heated Eyelash Curler closely followed by TAN Airbrush in Can – the world’s first aerosol ‘tan in a can’ self-tanning product to hit the market. I certainly didn’t realise at the time that I was starting my own beauty company! What started as a pet project turned into a global brand before I knew it.

So you’d identified a market opportunity for Tan in a Can. With no previous experience in the beauty industry or creating a product that comes with enormous pressure. What convinced you to take the plunge?

From a very young age I knew that I wanted to create my own business. I believed strongly in the products I was creating and followed my gut instinct that women would love them!

Being such an innovative brand, it must be difficult coming up with new ideas all the time, where do you find inspiration?

I am constantly thinking about our consumer and trying to understand what she wants. I am across her social media channels so that I can best determine which products she wishes she had in her beauty cupboard that I can then deliver! ModelCo is all about smart beauty solutions, not just a fad or gimmick but which become an essential part of a woman’s beauty regime.

Talk me through a typical day as Founder and Creative Director of ModelCo…

ModelCo HQ is a dynamic environment that is a full of activity! We have a fun and energetic team that does not stop. Due to our growing distribution we are constantly busy with New Product Development, Brand Strategy and Marketing and exciting new product launches.

What, in your opinion, sets ModelCo apart from other beauty brands in the market today?

We try to create what women want, before they know they want it.

Before launching ModelCo you already had a successful model agency, were you never afraid of starting your own business?

The desire to create my own business was innate in me from an early age. I knew that I loved that drive to see a project through from start to finish, no matter how big or small.

What would you say is the most challenging in your business?

Because the brand is doing so well there are endless opportunities available. It is important to manage growth carefully and execute each idea properly.

Can you highlight the biggest lesson you learned
so far?

Expanding internationally sounds glamourous but be careful not to expand too quickly. It is far more strategic to conquer one market at a time.

What’s your little piece of advice for women wanting to start their own business?

Understand the business that you are going into. Surround yourself with people who have more knowledge than you and who can guide you through the process. Work out the funds you need to start up and then double them! My motto is to never give in, never give up and never take no for an answer. I think this is what enabled me to build my business and succeed beyond my wildest dreams.




How would you describe life in Sydney?

Fabulous, fun and fortunate…

Do you have a secret local gem?

Weekend away at Palm Beach… and I am also loving Double Bay – its back on the map with hotspots like Mrs Sippy and Pelicano!

Favourite Australian Fashion label

I have a few favourites - Ginger and Smart, Little Joe, Alex Perry and Zimmerman

Best Hair Salon in Sydney

Valonz, Paddington

How do you stay fit, can you recommend a great place in Sydney we should visit?

I often do the Bondi to Bronte walk, it gives me an instant energy boost and is a peaceful place to relax my mind and assess my goals for the day.

Best place for a sundowner

You can’t go past North Bondi Fish, on the beach at Bondi

Sydneysiders love a good breakfast, what's your favourite place?

Flat White, Woollahra. Best coffee and menu hands down!

Best spot for a romantic dinner

Catalina, Rose Bay

Favourite beach



Thanks for sharing your story with us! 

Photos: Courtesy of ModelCo

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