Beauty and wellness e-commerce, redefined. youtime is the brand new kid on the block, set to become your authentic world of wellbeing. TJM recently spoke with founder Steve Terry on the importance of authenticity, the power of positivity and keeping it real.
TJM: How is youtime a unique offering in beauty/wellness e-com – what makes it a standout destination, what gap is it filling?
ST: Foremost, youtime comes from an authentic space. It isn’t just a business or transactional platform. Youtime itself is something real and important; more than a brand, or even a period of time: it’s a philosophy, a way of thinking.
We are truly inclusive and purposeful and have designed our offering around how we can best impact our community’s lives in a positive way. Our brand promise is that “your time here will always be time well spent”. We exist to inspire people to spend time on the things that make them feel good and help to enable them to connect – with themselves, with each other, and with their surroundings. This is our why and anything we add, subtract, and develop must always relate back to why youtime exists.
Particularly since Covid, the online space has become extremely noisy; often the winners are the ones who shout loudest and have the deepest pockets. To cut through the noise, you must be grounded in more than product range. Our purpose – authenticity, curation, and relevance – are soft values which are very hard to achieve online.
TJM: How long has the concept been in development and what led you from professional hairdressing to this space?
SP: I might sound a bit fluffy, but it has actually been in development since I was a kid. It is everything I believe in and feel passionate about. I am deeply interested in how people relate to themselves, and want people to find things they love about themselves.
Following our great time at Toni & Guy, and then Helene’s fight with cancer, we decided to work with true purpose and in 2010 we opened YOU Stockholm. It was based around real people, the ones that matter in our business: the people in the chair. We built a beautiful salon that was inviting and inclusive. We even had the word “youtime” on a sign on the front door of the salon. Our first e-commerce site theyouway.com was a natural extension of the salon that we built to bring our clients and brands a beautiful, elevated online experience. It was acquired by a large Swedish media group after only six months and I worked with them for a further three years. It was an incredibly exciting time.
Once theyouway was sold on, I became part owner and creative and business development director at Lyko, which eventually was listed on the Nasdaq Nordic in 2017. After that it was time to come home to Australia for what we thought was some downtime. But literally two days after we landed I got a call from Ahmed Fahour, who was Chairman and co-owner of Hairhouse Warehouse, who wanted me to help them rebrand and reposition. It was a great experience, but after 18 months I felt I had achieved the objectives, and decided to take some time off.
It didn’t take long until the words “what now?” entered the equation. We thought about what we were missing and wished existed, what we were good at, and what we could do to take beauty authentically into the wellness space. We considered how we could build a community around purpose and how we can develop a sustainable business model in today’s climate, and we built the concept of youtime from there.
TJM: You are an award-winning hairdresser – how has your journey as a stylist contributed to what we’re about to see and experience in youtime?
ST: To be a good hairdresser you really need to have a deep interest in people and impacting people positively. We are so fortunate as hair stylists, because we meet people in a great frame of mind as they are enjoying some pampering, we spend quality time with them, and then send them home feeling empowered and good about themselves.
Our salons are unique places where we can invite people into our space and create intimate experiences for them. We listen and learn, translate their wants and desires into a hairstyle which reflects who they are and how they want to express themselves.
For me, the whole space has always been so much more than hair; it’s been about how people feel and how they connect with themselves, their environment, and the people around them. It’s as much about wellbeing as anything else in the wellness space. Youtime is undoubtedly a manifestation of what the foundation of my hairdressing career has always stood for. It feels like a natural next step and that everything I have done and learned up to now created youtime.
TJM: What is the concept going to change about our thinking around digital wellness/beauty e-commerce destinations?
ST: Our hope is that our community views youtime as their oasis, and as a trusted partner in fulfilling their own wellness aspirations. Our core is our content, our retail is offered as a service, and our product selection is expertly curated and considered.
We are not trying to be the broadest, nor the cheapest offering, which can feel overwhelming to a consumer when faced with a barrage of irrelevant products. Rather than cutting price or marketing our way to sales, we want to add value and truly help to enhance our community’s youtime.
It’s a space all about making people feel good, how will you do this beyond product offering – how will you give back to the reader?
We will cultivate a true sense of community through our meaningful content, which will never draw our readers in only to let them down. Every piece of content we publish, from articles to video, and podcasts, will respect our readers, and will be aligned with our core values.
Our team of “youtimers,” our experts and tastemakers, will curate and share with our community what they are loving for their own “youtime”: product edits, great reads, playlists… just as a close friend whose taste and expertise you trust would share with you. We will also offer experiences and events, both live streamed and (once allowed) in real life. We can’t wait to bring everyone together in a youtime context.
TJM: What will define each product retailed on Youtime – ie: is there a responsibility/ sustainability requirement? What are the pre-requisites?
ST: In many cases, rather than taking on a brand’s entire offering, our experts are purposefully selecting a considered edit of products we feel will truly enhance our readers’ youtime and form meaningful daily rituals.
The brands we partner with will be true partners, who align with our values and those of our community. Youtimers are conscious consumers who hold the brands they engage with to account and have high standards in terms of representation, commitment to climate, ethical practices, and we are very aware that they expect this of us as well.
We are excited to collaborate with brands who are leaders in driving change, and will expect transparency about the work they are willing to do to meet these expectations.
TJM: What stats can you share around the growth of the digital beauty and wellness space?
ST: The wellness market is estimated at more than $1.5 trillion, with annual growth of five to 10 per cent, according to McKinsey. Their latest research shows that consumers care deeply about wellness, and it is growing.
According to their most recent survey of 7,500 consumers across six countries, 79 percent say they believe wellness to be important, and 42 per cent make it a top priority in their lives. Consumers realise the importance of better health, fitness, nutrition, sleep and mindfulness, and all of these areas are authentically addressed within youtime.
TJM: Beyond sales and brand alliance, how else do retailers benefit from Youtime?
ST: Positioning is key to where your brand equity sits. When you open a salon, you will choose its location, express yourself with your interior fit out, the music, logo, etc, based on what you want to say about your salon, and the clients you want to attract.
For a brand online, how do they authentically position themselves in wellness, and tell their story? It is about relevance and what the consumer is looking for. Contextual commerce, as we like to call it, is about engaging with a customer in a certain frame of mind. Not interrupting them and doing the hard sell; it’s more intercepting and providing the service or product they are already looking for.
Our readers are on the platform because they are seeking expert advice, considered edits and authentic guidance. They trust us, and we won’t waste their time.
TJM: You are launching here in Australia – what are your plans for global expansion?
ST: Yes, we will be homegrown to start with in Australia and New Zealand, but definitely have global ambition. Our vision is to be the global leader in authentic wellbeing. We have already trademarked youtime globally and have spent a lot of time ensuring that we can expand as soon as we are ready.
The amazing response we have received even in these early stages from brands, experts and even other platforms, has been pretty humbling. We are talking to some very interesting people and companies in Europe, Asia and the US who are showing interest in collaborating and expanding with us.
Firstly though, our focus will be to launch and learn in our local AU & NZ market and ensure that we can deliver completely on our promises before we look outwardly.
TJM: What is your wellness routine?
ST: I’m 54 now, and over the years I have fine-tuned a few things that I know work well for me. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to wellness.
Firstly, I try to practice mindfulness. Really being in the moment and taking in what is happening in front of me and around me by being present. I actively practice gratitude every day. I deeply value the integrity I share with myself and people around me and I ensure that I always maintain that.
I am not one who enjoys doing nothing – I like to be creative and productive, so I ensure that I am always engaging in something that feeds that need. Most importantly, I make sure I have plenty of time with family. I have never put work ahead of family. I go for long walks with my beautiful wife and best friend of 35 years, Helene, nearly every day.
For me, wellness is based on the internal and personal dialog that you have with yourself, your self-esteem, your feeling of owning your thoughts, emotions, and actions. It takes discipline but when the outcome of that discipline creates a feeling of belonging, authenticity, and integrity to oneself, the self-discipline in itself is time well spent. That is youtime for me.
To find out more, sign up at youtime.com or join the movement at @youtime on Instagram.