A serial entrepreneur, Stella Bella is currently a managing partner of Rice Remedy Group. She has built a career taking startups to multimillion-dollar success stories as a former director and the first female lead of SoGal Sydney. This venture firm is one of the largest global platforms for diverse entrepreneurs and investors. She was also a trained radiographer in Sydney until she decided to quit and buy a one-way ticket to Thailand. After some much-needed deep soul searching, she eventually decided to establish a factory that manufactures natural skin care and herbal supplements. Fast forward to today, and she has grown the business, eventually selling it for a 7-figure sum.
Stella wears many hats as an entrepreneur. She was a brand ambassador for women’s activewear and workout clothes retailer Lorna Jane. She has hosted TV shows for Tencent (the largest tech company in Asia and owner of WeChat), founded the Thailand Farmers Market, worked with Celebrity Chef Mathew Kenny consulting about Thailand Resorts, and her marketing initiatives have led to news video coverage from CNN and BBC resulting in millions of views.
Stella is currently referred to as ‘Stella Rice Girl’ – a managing partner of the Rice Remedy Group, where she manages its day-to-day operations. She’s currently pitching for a fund with Country Road. When she’s not working, she is out in nature, trekking the mountains, kayaking the oceans, getting stretchy on a yoga mat, or cooking in the kitchen.
Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Stella to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?
Word-of-mouth referral. People talk. Getting new business via referrals is easily the most profitable strategy for new business, as consumers referred by a friend are four times more likely to buy. My latest venture Rice Remedy Co. offers a monthly skincare and personal subscription. I only make 1000 kits per country per month. Have you ever purchased something just because your friend told you that you should? I know I have! So, ensuring I do everything possible to encourage my clients to recommend my product to others is vital to the growth of my business. So I am focused on top-end quality service and products that people can rave and talk about. Thus leveraging my current client base to drive referrals and grow this venture.
What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?
Facebook and Instagram were the first two social media platforms I grew up with and am familiar with. I used to joke that I stopped at one static Instagram post. However, I have to catch up with the times and am currently learning TikTok and reels.
What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?
I made some expensive mistakes and learned some costly lessons. It can give you immediate visibility; you can target your specific market, track and have data sets to understand and know what is working and not working. Traditionally you might not, for example, retail on a brick-and-mortar; you would have these data sets. In my experience, paid advertising like PPC or sponsor campaigns allow me to test the marketing message and gives me data to make informed decisions about what is working and not working. It also allows me to set a tight budget and ad spend, which is helpful. So does it work? It depends on the KPI and your goal for doing it. You have to know your KPI and performance metrics. Marketing and sales are two different things. Marketing is about building awareness, and sales turn that viewership into profits by converting potential customers into actual customers. So you have to work out the return on the investment.
What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years? Word of mouth.
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Culling my contacts and circle, setting boundaries, and saying no to things and people not aligned with my value vector. Tough when I am a nice YES girl at heart.
What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?
Not learning financial 101, basic profit/loss statements, and balance sheets, and investing time in learning it and being the expert at it, reviewing it monthly and quarterly and knowing where there is a hole in the pocket, and coming back to the numbers. Money is energy and is like a tree. You need to understand your business financially for the tree to be healthy and reap the fruit; you need to know what it needs to grow, what nutrients, and when to water it. That’s how I see the money. Understand the nature of your business and what is required to make it grow into a healthy money tree for you.
What new business would you love to start?
I love cooking. It is like my therapy, so rice remedy co. For rice lovers, a coffee/florist/ healthy Thai street food.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
Listen to my gut and not let the noise of others distract me from my inner voice.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
When all the money is taken from you, real wealth is what you have left.
What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Getting it done is better than perfect. If you’re not embarrassed by the first launch, you have launched too late. Ditch perfect! Do and learn; practice makes perfect.
Photo Credit: Studio 49