5 Minutes With ... Shelley Barrett, ModelCo

ModelCo has been impressing women with revolutionary beauty products since 2002. Founded by former model agent Shelley Barrett, after seeing one too many models with bad tans and bad eyelashes, she started to imagine a range of products that would help to address these issues and many others with products that were not available on the market. 11 years on Australia's favourite hot pink beauty brand has joined forces with Woolworths on an exciting new venture that makes beauty brands more accessible to consumers. Having launched their first Woolworths Beauty Bar in Sydney CBD, ModelCo will soon be rolled out across 890 stores nationally. We chatted with Shelley about ModeCo and its exciting new venture...

Formerly a model agent, how different is life now compared to then? It’s still much the same – no day is ever the same, things are fast and frantic and I’m still running my own business. I guess the biggest change is that now I am managing retailers instead of models!

As a model agent you would have seen strange things... Nothing too out of the ordinary but there have been a great deal of models with badly applied, orange self tan!

Oh no, that's where you come in! Let’s talk ModelCo and how the brand eventuated... After seeing models at the agency with bad fake tan and crimped lashes, I launched the phenomenally successful Lash Wand Heated Eyelash Curler in May 2002 and then Tan Airbrush in a Can. I didn’t realise at that time that I was launching a cosmetics and tanning company but things escalated from there and my desire to create dual purpose, smart beauty solutions has seen an additional 150 products launched into the ModelCo range.

Congratulations, that is impressive! In a few words, how would you describe the ModelCo consumer? Smart, savvy, glamorous and fashion-forward while being down-to-earth.

With so many creative and innovative products, where do these ideas hail from? I work to create products that women want before they know they want them. I was doing the dishes with one of those washing-up brushes when I got the idea for SunSponge, I was in the back of a taxi trying to apply lip gloss when I thought of LipLights and I was applying spray deodorant when I realised I was onto something with Tan Airbrush in a Can. It’s about finding a solution to a problem – and you never quite know when one of those ‘problems’ might arise.

With thousands of makeup brands available on the market, has it been difficult to differentiate your brand? Yes and no. ModelCo has never been a trend driven cosmetics company – instead our unique selling point is that we create smart beauty and tanning solutions. We’re trying to make life easier for busy women who just don’t have time but still want to look and feel good.

And ModelCo is now even more accessible, launching in Sydney’s first ever Woolworths Beauty Bar! Could you tell us about the concept? Woolworths approached us with a new beauty concept where their aim was to make premium beauty more accessible. We loved the idea of doing all of your shopping at once - the weekly staples as well as your favourite mascara and tanning products. It makes sense! The reality is that retail is changing and we have to make our products accessible to all of our customers and the way in which they shop. Our full range will be available in a handful of key concept stores, Town Hall in Sydney being the first, as well as a selection of products in 890 stores nationally.

We think Cheyenne Tozzi and Dannii Minogue are perfect brand ambassadors! It must be a phenomenal feeling knowing that ModelCo is loved by celebrities... Absolutely. I have had several ‘pinch myself’ moments but that’s come from hard work, commitment and drive to succeed. I’ve been lucky enough to have an array of celebrity followers - Michelle Obama, Victoria Beckham and Nicole Richie have all used our products but I still get a thrill seeing anyone using one of our hot pink products. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a celebrity or not, I just want people to love the product we’re producing.

Thinking of the brand’s journey in the past 10 years, what are your career highlights so far? Creating the world’s first Tan in a Can and therefore creating an entirely new airbrush tanning category is definitely a highlight as is signing international celebrity ambassadors such as Elle Macpherson and Dannii Minogue. Having these women come on board proves to me that we’re creating products people believe in.

What are your top 3 ModelCo picks? Super Tan Instant Self-Tan. Anyone who knows me, knows I love to be tanned and this is the perfect solution! It’s our deepest, darkest tan yet and develops in just two hours. Shine Ultra Lip Gloss in Striptease. I wear gloss more regularly than lipstick and this shade is definitely a favourite of mine. It also has an inbuilt mirror which makes touch-ups on the go easier than ever! Lastly I have sensitive skin and like a natural makeup look. FluidSplash Foundation is made up of 50% water so its super moisturising and it doesn’t clog my pores.

What beauty trends do you predict this Autumn/Winter? Warm, dark colours for the nails like ModelCo Nail Polish in Wine & Dine and Vampire, with a natural, subtle tan (think one shade lighter, not ‘tropical holiday’); and a bright lip to lift all of those dark colours we all tend to wear. My favourite is ModelCo Party Proof lipstick in At the Disco.

As a mum of two, what would you say to other mums who wish to start their own business? Make sure you have help to ensure everything runs smoothly! I’m in the office every day - I am a very hands-on CEO but also a hands-on mum. I’m lucky enough to have a supportive network to help out with my girls and also a great team in the office! Don’t kid yourself into thinking you can do it all yourself.

Shelley, what makes you feel Spoilt? Enjoying a coffee at my go-to, Boathouse at Palm Beach followed by a facial then having my hair and nails done. What can be better than being pampered?!

Agreed! Click here to visit ModelCo's new website and shop the range.