The PROPPR story, and resulting business partnership, started in 2018, through a random but perhaps divinely orchestrated conversation, about the beautiful looking toilet foot stool which helps replicate the proper ‘squat position’.
The product was brought to life by a crowd-funding campaign back in 2015, but by 2017 the business was on the market, and with no sale impending, it was about to close. Zhenya Gerson, a Certified Colon Hydrotherapist, and Jacqueline Weiley, a marketing and communications professional, both loved the product and believed that there was a gap in the market for it.
After a few months of due diligence and negotiations, Zhenya and Jacqueline became the co-owners of the PROPPR in May 2018.
Making a uniquely Australian product
Following the purchase of the business, the first six months saw a complete redesign of the product, with the duo taking time to explore and reinvent the flagship moulded timber stool to ensure it was sturdy, sustainable and stylish. They worked with a local manufacturer to create an exclusively Australian timber design with all materials Forestry Stewardship Council certified.
With the relaunch of the brand in December 2018, Zhenya and Jacqueline entered and won the Australian Good Design Award in early 2019, further profiling the product and brand as a uniquely Australian product.
Power of celebrity endorsements
The duo had numerous conversations about utilising influencers as a marketing tactic to start profiling the product and its purpose. Zhenya and Jacqueline were aware that a product like the PROPPR is a little ‘left field’ and requires some level of education.
However, the topic of good health and specifically gut health is of the zeitgeist and would be well received to their consumers – they just had to find their niche.
PROPPR had a solid alignment to the health and wellness aspects of the Goop brand, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand, and after researching, they saw that she had no products listed similar their product.
With nothing to lose, during a trip to the US, Zhenya packaged the Tasmanian Oak PROPPR in its calico tote bag and wrote a personal note, highlighting the recent Good Design Award, and dropped it off to the buying team at Goop.
After a few nervous weeks, loads of follow up emails and calls, the team started to get a bit despondent. Then, they received an inviting PROPPR to be a part of the 2019 Holiday Gift Giving Guide, a globally renowned, highly anticipated list known for its many unique (and sometimes weird and wonderful) inclusions.
From regional Australia to the global stage
Encouraged by the response from Goop customers, PROPPR further leapt into the US market in 2020 by opening up a listing on Amazon and have enjoyed a healthy flow of sales since. At present, the team are fulfilling orders from Australia but are arranging to set-up orders from in the US within the next few months.
Zhenya and Jacqueline identified that they needed help to grow the business and connected with the NSW Business Connect program to outsource a business adviser. They helped the team prioritise the areas of focus and introduced them to various advisers and businesses who have assisted in expanding and refining sales strategies, production opportunities, exporting and shipping.
The team currently reinvest all revenue being back into production, marketing and sales activities with the plan to up the ante on production volumes and distribution globally this year.
So, while it seems like the PROPPR’s rise has been a little meteoric, it certainly hasn’t been without a lot of hard work and strategic thinking, and perhaps a little luck too.