Meet the Kiwi girl boss who sold $3.5 million worth of waist trainers in a year: Iyia Liu. Some of you might not know her by name but you would have definitely remembered that photo of Kylie Jenner wearing her waist trainer and tagging @waisttrainer_nzaus. Well Iyia is the girlboss behind that successful business decision that put her then business NZ Waist Trainers on the international scale. Note: she was 21 at the time!!!!
She is also the founder of Luxe Fitness which launched in May 2016 after realising that “people only need one waist trainer” and the scaleability of it is limited.
Today at the age of 24, many girls still figuring (pun intended) what to do with their life’s ,while this babe is pretty much set for life! She now gives business advise for up and coming businesses on her website. I mean who wouldn’t want to learn and know how its done by a real boss?
Read more about what makes her tick here…
How old are you? I turned 24 in August!
How old do you feel? I still feel really young. I do a lot of business stuff and professional events with older people, but also love to do fun things like travelling, festivals, parties with friends my age, which keeps me feeling young.
In a nutshell, what does a day in the life of Iyia look like? Running e-commerce businesses, you spend a lot of time on the computer. Usually co-ordinating things like photoshoots, inventory management and ordering stock, new product development, working on marketing, and going to meetings at cafes. Basically I just have to make sure things are running smoothly, and have a great team of people to help out.
Now, I’m focusing a lot more on building up my personal branding, so am spending a little bit more time creating content for my Instagram too during the day, and I get bored very easily so I’m always looking for new ways to grow and new things to do. I’m in the middle of setting up another business, which should go live in the next couple of months!
You started Waist trainers at a young age of 21, what was one of the thardest hurdles you faced and how did you overcome them?
Running a business with pretty much no work experience is hard. You have a lot of learning to do, really basic things like paying staff – I didn’t know about salaries, or holiday pay even because I had only ever done part time or casual work.
Growing so fast meant scaling quickly, growing from working by myself to 8 staff members within a few months, it was a scramble and often very stressful for myself, and my staff. I remember one of the girls cried on their birthday because I had left them in charge while I was overseas, and they were overwhelmed with the amount of orders coming in. Sometimes the demand was overwhelming to that extent.
Also, in the start, we encountered a lot more problems like stock shortages, or shipments getting stuck at customs meaning we were out of stock for days for example, but over time, you find ways to optimise operations and speed up processes to simplify things, it all just takes time.
Where did the idea come from? I found an American brand of them, and really wanted the product myself. I purchased one, loved it – particularly for my posture and sore back, but also for weight management. I thought, if I love this product, I know other girls like me will too, and what’s the harm in buying a few at wholesale, setting up a website for free, setting up social media accounts for free, and giving it a go?
Did you have anyone you relied on whilst starting your business? If so, how did they help you? Probably just my suppliers. I needed to ensure they were sending the right products, the right quantity and on time to ensure I could meet my demand here. Sometimes we did have issues with product quality and faulty items, but our suppliers have been great and we have established a good relationship with them.
What is your best advice for girls wanting to start their own business? It is so cheap to start a business in this day and age. It’s borderline free to set up a website by yourself, I started on the website platform Wix and switched to Shopify (both free to set up, then a monthly fee), it’s free to set up social media accounts, it’s free to use the internet and email or WhatsApp suppliers around the world, so we all of these free or cheap services that allow us to do business easily, so what have you got to lose?
How would your friends describe you to someone who doesn’t know you? Hard working and driven when it comes to business, but also likes to have a good time and probably a little bit weird.
What is your next splurge purchase and why? I’m really focusing on building my house this year coming up, so that’s where the majority of my money is going towards, and then there are a few little things like Gucci Sneakers, Givenchy Slides, Gucci Dionysus Bag that I would love, but I’m waiting to get my new business up and running before I spend any money on clothes haha.
Who/what influences you? I think my dreams and goals influence me the most. As a young girl, watching my parents be quite successful in their business, I think that subconsciously made me want to do something great myself one day. I remember visiting one of my dad’s friends houses in Coatesville, a lifestyle property with a beautiful home, and a beautiful garden and thought, I’d love to have this some day. So my life goals were to be successful in my career and live in Coatesville, and I feel so grateful to be able to have achieved some of my life goal in my 20’s.
What is one of your guilty pleasures? I LOVE fries. I don’t know why, I’m addicted to them. Right now, I’m on a reasonably strict diet from my PT, so I’ve had to cut them for now, but hopefully will be re-united with them one day soon. I also love Netflix – binge watching an entire series, sometimes several seasons in a few days, and also travelling. I love going to hot beachy places with music, sun and food.
What advice would you give to your 15 year old self? Nothing – I’m glad everything has worked out the way that it has, and wouldn’t change a thing.
One quote you live by is…. “Failure is not the opposite of success, it is a part of success” – My very first business before Waist Trainer failed. I tried to run an online clothing retailer, but without the experience of this and the timing of it all, I don’t believe I would have succeeded in my next business.
Where to from here? I’m currently working on creating more online courses at www.iyialiu.com teaching others how to start their own business, showing my methods, strategies and how I did it, and also just about to launching another e-commerce website in the next couple of months!