Aside from her impressive success and business portfolio, Karina Irby is more importantly humble and incredibly real.
The Gold Coast beach babe first toyed with the idea of a bikini brand over 10 years ago after noticing a gap in the market for cheekier cut swimwear with bold and unique designs. After sitting on the idea while wholesaling for a Hawaiian company that attempted to satisfy the growing demand, Karina knew she had more to offer - and ultimately wanted total control of the design, marketing and sales process.
Fast-forward 8 years and Karina has created Moana Bikini, a range of cheeky, bold, colourful swimwear with a fierce army of women behind it, literally. Here, we chat with real girl Karina, about life, business and everything in between.
How would you describe your approach to beauty?
Hmmm, is it bad if I say ‘lazy’? To be honest, I have always been a little bit of a tomboy and not overly fussed on makeup, haircare, products and so on.
Thankfully, my best friend, Michael Huxley, runs Australia’s best makeup school - The Huxley School of Makeup - and has definitely introduced me to a lot of amazing products, techniques and perspectives on makeup and beauty. A natural, versatile look is always an important focus for me, as well the ability to get ready in a minimal amount of time.
What is your favourite Bali Body product?
The Pineapple Tanning Oil with SPF6 is amazing. The scent is to die for and it really helps me make the most of the limited amount of time I have had to spend in the sun lately. I can’t wait to try the Self Tanning Mousse! I think it's going to be a fave for me in the winter months!
What is your favourite place in the world and what makes it so special?
Home! It sounds so boring I know, but my partner and I have worked really hard to create an amazing home for ourselves and our little fur-family. It’s in our favourite location on the Gold Coast and we have such an amazing community in our neighbourhood, as well as a beautiful beach out the front, so it’s nice to just be able to spend some time there and enjoy it.
Aside from home, I absolutely adore the Hawaiian Islands and have been there numerous times and feel really at home there. The Moana Team were lucky enough to travel to Bora Bora in French Polynesia last year and while I was expecting it to be beautiful, it totally took my breath away and met up to all of the hype and expectations and then some. I definitely hope to go back there one day.
The biggest lesson you have learnt in business is..
I think the most important thing I have learnt over the past few years is how best to measure personal success.
So many people and businesses get so caught up in Sales, Revenue, Profit, Followers(!), Engagement and so on - especially when their business is closely linked to their personality or personal brand, as mine is. These measures are obviously incredibly important, however I have learnt to shift my personal measure of success. My health and happiness is now my most important measure of success and if the business/es allow these aspect of my life to excel, then I believe business is doing well.
It has been a resolution of mine to stop and take the time to enjoy what my hard work has helped to build and be more thankful for how lucky I am to have achieved so much success already.
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Firstly, do it for yourself!
Don’t do it for profits. Don’t do it for the image. Don’t do it because someone told you to. Don’t do it just because you don’t like working for someone else. There are going to be incredibly long hours, soul-destroying hurdles and long periods of time before, or during which, you might not turn a profit. If you aren’t personally and internally motivated, then you won’t make it through these struggles. Find a problem that you, personally, want to solve, or a gap in the market that you, personally, have experienced… and go and solve it, for you!
Secondly, know your customer.
If you don’t truly know your customer, then you can’t effectively market to them and, in turn, you’ll have trouble selling to them, or anyone. Thankfully, in 2018, this has never been easier - with real time metrics across all online eCommerce and marketing platforms, if you don’t know your customer and how their product, marketing or media consumption works, then you’re not doing your job properly.
Thirdly, have fun.
Isn’t that why you wanted to be your own boss in the first place!? Enjoy it and make it your own, and it’s true, you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life!
Follow Karina and all her adventures with Moana Bikini here.