For Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sapphire Group, Nicole Eckels, the end of this year is a time to position both the Glasshouse Fragrance and Circa Home brands for the Christmas shopping rush and provide a glimpse of what customers can expect from the coming year.

It’s all about planning

Bringing the year to a successful close for any business requires vigilance on a number of fronts, and for prestige brands like Glasshouse Fragrances, this includes a focus on innovative marketing activity to attract Christmas shoppers.

Nicole explains that despite the current demands on her team, she is encouraging them to start setting their vision for success in the year ahead. “It’s all about dedicating the time to do proper planning to begin with. Once there is a sound plan in place we focus on the execution of that. We’re not creating strategy on the fly.”

However, “distractions happen and situations come up that need to be addressed. We need to reprioritise all the time, put out fires and make adjustments. It’s a juggling act,” she says.

  • Early planning saves time and will keep your team focussed on important goals.
  • Coordinate your yearly goals with your team. This can provide greater ownership of goals and help a team to thrive and achieve together.
  • Be prepared to adapt. Your plan is a roadmap, make sure there’s room to change directions and react quickly to unforeseen issues.

Leveraging your brand during peak periods

“As a prestige Fragrance House, all the creative campaigns we design are linked back to our core purpose. Every campaign we launch is an extension of that position.” Nicole says. “We strive to focus on an innovative idea and dynamic design then everything comes together.”

Sapphire Group is using the Christmas and end of year period to road-test their upcoming brand refresh and captivate the market. This foreshadows the launch of a new collection in early 2020 that is the culmination of three years of research and development.

Nicole explains that in the ever-changing retail climate “our customers love innovation and new exciting fragrances and products. I don’t think consumers have stopped shopping; they are shopping differently. We just need to understand those changes and adapt accordingly”.

For Sapphire Group, it’s about originality and authenticity. “We don’t really focus on what every other brand is doing”, Nicole says. “We are innovators. We try to keep things fresh and new so that we can continue to lead the category."

Regardless of time of year, “consistent messaging is achieved through brand. It’s about mapping out every channel, every touchpoint,” Nicole says. “We want our customers to have a consistent brand experience no matter what channel they’re shopping in.”

  • Differentiate your brand. During end-of-year market saturation, harness your core purpose to create authentic customer experiences that can help set you apart.
  • Use consistent messaging across every channel that customers use to engage with your brand.
  • Understand your customer. Know what’s happening in the market and be alert to changes in customer behaviour. Use your unique competitive advantages to attract customers during busy periods.

Recognising the collective contribution

Navigating periods of heightened activity can put any business under pressure. According to Nicole, navigating these pressure points is about creating an environment where people work hard but can laugh and have fun. “You spend so much time at work, why shouldn’t it be enjoyable and fun?”

She explains that drawing on the organisation’s diversity of skills and personalities is crucial to a strong cultural foundation. “We think about how to bring people together in the workplace,” she says. “It’s not just transactional, it’s multi-dimensional.”

“We don’t do theoretical planning of the company culture”. Nicole says that we lead by example through our actions, we try and create an environment that celebrates team achievements and spends time together “great culture just happens”.

  • Foster an inclusive environment by creating a culture of openness and diversity.
  • Take time out to celebrate team achievements. This becomes more important during times of heightened pressure to ensure the team knows they are valued.
  • Approach the end-of-year as a time to reflect and gather feedback from your team. This can be used to identify issues to be addressed in the coming year.


After what Nicole describes as an “exceptionally busy year for Sapphire Group”, she is using this time of the year to reflect on, and celebrate, the achievements of her team, identify crucial learnings, recharge, and enter the new year with a clear pathway to success.

“We are transitioning into a personal home and fragrance brand. It’s a huge amount of work but the outcome will be that we will have the most amazing new products launching in February. My focus is to get everyone to hang in there.” She says.

“We want to create a wonderful environment that encourages newness and hopefully for most people that’s what they experience when they work with us”.

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Things you should know

This article represents opinions and views of the interviewees personal experiences only.  It does not have regard to the situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as advice. It is not intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. Before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.