How this new Aussie online brand is connecting content and commerce

Youtime founder talks through bringing the authentic wellbeing brand and digital offering to life

Connecting the dots between wellbeing content, community-oriented digital experiences and commerce lies at the heart of Youtime’s vision.

The Aussie retail startup is the brainchild of founder, Steve Terry, and soft launched in April. The premise is to provide an online environment that more seamlessly unites authentic wellbeing content, community and commerce under the umbrella of supporting the consumer’s ‘you time’.

The new brand takes its cues from Terry’s experiences over the past 30 years as a hairdresser, creative director, blogger, ecommerce entrepreneur and purpose-oriented leader. Once the creative director for Tony & Guy, Terry lived in Sweden for 25 years. In 2010, he and his wife launched a new studio in Stockholm called ‘You’, providing a premium space oriented around experience and service.  

Having launched their own blog, ‘The You Way’, the pair were early content marketers, only taking pics of people in-store rather than models as part of their authenticity commitment. This led to creating the ecommerce site, You Way, which connected the blog to product purchasing. A partnership with Schibsted eventuated in the sale of You Way, which subsequently became Schibsted’s number one lifestyle destination.

A stint as creative director and part-owner of Lyko, one of Europe’s largest beauty and commerce sites, which listed in 2017, was followed by Terry’s return to Australia and work assisting retail brand, Hairhouse, go online. It then became time for a new project.

“When we started our own studio, we used to have a sign on our door saying weekends were ‘you time’…. So we looked to see if we could register that and we did,” Terry explained. “The goal was always to do both physical and digital spaces. Then Covid hit, so we fully focused on digital.

“I like to live authentically and with purpose. Our goal was to work with something we love that matters to us and that was all about self-expression, love and care.”

Youtime has several pillars. One is self-expression and self-empowerment; another is encouraging consumers to take ‘me time’; while a third is ‘finding you time’.

“At the core, it was about how we go online but not be trying to grab customers without anything other than price. It was so important to create a conversation online,” Terry said. “You can come onto the site, if you’re thinking about taking ‘me time’, and read and engage with content by authenticate people that are experts in their different fields. You can feel part of a community. If we talk about a product, experience or a trip, you can then book or buy it online. It’s curated so you don’t have to look through thousands of products.

“We wanted to build a place of trust, build loyalty through that and have people come back to us.”

Terry agreed educating consumers on the concept of media and ecommerce as one offering is still a work in progress.

“It’s almost like we’re trying to teach a new behaviour,” he suggested. “For example, we don’t have standard verticals, we have nourish, explore, think, feel and move. It was important to do something we felt would resonate. To stick out, you need to be different. There is so much same-same now. We have taken a stand.”  

The site’s tagline is ‘Your time here will be time well spent’. Youtime’s customer sweet spot, meanwhile, is people looking for more than just to buy stuff and instead, an immersive experience online, according to Terry.

“It may be people who want to slow down, browse, engage in content that’s not too heavy or light. It comes a lot from spending so much time in Sweden, because the Swedes are very mindful,” Terry said. “The minimalist system isn’t just a design concept; it’s how they like to live. They choose to put things of quality around them, not loads of stuff. And they’re good at being in the moment. We’re creating this corner so it’s a space you can come into and want to be in.”

Youtime’s initial emphasis has been on hair and beauty categories, extending into fitness, wellbeing, travel and it’s now looking at books.

“As we started talking to brands, they saw the relevance of what we are doing. Because online has been transactional for so long, it’s a dangerous place and it’s always discount driven. That doesn’t do a lot of storytelling or build your brand equity,” Terry said. “Brands were coming to us saying you’re positioning us in a place we want to be. Also, because we can authentically speak to beauty, yoga, home or travel, we can introduce them to a new audience authentically.”

Core to Youtime’s content play is a collection of 25 ‘Youtimers’, influencers and experts in their fields. Each contributor writes articles and helps with product curation and advising on brands. The list includes Nadia Fairfax-Wayne, who has 250,000 followers on Instagram and covers topics such as style, fashion and travel; Gemma Watts, for beauty writing and curation; and Clementine Day for cooking. There are also indigenous poets such as Dakota Feirer, plus contributors covering travel, art, hair, interior design and sex therapy.

“We have core values we have built everything from – that was the first thing we developed as a brand, and those permeate across everything we do,” Terry said.

He agreed the rise of influencer marketing has brought this combination of content and sell through side of things to the fore.

“People now are more aware of when things are authentic versus not. The key is to treat people as intelligent beings,” Terry said. “We won’t be participating in things like Black Friday or discounting – it’s mindless consumerism. Our whole approach is to be more thoughtful and mindful.”  

Building the right kind of digital portal

Given the combination of publishing and commerce, Terry admitted Youtime has been a complex build and design.

“It needed to be immersive, for one thing, and not two separate departments,” he said. “There are capabilities to drive a social component, such as following Youtimers where you can engage with them, get updates when they’ve written new articles, or if they have chosen a product.”

The customer, headless site is based on Shopify Plus but uses custom-built content marketing components.

It's supported by a tech stack with a NextJS front-end coupled with Tailwind CSS hosted on Vercel, plus Gorgias (live chat), Prismic (CMS), Yotpo (reviews) and Algolia (search and merchandising).

“We want to move into different areas as we progress, so had to build for that as well,” Terry said.  

Digital is being overseen by GM and former head of ecommerce for Nourish Life, Lani Barmakov, and brand and user experience agency, Oliver Grace, realised the Youtime brand and direct-to-consumer offering, as well as assisted with pre-launch content and marketing. Prior to this, Terry worked with boutique Swedish design agency, Nudla, on brand identity and initial customer testing of mock-ups.

Oliver Grace then worked with development partner, Convert Digital, on a flexible design system and information architecture that laid the foundations for the distinctive commerce approach. Lehrain said the result is a clean yet immersive journey encouraging exploration and discovery.

To find the blend between practical and aspirational, and realise the vision of ‘authentic wellbeing’, Lehrain said Oliver Grace identified a central governing idea of ‘connection’.

“It was really important to me that we create a digital atmosphere that genuinely made people feel invited, and ultimately became a place they wanted to keep coming back to. I think we achieved that with beautiful design, intuitive UX and engaging content,” Lehrain commented.

Measuring success

To get Youtime out there, initial marketing includes paid campaigns driving back to articles, rather than direct product promotion. Terry said this is to see how successfully the site can drive traffic. Other key metrics are building up site time and returning customers.

“At the end of the day, we want to have a loyal customer base. So building trust with consumers and brand partners is a measure of success,” he said. “Also, a big test is how we drive people to an article that mentions products, then see if we can get them through to convert. We have been very successful with that through testing so far. Our funnel is broader and longer. We’re just starting to pull people down into that. But so far, it’s been successful.”  

Key to the strategy from the start was creating content that’s shareable, and that people want to share – both consumers plus the people we work with.

“Our brand partners and Youtimers want to be associated with it. That will give us organic growth,” Terry added.  

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