ACU (Australian Catholic University)

ACU Alum

Issue 4, Autumn 2013

Keeping it in the family

Keeping it in the family

Pippa Hallas was born to work in the beauty industry. Shirley Godlewski speaks to the CEO of Ella Baché about the leap from advertising to the family business – one of Australia’s leading skin care companies Ella Baché.

The granddaughter of Ella Baché’s founders, Edith and George Hallas, and the great grand niece of Madame Baché, Pippa knew the business of beauty was in her blood.

But after graduating from Australian Catholic University (ACU) with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing), Pippa wanted to have her own experience away from the family business.

Spending her twenties travelling overseas, Pippa built a successful career in corporate advertising. As she approached 30, Pippa then found herself at a crossroads in her career. It was at this point she considered joining the family business.

“I had never avoided Ella Baché, as it has always been a part of my life, a part of me – it was always intertwined within my family,” said Pippa, who used to spend school holidays filling beauty product bottles.

“There was never any pressure for me, as the third generation of the family, to go into the business. But there was always an openness to explore it if I wanted to, if the time was right.”

Entering Ella Baché as a marketing manager, Pippa spent two years working her way her current role as Chief Operating Officer. It was as she was finding her feet that the world was struck by the global financial crisis.

“I think when you look back on your career there are certain moments that surprise you. You can’t believe you survived a certain situation, yet you are able appreciate that it was an amazing time.”

“There was so much fear in the marketplace. I had to learn pretty quickly, baptism by fire is how I would best describe it.”

To understand Ella Baché’s strengths and weaknesses during this volatile time, one of the first things Pippa did was conduct a strategic review of the business.

“We stuck to the core business values of Ella Baché, making sure those strengths were clearly communicated as our value proposition.

“Ella Baché was then, and still is now, a premium brand. We are not a brand that discounts, so we didn’t want to get caught in that downward cycle during the GFC.

“It was just really about going after our value proposition and making sure it was attractive to our customers.”

As the CEO of Ella Baché, Pippa’s most important responsibilities match what she is passionate about in business – brand building and ensuring a health company culture.

“When you look at what is behind marketing, it is people, it is consumers, it is pop culture, it is society. It’s taking the things I love and putting a commercial bent on it.

“On a personal level, I love working with people. I really enjoy watching people grow, being able to give staff the opportunity to grow, as well as watching the brand grow at the same time.

“My understanding that business isn’t only about the numbers and the bottom line – but also so much about relationships and people – was something I learnt at ACU.”

Ensuring that a robust strategy is in place for the future of the business, Pippa is also responsible for pushing the Ella Baché brand out into the market place, making it visible and connected to the public.

“By making sure the unique parts of our history and core values are protected, we also contemporise these aspects so that the brand stays relevant,” said Pippa.

A large component of Pippa’s role also includes managing day-to-day operations, with support from a management team at the Ella Baché officer headquarters.

“With the support from the Ella Baché team, I am able to travel the country, tell the Ella Baché story and speak to our customers and franchisees,” said Pippa.

Disguised as an Ella Bache employee, Pippa was able to experience the company from a grassroots operational level, when she participated on Undercover Boss Australia in 2010.

“Undercover Boss Australia gave me a great opportunity to be at the front line of the business, to really understand and see what is going on. I was also able to build some close relationships with people that I otherwise, as a CEO, probably wouldn’t be able to.

“It was an amazing experience and I felt so proud of what I saw – the passion for the brand that was out there, and the way people were representing the brand and customers as well”.

From her own experience graduating from university, embarking on a career in business, advertising and marketing, and now – as the CEO of a high profile brand - Pippa, Pippa has of advice for young professionals.

“Travel the globe, go and see the world. It is so valuable as it broadens your perspective, not only on life, but also in business. Make sure you get out of your comfort zone, and keep pushing yourself.

“A don’t forget to keep learning, you can never have too much knowledge.”

The Ella Baché Story: French heritage to Australian style

Ella Baché is not just the the present-day family business, but to Pippa its creation is a beautiful story that is part of her family’s history.

“Ella Baché was my great-aunt, and together with grandfather and grandmother, they moved to Paris from Czechoslovakia in the 1920s. It was there that the brand was created.

“Ella was a forward-thinking pharmacist and a pioneer of the cosmetic industry. My grandmother, Edith Hallas, supported the skin therapy side of the brand development. As a trained beauty therapist, her passion was quality skin care. “The first salon of Ella Baché opened in Paris in 1936 and is still operating today. The salon is located in the centre of city on the Rue de la Paix, one of the fashionable shopping streets in Paris.”

As World War II broke out in Europe, having already experienced the hardships of war, Baché moved to New York and the Hallas family to Australia. During the following decades, the brand continued to be developed and strengthened. Today the company represents 40 per cent of the international market and Ella Baché products are renowned across the world. 

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