Mediaweek

Digital

Luxe for less website Swiish.com’s journey from content to e-commerce

How Sally Obermeder built Swiish.com into an online retailer

The idea for the “luxe for less” website Swiish.com came to Seven’s afternoon TV presenter Sally Obermeder when she was in hospital fighting her battle with cancer.

“I rang my sister [Maha Koraiem] and said, ‘Listen, I am keen to do a website. Let’s work on it together.’ She was like, ‘Hang on, aren’t you still in the hospital?’ I was like, ‘Yes I am,’” Obermeder told Mediaweek. [Laughs] “I am very lucky to survive and get through my cancer battle.

“When you are sick, you really want to focus on the future. It helps you take your mind off things. It gives you a reason to keep fighting.

“One of things that happens when you go through something like that is understanding that life is short. Things aren’t forever, so it really forces you to think about what is important to you and your passions.”

Sally Obermeder with sister Maha Koraiem

Obermeder launched Swiish.com with her sister Koraiem in 2012. Recently, her work was recognised at InStyle’s Women Of Style Awards where she received the reader’s choice award.

“At the very beginning it was just Maha and I. The biggest challenge at the beginning was that there were only two of us and there was a lot to be done. One, how do you get a website up and running – neither of us had any prior technical experience of building a website – and two, the sheer volume of what you need to get up.

“Then it was about how do you get the word out?

“We used to have a joke that the only person who read it was our mum.”

Apart from Obermeder and her sister, Swiish.com currently employs four full-time staffers to work on the website.

Even before clocking up five years in a few months’ time, the website has achieved a few milestones – one of the biggest being its expansion into retail. Users can buy accessories, clothing and cookware on the website without being redirected to a third party website.

While the expansion was something that the sisters had thought of early, “it’s not something we rushed into,” Obermeder said. “We wanted to build our content, reader base, and get an understanding of who our reader was and what she valued and what is it that she wants.

“In the beginning we wouldn’t have had the capacity to do it. When you are a brand new business, you are literally a baby. We didn’t even know if we would survive. Even some days now I don’t know if we will survive. It’s tough having a business,” Obermeder said.

The e-commerce aspect of the website is the main revenue driver for the business. Unlike other fashion blogs and websites, Swiish.com does not carry any banner ads.

“It’s not our thing,” Obermeder said. “I don’t like the look of it on our site. I find for us that there is a lot happening on our site, so I don’t want it to get too cluttered.”

The readers of Swiish.com are women aged 30-55. “They’re a mix. There are some who have children, a mortgage and a lot of financial commitments. They are time poor and are looking for solutions. Then there are the other ones who don’t have children and are in the early 30s. They are working and they’re also health and fashion conscious. They are also looking for ways to have all the things they want in life without breaking the budget.”

Apart from Swiish.com, Obermeder is well known for her work on Seven’s The Daily Edition. One would think having a national public platform to speak about one’s venture would help. However, Obermeder said that she does not like to speak about Swiish.com on the show.

“I am fortunate to have a public profile, there’s no question about that,” she said. “They are two different jobs. But I don’t talk about Swiish on the show or plug it. It’s very separate.”

Daytime television in Australia

“Daytime TV is incredibly important,” Obermeder said. “What we are seeing now is that there is a real change in audience. Typically in the years gone by, people assumed that daytime TV was for mothers at home. That’s not the case any more. People who watch daytime TV are shift workers, students, people who are watching it in hospitals and retirement villages, as well as mums.”

There’s more scope for growth and investment to be made in daytime, according to Obermeder.

“You used to have this perception that people are always out during the day. That’s not the case any more. Our lives have changed so much.”

Stories filled with inspiration, hope and positivity are the ones that work well with the viewers of The Daily Edition.

“When you see firsthand stories of inspiring people or people who have faced hardship and have triumphed, they are very moving,” Obermeder said.

Obermeder, Tom Williams and Monique Wright present the afternoon entertainment show.

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