From working corporate nine-to-five jobs to founding their own company, Matakana natives and sisters, Jessica Davidson and Lydia Harris have flipped their lives around and created luxury gift boxing business The Duo, which aims to remove the stress of gift-giving for businesses and consumers.
For the majority of their lives both Davidson and Harris worked successful corporate careers, climbing the ladder many dream of.
However, just before the pandemic struck, Davidson and Harris realised their priorities had changed, finding themselves wanting to focus more on raising their children.
“We were both burning the candle at both ends. We both lived up north and were working really hard during the day, commuting spending two hours in the car each day, and then coming home and trying to be the best possible parents we could be,” says Davidson.
“It wasn’t till Covid hit and we were both overwhelmed with a sense of perspective that we’ve been missing out on a lot of our children’s lives because we were trying to make everything work.”
The sisters both came to the realisation that if they decided to leave their nine-to-five’s, they would be able to have a successful business partnership thanks to their “complimentary skills”.
Three weeks into lockdown in 2021, both Davidson and Harris “bit the bullet”, quit their corporate lifestyle and started planning their potential business.
After crunching some numbers and looking at how they could mesh their skills together, Davidson and Harris decided to start The Duo.
The Duo is a gifting service that provides clients big or small with tailored, bespoke and personalised gifts to fit any brief that comes their way.
“We saw that with the gift boxing side of the market, there was some really great people out there doing a fantastic job and we didn’t want to compete with that especially when we saw that there was this end of the market that wasn’t really being tapped into,” says Davidson.
“Having that creative element and seeing there was that part of the market that really needed to be fulfilled by creating what people wanted rather than trying to fit what your product was into the clients brief, is what excited us.”
She adds that taking aspects such as creativity, detail and communication from the corporate lifestyle they were so used to, meant they were not afraid of taking the risk.
“We wanted to disrupt; it is a part of the market that there is a real opportunity to disrupt what was out there now and come out with something that was unique, so we weren’t facing our competitors head on,” she adds.
And all that work paid off.
Within their first year, The Duo grew by 300 percent in terms of number of gifts being sent out and a growth in website visitors and enquiries of 20 percent every month.
The success that Davidson and Harris have seen in the past year since starting The Duo has “cemented the research” they have done and has helped them keep motivated, they say.
“The positive feedback and uptake has made it clear that this is a very niche part of the market that hasn’t until now been serviced,” says Harris.
But creating The Duo has not been easy for the sisters.
“Nothing about starting a business is easy, it tests you,” says Davidson.
Despite having years of experience in the corporate landscape, the sisters say they have learnt so much when it comes to building a start-up, such as being agile and innovative.
“The innovation and the agility have allowed us to grow because if we stayed steadfast to our original business plant, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Davidson adds that The Duo was very different to what they were when they first launched and resulted in having to “constantly innovate” to support their range and as they get to learn more about customer’s journey.
Now heading into Christmas, Davidson and Harris are busy crunching down on the high demand they are seeing this holiday season.
The Duo is now in “huge growth mode” as they have worked and established their communication and offering and looking to the future, they plan to expand into Australia.
Over the next three to five years, the sisters are working to further diversify their offerings, having also established relationships in Europe and Asia.