Money & Banking
“That’s hot”: Aussie mum’s $500 investment becomes a $10 million business
Last year, Aussie brand Custom Neon received a voice message on Instagram from celebrity Paris Hilton, telling the signage brand she loved their products and would be keen to work with them.
But, co-founder Jess Munday said nothing ever came of it.
A year later, the star’s lavish four-day wedding included Kim Kardashian, Demi Lovato, Nicole Richie and custom items from the Geelong-based business.
“She asked us to create neon signs for her wedding and it was an awesome opportunity,” Ms Munday told news.com.au.
“She had her wedding over three or four days I think and day two was a carnival themed party and in the party it had one of our neon signs - the biggest one, which said, ‘That’s hot’.”
But the mum-of-two said it hasn’t been the brand’s only brush with celebrity fans.View this post on Instagram
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, posted a neon sign with the phrase ‘cyberviking’ on Twitter - a nod to cryptocurrency dogecoin that quickly went viral.
“That tweet went viral and we said that looks like one of our signs and we checked our records and it was created by us,” Ms Munday said. “He got it delivered to a place in California, which is very exciting.”
Initially, Ms Munday started Custom Neon as a side hustle with her husband in 2018, while the couple were expecting their first child.
How much is that Doge in the window? pic.twitter.com/bxTkWOr50V
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2021
“We were decorating my son’s nursery and my husband wanted to get a neon sign with the baby’s name and we looked around and couldn’t find one that was affordable and the process wasn’t easy to get a custom-made design,” she recalled.
“He had seen it on Pinterest and he thought it was cool that you could get your son’s name and at the time having a baby and revealing the name is a big deal, so there was excitement of the baby coming and wanting something cool for the nursery.”
The couple then found a supplier to make the sign, as well as a few for their upcoming wedding. Soon, they were renting out their wedding signs via Instagram, and began fielding inquiries for custom pieces from up to 20 businesses and individuals each week.
Their $500 investment in their first few signs has since grown into a $10 million business in just three years, with Ms Munday saying the business is on track for a turnover of $18 million by the end of the 2021-22 financial year.
She said Custom Neon has been a “whirlwind” journey and a far cry from her job in HR prior to taking maternity leave.
During the last three years, the 32-year-old said there have been some interesting requests for signs, including people asking for pictures of themselves or their pet dogs as neon signs.
Their signs have also made appearances on The Block, as well as inside a range of restaurants, bars and other businesses around the world.
Though business from events dried up during the pandemic, Ms Munday said 70 percent of their orders now come from business signage, and that 60 percent of orders come from the US.
“It’s such a huge part now and such a large country so there is much opportunity for growth,” she added.
“We are planning to expand further into the US and set up our own manufacturing there in the next year. We also just secured an office in LA and have five people starting.”
With such rapid growth already, this small business looks like it will have a bright, neon-lit future.
Images: Jess Munday (Facebook) / @customneon (Instagram)