Created by the dynamic mother / daughter duo, Lisa Arundell and Hayley McKeown, SWAS Group was started in 2010 when the pair identified a need in the market for in-store promotional and branding services, especially for smaller and newer businesses.
Initially a part-time project to help get Hayley through university, the business has rapidly blossomed from its humble beginnings.
As Hayley completed her teaching degree, mum Lisa took over.
“When I had my first child, I stopped teaching and came back into the business. It gave me more flexibility with my daughter at the time and it was great working alongside Mum,” Hayley explained.
Her return serendipitously coincided with the business taking off, in large part helped by the opening of Farro stores and their regular weekend tastings.
“We quite quickly became Farro’s preferred in-store sampling supplier and three years ago we went nation-wide with our tastings and services.”
But what happens to a business that relies on a face to face, in-store format when a global pandemic hits?
“In-store tastings are 90 percent of our business, and we can’t do those until we’re in the Green Light of the COVID Protection Framework. We knew we had to diversify, so we are currently in the process of launching SWAS in a Box, an in-home sampling box.”
While COVID-19 and its restrictions have hampered many businesses, the silver lining is that it has given some companies the space needed to pivot their offerings.
“SWAS in a Box has been on the cards for a while, but we didn’t have the time to actually develop it,” continued Hayley.
“The silver lining to the pandemic is that it gave us that time. We have amazing clients, and this is more of a specialty box with high-quality brands that customers potentially might not purchase at a supermarket or may only be available online or at a market.”
SWAS in Box is also a way to give smaller brands the chance to reach a larger audience.
“We love the idea of being able to take a brand that might only be found at a local market and getting it front of consumers, in front of reviewers. We can then use that market research, that data to say to a store, ‘X amount of people in your region have tried this product and say that if you stocked it, they would buy it.’”
It’s the personalities of the SWAS group team that is the company’s real point of difference. It’s even where the name originated as every staff member goes by the mantra of Service With a Smile and are passionate about the products they serve.
“I’m a big foodie,” admitted Hayley. “Which makes it a perfect job, and I really like working with my Mum. We have a cool dynamic where we don’t agree on everything but work really well as a team.”
Knowing that diversification will be key to the ongoing success of the business beyond the COVID pandemic, SWAS group have also been tossing around a few ideas, but Hayley knows they need to focus on one thing at a time.
“We have amazing staff and incredible clients. I really believe in what we do and the services we offer, we offer really well.”
SWAS in a Box will will be launching in January and Hayley and the team are taking bookings now for the first box!
Whether it's In-store Demonstrations, Brand Ambassador, Social Media or Events you are after, SWAS is here to help.
For more information visit www.swasgroup.co.nz