Teen tradie turns $10k into $2m a month
As a 19-year-old uni student, Anthony Nappa was always on the lookout for extra pocket money.
At the time, the Sydney teen was working part-time as a labourer, waiter and warehouse assistant while studying a commerce degree.
But in his second year of university, a twist of fate inspired him to start a business "on the side" that would end up changing the entire course of his life.
His labouring job abruptly ended after his boss left the country, meaning Mr Nappa's brief stint as a tradie was over.
His parents Elio and Vanessa happened to run a number of OZ Hair Sydney hairdressing salons, and while the young Mr Nappa was never interested in following their footsteps, he decided to start selling hair and beauty products on an eBay store in February 2012.
He told news.com.au it started out as a gamble and "more of a hobby" than a serious business venture.
Mr Nappa invested $10,000 in savings and stored his stock in his dad's warehouse in Miranda.
While he didn't get any financial or business help from his parents, the teen was able to draw on their relationships with major hair and beauty suppliers to get the company up and running.
During the first year, the store raked in $174,000 in sales but made just $18,000 in profit.
His younger brother Guy, then 15, also helped out by packing orders during his high school holidays.
But soon, it began taking off, and Mr Nappa decided to switch focus from the eBay store to a proper business, Oz Hair & Beauty, selling premium hair and beauty products across globally recognised brands such as GHD, Moroccanoil, OPI and Kerastase.
It grew so popular he had to reduce his university load to part-time in an effort to keep up with orders and growth, and at one point, he almost dropped out altogether.
By the third year, Mr Nappa had taken over the entire lease of his father's warehouse, and the early years were gruelling, with Mr Nappa working 10-hour days, seven days a week in all aspects of the business, from sourcing products to fulfilling orders and even personally answering all customer emails.
In 2017, Guy Nappa decided to buy into Oz Hair & Beauty, and the young brothers have been business partners ever since.
Just seven years after starting the business from scratch, Mr Nappa now employs 25 staff members, is turning over $2 million in sales per month, and is on track to make $25 million in the 2020 financial year, based on first-quarter sales.
Mr Nappa, now 26, said it was "surreal" to have created such a successful company at such a young age.
"I wanted to sell stuff on eBay as a side thing … and I wasn't making that much money at the start," he told news.com.au.
"I always dreamt of starting a successful business, but I never thought it would become so big.
"I'm very grateful and I think my brother has been a very big factor (in the company's growth)."
He said being a small, family company had set Oz Hair & Beauty apart and allowed it to remain "nimble" with a "finger on the pulse".
"The bigger the ship, the harder to steer, so being small and under the radar, it was easy for us to make quick decisions and move fast," he explained.
But he admitted making "a lot of mistakes" in the early years, and at one point, the website was even out of action for an entire fortnight, costing crucial sales.
"A couple of times we bit off more than we could chew with stock and my overdraft was maxed out - bills came, and we couldn't pay them," he said.
"But building relationships with suppliers meant they trusted me enough to work with me through those times.
"It was very stressful, and I'm anxious at the best of times, but I always learnt to invest in people and to invest in things before you need them."
Mr Nappa said achieving such success when he was barely out of his teens was a "double-edged sword".
"The downsides are you never switch off - I never had a holiday for the first three years," he said.
"Now I'm lucky enough to travel whenever I want and wherever I want, however I still can't switch off, and I've never not taken my laptop on a holiday."
The Nappa family is now planning on merging Oz Hair & Beauty with the OZ Hair salons in 2020.