What it does: Australia's premier beauty destination
Staff stats: Around 3,000
The good bits: Fast career advancement, voted one of the best places to work
The not so good bits: You're expected to hit the ground running
What is now MECCA Brands emerged out of a business idea that occurred to Melbournian Jo Horgan. ‘Why not travel the world, discover emerging make-up brands, niche fragrances and cutting-edge skincare products then sell them in Australia?’ Horgan – at that point a L’Oréal executive – thought to herself.
By 1997, the first MECCA Cosmetica store started trading in South Yarra selling “seven iconic global beauty brands”. (The store’s second storey was pressed into service as a makeshift warehouse and office.) Within a couple of years, Horgan had moved into a proper office and hired her first five team members. In 2003 the business launched a line of MECCA Cosmetica cosmetics. In 2005, MECCA expanded interstate, opening an ‘indie sibling’ of MECCA Cosmetica called Kit Cosmetics in Paddington, Sydney. Around this time, Horgan also managed to get her signature lines into Myer stores. By 2005 things were going well enough Peter Wetenhall, Horgan’s husband, to quit his job as a Boston Consulting Group partner and join the family business.
By 2007, MECCA entered an exciting new phase. One that saw it open three stores in New Zealand, have its products featured in Paris Vogue, launch a mega-store – MECCA Maxima – in Melbourne Central, launch a rewards program (MECCA Beauty Loop) and become the official make-up partner of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.
More recently, MECCA Brands has launched a website, allowing customers to purchase 7000 products from more than 100 brands. It’s also opened a flagship store on South Yarra’s Toorak Road and launched The MECCA Memo, an “online editorial hub”. The business has adapted to technological shifts and changing consumer tastes by launching an array of high-impact “selfie-ready essentials”.
MECCA Brands had a big year last year, hosting its inaugural MECCALAND (Australia’s first beauty festival), being named in the top 5 Great Places to Work for the 5th year running, and with founder Jo Horgan being named Entrepreneur of the Year by EY.
MECCA Brands remains a private business but it has been estimated to have annual revenues in excess of $100 million. At the time of writing, there are 100 MECCA stores in Australia and New Zealand.
Unsurprisingly, MECCA Brands’ workforce skews heavily female. The business does not appear to have a formal diversity and inclusion policy. Nonetheless, the business appears to welcome anyone who is passionate about customer service and is willing to adhere to MECCA Brands’ values. These are:
Through MECCA’s M-Power Movement, MECCA aims to create an equitable world where women and girls are empowered to flourish and be the best they can be. Through the M-Power Movement, MECCA has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various charities that support women locally and around the world. MECCA also collaborates with the NGV to support a number of emerging young female artists, and partners with the Foundation for Young Australians, Engineers Without Borders, and Deakin University, to mentor a number of young female entrepreneurs, engineers, and innovators.
If you’ve graduated from uni (with any degree) in the last couple of years, have citizenship or permanent residency, and are willing to be based in Melbourne for two years you’re eligible to apply for MECCA Brands’ grad program. While the program involves spending some time working in a store, either because you are already working in a MECCA store or the business will arrange a summer store placement for you, the program is ultimately based in MECCA Brands’ Support Centre in Melbourne.
The business isn’t too hung up on academic qualifications. However, it does expect applicants to be “highly driven, curious and innovative” and the type to “dream big”, “challenge the rules” and “drive change”.
Applications are made via the careers page on MECCA Brands’ website. At this stage, you’ll need to upload your CV, academic transcript and answer some questions. If your application is sufficiently impressive, you’ll then be invited to fill in an online questionnaire. The final stage involves attending a ‘Graduate Recruitment Forum’ in Melbourne. Here you will “participate in some scenario-based discussions and interviews with the MECCA Brands team”.
MECCA Brands’ grad program is two years long and involves four six-month rotations, the first of which involves working at the Support Centre, with all four rotations being based in their Support Centre in Melbourne. After that, you could find yourself working in any of the following departments:
Grads are paired up with a coach and buddy, do workshops and take part in cross-functional graduate-team projects. They also attend presentations by “inspiring internal and external speakers from all around the world”.
MECCA is coy about its remuneration arrangements aside from promising “competitive salary packages” and an annual salary review. Given entry-level wages in the retail sector, it’s probably wise to manage your expectations. On the plus side, there are plentiful perks including:
*Uncapped monthly and annual bonuses
*A product-allowance gift card (and 40 per cent staff discounts once that runs out)
*Employee milestone and anniversary gifts
*The Jo Horgan Award. Each year up to five stand-out employees receive a globetrotting “career enriching development trip” valued at $8,000
*Health and wellbeing initiatives, reward and recognition evenings, holiday celebrations and regular themed parties
Like many fast-growing private businesses with a strong corporate culture, MECCA Brands is big on developing its staff and promoting from within. Grads receive “leadership, brand and core skills training” and are well placed to rocket up the org chart if they have the ambition to do so.
MECCA Brands has won several ‘Great Place to Work’ awards. Its founder takes the view her staff can only “empower women to look and feel their best” if they are likewise empowered to “be the best they can be”. Jo Horgan was recently named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. She is the first woman to ever receive this award
Horgan has said, “I am incredibly proud that MECCA has placed in the top five for five consecutive years in Australia's Best Places to Work…. We strive to create a workplace, which feeds both their mind and their spirit, and to create a culture, which is as inspiring as it is nurturing."
At MECCA Brands, we have been redefining how Australia and New Zealand shop for beauty for over 20 years – but there’s more to MECCA than cosmetics. More than bronzers and brushes, it’s boldness, bravery, hustle, and our whatever-it-takes attitude to which we credit our success.
Our Graduate program is a 2-year accelerated journey through our fast-growing business. Through bespoke 6-month rotations in up to 4 different departments, you will be exposed to a curated mix of creative and business-oriented projects. You will also receive support, training and mentoring from a range of inspirational leaders at MECCA, including your coach and manager in each rotation.
While your friends may be sitting in a stuffy corporate office doing repetitive work, at MECCA you’ll be going places. You could be designing our next generation of stores, developing new products, creating our next digital campaign, solving an inventory problem across a network of 100 stores, integrating and implementing new software in our distribution centre, or preparing a business case for a major investment.
Whatever your academic background, you will find opportunities within our Graduate program to drive change, innovate and go places!