InviteMe was launched ten years ago, when founder Simone Norris had her first daughter.

“She was three months of age, so she slept all the time and I got bored,” said Norris. Being a graphic designer by trade, she decided to start up a personalised stationary store. As the years went on, as businesses do, that stationary store began to evolve and became an online party store, eventually becoming what is now both a web-based and bricks and mortar operation which has, via the power of social media, become a destination in and of itself that sees people right across the country making it part of their trips to Melbourne.

“Social media being what it is at the moment, I’m all about that, and I’m an art director and a graphic designer by trade so I kind of understand the importance of visuals and marketing,” said Norris. “I take lots of photos and the ones I use for Instagram are the same as I use on my business cards.”

These business cards Norris purchases via, a process she said couldn’t be easier.

“I love that option of, when you do get new stuff, putting up fifty or a hundred or whatever it is images on those business cards. So I have them sitting on my counter and…it’s all part of my brand, just that visual, it’s kind of promoting it. It promotes social media and just the very visual nature of my business,” she said.

InviteMe has almost done the complete opposite to what most traditional retail businesses do – launching first with an online offering prior to venturing into setting up a physical retail space. Starting off selling only personalised stationary before expanding into party goods – which is now the core product – the bricks and mortar side of the company actually now eclipses the online presence from a revenue perspective. This is again very much against the grain of what any retail strategist would be preaching; in fact, the physical shop according to Norris is what she considers to be the main part of the business.

The irony here is not lost on Norris.

“I’m absolutely aware that everything in retail is migrating online,” she said. “For me I figure that everyone is opening an online store now because anyone can do it, you just get a website built and there it is. I want my point of difference to be, ‘sure you can get all this beautiful stuff online but you can also experience this and touch it and feel it and see it and smell it’ when visiting our [flagship location]. What we have created is a destination store to fulfil that. I get people driving from all over Melbourne and interstate just to have that experience. I know it’s going against the grain but I guess that’s what I want the difference to be.”

One of the keys to the success of the physical store that Norris has identified is the way she displays and rotates stock, and her simple marketing strategies. This sounds basic but the presentation of stock in the shop changes constantly – an action which would not go down as well in the online retail space – particularly the simple but effective marketing strategy of leveraging MOO’s customised business card solutions.

Norris, a self-proclaimed fan-girl of the brand, taps into her highly-engaged imagery from Instagram so those digital images can live in the real world.

“It’s amazing,” Norris said of the mass customisation abilities. She also said that the cards create a strong talking point with customers, who sometimes take up to ten home with them.

“People come into my store, I have the business cards right next to the till,” said Norris. “People talk about them and they take several at a time so it’s definitely an important marketing tool for my business.”

Featured Image: Simone Norris on the right.

MOO helps its customers print things like Business Cards, Flyers, and Letterheads, making it easy for them to share information about themselves or their business in the real world.

Startup Daily