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Naomi Simson RedBalloon experiences

It’s been a big week at RedBalloon.

We announced the appointment to CEO of  Kristie Buchanan, who has been acting in the role for 12 months. Our head of security Dexter was followed around by a film crew and featured on The Project on Channel Ten. And the news I really want to share here: We have welcomed Richard England and Atlassian Founder Scott Farquhar to our Board, signalling the start of a new chapter in our journey.

Richard is a seasoned Chairman with a strong accounting background, and we expect him to lead robust discussions around how we maintain and drive our retail leader status. And as the co-founder of one of Australia’s most innovative and successful export technology companies, we believe Scott in the role of  Non-Executive Director will help challenge us as we navigate the ever-changing world of online retail.

The appointment of experienced board members with external perspective will propel us further on our growth trajectory and cement RedBalloon as the top online destination for gifts. But welcoming new blood into the fold can spur a whole host of questions for an entrepreneur…

  1. When is it “time” on the journey to start this new chapter?
  2. Am I ready for the (constructive) criticism of my “baby” that will undoubtedly accompany external rigor? These are people who do not live and breathe our brand every day, and may be less forgiving of our shortcomings.
  3. Does this mean we are now a “big” business, or simply a “bigger” business?
  4. What next?

Now in our twelfth year, we have delivered more than 1.7 million experiences to customers – I feel a great sense of pride, privilege and accomplishment when I imagine all the smiles and happy memories we’ve helped create. And I also feel immense motivation to create even more happiness in the next 12 years. I feel like this step is the first on another long and wonderful journey for RedBalloon.

As a business we are still seeing extremely high levels of growth given our vintage and market penetration. We hit 40 per cent growth in total transaction value in the 2012 financial year, demonstrating there is still very strong growth in Australian online retail – growth that we are still hungry for. In fact, Christmas 2012 saw a transaction through the site every 3.3 seconds. Quite astounding given it took almost three months for our first purchase back in 2001.

Richard and Scott will join myself and Pete as we take the business to the next level.

I am looking forward to tackling this very topic next week at a speaking engagement for the Australian Institute of Company Directors. What wonderful timing.


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  • Oh my it looks like I'm about to take a massive bite out of someone on tomorrow's @sharktankau .... 😆 join me On TEN at 7.30 💃🦈
  • I never tire of #sunrise over #sydneyharbour. It changed within minutes. Swipe left to see the changes over 3 minutes. It's gone already, #nofilter #fire
  • Happiness:
Think less, Feel more;
Frown less, Smile more;
Judge less, Accept more;
Watch less, Do more;
Complain less, Appreciate more;
Fear less, Love more....
Give it a crack 😎on a weekend like this what's to stop you! #naturalbeauty #happiness
  • Friday drinks must be here soon surely ... or I'm out! #friyay
  • In the 90s I left my cushy job at Apple.

I’d be a squillionaire if I still had my stock options.

I don’t regret it. Here's why:

After 10 years of corporate, I wanted to ‘do my own thing’. I started with freelance marketing.

My strategy? Hard work and build strong brands.

It seemed to work - new clients came from referrals.

But after 18 months, I came to a realisation:

All my clients wanted was “more customers”, not complex branding plans.

SO I thought I’d build a brand of my own. Something to get them “more customers”. RedBalloon was born. The purpose? Give people amazing experiences.

16 years on, RB has delivered 3.8 million customers to 2000 small businesses.

Now, when I give talks, I always get the same question: “How did you build such a strong brand?” Funny how it comes full circle.

I can’t answer that with a time limit.

Though I think I found a way - an online course. “How to Build your Business Brand” - years of experience in one place (link in bio if interested). But, that’s not the point of this post.

If I stayed with Apple I’d be unbelievably wealthy.

Quitting was still the best thing I’ve ever done.

So if you want to take a leap of faith, do it.

All I ask you is this:

Trust yourself and never underestimate the power of brand.


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