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The mug that got 10 million views and crashed a website

The New Investors video series brought to you by Yahoo Finance reveals the secrets of the most successful entrepreneurs and business people in Australia today. This is the sixth episode of the season.

It was never meant to be anything more than a bit of fun.

Three years ago, Australian entrepreneur and then-HR manager Lori Phegan just wanted to blow off some steam from her day job by leveraging material she’d gathered from 20 years in human resources and turning her workplace frustrations into pithy, tongue-in-cheek slogans.

She put them on mugs, pens and notebooks as ‘inappropriate gifts’ and sold them on a basic Wix website she’d set up herself, alongside social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook.

But it was only meant to be a creative outlet – a way to have a laugh, vent and share inappropriate humour with other mothers – until one of her products went viral.

Lori Phegan's life changed once one of her products went viral. (Source: Yahoo Finance, Getty)

A mug with the words ‘I’m not feeling very talky today. Off you f*ck” took the internet by storm, racking up nearly 10 million views virtually overnight.

The mug that went viral. (Source: The Inappropriate Gift Co)

Demand for her products shot through the roof – and it was more than she, or the website, could handle.

“What used to happen was I'd have two or three orders maybe a day. I'd pack them, go down to the post office, write a little note to my customers,” she told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Sarah O’Carroll on the New Investor series.

“And then my website started getting two hundred orders in per day, for a week, and I had to turn the website off.”

Juggling motherhood, a corporate job and what was just meant to be a small-scale online business, the viral mug brought everything to a standstill.

With such a stunning reception, it was all the confirmation she needed to take the hobby all the way.

“I thought to myself: this has actually got legs. This business has got legs, so let's close that website, let's do this properly, and structure ourselves so that we can actually fulfill those orders.”

The company is now a far cry from its humble roots as a little online outfit. The Inappropriate Gift Co now has operations in Australia as well as the UK, and is on track to meet its targets to turn over three million this year.

And it all started with a mug.

The New Investors video series brought to you by Yahoo Finance reveals the secrets of the most successful entrepreneurs and business people in Australia today. This is the sixth episode of the season.