How many identities do you have?
I have a few ;)
Interior stylist, author, party hostess and farm girl.
Tell us a bit about your story and how you’ve got to where you are now?
I completed a business marketing degree straight out of school but unfortunately finished right as the GFC hit so my options for employment were very limited. I also realised I didn't want to go down the marketing path and wanted to pursue my creative passions. I landed a job with an interior designer on Sydney's North Shore and learnt so much on the job. From there I went into property styling where I'd style up to four houses a day. While working full time I was quietly plugging away at creating my own business and website thinking it would just be a side hustle I could make a few extra dollars from. 8 years later it's a full time gig and has taken me all over the country teaching workshops, I've written two decorating books, I've created two eCourses about decorating and have helped style hundreds of homes.
What has been your most challenging moment in life thus far?
One of the biggest challenges is balancing my work and personal life. I've been single for most of my business journey. Being a business owner with a profile that keeps growing each year has definitely had it's challenges when it comes to dating. A lot of men have been put off by my perceived success. It's not always been something that's been an issue up front, for some it's come out later on in the relationship but it's been very obvious that they've felt threatened or insecure about me running a business and having a profile within the business world.
How do you feel stereotypes have affected women in society so far?
I'm very aware that what I do for a living is traditionally a female only role. It's an industry I'm extremely passionate about and I get a lot of satisfaction and fulfilment from my career but it's very female centric and therefore inherently comes with stereotypes. I think there's a lot we can learn from men in business (and vice versa!!) One of the things that bothers me with my industry is the reactions my client's husbands have towards my business and services. It's often seen as a 'fluffy' job and I've had issues with client's husbands in the past where they've not seen the value in what I offer, passing it off as a job their wives could do... That bothers me a lot and I'm pretty forthright when I sense that's how they're feeling about me being in their home giving their wife advice about their home.
What are you doing to affect change?
I do a lot of networking and host a lot of events. I speak on a lot of panels about business to female audiences and am very passionate about gender equality. I recently started a mentor program for interior designers wanting business advice and within that group I hope to empower each of the women to stand up and fight to be able to run successful creative businesses.
How have you grown as a person, mentally, emotionally and spiritually since starting your career?
Soooo much!! It's been a wild ride that's for sure. There's been moments where I've questioned everything, sat on the floor of my office and cried, run out of money to pay bills, had contracts go belly up, legal issues and so much more that I've probably blocked out! But for all the lows, there have been the most AMAZING highs that I could never have dreamed of happening. I've been lucky enough to work with some really interesting clients, install some epic events, write two books and see them stocked on shelves all over the world and many other 'pinch me' moments. I'm a firm believer in continuing my education and I invest heavily in all sorts of different educational avenues to help me grow as a person as well as a business owner.
What would you say to all the women out there who want to start a business but don’t know where to start?
Write a solid to do list. List out the admin you need to do to start the business, research graphics designers to make your logo, find a web developer to create your website, invest in a lawyer and an accountant to help get the business set up. Be kind to yourself, it won't happen overnight so keep plugging away at it and don't beat yourself up about meeting self imposed deadlines. And most importantly, don't quit your day job too soon! Stay employed so your business isn't forced to pay you a salary straight away. Putting that pressure on yourself and your business is a surefire way to have everything come undone. Save up before you quit the day job so you have a buffer to keep your head above water.