How many identities do you have?
Founder and Director of tmf. www.wearetmf.com
Founder and Director of Akyoda Brand Management. www.akyoda.com
Wife and OCD house cleaner / de clutterer….. which drives my Husband mad!
What inspired you to start your Cosmetics brand?
I started in the cosmetics industry after I finished my BA in Arts and Fashion at Uni (which in 1999 was certainly not seen as a ‘proper’ career).
My Parents were horrified of course, but always supported my dreams and aspirations so told me to go for whatever made me happy. I studied a one year, full time makeup artistry diploma with a fabulous Artist called Priscilla McKnight. I had amazing opportunities there and my very first job was to assist the great Rebecca Morrice-Williams (Becca Cosmetics Founder) at a Dolly magazine roadshow.
I was completely in awe of her!
As soon as I graduated, I worked for Lancome / L’Oreal group here in WA as a Makeup Artist and then decided pretty quickly that if I was going to get anywhere in this industry I had to take a leap of faith and move to Sydney or Melbourne (obviously no social media in those days). I chose Sydney, and moved there with a $1000 in my bank account and no secure job (just after the 2000 Olympics). I ended up securing a job with Lancome in Sydney and they put me in charge of their first makeup studio.
From that point on the business side is what really floated my boat and I went on (over the next 15 years) to work as a State Manager, Business Development Manager, Makeup and Skincare Trainer, National Sales Manager, Makeup Director and State Makeup Artist for some of the biggest brands in the World. (Bobbi Brown, Mecca Cosmetica, Napoleon Perdis, Lancome and Jurlique International). If I did not gain this absolute treasure trove of business experience from inside the cosmetics industry, there is no way that I could of started and run my own brand. For that, I am eternally grateful.
I had the idea for an organic, cruelty free brand over 15 years ago when I noticed a distinct lack of ‘caring’ companies in the market. I remember saying to the Director of a famous Australian brand I worked for……’you know, the brand really should develop an organic line’……to which they actually laughed and said ‘there’s no market for that’. I’ll never forget that!
Fast forward to 2013 and I started the R+D for tmf.
I had tried for years to find a fashion forward, natural brand with makeup artist quality and efficacy, but I couldn’t……so that was the driving force for me to start tmf.
In late 2014 I soft launched to test the market and in July 2015 entered my first Stockist (Generics E Shop Northbridge). I was asked for 6 months prior to stock with a few key retailers and I kept saying no because the brand wasn’t yet ready. I’m a firm believer in slow and steady wins the race.
I’m very happy with how well the brand is progressing and even though we are technically still considered a ‘start up’ (under 3 years trading) the brand is strong and stable and ready to take the next steps to scale internationally.
What inspired you to start your Branding & Marketing Agency?
Akyoda started late last year with a friend of mine Sam Flemming. I had a horrific experience with a sales agent who of course promised the world and then didn’t actually do any work.
Sam and I met through the ‘Socially Conscious Showcase’ which she had launched with her sister Kelly and they asked tmf. to be a part of it.
Of course I jumped at the chance because I was so impressed with both of them. We became friends quickly and I mentioned to Sam that what she was doing with the SCS is what I had wanted to do for years…..a ‘different’ agency that actually really cares about their brand portfolio and positioning socially conscious brands correctly and strategically into the market.
I said I just didn’t have the time to start another business on my own and Sam said why don’t we do it together.
We launched the business and then a few weeks later Sam had to bow out due to her business ‘Yab Yum Yoga’ opening (which she had been working hard on throughout 2017).
I bought out her share of Akyoda and now direct it myself with two key sales managers under me (Kelly Flemming, Sam’s Sister being one of them).
Sam and I are still great friends and I completely respect that she knew when she had too much on her plate.
I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason and believe that if Sam hadn’t said let’s do this together, I may never have started this second business. I love the agency and we are already gaining great interest from large companies (mainly overseas)……so I know with hard work and nurturing we’re onto a winner.
What has been your biggest hurdle as a business owner thus far?
Honestly, there are huge hurdles pretty much every week! People think from the outside that it looks really easy, or that things just fall into the laps of successful businesses. That is so not the case!
My biggest piece of advice to any business owner is to always follow your intuition…..it’s never wrong and have a clear vision of how you want your business to look and where you want it to go. Try not to get too caught up in things that go wrong, because they will go wrong every day.
Try to let anything negative wash over you, find a solution, give thanks for the lesson and keep moving forward.
How do you balance all your different businesses and stay successful?
Well I’m tired all the time :) but I liken my business’ to children, it’s always a juggling act and some weeks are wonderful and some weeks I think I must be crazy to run two business’ at the same time.
I do have a business formula now though, and feel that because of the last several years building tmf. from scratch…….I very clearly know what to do in business and the pitfalls to avoid.
I’ve learned over the years to take time out and meditate every day. I try to exercise a few times a week (sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t).
I used to beat myself up about the small things, but then I realised that I’m not super woman and can’t be good at everything. I know my strengths and my weakness’……I don’t worry about anymore. I just focus on keeping my businesses healthy and being a good person first and foremost.
What’s next for Jill Chambers?
My Husband and I have a pretty exciting project we’re thinking about starting……but not for a while yet. I think three business’ would tip me over the edge of insanity!
What advice would you give to other women out there who want to start a business but don’t know where to start?
If I could offer any advice to women thinking about starting a business I would say:
1. Make sure that you are truly passionate about what you’re starting because it will take up most of your life and 90% of the time is not glamorous.
2. Know your industry inside and out and gain hands on experience in it first. Just because you might love fashion, doesn’t mean that you’re ready to run a fashion business. Knowledge is power. Learn your trade first.
3. Work hard – there’s no way around it. If you aren’t prepared to work 7 days a week and long hours then maybe don’t start your own business. It’s harsh but true. All social media shows is the glamour, not the hard work. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you launch a website or instagram page……it all just magically happens.
4. Have a solid vision and good luck!!!