MWH Spotlight with Rikki-lee Ibbotson of areli
Welcome to the blog Rikki-Lee from Areli! We’re thrilled to have you here sharing your journey on the MWH Spotlight!
Describe yourself in 3 words
Creative, Loyal, Confident.
How do you juggle being a Mum and having a biz?
It certainly can be a challenge, running a business/brand, maintaining a home and raising three children. I have an 8-year-old, 6-year-old, and almost 3-year-old. I started my biz when my eldest was 4 years old. Personally, I have always been a stay-at-home mama, and couldn't imagine life any other way. My business was developed in and around my children, so I have grown it organically at home, in a manner that works for us.
I prefer to work when my children are asleep/at school or when hubby is on days off that way the time spent on my business is focussed and productive, and the quality time with my kids is not jeopardised. I've always maintained that I am a mama first, so as long as I ground myself with that mindset, the rest seems to flow.
Tell us about your biz and WHY you do what you do
My business is Areli by Rikki-Lee; an ethical and handmade Fitness Wear Label. I am extremely passionate about finding what is unique about yourself, and embracing that. Confidence is key! Having this in mind, at the time of conception of my biz, I noticed quite a big untapped market, for an exclusive range of Fitness Wear, that isn't mass produced, and is designed to encourage women to try something new, and step outside of their comfort zone.
I had limited sewing skills, however I have always had a natural flair for fashion. The ideas were all there, I just had to make them come to fruition! I have a strong mindset, so I wasn't stopping until I could do it myself. Both my Nanna's were amazing seamstresses, so I knew the skill was in my genes. Fast forward a few years, I had accumulated several machines that allow me to achieve the finishing look I need on all garments.
I am proud to say that I draft, design, cut, sew, label and market my entire label, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Keeping my brand and fabric supplies Australian Made is extremely important to me. Supporting the Australian Fashion and Textile industry, is something I am proud to be apart of. I think being 100% ethically, Australian and handmade in a studio, sets my brand apart, from the many in this now saturated market.
If you could go back in time and offer advice to your former entrepreneur-self what would you say?
Stay authentic! You cannot please everybody, and not every style you design will suit all women. The moment you design something that you personally would not wear, it will not have your whole heart in it. Stay authentic and true to yourself, your values and your style. Build your brand around YOU, and the right people will support and help grow it.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me, are the heartfelt feedback emails you receive, that confirm what you set out to achieve.. making women feel confident! I have had countless messages stating how the design of particular garments has made people feel better within themselves (post babies, post weight loss, current weight gain, etc.), and motivated to go out in public. Also, the constant requests to bring back particular styles (Hello Fruit Tingle Leggings!!), makes me feel like I have done something right! Success is not defined by money or income, to me, it's that sense of achievement.
What has been your hardest lesson learned?
Mistakes are inevitable. I pride myself 100% on quality assurance. But I am only human, and when hand-making hundreds of items yourself, mistakes can happen. I have learnt that this happens in all businesses, all industries, and nobody is perfect. My lesson I learnt, was to continue to offer first class, personal customer service, always be approachable and transparent, so that if there is something that needs my attention, my clientele feel comfortable contacting me privately to discuss.
Finish this sentence – If I wasn’t my own boss right now I’d be…
Still a stay-at-home mama with my youngest, but would be interested in the art of Fashion Styling or Wardrobe Design on set for print or television productions.
What are you most proud of to date?
On a professional level, a goal I set out to achieve when I first established my brand was to be contracted to women's health/fitness/lifestyle magazines, to dress their feature and cover models. This year, I was able to achieve that, with having the opportunity to be involved in dressing Top 10 Finalists for the Oxygen Magazine Cover Model competition. My designs will be featured in the magazine.
I feel so proud of myself for backing my brand and my abilities, and being confident enough to approach this company to be involved. Stepping outside your comfort zone and taking risks is definitely worth trying! I would love to do more in this area of design, and work closely with print productions!
Fun facts about you:
Facebook or Instagram? Instagram
Favourite TV show? I am loving the new show Shooter on Netflix!
Coffee or tea? Coffee.. hands down!
Channing Tatum or Ryan Gosling? Ryan Gosling
A random fact about yourself….
I was raised as a musician. Growing up, my family and I travelled around Australia singing and performing. Music is a huge part of my being. I appreciate melodies, lyrics, hooks and chord progressions, and it is something that has come naturally to my children as well. Although I was brought up singing music from the Country Rock genre, I am a MASSIVE Hip Hop/Gangster Rap fan.
Rikki-Lee Ibbotson is a music loving, coffee drinking mama of three, who has established an Australian Fitness Wear Label from home. She is passionate about design, and bringing ideas to life. If Rikki-Lee is not at a park or the beach with her three kids in tow, you will find her busily designing and sewing away in her studio, listening to Rap music or podcasts!
As the founder and CEO of Mums With Hustle, I have the best day job in the world: teaching entrepreneurs how to grow their beautiful businesses online. When I started the business, that was everything I wanted, but since then, it has grown into something much bigger. Now, I get my joy from helping women find their zones of genius within a community that truly celebrates their success. I truly believe that when women choose to band together, we can do anything - and if you feel the same, there’s a place in the MWH community for you.
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