Tell us about the first steps you took in starting your business?
Defining our vision and values, our concept, our brand and our target market. Every startup begins with an idea but in order to build a business we needed to understand what made our idea different. What makes you special?
How do you turn your idea into a proper concept or offering? How will you execute that idea in an original way? Given the access to your current and future competitors, why would someone want to do business with you and not one of them? Who is going to do business with you and what do they need? These are the questions every new business needs to ask.
How did we do that? Lots and lots of talking and thinking and talking! I am fortunate that the other half of www.CatwalkBump.com.au is my brilliant business partner and she and I bounce ideas around until we achieve an outcome that is better than either of us could have done on our own. Before we even started looking at products, Catwalk Bump had become “a thing”. Our brand had its own voice in our decision making and from early on we knew what Catwalk Bump was and what it was not.
From that strong foundation, decision making started to become instinctive and we became increasingly confident in our judgement of ‘what was right' for every aspect of Catwalk Bump.
We were also aware that we were entering a crowded gift market so at the beginning we were constantly testing ourselves by the harsh standards of an open market. We're borderline militant about our product selection and we refuse to stock anything we don't love ourselves. We are also very strict on our pricing and refuse to overcharge. We price based on the true value of the products inside our Catwalk Bump boxes and our pricing reflects what we would happily pay ourselves (and feel we were getting great value). If the pricing and product mix aren't correct, we scrap it and start again.
These were all key elements of our business that were strongly defined at the very beginning and have guided us ever since.
What is a personal habit that you believe contributes to your success?
I don't know if everyone would consider this a habit, but I do – optimism. Challenging yourself to find a ‘positive' in disappointing or difficult situations is essential in order to overcome that challenge and move forward with some level of enthusiasm. This applies equally in business and in life. Although your natural inclinations do play a part, I really think that optimism or pessimism is something that grows within you based on your thoughts and actions – studies back this up. I am quite logical so even finding a small positive allows me something to focus on, in order to step away from the emotional elements of the problem or difficult situation and get on with things.
Give us 3 tips on how to use Instagram like a boss!
- Be real. Nobody wants to read a stuffy sales pitch in amongst their beautiful Instagram feed filled with pools, sunsets and lipsticks. Just talk genuinely and tell the truth about your topic, whether it is one of your products or a fabulous cocktail. I believe your followers will either like hearing ‘your voice' and follow you, or they won't.
- Be professional. This is almost a caveat to the above. I'm all for a bit of reality, but I'm not a huge fan of gratuitous oversharing or heavy profanity, especially on a business account. Maybe that is because Catwalk Bump is all about glamour and polish and pampering so that type of thing is the complete opposite to the way we choose to present our brand. We love a bit of sass and in motherhood and business, sometimes s$#t gets real, but we like to keep things classy at Catwalk Bump HQ.
- Have a personality. We think that one of the strengths of Catwalk Bump is that our partnership brings two perspectives and two different personalities experiencing two different lives. My business partner Tanya and I both contribute to our Instagram account so it could be a high-powered business meeting on the river one minute and coffee and prams at a shopping centre the next. Such is the world of Catwalk Bump.
How do you balance #mumlife and business life?
I've only been a mum for five months and we started building Catwalk Bump about two weeks before my daughter was born (I know – insanity right!). Already in this short time I've realised that as mothers we always guilt ourselves that we are never doing enough of anything. In trying to achieve that elusive ‘balance' and do it all, we often end up feeling that we are failing at everything as it is just impossible to give the 100% we want to give to every aspect of our lives.
That said, I do have a few rules. They don't guarantee balance, but they do give some criteria to remind yourself that you're doing your best – especially when you have one of those days of doubting yourself and everything you do. The rules will vary from person to person based on what works for you and your family, but I think the main criteria is that they must be fact based and not judgement based. Eg. ‘No work between 5 pm and when the children go to bed' not ‘don't work too much’.
I don't think true balance exists because that implies that there is some universe in which all of our competing obligations neatly fit together and add up to only 24 hours worth of effort each day. We all know that is a complete impossibility so the best we can hope for when it comes to balance is a life that makes us feel happy and comfortable that we are doing our best for ourselves, our businesses and our families.
What one piece of actionable advice would you give someone just starting out?
Invest time in learning. Maybe this is my legal training and management experience talking but I have a huge respect for theory and best practice. You might be making a good go of something based on your common sense and instinct but when you are aware of the theory you will start to see how much better you could be doing things.
Running your own business offers a huge amount of freedom but also a huge new world of things that you probably don't know much about. The Internet is overflowing with resources on everything you might need to know. If you exhaust that resource and want more specialised information on a particular area, you can seek out paid training or a business mentor.
I subscribe to newsletters and blogs on a variety of topics, everything from web development to marketing to beauty products. I read them because I love them and the new information sends my mind spiralling off in 1000 different directions. Tanya often has to reign me in! I would recommend this learning time to every entrepreneur even if you think you are too busy. Set yourself a goal of reading one article a week and build up from there to a level that feels right for you and your business.
A Mum with Hustle you admire and why?
This was really difficult because I admire all mums with hustle!!! Having a brand-new business and a brand-new baby at the same time has been such an eye-opening experience and I completely applaud every mother who has the hustle to give it a go.
That said I have to say Sheryl Sandberg the author of ‘Lean In' and COO of Facebook. This book has been such a huge deal in the corporate world over recent years and has been championed as the new manifesto for female equality and diversity in the workplace. She has received a lot of criticism about her messages from people who say “well, of course, I could be a successful woman and mother in the business world if I had millions of dollars and support at home with nannies etc”. I think this kind of conversation detracts from the true messages in her book, which resonate with women in traditional workplaces as well as entrepreneurs and start-ups.
The very fact that there are so many women starting businesses when they have children, to me indicates two things:
1. Most traditional workplaces still have a long way to go before they are a really attractive option for new mothers.
2. New mums still crave other areas of effort, satisfaction and achievement in addition to caring for their children.
Sheryl's messages are therefore not about “how to be the CEO of Facebook when you have children and a lot of money” but about how each of us can understand and then move past some of our own thoughts and habits and mindsets that are holding us back. It's about finding a stronger self and giving us the confidence and tools to go after what we want, whatever that may be.
Connect up with Catwalk Gifts
Special deal for Mums With Hustle:
By signing up to the Catwalk Bump VIP list and using the voucher code ‘bump10' you will receive 10% off your first order with Catwalk Bump.
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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