Skye Anderton is the founder of Ruby Olive, a fast-growing jewellery label based in Brisbane.
Since launching in 2010, Ruby Olive is available online and in more than 100 stockists in Australia, New Zealand and the US, but it was out of Africa that Skye’s business plan began to take shape.
“I moved back to Australia after working in the UK as a buyer for nearly a decade, and thought, what better opportunity than now to start up my own business?” Skye said.
“I had envisaged my business while travelling through Africa and India, scribbling my business plan under the stars in the Serengeti. When I returned to Brisbane, I hit the ground running.”
Naming her new venture Ruby Olive after her grandmother, Skye is passionate about operating as a focused business with a clear financial and growth strategy.
“At Ruby Olive, we’re purposeful in how we treat customers, suppliers, staff and women in general, and also purposeful in how we design, with all our collections having stories behind them,” Skye said.
“We’re also a product-based business and have to pay for deposits on goods up-front, so having a solid cash flow is very important. As the business grows, we need to invest in more product.”
“My strength, however, is in the running of the business and the creative side, not in the numbers side – I certainly know I need to have a good accounts team to advise me.”
What is your greatest business learning?
You have to keep learning and evolving. The environment around us changes so quickly, if you’re not keeping up, you’ll be left behind. Take the internet, for example, which has changed dramatically. When I look at the Ruby Olive website from seven years ago, and compare it to what it looks like now, we’ve definitely come a long way.
What is your greatest business success?
I’ve been fortunate to win some amazing awards and had some incredible opportunities, but what I’m most proud of is seeing people wearing my designs. Seeing a stranger in the street wearing a Ruby Olive necklace or pair of earrings is a proud achievement, and I always do a bit of a happy dance when I see it. It’s amazing seeing how happy and confident customers become when they sling a colourful necklace around their neck. When they know the story of how it came to be and what it was inspired by, that adds another level of connection.
What three things should someone consider before starting a business?
- Do your research. You need to know everything about the market to see whether there’s a need for your product.
- It’s going to be harder than you think. Things happen that you don’t anticipate and it will take longer than you expected.
- You should be passionate about what you’re about to undertake. It’s going to take so much blood, sweat and tears, you have to love what you do.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t like to have regrets, but I learn from every mistake. Learning from mistakes have certainly led me to make better decisions.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
Word-of-mouth. When your customers are passionate about the product, they can’t help but tell their friends. I also believe it’s incredibly important to listen to your customers, react to what they say and authentically engage with your community. It’s that authenticity that builds trust and leads to repeat purchases, but more importantly, it builds a passionate tribe of like-minded people.
How do you stay up to date with the latest business information?
I’m a podcast junkie; I love listening to podcasts. They’re a great way to get information and advice. I also go to events and speak to people I admire to get their take on different situations.
Where have you sought business advice?
I’m involved in a lot of women’s business groups, and many of the women have very successful businesses, so I often ask them for advice.
It’s amazing how everyone is now connected via Facebook and Instagram in the digital world. It allows you to ask a quick question and get some great advice. Generally, people are willing to offer advice if you’re looking for help.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
One of the biggest factors is cash flow. We are a product-based business, and we pay for deposits for goods months before the products are even in our warehouse and being sold. Having a solid cash flow is so important, because as the business grows, we need to have the funds to invest in the additional product months before we get any income from them.
It’s also important to have a good accounts team, such as a bookkeeper, accountant and financial advisor. I know my strengths lie in the running of the business and the creative side, not in the numbers side. I know I need to have a good accounts team to advise me.
How do you manage risk?
I don’t have a bad relationship with risk – I take calculated risks. I look at situations like this: if it falls through, what’s the worst that can happen? If the worst happens, and I have to sell all my stock at clearance prices, can I still pay all my bills?
What value do you place in business plans and why?
I could not do what I do without a plan. It’s so important to have a plan with clear goals and deadlines for when you want to achieve them. My plans, however, don’t look like a normal document-style business plan; most are in the form of flow charts. I’m a creative person, so my strategies look like a complex series of flow charts that are pinned to the wall; they just make sense to me. Our goals and targets for the month/quarter/year are at the bottom of the charts. I like to have the big picture in front of me, so I can then break it down into smaller pieces.
For more, visit rubyolive.com