The Northgate based business specialises in work wear and boots for women employed in specialised fields and trades requiring safety compliant clothing and footwear.
Now in its fourth year of trading, what began as a one woman operation now employs three full time staff, has more than 60 stockists across Australia and New Zealand and is set to branch out overseas.
It was not, however, the most auspicious of starts.
“I was renovating a property to sell at the time,” Stacey recalls.
“I didn’t have proper footwear and stood on a nail. It cost me a tetanus shot and got me thinking about how there were so few options for women when it came to safety footwear that fitted properly and work wear in general.”
Long term, the incident proved to be a shot in the arm for a nascent business plan.
“In the beginning we were an online only business and we only sold work boots. The first item we sold was a pink pair and they’re still one of most popular lines today,” she says.
“We’ve come a long way since then and recently exhibited at a trade show in the US.”
Stacey knows a thriving business is always a good look. She wears it well, too.
What is your greatest business learning?
Have good systems and structures in place from day one. When I first started out I just had a spreadsheet for financials, then the business went crazy almost overnight and I couldn’t keep up.
At one point I was handwriting courier labels and manifests just to get the orders out the door!
What is your greatest business success?
Probably the business being successful enough to warrant moving into a warehouse and dedicated store within my first eight months of trading. It was such an untested and unknown market that the fact it was a success at all is really my biggest success!
What three things should someone consider before starting a business?
- Do your due diligence – research your target market, speak to the end user and know your competitors.
- Accept that the business will take over your life, at least at the start.
- You need to accept you must have an understanding of every aspect of running a business, even if it’s not your forte. Know your personal strengths and outsource help where necessary.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I would have tried to prepare for how fast the business grew. It was hard to anticipate in such an untested market but it ends up costing you more to do things retrospectively so definitely try to get ahead.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
We do a checkout survey about how our customers found out about us and the most common answer is ‘word of mouth.’ Our products are designed by women to fit and look good on women so we know how important our customers’ feedback and recommendations are.
We also use social media, though I’m careful that we don’t bombard people on that front – we try to post empowering messages.
How do you stay up to date with the latest business information?
Mainly by talking to people. I belong to a number of women in trade groups and also keep in contact with a number of people I met through being a finalist in 2015 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards and attend business seminars and webinars where I can.
Where have you sought business advice?
I’ve just brought on board a business mentor but I’d say it’s just as important to listen to your customers and change your business plan if necessary to meet their needs and requirements. It might sound a bit unprofessional to say ‘trust your gut’ but that’s important as well. No-one knows your business the way you do.
What financial factors should be considered when wanting to grow a business?
Consider where your funding is coming from, and budget and plan accordingly. It’s quite hard to source finance from traditional sources at start up stage but these days you can look at crowd funding, angel investors and venture capitalists if you need to.
How do you manage risk?
I operate in US dollars so I keep an eye on the international markets and hedge funds when necessary to purchase foreign currency. Most importantly, do your research and check your figures regularly, whether that be weekly, daily, or whatever you need to do to have a thorough understanding of your costs.
What value do you place in business plans and why?
They’re very important but you have to keep them fluid. Know your short and long term goals as part of your business plan and make sure your staff do too.