June 26, 2019 9 min read
If you've bought a CHUCHKA or two you may know a little bit about our Founder Stefanie Schwartz, the lady boss and Creative Director behind the brand. Perhaps you've wondered what it's like to run and grow a fashion label. Here Stef shares the highs and lows of running a small business while raising a young family (Stefanie is also mum to 3 beautiful boys).
Pictured: Stefanie Schwartz manning the champagne stand at our New York Popup Launch Party.
I was never familiar with running a business and it certainly wasn't something I ever thought I would do, but it evolved quite naturally after I had my second child and was wanting to pursue a more creative career. It started mostly as a way for me to create accessories that I myself wanted to use or wear and I thought that if I liked them, there must be a market for other like minded women who wanted similar products.
The number one resource has been the people around me. Picking people’s brains and seeing what skills and knowledge they have has been the most helpful tool. Whether it was my husband who had run businesses before or my friends who could tell me which colour swatches they would like or other women in business who juggle the same lifestyle struggles as me - there’s always something I learn from those around me.
Absolutely it is the juggle with the other parts of my life. I have three children and I want to be around for all of their important moments (and also the smaller moments too!), so it means a lot of changing things up to be able to fit everything in. Sometimes it means giving myself permission not to do some things too.
This too shall pass. Someone said it to me when I had my first baby and I was in an emotional mess because of any number of difficulties you have with your first bub (first tooth, first sickness, first day at daycare) and it really applies to everything in life and certainly to work. If there is a hurdle in front of you - you will inevitably find the skills you need to jump over it and continue running ahead.
Anything new - new products, new store locations, new stockists, new collaborations. I like to keep moving and adding more to the business, so seeing that ‘newness’ take shape is super exciting.
I make it fit in with a way that suits me. I want to be around for my children and my husband and to enjoy our time together. This is a priority for me. So, I fit in work in any other space I have, whether it’s when they’re asleep or at school. It’s not always perfect and sometimes I have to readjust because something important in my life isn’t getting enough attention. For me, listening to what feels right and balanced (as much as is possible) helps.
Do what you love! If you love it, then you will push through no matter how difficult the path to your success is. It’s not hard to work hard when you enjoy what you do.
Developed by Sydney dentist Angie Lang, Swirlit is a sugar free and pH neutral range of functional tea beverages formulated with botanical extracts and ingredients linked to supporting oral health. With a delicious suite of flavours including Rose & White Tea, Peach & Roobis, Blueberry & Black Tea, and Cinnamon & Green Tea, it's the perfect refreshment to throw in your shopping cart along side your other regulars like kombucha and coco water.
Swirlit is a beverage company with a desire to improve the oral health of beverage consumers. As a dentist, seeing the damage caused by sugary and acidic drinks, I wanted to create an alternative drink option. I started researching suitable ingredients and was inspired by natural plant extracts and vitamin supplements recommended by naturopaths.
Education, inspiration, community, my iPhone. Access to scientific literature facilitated the early research and development process. As things progressed, having a community of people to inspire me and to learn from pushed me further.
It is amazing how connected we are today. Wherever I go I can be working on my business, and through my phone I can do almost everything.
Time is so precious and allocating it to the right activities can be tricky.
It gets to a point in every business when you need to get your idea out into the world, and without other people’s belief in your idea, you can’t go far. Develop a network of like minded people early.
The people involved are amazing, and with the great feedback on our new product line, we are excited for the next phase.
Next up, meet the Founder of the beautiful baby wrap brand, Bellies and Beyond - helping mum's wrap their lil' bundle of joy into cosy heaven using natural bamboo. Rebecca keeps it real when it comes to the trials and tribulations of juggling motherhood, business and life!
I own a small business called Bellies and Beyond, I make unique bamboo baby products. It started when my third daughter's super sensitive skin used to flare up from cotton clothes and baby wraps. My husband is a doctor and suggested I try bamboo and voila .. no irritation! Unfortunately I just didn’t like the colour or prints that I saw with the bamboo products out there and so I knew I couldn’t be the only one. When I did my own research I realised how much better bamboo was for the environment and whilst I’m not the best greenie - I do try!
I got started by talking to reliable friends about how they got started and then took baby steps, probably wasted lots of money and made many mistakes .. but then it all started coming together and it was upwards from there.
To be honest, talking to as many people as I could has helped me the most. I know it may not be the “right” answer here.. but it’s the truth. I knew when I was out of my depth or confused and have learnt to ask for help.
Instagram is also so important, no need for surveys or focus groups.. I get to ask the customers themselves and hear exactly what they want, that is golden.
That's an easy one.. never clocking off. Recently I have been in hospital from morning to night supporting someone I love. After the emotional toll of sitting in an oncology ward all day, I would still come home and pack my orders till late in the night.
I think we are all told before we start that it’s not the easy way but I’m not sure how much we believe that. I think we try to get away from a terrible salary (I was a kindergarten teacher) or we are trying to avoid a 9-5 job in order to get more balance.. but it’s not true. This is not the easy way, it’s so much harder. More rewarding for sure.. but not the easy way out by any means.
Some new products that are absolutely going to shake things up!
Now we chat with the impressive Dionne Taylor, Founder of Polkadot Communications, a full-service communications agency based in Sydney, which she founded at the ripe age of just 23 years old. An industry innovator and thought-leader, Dionne is now launching a disruptive business in the media space that is sure to shake things up in the PR world.
Pictured: Female Entrepreneur and Business Owner, Dionne Taylor of Polkadot Communications and Story Match.
Tell us a bit about your small business and brand - where did the idea come from and how did you get started?Polkadot Communications is my primary company – we are a full service communications agency that build brands. We represent some of Australia and the world’s top brands across a variety of sectors including Palmer’s, The Empire State Building, Mulia Hotel and Resorts, Hostelworld, Tasman Eco, Matific, The Fitness Show, Athena Homeloans, Cockatoo Island, Freddy, Larsen Jewellery, Swirlit to name a few.
As I work in media the biggest lesson I have learned is to absorb yourself in the media, in each of your client’s sectors and read read read! This includes newspapers, blogs, social media, and attendance at industry events. Keeping ahead of your industry is also very important, so subscribing to industry newsletters and events to keep up with trends is vital to individual and company success.
Finding time to have a life! My work is very social so often the lines blur, sometimes I struggle to draw a hard line to separate the two.
Work hard play hard – this works for some but not for all. It’s important to know every element of your business (even if you’re not an accountant or bookkeeper, know how to fill out a BAS statement!). The best advice I can give is to have fun, act ethically.
Polkadot Communications has just been appointed the PR agency for The Empire State Building which is epic! We are so thrilled to be recognised as a boutique agency for this globally recognised icon.
I have also just launched a new business called Story Match which is disrupting the media industry allowing all brands no matter their size or budget a chance to connect directly with journalists via the Story Match App – it’s a free App that gives brands and journalists the opportunity to get noticed. It’s been a 2 year journey and we’re finally live on the App store now.
For ladies on the up, go oogle 😍 CHUCHKA's collection, Going Places - a range of neutral staples designed to support you making waves on campus, flying the corporate ladder, or rocking the mobile freelancer life.
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