Thursday, May 5, 2011

Inspired by a simply gorgeous designer

Continuing the series of profiles on sucessful women who have inspired me in business, it's my pleasure to introduce you to the simply gorgeous, Sarah Thompson of Style Me Gorgeous.If it wasn’t for me stumbling across Sarah's humble little blog back in late 2009, I would never have discovered her amazing work and I would not have been introduced to the work of the incredible Amy Atlas, which changed my life!
Ever since 2001, I had carried around a picture of an all-white dessert table which had featured in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. I don’t know why I was so obsessed with it and it wasn’t until some eight years later when I saw Amy Atlas’ website, I knew this is what I was meant to do.
And of course, after I found Style Me Gorgeous, there was no question about the fact I would ask Sarah to design the branding for Eye Candy Events. It’s funny how things come full circle.
Sarah is a talented graphic designer who can create business branding, logos, websites and more but has more recently launched a series of party printables which are taking mums and dads by storm. Eye Candy Events has used her printables here and here for dessert tables.
Sarah shares her experiences of being a WAHM and where the inspiration for her work comes from.

Why did you start your own business?
After having my first son Jack I couldn’t bear the thought of having to leave him at six months old and go back to work, and I had always wanted to have my own business so it was time to go for it!

Who/what inspires you?
My boys - Jack and Max, Donna Hay, Amy Atlas, Sharnel Dollar, Stacey Sullaphen (Sunny Mummy), my mum, my friends, and all the blogs on my blog list! (hundreds of them)
What are the biggest lessons you learnt in your first year of business?
That sometimes I just have to say 'no', the world/my career won't end if I do, hehe.
I also learnt the value of social networking and blogging for business. As much as it is a distraction from doing my actual design work, facebook is great for business, it helps spread your name about, you can keep clients and likers up to date with new designs, special offers etc
What is the toughest thing about running your own business?
Trying to find a good work vs life balance, and having the will power to turn off the computer, close the studio door and give my family attention. Sticking to scheduled work hours is hard, I always work more hours than planned.
How do you find the right balance between family and being a WAHM?
It is a constant struggle trying to find that balance. I am yet to meet another WAHM who has found and maintained that balance. I've accepted that it will always be hard to juggle work and family, but I know I am lucky to be doing what I love, and to be doing it from home.
Best business advice you’ve ever received?
When I'm feeling stressed about work a few simple words from my beautiful friend Stacey (the original Sunny Mummy!) is the best medicine, i.e. 'if you've lost your mojo you need some time away from work to just be YOU! The world won't stop turning if you take a few days off. Turn off the computer, get some sun on your face, watch a movie with the kids, have a deep bath, read a book, eat some choc ....'
How important is social media to your work as a WAHM?
As mentioned above social media is very important to my work. I like to be professional but also show a personal side of my business and let people get to know me a little through my blog and through Facebook. Facebook is a great way of sharing information quickly.
As there are a lot of experts in your field – and a lot of copycats - how do you ensure you stay ahead of the pack?
I am guilty in the past of spending too much time getting bogged down in the negativity (copycats) of the online world and dwelling on things I should be ignoring, but as my business has grown I've become more confident in myself and my abilities ... so these days I do my best to focus on what truely matters ...creating and being with my family. When I keep my chin up and focus I do better (it also helps when I'm not stressed out, the creative juices flow much better!)
What excites you about the work you do?
The feedback from customers gives me such a great feeling, it is so rewarding creating a new brand for a client and feeling their excitement and enthusiasm. With the party printables side of the business, knowing I can help make such precious occasions that extra bit special is fantastic too.
Also, all the inspiration everywhere excites me ... there is endless inspiration for children's parties and my to-do list is never-ending because of it, I really do need an 8th day in the week!
What has been your best day in business/highlight of your business so far?
I was asked by Sharnel Dollar to design printables (buffet labels, wallpaper, choc wrappers, straw flags and tags) for the baby shower in Melbourne hosted by Oprah! I caught a half a second flash of one of the buffet labels on the Oprah show too, hahaha!
The other thing is, it has been a long time business goal of mine to be in a magazine, and I'm so excited to say I am, and it's in my favourite baby and kids magazine ... Little One Baby!
Favourite three blogs or websites?
Hostess with the Mostess blog, Amy Atlas blog, and 1oo Layer Cake.
Any final words???
Happy birthday to Eye Candy Events, wishing you the very best for the future. xx

Thank-you Sarah for sharing your experiences and inspiration. You have inspired many parents in celebrating their children's special events and designed simply stunning branding for many other mothers in business. You continue to be a source of inspiration for me.

Next up, meet Naomi of Hello Naomi who creates the most divine cookies and cakes you ever did see.

kikki.K shares her tips for success

Today, as promised, I'm sharing with you the first in a series of interviews with amazing entrepreneurial women who have in some shape or form inspired me in business. First up, is Kristina Karlsson of kikki.k ...

It was a little article about kikki-K published in the ANZ bank’s In Business magazine in 2004 followed by a chance meeting with the woman behind the name in her flagship Chadstone store a couple of years later that stirred a desire in me to start a business.

What Kristina Karlsson had to say back then really resonated with me and I still have that article pinned up on my desk today! And, in case you are wondering, yes, my desk is adorned with many colour-perfect kikki.K items.

kikki.K is undoubtedly the leader in couture stationery, everyone has heard of or seen her products and she inspires many work at home mums (WAHMs) whose home offices are adorned with her super-stylish and perfectly colour-coordinated products.

The Swedish-born stationery queen, who has numerous business accolades to her name, came to Australia in 1995, opened her first store at Melbourne Central in 2001 and today employs more than 400 staff in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

I asked Kristina, a mother herself, if she could share her tips for business success.

Why did you start your own business?
I started kikki.K when I set about setting up my own home office. I had recently moved to Australia, and was used to gorgeous home/office products at home in Sweden. I quickly discovered that they weren’t available here. I really wanted my office to be an extension of my personality, just as the rest of my home was. So I designed my first range. And it started from there!

Who or what inspires you?
Everywhere. One thing I’m never short of is inspiration and ideas! Like any creative, I never switch off and am always looking for sources of inspiration. Travelling home to Sweden is something particularly inspiring for me. Just spending time with my family and friends, going to cafes, restaurants, the beach, galleries and exploring the beautiful Swedish landscape ... has me bubbling with ideas. I’m also constantly reading magazines from around the world, blogs and beautiful books.

What are the biggest lessons you learnt in your first year of business?
No matter how attached you become to your business, at some point you must realise that you can’t do it all on your own. You need other people who you can delegate responsibility to. Then you have to work together with a clear goal or focus in mind.

What is the toughest thing about running your own business?
I just love what I do for work so I find myself working very long hours – which is often very fun and very satisfying – but leaves me needing a little more time for other important things.

Best business advice you’ve ever received?
Do something you’re passionate about. It takes up so much energy, so I don’t think anyone could succeed in doing something they didn’t truly love. Have a strong, clear vision. When times get tough your vision has to be strong enough to pull you and everyone else though. And most importantly, have fun!

How important is social media to your work?
Very important. We have a dedicated following on Facebook and Twitter. It enables us to communicate directly with our customers on a daily basis. It’s a great form of interaction, and to get their thoughts and feedback and share news as it happens.

As there are a lot of experts in your field –and a lot of copycats - how do you ensure you stay ahead of the pack?
kikki.K products are very much aligned with fashion. From colour, design, materials and textures – we move with the seasons and constantly have new products arriving in store. Looking at stationery as a fashion accessory is quite unique – however it’s something I truly believe in. Another differentiator is our level of customer service. We aim to deliver “world class customer service” every time, and I think this is unique in that there is not a lot of great service out there.

What excites you about the work you do?
Designing and developing new product. I get so excited and inspired doing that. It’s such a rewarding process to start with a blank page and create beautiful objects that people use every day and come to love. Then to be in one of my stores and see people’s reactions to them is just so much fun. On a personal level that gives me masses of enjoyment.

What has been your best day in business/highlight of your business so far?
Receiving awards and opening new kikki.K boutiques are always huge highlights as is being nominated for the 2010 World Retail Awards and winning the 2010 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southern Region. But it’s also the simple things, like being told by customers how much they love the products. There really are a lot of stationery addicts out there – and we see them in kikki.K stores every day!

Favourite three blogs or websites?

Any final words of advice?
Don’t say no, say how.




I'm so grateful for Kristina taking the time out of her busy schedule to give an insight into her business success. She is inspirational and a truly fabulous businesswoman. Thank-you, Kristina.

Next up, meet Sarah Thompson of Style Me Gorgeous.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Eye Candy Events turns one!

Wow! What a big news week it has been. As a journalist by trade I love big news stories, so in keeping with BIG news, I’m pleased to report Eye Candy Events has turned one!

This time last year, not only was I pregnant with my second daughter, hideously ill with all-day morning sickness and working full-time but, I began working on a little hobby I had and look 12 months later here we are.
To mark the occasion, instead of celebrating with cake (because let's face it, after having my second baby, I'm on a perennial diet!), I want you to meet the people behind the businesses that inspired me to create Eye Candy Events.
Some you will know and who need no introduction as they are the leaders in their fields, and others are women who I am proud to call my friends and who inspire me every day.
Stay tuned - each day this week I will shine the spotlight on a talented woman in business. I have no doubt they will inspire and excite you as much as they have for me.
You’ll hear from a robot programmer, a gorgeous designer, a fabulous fresh new photographer, a custom cake creator, a dessert table designer and undoubtedly Scandinavian's stationery superstar.
What an incredible year. Thank you to each and every one of you for support and encouragement. I am excited about the year ahead and can’t wait to show you what Eye Candy Events is working on next.

Photo credits: Cupcake from here and pink balloons from here.