WHAT DOES IWD MEAN TO YOU?
Without women, we wouldn't have a business, a brand, or that buzz in the office every lunch time. With a business dominated by women, IWD is a time to stop and recognise the talent we have at Billini across every department and a time to remind all the passionate women in our team that they are our backbone to the brand’s success. One of our core values is progression, and today we celebrate this as we encourage all the women in our business to continue to grow and achieve their goals, however grand they may be.
HOW HAVE YOU CRACKED THE CODE TO SUCCEED AS A WOMAN IN BUSINESS, FROM THE INITIAL STAGES OF STARTING THE BUSINESS TO TODAY?
As a young university student working in fashion retail, and passionate about following and interpreting the latest runway trends (on a shoe-string budget), I quickly recognised a gap in the market for fashion forward footwear at an affordable price point, one I was determined to fill. I set out to build a global brand that not only offered fashion and accessibility to consumers but also one that brings meaning and purpose to women by helping them feel amazing and the best versions of themselves.
I quickly set about educating myself in footwear design, supply, and business in general, and at the same time completed a double degree at university, however I wouldn’t say this shaped my career as a businesswoman. It laid the foundations for running a business, but the practical side is another world in itself, which takes years of experience to master, and I am still learning every single day. Running a business has a lot to do with mindset, and most certainly involves an element of risk taking, however my biggest strength would be the determination and passion I have for creating a brand with purpose!
Aiming high, forward planning and working closely with a talented and passionate team is also a key formula around success today!
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED AS AN ENTREPRENEUR AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I have faced many challenges and learnt many lessons over the years, however what’s important is ensuring you learn and grow from them. My biggest challenge was to learn all there was to know about footwear from initially having next to no experience, which involved securing the right partners and offshore suppliers, as well as frequent overseas trips at such a young age to manage the design and quality processes that are vital to the success of any brand.
Whilst the business was very young and reliant on me, I had my first son which was a huge challenge. I will never paint a pretty picture about how hard I found this period in my life as I was unable to switch off, go on maternity leave or handover to someone else. I had no choice but to juggle being a new mum and the demands of a fast-growing business, both challenging and full-time jobs! With the support of my amazing family, a strict routine for my son, and some reluctant delegating, I ultimately found the balance between being a business woman and a loving and supportive mother to three incredible children.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE CONSIDERING STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
I am a big believer that if you have enough passion and determination to succeed, you can do anything you put your mind to, so I would encourage other women to launch their own business, however this needs thorough research, planning, strategising and ultimately hard work!
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR WORK-LIFE AS A FULL-TIME BUSINESS FOUNDER & MOTHER OF 3?
Balancing being a mother of three and a fast paced, growing business is a daily challenge. Yes, I manage (sometimes barely) by being super organised, planning out my days and weeks in advance, as well as utilising my amazing support network, including my mother who pretty much dedicates every spare minute she has to our family. I am forever using calendars, reminders, charts, task management tools, routines, and everything else in between to keep running this tight ship! Ultimately, my children come first no matter what, even though I set very high expectations of myself and the guilt is real, I try not to be too hard on myself.
OVER THE PAST 14 YEARS OF BILLINI, CAN YOU SHARE A SUCCESS YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
The opening of our own retail boutiques is one of my proudest successes. Brand awareness was strengthened almost instantly with exposure across key Australian shopping destinations including our first flagship store in Sydney’s CBD, soon followed by Melbourne Central and Pacific Fair in Queensland. We now have 25 retail sites across Australia and growing, with international expansion not off the cards!