Innovation, reinvention, disruption, creativity, community… The women behind five fabulous local businesses share the motivation and ambitions that drive them.
Skye Molyneux – Bleux
With 25 years of industry experience Skye has built a dynamic design company with a distinct signature style. She is owner/director and creative director of the studio and leads design direction, client liaison and brief and product development. A long-time Redfern local she is a passionate and engaged community advocate and the founding member of CLOSE, the group behind the successful campaign for an inner city high school in Sydney.
I’m motivated by … People. I love working and living with good, interesting people. I go to work because I love the people I share the day with and I come home to my family and neighbourhood that I love. If you have a whole bunch of great people in your “bank”, you can draw upon them for help, advice and… good times. I’ve never been motivated by money or success – these can be the outcome or result of doing well. But if they were my key driver, I’d be doing stuff back to front.
I make noise My mum has always contributed at a community level: giving blood, doing Meals on Wheel (with two toddlers!), covering books in the school library, working in soup kitchens etc. She set a great example of service to others. I’m a little more on the front foot than Mum. I guess my time in San Francisco as a student informed me to the “stand up and fight” attitude. So when I see something that needs fixing, I make a noise. Someone accused me once of being a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). I had to disagree because I actually WANT stuff in my back yard. In my mind, there is a difference between complaining and pushing back retrospectively, as opposed to seeing stuff and moving to proactively fix it. That’s what happened with campaigning for a high school in the inner city. [Inner Sydney High School opened this year thanks to the efforts of Skye and the team at CLOSE – Community for Local Options for Secondary Education.]
Keep it local I made the decision years back to produce here in Australia – to support our manufacturing industry, protect our IP and control the quality. Yes, it meant it was much more expensive however it meant we could do really bespoke design and turn around production much quicker. As a result we have a niche product that can’t be copied offshore the way many other products have been. Hopefully our new print business – Bleux Print – allows us to have even more control, do more R+D and make product cheaper to produce.
Learn to lead Be principled, disciplined, ethical and set a good example because the way you run your business should be the same as your family. At work and home, there are expectations, chores, rewards, discipline, scheduling, boundaries, meetings, difficult conversations… and lots of fun to be had. I basically employ the same skill sets to manage two very different groups of talented people.
All things being equal The kids are doing fine – they are the ones pulling us along!!! It’s actually our parents’ generation I worry about. The boys correct us all the time for our outdated views and the language we use that supports inequality. The best thing we can do is listen to our kids because they have some really great insights. I remember asking my youngest about a gay kid in their class “when did he come out?” And he looked at me strangely saying “What’s ‘out’.?” And I explained it’s when gay people announce they are gay. “What?!?! Who does that? He doesn’t have to make a big announcement – he just is…!” At that moment I knew that things had changed and for the better. Bleux.com.au
Rebecca Yazbek – co-owner, NOMAD, Surry Hills
Interior architect Rebecca Yazbek is co-owner, with her restaurateur husband Al, of popular Surry Hills restaurant NOMAD. Due to a fire at the Foster Street eatery last September, they are currently operating *up the road, in the old Longrain site in Commonwealth Street.
I’m motivated by … My children and my team. My children give me focus and drive. My team make me want to always strive to be better – for my team, suppliers and community to be proud of what we do and what they’re a part of.
I’m passionate about… … Supporting local businesses and producers and I am angry about the lack of leadership in all aspects of climate change. At a micro level, it is so heartening to see individuals and small business do what they can to live with integrity and to do what they can to reduce their footprint on the earth. I choose to spend my money personally and in business on supporting local producers who have the same philosophy around the environment and ensuring the future viability of our food bowl in Australia.
Pivotal moment The fire that destroyed NOMAD last year I would say has been pretty pivotal. But out of that has shown what an incredibly talented team we have at NOMAD, and the support from our diners, suppliers and local community has been incredible. We would not have opened *up the road in less than six weeks without a huge effort from hundreds of people.
Keep on keeping on You hear more “no” than “yes” in business. But no does not mean stop trying! Nothing is impossible and more than likely the outcome will be better because you’ve fought harder for it. Perseverance is the key attribute I find in successful business operators.
The way forward We need to continue our education as a nation on equality. Whether it is between men and women, different ethnicities or sexuality, we as humans need to stay curious and learn more. Travel more. Education is the key to overcoming inequality in my mind and the only way we can expect people to stand up against it. www.nomadwine.com
Good Day Girl co-founders Alexia Spalding and Sophie Pollitt
The women behind this slow fashion brand are kicking big sustainability goals every day and having fun while they’re at it. Their ethos? “We design for the every day. We like functionality and pockets. They are pieces that live well, travel well and work together. We make it differently, taking a slower approach. We create two collections a year, it’s only available made to order. You get your size and we leave no waste for mother earth to wear.”
We are motivated by… Meeting and getting to know our clients – they are definitely the main source of inspiration and motivation for business – designing functional, wearable pieces that meet their style of life needs and hopefully makes getting dressed easy. Small business is challenging, you have to stay nimble and forever curious – it’s a continuous learning process – and that’s what makes it interesting – not a dull day! We are also motivated by life, a love of it. Make every day a Good Day!
We leapt into action when… We saw the amount of waste that the fashion industry creates and knowing that not much was being done about it…Learning about the slavery and poor working conditions prevalent in some sectors of our industry. Believing we could make a difference by exploring a made-to-order manufacturing model that eliminates the waste issue and working directly with our manufacturers to ensure everyone involved works in a safe environment. We are also very inspired by the Fashion Revolution movement that urges us, as consumers, to ask ‘who made my clothes?’ And organisations like Dress for Success, Sydney and the Salvo’s Moving the Needle program.
The aha! moment Sitting in an outlet centre in late 2012, with seasons of stock surrounding us. We looked around and thought, look at all this waste – so it inspired us to create a new business model that could address the issues around mass manufacturing.
Find your people Keep going – persistence is key. And make sure you have fun along the way – otherwise there is no point. Find other like-minded business owners that you can share your highs and lows with and brainstorm ideas. We became a certified BCorp a couple of years ago and love the community – we’re also always on the look-out for collaborations with products and businesses aligned with our GDG values. Together we’re stronger!
Walking the talk There is a lot more conversation from a younger age about equality, definitely more so than when we were at school. We hope that awareness and guidance can create an environment where equality is the norm. We must lead by example as best we can.
gooddaygirl.com.au Shop the Winter 2020 collection until March 14th at the Paddington salon, 31 Norfolk Street, or online.
Fay Halkitis from Luna Beauty & Apothecary
Fay Halkitis is a qualified naturopath (Herbalist, Nutritionist) and Beauty Therapist who combines a unique range of qualifications to practise her area of special interest, Naturopathic skin health. Her wholistic approach questions what we put into and onto our bodies, and her delightful shop is fast becoming a wellness destination.
A genuine passion for what I do is very motivating. I truly believe there is no better investment in life than good, nutritious food and I love sharing information with my clients. I also learn so much from my clients which is inspiring and pushes and motivates me to keep learning and growing as a person and as a business.
It all began when… Having experienced problems with my own skin in my early 20s after ceasing the oral contraceptive pill, I was prompted to reassess my diet and lifestyle in order to heal myself. This led to me wanting to study Naturopathy and make a career out of it. Once I started researching the quality of the food I was consuming, it was an organic transition to consider the quality of ingredients in all the personal care products I was using too. The biggest benefit I have noticed is that I simply consume less but better-quality products. Using plant-based skincare and cosmetics has really streamlined my routine and I just don’t feel the need to hoard product anymore. Many of my customers say they feel the same way! Once you step outside your front door, you have no control over what you’re exposed to. However, you can lighten the toxic burden on your body at home starting with your bathroom cabinet, pantry and fridge.
Pivotal business moment I had a pretty good idea about what I wanted my business to look like in terms of the services on offer, products and branding but a pivotal moment was finding the space. I always knew I wanted a bricks and mortar space and seeing it come to life [at 545a Bourke Street Surry Hills] was challenging but magical.
What I know for sure Word of mouth is the best way to grow so you can’t beat amazing customer service and attention to detail. In a world where most industries are saturated, you need to find your point of difference. lunanaturopath.com
Kristina Ammitzboll from Pigna
Kristina Ammitzboll was born and bred in Copenhagen, Denmark. She left for London at age 18 to study Graphic Design and pursued a career as a creative in the world of branding and advertising. This fine occupation took her to Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and finally Sydney where she now lives with her daughters. Kristina founded her jewellery business PIGNA in 2015. Her designs are influenced by childhood memories, adventure, nature, storytelling and spirituality – and her grandfather’s vast mineral collection. His library contained her favourite a book, Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. “For me the best scene is where the expedition arrives in the glittering gem cave. It’s a place I often go to in my mind.”
I’m motivated by… Quality, Freedom, Beauty and Love. In business and in life. For me they are all connected. They all demand courage and an open heart.
Living by example The deaths of loves ones and the births of my children certainly cemented my beliefs in many ways. If an activist takes action then my actions would be to seek more out of life, not settling for less and following my heart. Activism starts with ourselves and I hope that by living by example I can help make a difference or inspire someone. I believe that every individual can make a difference and have a voice and its our responsibility to use it. Small acts can be enough to make a big difference, as long as we all do them.
Follow your instincts I suppose that STARTING Pigna was pivotal, but like most of the big decisions in my life I felt I had no choice. From ideas and shapes to reality. I had no training, just instincts and a knack for making. I felt a little bit like a fraud until I recognised that I actually had gift for creating beautiful jewellery. Accepting the importance of this talent was a big realisation for me. It made me much more confident in my capability. For too long time I underestimated that beauty can be healing, empowering and transcending. Not anymore. Aside from that, there is no doubt that being recognised and stocked by Bassike absolutely elevated Pigna into a serious brand. They believed in me before I did!
Be your brand You are your brand, so be clear about who you are and what you stand for. Clarity equals strength, which is needed every single day. It’s better to apologise than to seek permission. You can’t be everything to everyone.
Next gen My daughters are better prepared than any generation of females to insist on equality. But is it even about equality, as much as appreciation of females and a shift from the patriarchal society into a more balanced view of what both sexes (especially females) have to offer.