Mel from MissMel started her own business six months ago in a bid to spend more time with her son. Like many mumpreneurs, she was drawn to the idea of having her own flexibility. Here, she shares with us the reality of having her own business…
What were you doing when you decided to create your own business?
I have ‘dabbled’ at businesses throughout my life, always knowing I was aspiring to be an entrepreneur. Prior to Missmel I was a General Manager in medical IT, and prior to that worked as a National Sales Manager with wholesale aquarium fish. Have had many ‘jobs’ and have worked for Federal Government.
What inspired you to start the business? When did you officially start it?
Missmel was launched in October 2011. I was inspired to start a business to bring fashion online at affordable prices. As a curvy girl myself I was striving to ensure I could buy fashion at affordable prices.
My Son Oliver is 5 and I have worked so hard through the years as a single mum in the corporate world that I felt I didn’t know my son enough. I felt like he had missed out. I wanted to ‘get to know’ him & be part of his environment when he started school in 2012. Starting my own business was the answer to give him the time by being in charge of my own flexibility.
In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) “I think I deserve something beautiful”.
What was your start-up cost? How did you acquire the money and what did you use it for?
As a single mum I started up with what I was paid out when I left my job, added to the tax cheque. That was it. My gorgeous parents have loaned me a small amount to buy stock. Total costs for start up was $15K, this included office equipment, website and stock.
What was the biggest obstacle?
At times my over enthusiastic nature. I get excited and do not always make the right decisions. I have had to overcome this (& still work on this) to ensure I think before I act – or buy!
How did you rise above the tough days? Those days when people said no, things fell through or someone said they didn’t “get it’’.
- I look at my son, talk with my partner (we do not live together – boyfriend just sounds so childish to say when your 40 ) , speak with my parents or friends.
- Get away with family for a couple of days to refresh the spirit
- Grab a Pepsi Max – my addiction.
- My web designer and friend Mandy has always been a great sounding board and provides me with great feedback and support.
How long did it take for your business to become profitable?
Well, we are still in the loss part of the profit and loss sheet, we are not quite 6months old.
What do you love most about being your own boss? What is the downside?
- Love the challenges, thrills, laughter and even the tears.
- Love the community it has built of gorgeous, beautiful women who share the journey with me.
- Love the knowledge that I can help with reading and tuckshop, take my son to swimming classes and spend time with him
- That I feel as though I am making a difference and providing options
- That for the first time in my life I can finally say I Love Me and what I do.
- Downside – knowing my faults and having to work with them as there is only me. i.e I constantly want to do more, provide more…patience is not my virtue.
How have you been using social media to grow your business?
Without Social media my business would just be a faceless website without personality. With Facebook (primarily all that I use at present) I have been able to give Missmel the personality, the passion and the power.
Social Media has assisted me to build Missmel from 1 fan in Sept 2011 to (just this minute) 6000 fans in March 2012.
How have you been using public relations to grow your business? What strategies have you used?
I have not used any PR – but I hope to. It is time with the re-launch of the new website & the launch of retro.missmel
Where do you work from?
Home, in Brisbane QLD or wherever my laptop and I go.
Who are your entrepreneurial role models? What’s so inspiring about them?
I have not had a role model to inspire to be. What has inspired me was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. It challenged me and took me on an inward journey of discovery. Whilst working in the Public Service I worked for a dedicated and powerful lady whom I then modelled qualities off over the years.
I am inspired by everything around me, and that would include people like Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Diane Von Furstenberg, my Parents and my Son Oliver.
How have you acquired the skills and knowledge you have to make your business successful?
Through my years of employment, I have worked at many levels and have always strived and learnt from those around me. I read (when I can), trawl the internet and ensure I take part in webinars, or download information. Currently in business coaching.
What’s the best piece of business advice you ever received?
Do not be afraid to ask! No matter what!
What is your favourite product/service that you offer?
Loving the retro lines as they are classic, sexy and suit a woman’s body! I am also a shoe diva…personally own 89 pairs so loving all the new shoe ranges I am getting.
The retro lines also enable me to bring styles in sizes that have been previously hard to get so enables me to show women of all sizes how flattering and sexy they are.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Find your passion and then believe in yourself. “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
What were the reasons for you starting a business?