SIGN UP TO OUR DATABASE TO RECEIVE 10% OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER

How these 7 talented woman got organised & turned their passion into a profession

Starting your own brand is an exciting & terrifying adventure! I had the pleasure of chatting to 7 successful women from a variety of industries including fashion designers Viktoria & Woods, Illustrator Megan Hess, The Caker Jordan Rondel, luxe accessories designers 66 The Label and IN BED founder Pip Vassett about how they turned their passions into a profession...

VIKTORIA & WOODS

MARGIE WOODS - Founder & Creative Director & LISA REYNOLDS / Designers & Director

What was your job or profession before starting THE FASHION BRAND VIKTORIA & WOODS?

MARGIE: Prior to starting V&W I was the Marketing and Sales Manager at Australian label Metalicus.

LISA: I started as an assistant designer from handbag designer Elise Caarels, she was an incredibly passionate creative designer who was so encouraging and supportive of me to pursue a career in fashion design.

Why & when did you start V&W? 

MARGIE: I started Viktoria & Woods in 2003 –

After a long stint Australian fashion industry I had seen a gap in the market and this was how both businesses were born.  

Viktoria & Woods was born out of a desire to inspire women & deliver confidence through a considered and meaningful wardrobe. Originally, the collection centered on Australian made, Merino wool basics. From there it has grown into a broader offering that caters to a women’s busy and multifaceted lifestyle, whilst maintaining our core values of effortlessness, timelessness and modernity.

LISA: I was fortunate enough to join Margie in 2009 as co-designer with her, after she had already begun the label. Her strong vision and passion has always been incredibly inspirational and with this we also shared a love for fine fabrications and “timeless yet contemporary” design. In 2011 I then had the incredible opportunity to become her partner in the business, being a business owner makes it hard to shut off and leave work at the office, but it also the most rewarding feelings when you see the brand grow and flourish.

How did you get organised & prep/plan to be able to take V&W from a passion to a full time profession?

MARGIE: Already working in the Australian fashion industry, gave me the insight to not only know what I wanted the brand to be, but also how to grow it. It also gave me a sound knowledge on the business side and the design and brand development side.

From a simple idea and clear vision, a brand was soon born by consciously working with the people who had knowledge in their specific fields, as I never expected to know it all. Its the people around me that continue to make it all happen every day. My original business partner had a strong technical background and good supplier contacts. My sister’s graphic design background meant V&W could have a brand mark and identity from the start. Lisa Reynolds in 2011, became my partner, and was able to extend on this with shared vision for the brand. She now heads the design and production team.

I also think seeing the growth of a brand in stages can liberate you to focus on what is crucial for its growth at that time.

LISA: For me the journey was a little different, as I joined the team full time before becoming a partner, but that leap was still as substantial one. I was always incredibly committed to my role but once becoming more invested in what you are doing on a whole new level. It is very different from just heading into work Monday to Friday, you not only need to be prepared emotionally but also business-wise as there is so many elements to your role from that can range from accounting to people management to be equipped for.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt along the way?

MARGIE: It's always tempting to look at what others are doing in your industry or field but you need to stay true to your gut and vision, people appreciate authenticity and it will serve you well. This is true for all aspects of a company I believe.

LISA: There’s been quite a few and we keep learning every day, for me it’s been that you cannot lose focus on any part of your business. It can be a challenge to balance time between being creative and managing the business, if you feel that something is not quite right, 99% of the time you are right and should go with this. All the elements affect each other, be it from design and development to business function, so keeping all on track at the same time is incredibly important as one cannot work without the other.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs thinking about turning their passion into a profession?

MARGIE: Learn as much as you can about the profession or industry that you are endeavouring to work in before jumping in – and ask for advice and help along the way. I am still in constant contact with mentors and collaborators I have worked with over the years, they are assets that are invaluable to me. 

LISA: Work hard but still try to have balance from business to personal life. Also surround yourself with inspirational people from different fields and learn from them before you go out on your own. Most importantly to me though is love what you are doing, it may sound a little sentimental but if the passion is not there, it will be harder on those late nights, or weekends, when your business needs your attention.

Follow Viktoria & Woods: WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM

An-Organised-Life_Megan Hess.jpg

MEGAN HESS

FASHION ILLUSTRATOR

What was your job or profession before becoming a full time illustrator?

I was an Art Director.

Why & when did you start your famous fashion illustrations?

I studied Graphic Design because it felt like a ‘real’ job in the art world, but really always wanted to be an illustrator – I just never knew back then that it was a possible career choice! After working as an Art Director in Ad agencies for several years I packed everything up and moved to London. It was in London that I worked in a million different creative jobs and in my final job there realised that I had a burning desire to be an artist. At this time I’d became the Art Director for Liberty Department Store. Whist I loved art-directing fashion I loved illustrating it more. I started to do very small illustrations for Liberty and from this art directors saw my work and little commissions began to follow. After about a year I found myself with non-stop work. I wasn’t earning a fortune but I’d never been happier and I knew I was going to do this forever.  

As my clients got bigger and better I was able to be a little more selective and just work on briefs that I knew had a great creative opportunity. Then in 2006 I got a call in the middle of the night from Candace Bushnell’s publisher asking if I would illustrate her next novel ‘One Fifth Avenue’. This was when things took off at rapid speed for me. Her book became a New York Times bestseller and I met with Candace and she asked me to illustrate all her previous books including the cover of ‘Sex and The City’. Once ‘Sex and the City’ was released I was contacted by TIME magazine in New York to create portraits for them.. Following this, I began illustrating for Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Dior, Cartier, Vanity Fair, Italian Vogue, Prada, Fendi….. Ironically, at thesame time as my work finally took off I had my first baby!! Its funny, I always tell people that I haven’t really slept since 2006!!  

How did you get organised & prep/plan to be able to take your passion to a full time profession?

I have always strongly believed that I’ve needed to work in a beautiful space in order to create beautiful illustrations. In the beginning I worked from my dining table in my tiny apartment - even still I had to always make sure the apartment was clean and tidy so I could focus and work! Then I progressed to a little studio space that was separate to my home. It was still small and potentially an uninspiring space but I made it look quite beautiful. Finally…I’m now in my dream studio space! It took years to get here but its such an absolute joy to enter my studio each morning. Its all white with touches of gold. I have all my favourite giant original illustrations hanging on the walls. My desk is my favourite part - I have all my special things from travels, my favourite pens and papers, personal note cards… I genuinely get excited to work at my desk of a day! I’m a total nerd.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt along the way?

Enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Sometimes I think we spend so much time getting to the next thing that forget to stop and enjoy the process of getting there.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs thinking about turning their passion into a profession?

I really encourage anyone to make their passion their day job. If it seems impossible, I suggest you start working on your dream job whilst you’re still in your day job. Get up early, stay up late and work in it while you have another income. Some people have the financial freedom to switch careers but most people don’t (I certainly didn’t) But you have nothing to lose if you put the effort in. Better to have tried than to always wonder what could have been.

Follow Megan Hess: WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM

IN BED

PIP VASSETT / DIRECTOR

What was your job or profession before starting IN BED?

I was a freelance stylist for around 8 years, working across editorial at Yen magazine where I was Fashion Director, along with a mix of advertising & styling musicians. I also wrote content for a few brands blogs & websites.

Why & when did you start IN BED?

I launched IN BED in November of 2013, about 10 months after dreaming it up. I was getting a little tired of styling – as most freelance stylists will tell you 90% is running around prepping shoots or returning clothes! The part I really loved, the concepts and creative elements, were only making up a tiny part of the whole picture. So I knew I really wanted to try to do something else, something that was my own thing and that I had total creative control over (also working for other people wasn’t sounding so appealing after 8 years of freelance life!)

At the time I’d become pretty obsessed with home wares & interiors but I couldn’t find a home wares brand (or bedding brand specifically) that I identified with. It was either super high end and unattainable, or a bit mumsy/shabby chic! There was no cool, clean brands for homewares like there were for fashion – like an A.P.C or a Bassike.

So I guess I identified a bit of a gap in the market and then went full pelt trying to turn the idea into a living, breathing business!

How did you get organised & prep/plan to be able to take IN BED from a passion to a full time profession?

I think my organisation skills were more along the lines of controlled chaos! I could have planned and prepped a lot more than I did. In reality, I was very lucky that I could continue my freelance work while growing IN BED – working on the brand on days or evenings off. But it got to a point where I just couldn’t do both and finally had to give up the freelancing – which was scary. Both because it meant this little start up had to support me and also that it just really meant it was all real.

In hindsight, if I had of planned & prepped a little more I would have realised earlier it would be fine to go full time a lot earlier and that it wasn’t so scary after all. I’m big into planning now – I love a cash-flow chart and project management apps like Asana!

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt along the way?

Don’t be in such a rush. Not to say you should dawdle and take 2 years to make a decision, but don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once and be all things to all people. It always works best if you start with something (be it a product or a service) that’s small and tightly edited, but really clear in its message. Then build on that.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs thinking about turning their passion into a profession?

Do a lot of research and ask a LOT of questions along the way even if you feel stupid. Never just nod along if you don’t know what someone is talking about - you’ll never learn.

Also make sure you’ve ticked all the legal stuff off the to do list early on – register your business name and check trademark registries to make sure your not infringing on anyone else name etc.

And lastly – go for it! Working for yourself on something you love is the best thing ever, I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

Follow INBED: WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM

An Organised Life_ Jordan Rondel from The Caker_Shot By James Lowe_WEB 3.jpg
An Organised Life_ Jordan Rondel from The Caker_Shot By James Lowe_WEB 5.jpg

THE CAKER

JORDAN RONDEL / Founder

What was your job or profession before starting The Caker?

I worked part time doing retail at both Kate Sylvester and Karen Walker while I was studying at university, in order to make some pocket money. But I started The Caker in my last year of uni so launched straight into this career, which I imagine I will be doing for the rest of my life!

Why & when did you start The Caker?

I started The Caker in 2010 when I was 21. It was born out of a true love for baking cakes and also from wanting to run my own business. It started as a blog which became a vehicle for selling cakes, and almost over night it seemed to become a full time job. I have never looked back.

How did you get organised & prep/plan to be able to take The Caker from a passion to a full time profession?

I'm a very organised person by nature, and I'm constantly writing lists and planning things. I rely on using google calendars for meetings and deadlines, and scrawl any recipe ideas, and ingredients shopping lists in a little notebook. I think this inherent need to be organised helped me stay focused on turning my passion into a career.

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt along the way?

I've learnt that in order to get further, you need help! It took me a long time to accept this as I thought I could do everything myself, but now we are a team of 7, and I can't imagine how we would function with any less of us. In fact we could easily do with more help now. It seems the more help you get, the more you need because it allows you to evolve and grow. 

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs thinking about turning their passion into a profession?

Work hard and stick at it, don't get too money hungry, and always hark back to why you started doing what you're doing - because you love it. There were so many points along the way where I could have given up, but my passion remained strong, and I just worked really, really hard.

Follow The Caker: WEBSITE / THE CAKER INSTAGRAM / JORDAN RONDEL INSTAGRAM

Imagery by James Lowe

66 THE LABEL

ROCHELLE FLYNN / Creative Director & Designer & KELLIE GAGE / Operations Manager & Designer

What was your job or profession before starting ACCESSORY BRAND 66 The Label?

ROCHELLE: Graphic/web Design and Creative work

KELLIE: Business management, Fashion management

Why & when did you start 66 The Label? 

2014, we saw a gap in high end, premium quality products that were still affordable. We always knew we wanted to work for ourselves and build a business. We had different skills, but the same drive and work ethic, so together we were the perfect pair. It’s been one crazy idea after another, extreme hours and a lot of stress...which always turns to laughter though!. As of 2017, 66 The Label now offers a variety of edgy, minimalistic wool, leather, silk & straw essentials. 

How did you get organised & prep/plan to be able to take 66 The Label from a passion to a full time profession?

We just made the choice… we knew we had to put 100% focus and effort into this if it was what we really wanted. The risk was high, but worth it. Not sure how much prepping or planning I did/do (haha). Kellie runs a tight ship keeping us on track, always setting goals, lists and plans for the brand and for us individually. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learnt along the way?

Perfectionism is a curse!

You have nothing to loose, by giving everything and everyone a go!

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs thinking about turning their passion into a profession?

Always have a clear vision and 3 year plan/goal. Be certain about what you are going to bring to your market and how you will do it.  Know that it will test you and your relationships but the journey is so rewarding and an incredible accomplishment every time you hit those milestones!

Follow 66 The Label: WEBSITE / INSTAGRAM

← Previous
An Organised Life with... Georgia & Kieran
Next →
An Organised Life with... Lana Hopkins from Mon Purse



Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published