Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
My background is marketing and branding. I worked in London as a marketing communications manager and brand manager for 10 years. We came back to Melbourne two years ago.
The story of Make Me Iconic starts like this……
It all started with an idea…well two actually. We returned home to Melbourne at the end of 2008 after an extended (10 year!) stay in Europe. Immediately we fell in love with the city again. How could you not? The city has so much to offer that is unique, stylish and contemporary we wanted something in our home that brought those elements to life. Sadly, there was nothing to be found. We had great souvenirs from London, but nothing to represent Melbourne – the city we grew up in and once again call home.
We knew we weren’t the only ones that love this city and guessed that we weren’t the only ones that wanted to take a part of it home. So the seed was sewn. We would find the best young, local designers to help us represent some of the unsung icons of the city. We knew what the icons were but didn’t know much about their history. So we decided to educate ourselves and our customers about the history of each icon and give them facts about what makes the icons unique. So with unsung icons and urban education in mind – Make Me Iconic was born, launching our first range of products in December 2009.
Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?
I love being my own boss and setting the work hours and the rules. I can sit at home and work from home without any make-up on. I can also sign myself off over the school holidays and make my own work hours around the kids schedule. I also just love complete creative freedom to do whatever I like which is great fun!
Where do you get your inspiration from when you design?
Basically the city of Melbourne keeps me inspired. It feels so good to be home again and it’s like discovering a whole new city all over again. I love all the quirky shops and the hidden alleyways. When I get time I love just walking around the city and taking photos. I also keep a scrap book of idea from things I have seen in magazines or photos.
What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
Organised, Prepared, Perfectionist, Tall, Busy
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
My first job was for a retail chain of stores at their head office in Melbourne when I was fresh out of Uni. My first job was sort of admin and visual merchandising but I was desperate to break out into marketing. At the time the company I was working with would not give the break that I wanted so the best thing I did was to quit and go to London. It made me so much stronger because it literally was sink or swim in such a huge city like London. I found my feet and I found a really nurturing environment of companies willing to give me a chance. It all payed off and I ended up being a brand manager for one the top 100 companies in the UK. A dream job.
Describe a typical day in your studio space?
Kids wake us up around 7am, get ready for school and kinder. We either scoot or walk to school. I then jump onto the computer and check my emails for store orders. Then check for internet orders. I then do any planning or product development that is required. Check current stock levels. Pick up one of my boys from kinder. We may have a play date or lunch at home. We then relax a bit before we have to get my other boy from school where we may have a swimming lesson or free time at home. I then get dinner ready for the family, finish any homework with the kids. Bed time and then I will jump back on the computer for a few hours.
As a Solo Designer, what is your biggest frustration?
I guess I am not a sole designer but more a solo entrepreneur. My biggest frustration is actually not enough time in the day! I wish there was someone there sometimes who can maybe pick things up when I have too dash off. I also miss just bouncing ideas of someone but my friends and family can step into that role for me sometimes.
Tell us about how you prioritise your studio work.
I guess store and internet orders always come first. I try to make sure my customers are always happy and that I delivered great service to them. Then I maintain stock levels. Without stock you have nothing to sell. Then new product development and marketing. But if something is urgent, I have drop everything and attend to that too. It’s a juggling act but works….
Since you are working at home, can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
Make Me Iconic selects young, talented, and local designers to capture the true essence of the city in all of its products. I remember what it is like just starting out, trying to get your first break. That’s why we want to give talented, young designers a chance. We recruit all of our designers from local universities and instead of looking for experience, we look for edge and skill. We pride ourselves on our designs and we work with a great team of designers to create them.
In addition to giving some of these designers some of their first commercial experience, the company also features them on its website and marketing information. “It is a great partnership. They help us create amazing designs, and we help them gain commercial experience and exposure.”
I post adverts up on University website such as RMIT and Swinburne. I then ask them to send in the CV and a pdf of their folio. Some students are then selected to have informal chat with me over a coffee.
What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?
The hardest thing is actually just starting and putting a “stake-in-the-ground”. Sometimes you get so caught up in the developing of the idea and how you are going to do it – and just need to press the button and go for it. The best advice I can give someone is to just make sure you product is differentiated from your competitors, always deliver great customer service no matter who they are and get to know who your customers actually are.
What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
I would love to open a store one day but we will see what happens with Make Me Iconic first. I guess at this point I feel like I have achieved a lot and I am trying to enjoy the moment now of Make Me Iconic without having to move the goal posts too far away….. I would also like to have a few employees one day with Make Me Iconic and a small office where we all work as close-knit team. Of course I would also love to travel more.
What is your proudest moment so far?
I love hearing stories from friends who tell me about my products and where they have seen them. The other night we were out in St Kilda and friends said they went to a house open for inspection in Armadale. And on their beautiful couch in the beautiful home were two of my Make Me Iconic cushions. I always get really chuffed hearing stores like that – of my products being used in someone’s home. It’s my small claim to fame!
Who do you most want to meet and why?
I would love to meet Natalie Bloom from Bloom Cosmetics. I remember when she first started with her candle making kits at least 15 years go. I would love to pick-her brain about how she started so small and was able to grow her business into such a successful company.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
It’s far worse not trying at all rather than to try and fail. I always like to just give something a go and just see what happens. I hate regret and I hate just wishing about something. The only way to turn your dreams into reality is to just try.
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
The book is a bit old but it’s always great to go back and re-fresh yourself. It’s called “Secrets of Female Entrepreneurs Exposed” by Dale Beaumont. I loved really the stores about how kikki.K first stated.