June 18, 2015
Bio The path that led her to this point
After attempting uni - in a career direction that I didn't want to go in - and working in a variety of industries, I went travelling.
While overseas I decided that when I returned I would follow my heart and study the one thing I always wanted to do - Interior Design and Decoration.
While I studied part-time at The Design Centre Enmore, I tried my hand working within different aspects of the design industry.
While it was hard work to balance full-time work and study during the evenings, it was fantastic to build a variety of skills.
I always knew I would run my own business, I just didn't anticipate it starting while I was still studying.
I started freelancing as 'Kate Abdou Design' when I had the opportunity to work for a client with the dream brief and budget.
With that, my career in design officially began and I set up my business that continued for a few years, on the side of my full-time work.
I then eased off to work part time - the ultimate security blanket of a freelancer!
It was at this stage, that I started to develop a niche business, Designer Man Cave that has taken on a life of its own.
It was when Designer Man Cave started to thrive that I could cut the cord of part-time employment and became 100% self employed.
It was at this time that I delved into my niche of spaces for men. Once DMC was up and running, the thought of starting an online store went from the back of my head, to front and centre.
I love giving gifts and through all my work in the mens industry, I saw a gap in the market.
There are plenty of amazing products out there for men beyond the 'typical guy gift' and I wanted to put them in one place (in a very stylish gift box!) and make life easy for anyone who had to buy a present for a man they know.
In June 2015, Man Mail was launched.
Now, I run the 'brother-companies' (as I affectionately like to call them) which keeps me busy, motivated and loving life.
Q&A Insider advice & tips
What's been your greatest achievement to date?
Creating my own online store! I knew nothing about e-commerce or retail. It was a very different field and business model to the service based design I'm used to.
It was 6 months and a big investment of time, research and money, but I backed myself from the very beginning, stuck to my vision and made it happen.
What's been your biggest challenge so far?
The transition from employment to self-employment was the biggest decision and risk I've ever taken.
I realised it was never going to be the "right time" and I was never going to be as financially secure as I would have liked it to have been. It has been a roller coaster but the payoff of living my dreams is invaluable.
Best lesson you've learned along the way?
Know that it's OK to make mistakes. You can't possibly ace everything involved in setting up and running a business. It's a big gig!
A business coach gave me some great advice that, "Every time you make a mistake, you NEVER have to make that mistake ever again". Don't beat yourself up. Learn from it and keep going forward.
A website, book or resource that has helped you in your business or inspired you and why?
I have so many! For creative inspiration and images I head straight to Pinterest.
My two business coaches Monica Davidson from Freelance Success and Phoebe Hook from Soulful Warrior are angels in my business life.
For a great read and personality testing, 'Now, Discover Your Strengths' by Marcus Buckingham is a must for anyone running their own business.
Which person or brand do you most admire and why?
He's about as entrepreneurial as it gets and I think he's amazing - Richard Branson. His ongoing incredible journey, innovation and determination is truly inspiring. Branson has grown his business from nothing and his values and philosophies remind me that work should be personal, fun, emotional, passionate, caring and instinctual.
What advice would you give someone starting an independent business in your industry?
Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle. There are amazing people doing amazing things and while it is aspirational to watch these competitor empires, it can also create an overwhelming feeling when you're at the beginning of your business. Everyone is on their own journey, so stay authentic to your passion, brand and outlook. One step at a time!
Finish this sentence
Everything changed for me when…
I realised "love" was the key.
It took a few years of running a business to realise this, but the moment the penny dropped that everything comes from love (personally and professionally), it rocked my world and changed it forever.
I'm not talking about romance and relationships here, I'm talking about passion from deep within, spending the majority of your time doing things you enjoy, surrounding yourself in jobs, projects and people that at the end of the day, make you happy.
It is about being your most authentic self and embracing who you are and staying true to why you are on this earth and what it is you can give.
Love is a knock on effect - it starts from your own heart and transfers in everything you do and also to other people.
Creating Designer Man Cave and Man Mail has come from the heart, which I think, is the best place for a business to come from.