Bio The path that led her to this point
One of my earliest memories as a child was watching my mother sew at the dining room table.
This was when my love affair for sewing began – before I even knew how to sew.
For years I would collect silk and lace fabrics, here and there, with the idea that ‘one day’ I would use them to make something beautiful.
Growing up, I was always encouraged to study hard and do well at school.
I graduated with a double degree in Communications and Law at university and found myself working full time in the Australian Public Service working on the environment and climate change programs.
Perhaps it was because my parents were small business owners, but I never felt that the nine-to-five office life was something I could do forever.
It was when I travelled overseas on my own that I decided that I would do something about my career and where I wanted to take it. When I returned home, I decided to pursue my interest in sewing.
But first I had to overcome a minor obstacle – I didn’t know how to sew! After buying a new sewing machine, which I named Percy, I soon became obsessed with my new hobby
I found myself up late every night creating clutch purses, silk flowers and beaded headpieces. These pieces were made from the stores of vintage fabrics and materials I’d been compiling since I was younger.
Three days after setting up a storefront on Etsy, I made my first sale.
I can still remember jumping up and down with sheer excitement.
Things snowballed from there and before long I decided to venture out and build www.percyhandmade.com.
Learning the promotional and business administrative parts of running a fashion label has been challenging, rewarding and critical to expanding my brand.
Every day I am learning something new about streamlining processes, how to better engage with my customers and position my business to grow.
I’m really excited about where Percy Handmade is going, and despite the busy days, I always look forward to taking the time to search far and wide for beautiful fabrics and to learn from my customers about what they are looking for to complement their wedding day look.
Q&A Insider advice & tips
What's been your greatest achievement to date?
Waking up every morning knowing that I am pursuing something I love and I am building something exciting for the future.
Early on, most of my clients were from the USA, UK and Canada but it has been great to also see Percy build a presence with local brides within Australia.
What's been your biggest challenge so far?
I would say my biggest challenge so far has been managing the growth of Percy Handmade while staying true to my core principles – a focus on high quality products that are handcrafted with an attention to detail.
This is an exciting growth period and although it’s busy I am loving the new opportunities and the new sources of inspiration they open up.
Best lesson you've learned along the way?
One thing I have learned along the way is the importance of a business plan. You don’t need to have a formal document to begin with but you do need a strong idea of where you want to go and how you want to get there.
My business plan has evolved and changed as the circumstances around me have changed. As I learn more about my customers, my industry and how I want to do business, I am better able to plan and focus on key areas.
If I had my time over again I would have dedicated more time to business planning sooner.
A website, book or resource that has helped you in your business or inspired you and why?
Two things - I really love to blog and I love Pinterest. I have found both tools have been a great way to engage with my customers, share inspiration and showcase my products.
Which person or brand do you most admire and why?
Seth Godin, an American entrepreneur and marketing genius. His views and insights have taught me so much about strategic thinking and understanding my customers in an ever changing and competitive environment.
What advice would you give someone starting an independent business in your industry?
Be true to yourself. Understand who your customer is, what you’re about and how you can best provide value to them, and then some.
Finish this sentence
Everything changed for me when…
I found the courage to look beyond the nine-to-five ‘day job’ and I realized I could pursue a passion and live a creative life.