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Emma Sharley

CITY: SYDney

Business: ES Consulting
What? a strategic brand, marketing and retail consultancy

Business: Shop You
What? a personalised shopping app matching you with brands that suit your style, using artificial intelligence

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1.         How did the idea for your business first come about?

 ES Consulting

Over the past few years, brand and marketing has changed at an incredibly rapid rate - and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Within my role at Westfield a few years’ back, I could see there was an opportunity to work with retailers who didn’t have the resources or time to build out sound brand and marketing strategies for their businesses. I created my consultancy for those after specialist strategic advice on a project or ongoing basis. Since launching, my work has evolved as the brand and marketing landscape has changed, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with brands such as Westfield, Showpo, Le Specs, General Assembly amongst others.

Shop You

From my time at Westfield, and during the first year of consulting, I could see there was an opportunity to create a better experience, for both the retailer and customer, when it came to shopping. Meeting my co-founder Kelly was the catalyst for Shop You. In 2016 we conducted some initial user testing and later that year, we won a place on Investible’s accelerator program which allowed us to build out the business concept further, and secure our first round of investment.

 

2.         When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go all in and start your business
I’ve always had ventures running on the side, my first business was a jewellery label that I ran while I was at university. But, my ‘f*ck it’ moment came when I realised I thrive off creating new ideas, products and services, and that I could be creating my own. I didn’t tell anyone about my plans to start my consulting business, aside from my parents and a few close friends. The day I resigned was difficult as I loved working for Westfield, had an amazing manager, and worked with some of the most talented people I’ve ever met - however it felt right from the moment I did it and I haven't looked back. I was fortunate that Westfield became my first client, and it gave me the perfect foundation to launch from.


3.     What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them?
Starting Shop You, I had expected it to be similar to starting a consulting business, however the journeys have been completely different and each have required a different skill set.

Technology comes with a mind of its own, and across the past year we’ve had some challenges - the most memorable, the day Apple approved Shop You and we went live in the App Store, McKinsey acquired our entire development agency (team of 12) in Malaysia, giving us ten days notice. So we went from popping champagne, to immediately working through a crisis resource plan.
 

4.         What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
Last week we introduced Shop You to market, and when I reflect on the launch it was definitely a “pinch me” moment. To think that over two years ago I was working as a Marketing Manager at Westfield, and what has happened since - starting a brand and marketing consulting business, working with top retailers in Australia and overseas, to lecturing and teaching, to taking my first board role, to writing for some of my favourite publications, to launching a second business in technology and AI - it’s pretty crazy. On top of that, the feedback we’ve had since Thursday from users has blown me away, and I am really proud of the journey behind this product.

When you love the path you’re on, it’s amazing how quickly new directions and opportunities come your way. There have been lots of smaller “did that just happen” moments, and I think it’s important to stop and acknowledge these, and realise that anything is possible with hard work, perseverance and passion. And it’s these “pinch-me” moments that make up a good proportion of the entrepreneurial fun.
 

5.         Starting a business can be gruelling -what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?
Working long hours is much easier when you’re passionate about doing things better or differently than you have before, as you’re constantly moving forward. I don’t like to repeat something that’s been implemented before, unless it’s for good reason. It means I’m in constant ideation mode, which I thrive off.

As the challenges pop-up, I view them as a lesson, or way to do something new.

Surrounding yourself with the right people is crucial - those who support you, those who challenge you, those who inspire you and those who make you laugh and have fun.

It also helps to work with great people and brands, who have the same vision and values as you do.


6.         What do you do to create a work-life balance?
For me, balance means healthy habits, and taking moments and set times to disconnect and refresh. Every morning I start with a run along the water, usually as the sun is rising at 5am, and before I check any emails or social channels. The half hour allows me to start the day clear, fresh and relaxed and gives me the energy to pull a 15-hour day if I need to.
I schedule every hour in my diary, including personal commitments - my calendar is colour coded to the max - but it helps me to prioritise the most important things each day, and keep the productivity high. 

Something I’m working on is taking the time to completely switch off, with two businesses it’s not easy, but it’s a goal of mine this year. I play 5-6 hours of tennis each week, which I absolutely love, and I’ve just put something in the diary for Easter to look forward to with friends and family!

Personal Quote

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. - Dalai Lama

 

If you are a fashion brand interested in partnering with Shop You, you can email Emma at emma@shopyou.com.au