How did the idea for your business first come about?
I'd been working in community newspapers for 7.5 years as an advertising sales rep. I loved working with small businesses, and helping them grow and evolve. The community newspapers were owned and run independently by my mother Gaye, so there was lots of room to be creative, opportunities to learn and really connect with our clientele, many of whom had been with is for over 14 years. Starting LOIS. was something that Gaye and I developed together. I desperately wanted something of my own. I wanted to feel validated in my knowledge that I was good at my job (not just because my mum thought I was) we discussed developing a 3rd publication, one that I would run. We tossed around a few ideas until we realised there was a huge gap in our marketplace. We ran FREE community newspapers, why not create a FREE women's magazine using the same formula?
When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go all-in and start your business?
After realising there was a gap in the marketplace and that we had the resources and connections to really pull it off (with minimal start-up costs) we thought "Why the hell not? Why not us?" It was also evident that this was something we were called to do. After a couple of wines (as you do) I was having a conversation with my mum over the phone, we were discussing names for the upcoming publication. We wanted it to be something unique, bold and simple. After about 30 mins I said "Mum, I have an idea for a name but it's quite personal. I'd like to call the publication..." and before I could finish my sentence she was finishing it with me. "LOIS." we said out loud, almost in unison. Lois was my Nanna, and my mother's mother and was the kind of woman that embodied our desired readership base. She was a woman that become empowered through life's adversity. That moment solidified it. The magazine wasn't just an idea anymore, she had a name, not just a name an identity.
What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them?
Working with family always comes with a unique set of challenges. Although we had always worked together well in the past the dynamic of our relationship shifted as I became the magazines editor and creative director. We both struggled with the change, we had very different views on what the publication would be and I was unrelenting in my determination to have it all my way. There were plenty of arguments, lots of tears and we would often hang-up on each other (only to have one of us call the other back and apologise 5 mins later). It was tough. This was a huge hurdle for us to overcome and impacted our work & family life. We finally sat down and discussed what it was that we wanted to achieve from LOIS. and most importantly what our individual roles would be in achieving that. Once we defined our roles, and talked about our fears surrounding the project things became a lot easier. It was a challenge that always needed re-defining especially as the publication grew, however as of January 2018 I took over the business with Gaye becoming a key stakeholder. Again this has been another shift in dynamic but one that sits well with the both of us.
What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
The biggest "pinch me" moment was when my idol Tina Arena appeared on our cover. It was only our 3rd issue. I stood in my bedroom and crying, laughing and calling my mum (we have a shared love of Tina). My husband thought I was mad!
Starting a business can be gruelling - what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?
My motivation comes from our community. We have created a publication that truly connects women and it's something I am incredibly proud of. On the tough days something will happen to remind me why we are doing what we are doing, it might be an email, a message on social media or an invitation to an event. We give women a platform to share their stories without fear of sensationalism and that is something special and so rare in our industry.
How do you create a work-life balance?
Ha! Next question? Honestly I believe that balance is bullshit. A friend of mine once said that "Life is a case of selective neglect." That resonates with me. Even as I write this.....my washing stays unfolded on the couch, my dogs need a walk and the bed needs making but those tasks can be neglected, at least until tomorrow.
Words of Wisdom / Personal Quote
Use fear as a catalyst. If it truly scares you, you're onto something wonderful.