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Susanna Qian

CITY: MELBOURNE

Business:  The Pom Pommery
What? Handcrafted pom pom and curated faux faur accessories. Dedicated to making the world a fluffier place, one pom pom at a time.

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How did the idea for your business first come about?
I've always been crafty but sewing machines hated me and I didn't trust my fingers with knitting needles. One year I was at a music festival and I saw a girl with pom pom earrings on. It was bold, colourful and feminine. I kept staring at them! That was the eureka moment that led to The Pom Pommery. I became obsessed and it took months and a few sleepless nights to refine the process. Originally it was going to be just an Instagram account dedicated to the pom poms that I made but one day someone asked to buy a pair and that’s when the entrepreneurial bug bit me.

When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go all in and start your business.
I’d been comfortably selling earrings via Instagram for about a year and was slowly building my e-boutique store, but it never felt like the right time to push the site live because it wasn’t perfect. My f*ck it moment happened last year at Techformation by the League. Gretta van Riel, the founder of skinnymetea, Fifth Watches etc was on stage and she said something along the lines of “Stop trying to make everything perfect, you need to just go for it and figure it out as you go. You can plan and plan but something will always happen that you didn’t anticipate.” I think she made the skinnymetea site in a day! That’s when I told myself that when I got home, I’m going to push The Pom Pommery live. Best decision ever.

What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them? 
My biggest challenge has been juggling a full-time job with my own business. Staying organised and time management are areas I am constantly trying to work on so that I can find balance. Balance is definitely something I struggle to achieve because when I’m focussed on something, whether it is my job or The Pom Pommery, I don’t want to stop. Finding the discipline to say no is not easy. It’s important to remind yourself to take a rest and unwind. It’s easy to get burnt out when you take on so much; it’s so important to be aware of your own limitations and not to overcommit.

What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
Definitely my Vogue article that was published last year. It was amazing how it happened. I was at an event and as luck would have it, I sat next to Zara Wong, the Fashions Features Director of Vogue online. She reached out to me not long after and a few months later there it was!  

Starting a business can be gruelling -what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?
Fear of what things could have been if I didn’t try. Fear of regret, fear of looking back and thinking “No, I didn’t try my best, fear of thinking that was an opportunity that I didn’t grab. Fear of giving up too early. Growing up, my mother has always encouraged me to try anything I wanted and not be afraid of failure. I like to think that, instead of growing up to be a special snowflake millennial (a term that’s often been used to describe my generation) I’ve grown up to believe in myself fiercely and not afraid of sacrifice and hard work. There are definitely days I waver and I want to throw in the towel but the network of friends, family and mentors around me keep me grounded and my head above water. Starting your own business, really tests you, but each time you overcome that voice in your head that thinks you can’t do it, you get a little bit stronger, a little bit tougher and you’ll find the grit to keep going.

What do you do to create a work-life balance?
I’ve started bullet journaling this year and so far it’s been working pretty well at helping me to stay organised and therefore find some balance in life. I don’t do the doodling and the pinterest-worthy drawings because I don’t quite have the patience or the talent, but I do use the system of rapid logging. It allows me to not get overwhelmed by everything I need to do. It also helps keep me in check, I tend to think I can do more than I can with the time that I have, bullet journaling has helped me realise that I do have limitations and sometimes I have to say no to work so that I can go and enjoy the sunshine.