As we celebrate our 10th birthday in small business, I’m looking back on what I’ve learned along the way. Everything from day-to-day operations hacks to how to balance business with motherhood. I hope my answers encourage you to take a chance on your ideas, give yourself a well-deserved break, and invest in loyal, reliable team members to share your business success with.

Continue reading →

Running your own small business: it’s not all sunshine and roses (or awards and profit). Ask anyone who runs their own business and they’ll probably (hopefully!) say the same thing. I believe that part of the LH Agenda mission to empower the leaders of tomorrow is sharing insights to our own business and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. In this article, I share the great, and sometimes uncomfortable, realities of entrepreneurship and running a small business, and give you practical tips to start using in your business right now.

Continue reading →

Love it or hate it, working from home is the new normal for many of us. It has plenty of upside: less time spent commuting, easier to juggle pick-ups and drop offs (if you are lucky enough to be picking-up or dropping-off rather than home-schooling) and you can even squeeze in the odd load of laundry between meetings and tasks.

On the other hand, it can be really hard to get started, to stay focused and to switch-off at the end of the day.

Never fear!

Continue reading →

Rochelle Courtenay, founder of charity Share the Dignity and nicknamed Australia’s ‘Pad Lady’, is a big believer in using the power of storytelling to inspire men and women to make a difference to the lives of women often fleeing from domestic violence or homelessness. She talks to LH Agenda about how she started Share the Dignity and what keeps her working tirelessly for women who don’t have a voice.

Continue reading →

Major media placements can be a boon to entrepreneurs. They increase brand awareness, build credibility, and generate massive amounts of traffic and sales. To give you a competitive advantage, below is a step-by-step checklist that teaches you how to go about securing media coverage without spending tens of thousands of dollars on hiring a PR firm or onboarding a freelance publicist.

Continue reading →

To say that launching a start-up is challenging is an understatement. Particularly when you throw a horrific Australian bushfire season and a global pandemic into the mix.

Frustration with ill-fitting swimwear, that often compromises quality and durability for fast fashion, is where Ellenny Swim began. Most women dread shopping for swimwear, and I, Megan Davis, was one of them. I noticed a gap in the market for swimwear designs that were sun-safe, supportive and sustainable. A brand that caters to the ‘average-sized’ women.

The launch of my eco-conscious swimwear label was delayed not once but twice. Back in January, the bushfires first delayed my progress and soon after COVID-19 sent the world into a spin. Now that it’s spring and we are coming out of COVID-19 hibernation, Ellenny Swim is already growing a strong online presence.

Here’s four lessons I’ve learnt since starting Ellenny Swim.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It is often expected you should know everything about the industry before starting your business, although this isn’t usually the case. I had little fashion experience, but I had a clear idea of what I wanted my product to be. As a graphic designer, I have an eye for design and a strong attention to detail. I knew where my strengths were.

I knew the importance of creating a strong visual brand was essential to connect with an audience. My skillset was an ultimate strength, but I knew I had many gaps I needed to fill. Realising very quickly that I couldn’t do it on my own, I sought help from business mentors, manufacturing agents and garment designers.

I joined a number of business groups to learn from the advice and experience of other business owners. Also, don’t underestimate the power of social media. I have collaborated with female models and influencers on Instagram that have continued to grow my strong online presence.

Resilience is key

Launching Ellenny Swim was a really challenging time as I had already bought all the stock but had to keep delaying the launch. I kept finding myself back at square one as disaster after disaster hit. Like most businesses this year, I had to shift and find other ways to get my brand out there.

Despite all of the hurdles I faced launching Ellenny Swim, my passion for the brand never faltered. Maintaining a clear goal in mind for my label helped me stay motivated and on track through those tough times. The reason I created Ellenny was to fill a gap in the market.

I wanted to create a brand that aligned with my personal ethos of being as environmentally friendly as possible. I can also empathise with women of all shapes and sizes that are often let down by brands that don’t cater to them. I’ve always been curvy and have felt frustrated with swimwear that doesn’t fit properly. I’m very proud to help women feel confident and empowered while relaxing by the pool or beach.

Be patient – it’s a long process

I was determined to create swimsuit designs that were sustainable and durable, instead of producing fast fashion that only creates more problems for the environment. However, I didn’t realise how complicated the process was from idea to prototype. It’s much more complicated than other clothing garments.

I had to be patient. Sourcing an eco-friendly fabric manufacturer took time. My research led me to Carvico – an Italian textile manufacturer that uses recycled old nylon products such as discarded fishing nets to create material that is perfect for swimwear.

There were many features that I wanted to include in my designs that took time to perfect. We’ve all experienced swimwear with removable pads that scrunch and fall out, so I wanted to create a secure rashie design with a built-in-bra that didn’t move around in the water. It was also important to me that my designs provide strong support while also being sun-safe with a UPF50+ rating to block out 98% of the sun’s harmful rays.

Once I got the samples, I tested the swimsuits on myself for at least six months, to make sure they survived the harshest conditions. I tested them in chlorine, salt, 45-degree Celsius temperatures and ran them through the washing machine to ensure they were durable and didn’t fall apart.

Despite the lengthy process, I have created a product that I am incredibly proud of. A range of swimwear designs that are high quality, eco-friendly, flattering and durable.

Support other business owners

I couldn’t have launched Ellenny Swim without the support of other small businesses. I feel very proud to support a whole line of small businesses, particularly in Australia, who are benefiting from my business.

Supporting women in business is also very important to me. I worked with a number of business owners and leaders, some who are also mothers, that helped me navigate the process.

 

About the author

Perth stay-at-home mother of two, Megan Davis is a former graphic designer who created a brand aligns with her personal ethos and is environmentally friendly. Check out Ellenny Swim.