As any small business owner will tell you, turning a passion project into a livelihood is no mean feat. Here at Xero, our driving force is helping dreamers become doers. How? By enabling small businesses to do beautiful business. Which is why our partnership with Finders Keepers – a design market that features the work of over 1200 independent makers and designers from across the country – is a perfect fit.
Complete with a festival atmosphere, Finders Keepers combines design, art, great food, live music and a real sense of warmth and community spirit all under one roof in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In a show of support for innovative new retail businesses, Xero is the proud sponsor of an area dedicated to debut market stalls.
Creating, growing and discovering a whole new market
First-time Sydney stall owner, Tania Robinson of Southern Wild Co, wants to be the antidote to kitsch Australiana. As the creator of luxury candles and scented goods that capture the raw beauty of the bush, she says, “We felt there was a gap in the market for a product that reflected the true Australia, that wasn’t done in a tacky way. Our co-founder, Hannah, and I have arts and literature backgrounds, so we wanted to create something with essential oils and native scents that allowed us to work with local artists and poets.”
Tania has attended Finders Keepers as a shopper right from the very beginning, but this will be her first time on the other side of the market stall. “We’ve only been up and running since August last year,” she says. “At the moment, everything we do is a test, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to get the product in front of people and see their reactions first-hand. Also, it just looks like so much fun!”
Another excited entrepreneur debuting at the Sydney market, Ally Mahoney of Minouche tells how she grew her business from idea to reality, “It’s such a cliché, but it all started with me sewing clothes for my children while I was on maternity leave. I enjoyed the whole process so much that I ended up opening an Etsy store, sewing while the kids napped and late into the night. Before too long it was to much to handle, so I decided to outsource production to a small team in Bali.”
The joys, struggles and learnings of running a small business
Both Ally and Tania have plenty to say on the joys of running a small business. “It’s so fantastic to have your own business to put your entire heart and soul into. I have a branding background, so I’d spent 20 years doing what other people want. Now, we’re the stakeholders so we get to make all the decisions. It’s really satisfying to watch it grow,” says Tania.
To that, Ally adds, “The flexibility that running a small business offers is amazing, especially when raising a young family. The sheer variety means I’m constantly learning and never bored – my day’s work can include design, fabric sourcing, customer service, marketing, social media, and more. I’d be hard pressed to find such variety in a regular 9 to 5 job.”
Despite her growing success in the highly competitive world of children’s fashion, Ally notes the pain points that come with the wins. “I never switch off (although I’m trying to learn). Other than that, the biggest issue for me is cash flow management – all the bills seem to come in at once and often we aren’t paid for stock for months after delivery. I’m still learning how to manage this.”
Tania adds, “Time is the biggest factor at Southern Wild Co. We’re both still working our other jobs; that’s real life right now. Every single spare minute we have is put into the business, which is why we use platforms like Xero. It has saved us so much time by being the ultimate one-stop shop.”
She continues, “I personally find accounting and the numbers side of it incredibly boring, I just glaze over. But I love the way Xero looks – the interface is really intuitive. The thing that we love the most is the dashboard where you can see the big picture all on one screen. Now we can understand everything at a glance.”
Similarly, Ally has discovered that Xero allows her more time to do what matters: running her business. “Before I signed up to Xero, I was doing all my accounts on a spreadsheet. It was a huge mess! Xero was so easy to set up, and now I know where everything is going. It also allows me to send invoices quickly and easily, and to automate payment reminders – which I love. I recently spoke to an accountant about working together, and he breathed a huge sigh of relief when he found out I was using Xero!”
A Finders Keepers Sydney stalwart, Alischa Hermann of letterpress and couture stationery makers Bespoke Letterpress explains, “We’ve now used Xero for a number of years and have found more and more ways of implementing it to streamline the numbers side of the business (which is totally not my forte). Finding ways to simplify the complex allows us more time for designing, creating and hanging out with our little ones.”
When asked why visitors should get down to the market, Alischa says, “Over the years the events have grown from strength to strength and continue to offer the most amazing platform for startup creative designers thanks to that Finders Keepers magic. The fusion of fresh design, and old timers like ourselves makes an incredibly empowering experience for both the maker and the buyer!”
Sydneysiders, don’t miss the chance to support small business and find yourself a treasure or two at the AW19 Finders Keepers Marketat The Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve, on 3–5 May.
Melburnians and Brisbanites, you’re next: find out when.