What do you get for the Mum who has everything including the kitchen sink?
Easy – tell her you’ll do the washing up! Don’t feel wishy washy about it though, I’ve found a bunch of super-cute dish tools tools that turn the drudgery of a full sink into a daily happy scour!
What do you do? What do you make/sell?
I am a scientist by profession with a P.h.D in Molecular Biology and had various jobs in science before having the light bulb moment and becoming “The Sponge Lady”! I now design and sell designer kitchen sponges.
I was washing the dishes one morning and looked down at the bright yellow ugly sponge and thought to myself “This sponge is so ugly!” “Why hasn’t anyone modernised it to suit our beautiful kitchens?” and I guess that is when I had the light bulb moment!
Why and how did you sell your first product?
I would have loved to manufacture the kitchen sponges in Australia, however, I couldn’t find any manufactures that make the cellulose material, so I had no choice but to make them overseas. My Sweet Citrus Mojito dishwash detergents that have just launched are manufactured in Melbourne which is great.
I initially sold my products online and then started selling wholesale to boutique supermarkets and boutique homeware and gift stores around Australia, New Zealand and internationally.
Who was your key support during the fledgling stage of Barkly Basics?
My partner was my key support in the early stages and still is. He is my investor, co-director of my company and my life partner. He is a barrister at law and always points out what can go wrong and keeps me on track!
How do you manage your time so well?
Working for yourself is great, but you need to stay motivated and manage your time wisely. I plan my days as much as possible, try and stick to a routine that works and at the end of the day try and have some “me time”.
How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
It was quite easy to distinguish my products from other products on the market. It was a simple colour change and package design that really made the difference.
If you could have given yourself a piece of knowledge or advice when you started what would that be? Be careful who you choose to manufacture your products. Not all manufacturers have the same idea as you when it comes to quality control. I often have to re-check products before sending them out. This takes extra time and effort. You want to avoid double handling as much as possible.
Which opportunities should you have followed?
I have had many ideas over the years and in hindsight, I should have followed most of them! Seeing others making your idea a reality is the ultimate confirmation that your thought process and your instincts are on the right track. It’s having the courage to follow them through is the hard bit.
How do you conquer any moments of doubt that threaten to stop your great ideas? What pushes you through?I have had many moments of doubt. It usually occurs during the “development phase” as it can take quite a long time. For example, the sponges took over a year to develop and during this time, I had a lot of time to overthink the whole concept and started doubting myself. The key is to work on other projects/ideas in the meantime to occupy your thought process. This usually works well, especially for me. Also, having a support network that believes in your ideas and your ability to make it happen also helps a lot!
Righto, time for some fun stuff.
What is your ‘uniform’? What do you wear more often than anything else?Anything in black! I love black. It makes me feel sophisticated, strong and slim all at the same time! Jeans and shirt are my workwear staples. My work is quite physical. I pick and pack and deal with boxes full of products on a daily basis. Not at all glamorous!
What is your favourite thing to wear to make you happy?
I love dresses. One piece that is so quick and easy to wear. I like to dress feminine but I am a real tomboy at heart.
Thanks so much Natasha, for sending me such a gorgeous box of kitchen goodies to play with, and for taking the time to share the secrets of your success!
How fab are those monochrome Barkly Basics pieces? And how much does loving your cleaning gear make a difference to the drudgery of cleaning?