Avery Verse was founded by an Australian husband and wife team, Taylor and Christie Cook.
WeAreTheCity chats with Christie for her top tips, future plans and advice on how to overcome setbacks.
What inspired you to start a business?
I wanted to start a business so that my work life wouldn’t have as many limitations as it did when working for other people. When you start a business, you get to dabble in so many different tasks; design, admin, marketing, social media…all of those things are typically done by different people or departments when you work for someone else. Having the freedom to try my hand at a number of different skill sets is really rewarding and keeps things interesting.
I also wanted to start a business purely because I thought I could. People always talk about how difficult it is to start a business so that turned me off doing it for a while but in the end, if it’s what you really want to do, then you’re probably the best person to do it, despite any difficulties.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The greatest challenge in being your own boss is feeling like you’re never done with work and there are never enough hours in the day.
I would say the challenge is trying to use time effectively so that the brand can become known to the public relatively quickly. It’s a real challenge to get your name ‘out there’ on a large scale when you’re a new business.
On the other hand, the greatest reward in being your own boss is that all the success is yours too…and I find that even little successes in business motivate me to keep going on to achieve bigger things.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures.
Goal setting; it’s really important to know what you’re aiming for in specific terms. Just wanting to do well is far too general. Is doing well a certain number of sales or greater publicity? If so, what methods do you have in place to achieve that? What’s a realistic time frame for achieving those goals? Researching typical patterns in your field of business for start up and growth will definitely give new business owners a better idea as to what realistic goal setting is about.
As for managing successes and failure…well; early successes in a start up feel like a big relief as they signal potential stability which is pretty uncommon to begin with but managing success later on requires quite a bit of planning. It’s also about being able to ‘forecast’ potential problems with your growth so that you can keep succeeding.
Managing failure is a different beast altogether. I hate to say it, but I think I’ve learnt more from my failures and mistakes than I have from my success.
Failure helps a lot of people to really scrutinise what went wrong. Identifying what went wrong so that there’s not a ‘next time’ is essential to managing failure.
It’s also really important to realise that failure doesn’t define you unless your self-worth is wrapped up in your business success. Even though you put your whole heart (and most of your wallet) into a new business, it’s really important to detach yourself from it emotionally when things don’t go well otherwise, you sort of paralyse your ability to think clearly, move forward and solve the problem. There’s a natural tendency to want to wallow in sorrow when dealing with failure but unfortunately nobody gets paid to wallow.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
The biggest challenge faced at this stage of our business is dealing with the public’s perception of vegetable tanned leather. Generally speaking, people are concerned with environmental issues but they have very little practical knowledge about how they can make an eco-friendly choice when shopping. Most people know that they should cut back on energy consumption in their homes because that’s a message they’ve heard for years through various campaigns.
Shopping eco- friendly is not a familiar message. People aren’t aware of the massive amount of damage done to the environment through popular chromium (mineral) leather tanning. This challenge is further compounded by the fact that we’re a new business so our credibility as a ‘voice’ in the field of accessories is yet to be established.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
Mentoring or coaching; in theory I’m all for it but in all honesty, I haven’t had a coach or mentor. I’m always happy to ask advice of more experienced people but I haven’t narrowed in on any single person in a significant way at this point.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
Networking is essential in ways that might surprise. Networking often gives you greater access and insight into similar businesses and hearing other entrepreneurs stories can spark solutions and ideas you may have never considered. It’s also a good way to get your brand greater public awareness.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
Planning for and managing growth is the best ‘problem’ a business can have. For Avery Verse, planning for growth means knowing what our maximum capacity is regarding production. As our bags are hand-crafted, there’s only so many that can be made in a month so we need to find more artisans who can produce to our high standard.
That’s just one aspect that we must plan for but by thinking about it now we’re in a position to grow as we move into department stores and some of the larger scale operations available to a luxury brand.
We already have the capacity to ship and stock our bags anywhere in the world but should any link in our supply chain fail or cease to grow with us, this could slow things down so we plan for that by finding additional suppliers wherever there’s a need so that they’ll be ready to help when the time comes.
What does the future hold for you?
I think that the future holds great success for Avery Verse. What we offer is a fresh perspective on a stale industry and what we bring to the table is an exceptional luxury handbag that any fashionista would love while being so much more than a typical luxury brand.
This holistic approach to fashion has been called ‘refreshing’ so consistently by our customers from nations all over the world and that means to me that we’re in a position to provide something women simply aren’t getting from other luxury experiences.