This month we are introducing Amanda Thompson, Co-founder of www.emballage.com.au
Amanda Thompson is the co-founder of one of Australia’s newest and up and coming, classic online gift store dedicated to women driven BY women. Although only being in the digital game for just under one year, with Amanda’s drive, intellect and style, Emballage is only expanding and growing. Her innate tact for business and strategy is the driving force behind the success of their site. Still within the early days, Emballage has only touched the surface of their vision.
Keep an eye out for just how far these girls will go!
It was such a pleasure interviewing Amanda, from the girls here at Work It Girl, we only know this article will really touch your hearts and trigger your drive. #gooprah!
Do you believe anyone can learn to be a successful entrepreneur? Or do you believe it is a technique/art that you are born with?
If you asked me a couple of years ago I would have been more inclined to believe it is quite innate. However I believe the scope of what it takes to be an entrepreneur has changed. It takes a lot more than drive and self-belief. Thanks to social media and technology the barriers to starting your own business have significantly dropped. There is a greater need for analytical types in my opinion. I guess at the end of the day anyone can fail it is the people that keep picking themselves back up that will eventually succeed.
Fearful, strong, empowered? Scared? Tell us about how you took the leap.
I had always wanted to launch my own business but the timing never felt right. After I finished my MBA I worked for two different start-ups and it gave me the confidence to go out on my own.
How did you find the transition from Employee to Self-employed /Entrepre-her?
For me it was not an immediate transition. I went from a large company to a full time MBA student to working for others start-ups. So I was already used to working without the resources of a big company. It was a great platform to test marketing executions without having to carry the risk myself. I found it pretty easy to cope as I work well autonomously. The biggest difference is I am now spending my own money, as we are still mostly self-funded. I worked out how much I was willing to invest and didn’t look back. Being a student again taught me how to live more of a budget lifestyle. I still love quality things I just buy less of them. I do miss my ability to travel but I know I will do that again in my life so I’m happy to give it up to work on the business. Something has to give; you cannot have it all at once.
Amanda, you are the co-founder of Emballage and you strongly believe it is very beneficial to work in a partnership in business. Explain the positives of working with your business partner Elaine Tiong and the advice you would give women going into business together?
I cannot say how much I love working in a partnership. There is always someone there to bounce ideas with and on bad days you pick each other up. I remember the day we launched and our website crashed shortly after we had sent out the live email. We just sat on the lawn and had some champagne. There was not much else we could do! We may have shed a tear but we also laughed. You have to!
Elaine and I work really well together we have never had an argument. At the same time, we are not afraid to challenge each other. When we first started we planned our partnership from the worst-case scenario; it would not work. As morbid as that may sound it allowed us to work back. I think it is really important to remove all emotion and consider all possible situations that could arise with your business partner. There are loads of resources on the Internet. For instance we identified early on neither of us liked confrontation but we both pledged if we were not happy with something we would just say it.
You spend more time with your business partner sometimes than anyone else so it helps if you genuinely enjoy hanging out together. It is very helpful to have different skills but I would never choose a business partner solely based on strategic reasons.
Where do you source your inspiration and perseverance for your business in general?
It is really important to touch base with people that understand what you are going through. I live next door to my Dad (who owns his own business) so we often have a chat about different ideas. I also read a lot of stories by successful entrepreneurs I look up to. I remember when I started I read Natalie Massenet’s (founder of Net-a-porter) Instagram page @nataporter_mystorysofar where she journals her journey of entrepreneurship from home office to global empire. Sometimes when I am having a down day I call people in my life that remind me of the greater picture. Keeping your mental health in check is so important. If I need a day off I just take it.
What mental barriers did you overcome to start your business?
Honestly for me it was finding the confidence and not second-guessing myself. I really do not enjoy the energy and politics of a corporate environment. It seems stale and a little dated. It is early days and like anything I see myself as a constant work in progress. I also said to myself if this does not work what would I do? As funny as it sounds a Plan B gave me confidence. In the long term you regret what you never did, not what you did do. So if you want to start out on your own, I cannot promise it will work out but I can promise it will enrich you in the long term. You can always go back to an office job if all else fails.
Work-life balance is crucial. How do you maintain this? Or do you?!
I do. It is really important to me as nobody needs a burnt out business owner. Of course we have busy periods and in these times there is not much balance. The gift business is cyclical so we know when our busy months are and I plan lots of down time in the other months. If you prepare early for the busy periods you should be okay. I respect everyone’s business is different and if your business is heavily deadline driven it can make it difficult. I know some people can pull 18-hour days but I need my beauty sleep!
What vision do you have for Emballage in the coming new financial year?
Emballage only launched last Christmas so it is still super early days for us. We have made so many mistakes already and learnt so much. We are changing our business model to reflect what we feel our customers want. It is crucial to not hold onto your ego or things that you might have been passionate about but just do not work. In the words of Frozen, ‘let it go’. Without revealing too much, Emballage will take our audience into a Cinderella land of romance and high fashion.
Who is your go-to power woman for inspiration and why?
I take different qualities from different women in my life. I like good humans who are successful. Any stigma that you need to be a horrible person to be successful I reject. I admire people that genuinely use their position to advocate positive social change. Go Oprah!
To purchase these beautiful luxury gifts (and enjoy the finer things) please visit www.emballage.com.au