Female Figures #6 - Carmen Strong of Little Strong Home

Posted by Joey Azman on


What better way to bring in the new sunnier and cheerful season with some good spring cleaning inspiration? Our next guest is an expert at home organisation and has been featured in various magazines and the news on her decluttering and home organising strategies. If you haven't come across Carmen, check out her page - her before-after shots will blow your mind! Please welcome Carmen Strong of Little Strong Home!  

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came into business? Have you always wanted to be in business? 

Carmen: I’m Carmen Strong! I'm a professional home organiser & interior stylist. I’m a Mama, a maker and a home creator. I have an amazing husband and two beautiful little children. We live on the beautiful Central Coast of NSW in Australia. I work full time in the retail industry by day & do my home organisation/styling consultations by night. Organising and styling is my passion project. I have a great eye for detail and love the inner calm that organising brings. 

I kinda fell into the industry after sharing my home on the gram with my friends and family and then so many people would ask me if i could help them and here I am. I have always wanted to be my own boss, but in what industry I never knew.

2. How are you finding your Moodyboard and has it helped in any way with your line of work?   
CarmenIt helps inspire me and my designs, it's a space for me to stay on top of things and keep important info in one location. I love that it's aesthetically pleasing which I'm all about. I love it when design meets practicality. 
3. What does your typical work day look like?
CarmenI work full time in the retail industry by day, then in the evening I spend it with my family and raising my beautiful children. Once they're down I use that time to focus on my business and organise consultations with my clients to help them transform their spaces. There's no time for TV here.. My hobbies are my organising and helping my clients. 

4. As a mum, what are the challenges you face when running a business, and what do you do to overcome those challenges ? 
Carmen: The constant juggle, it's real and it feels like a hamster on a wheel day in day out.. But it's all about planning, overcoming mum guilt and remembering I'm doing it for them. I grew up with amazing parents who have an incredible work ethic and I want that for my children. I want my children to know they can do or be anything they want. Not just show up to work every day in the same job and get no satisfaction out of it. Life is for living the best life you have not a mediocre one.  
5. What advice do you have for people who love to keep things ( a.k.a Hoarders.. I'm guilty here! lol!) 
Carmen: Does it bring you joy? Have you used it in the last 6 months? if not get rid of it. You can't take it with you, and someone else may find it super helpful. 
6. As a business owner, what tips do you have for others who are just starting out/ thinking of starting a business? 
CarmenStart, always just start... Otherwise you'll miss an opportunity. Be original and also make it about your customer not you.. what are you doing for them?


Carmen also makes these gorgeous writable "to-do" and "shopping " lists which you can purchase here


Thanks Carmen for sharing! Book in a home styling and organising session with Carmen right this way -  here

Or follow Carmen on Instagram here 

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Female Figures #5 - Fiona Killackey of My Daily Business Coach

Posted by Joey Azman on

Hello everyone, Wow so we're in lockdown again in Victoria, I hope that everyone is doing OK and hanging in there. It all seems a bit too soon since we just got out of version 5.0, but fret not, I've got the perfect way to lift your spirits and mood as I bring you a new edition of 'Female Figures', and this week I am so honoured to have had the privilege to chat with Fiona Killackey of My Daily Business Coach. 

Fiona is no stranger to the business community as she has supported and coached thousands of small business owners and helped start ups embark on their business journey. Fiona is an established Business and Marketing consultant with over two decades of experience managing marketing portfolios for mega companies like Amazon, Audible, Open University and Mimco. Fiona now runs her own consulting business providing coaching to large and small companies alike, from various industries ranging from lifestyle, retail, design and health.  

I first got to know Fiona in 2019 when I was starting out, and subscribed to her email list (highly recommend if you're not on it yet!! Sign up here) It was the most valuable avenue for accessing information from an expert in their trade, as every Sunday night without fail, Fiona would post her weekly newsletter on hard hitting and relevant topics on growing your business. So informative, addictive and absolutely FREE. Fiona's generosity didn't stop there as she has been extremely kind and supportive with providing feedback whenever I've reached out with a query, and not many people would do that these days! Fiona is passionate about helping others pursue their passions and build the business of their dreams. I'm such a fan of her work and it gives me great pleasure to share with you a bit more about Fiona, her business, and family life! 

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came into business? Have you always wanted to be in business? 

Fiona: I guess I have always had that entrepreneurial spirit and want to determine my own future. In my late teens I made earrings and sold them at Camberwell Market. I then started my own fashion label and stocked to a few stores in Melbourne - mainly sweaters I sewed myself and some amazing jackets a family friend made at his factory in Brunswick. I’ve been a published writer since 2000 and in my late 20s I had a branded content business and did everything from writing a newspaper column for Fairfax through to ghostwriting celebrity books, and creating a load of content for eCommerce and fashion “websites” — blogs and content on sites was still kinda “new” back then :). I then moved to London and worked at places like Open University on their MBA program, Amazon UK and Audible UK in senior marketing roles. We came back to Melbourne (after having our first son and realising we needed family support to raise a child) and I fully intended to start my own business, but stalled, lured by security of an exec role and good money. I ended up feeling detached from the company I was working for and realising I could make a real difference to small business owners, who were telling me how stressed they were when it came to brand content and marketing. I spent 5-6 months planning an exit strategy from my last role, Head of Marketing at MIMCO and then took the leap into consulting and business coaching. 

2. How are you finding your Moodyboard and has it helped with your line of work?   

Fiona: Firstly, I love that it’s in pink which is one of my brand colours! I am kinda obsessed with whiteboards & cork boards and have an entire wall of them in my office. The Moodyboard is the one only that looks really nice as well as being so functional! I use it to keep myself focused on what’s most important - things I want to achieve, mottos to keep me going when life gets challenging, oracle and  inspiration cards for moments when I’m feeling uninspired and photos of my support crew and those I’ve love. 

3. What does your typical work day look like?

Fiona: I work three days a week and have two days off with my youngest son. I took up time blocking a few years ago and it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Mondays are usually for my own admin, meetings with my team, updating Asana, recording podcasts and working on my own marketing as well as catching up on a mastermind I’m part of in the US (the time difference means I miss some of the calls, so I usually have them playing in the background). Tuesdays it’s all about my groups; I run two group coaching programs, another 9-week live coaching program in line with my Marketing for Your Small Business course (open now for enrolments!) and I present classes for other people’s mastermind groups as well on Tuesday. Thursdays it’s 1:1 coaching back to back. I start around 9:30am after school drop off, then finish right at 3pm in time for pick up, apart from Thursdays when I work a bit later and my amazing husband picks up the kids. 

4. As a mum, what are the challenges you face when running a business, and what do you do to overcome those challenges ?

Fiona: Gosh, so many, especially with lockdowns! Where do I start? Haha. I think the biggest challenge is feeling like you’re not doing a great job at either (work or parenting) sometimes. I try to remind myself that I don’t work weekends or evenings and I’m there for my kids in the way I want to be. This has meant that, at times, I’ve had to turn down amazing work opportunities that others can say yes to, or to miss events that clash with my son’s basketball training or my other son’s commitments. In the end though, I know this time (when they’re young and more dependent on me) is so short and I want to never look back with regrets. On the days when it feels a bit too much juggling it all, I make sure to take some time out just for myself — whether having a cup of tea outside, going for a walk alone, lying in the hammock for 10 mins or calling another mum-in-business friend. Actually, having some friends who have young kids and also run businesses has been brilliant; they completely get what you’re going through. 

5. What advice do you have for people who are still struggling to turn their Passion and Purpose into a business to generate Profit? 

Fiona: This comes down to knowing the value of what you’re offering and who most benefits from it. Too often I see people get all excited about what their brand will look like - the visuals, logo and social media feed - rather than what the brand stands for and how it’s different, or better, than what’s already out there. Money is something people don’t talk about openly and I really wish they would. Understanding your revenue streams and profitability is absolutely key. In Australia half of all businesses fail in their first three years and a lot of the time it’s down to lack of cash flow and not understanding basic financial figures. I’ve had a number of clients who look “good” and successful by vanity metrics (large IG followings, regular guests on panels and podcasts) but they are working two extra jobs to make ends meet. Really take the time to map out how you’ll make money, who will pay for what you offer and validate and test both of those assumptions before going to market. 

 You can purchase Fiona's Passion, Purpose, Profit book here

6. As a business owner, what tips do you have for others who are just starting out/ thinking of starting a business?

Fiona: So many! I think the big things are to figure out where your money will come from and make sure you’re working to your own financial goals (rather than some random person on social media who told you that your brand should make $X). Spend some time validating your ideas and really getting to know your audience/s. I would also make sure you cultivate a good support network around you because starting a business will put you through the full spectrum of emotions and it’s great to have people to celebrate (and cry!) with. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, really take the time to figure out who you are and what you most want from life and how your business will support that. I always work with my clients on their values and beliefs as these are crucial to understand if you want to create a business that supports your lifestyle. 


Exciting news, If you're thinking of starting your own business or just need to get organised with your current business, My Daily Business Coach and Growme Melbourne are also bringing you an awesome giveaway!

Work from home Giveaway 

(Launching 8am, 7-13th August) where you get to win these amazing prizes to help you with your business setup!

Head to our Instagram page for the details! Good Luck!  



#WFHGiveaway campaign designed by @naiacreative_

Moodyboard in Blush and Wordbits magnets in Mustard. 

 Work from home setup, Styled by The Co Laboratory 

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Female Figure #3 - Vanessa Hall

Posted by Joey Azman on


Ever dreamt of changing lanes in your career and taking a different path?  Our next Female Figure, Vanessa Hall of Cookies and Crumbs Melbourne  found herself in the baking business by accident when she just wanted to make something cool for her son's birthday and received lots of orders through instagram - gotta love the Gram! Now she runs a booming business, baking for big brands like Mecca,The Daily Edited, Westfield, Tiffany & Co and Kikki K (to name a few!). 

A little bit of background on Vanessa, she is a concert violinist, music teacher and mother of 2. Vanessa found herself in the baking business 6 years ago and was the primary baker for 2 years till she had her second child. She had complications with the second birth and had an infection called golden staphylococcus and cellulitis, this was when she decided to get support and hire staff. It was hard for her to let go of the baking process but this truly allowed Vanessa to focus on expanding her business rather than working in it. She believes that everything happens for a reason , and never sees a setback as a negative - but as a stepping stone to the next adventure! 

Vanessa has 2 bakers now working in their own certified kitchens which allows them the flexibility to work while raising little ones. Win! 

I met Vanessa in the midst of the Victorian lockdown in 2020 when she bought a Moodyboard for her home office setup. We very quickly became friends and have supported each others businesses since. Vanessa's aesthetic and colour sense is sophisticated and fun and has a little something for everyone. From her witty (F#?K Covid) phrase bikkies for the adults to her Design-your-own-Cookie-Kit for the kiddies. She has really thought about her customer and what they need and has definitely brightened up many households with her creations. OK enough from me - Here's more from Vanessa!

F%?K Covid Dessert Box is sure to put a smile on someone's face during this uncertain time.


1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came into business? 

Vanessa:  I was previously a violin/music teacher at Haileybury College and have always been creative. I then designed a birthday cake and cookies for my sons first birthday. I started posting photos on Instagram and began receiving orders. Before long I was receiving enough orders to resign from my job and start expanding my business.


2. When you were starting out, was there any particular client that gave you that "big break" which really propelled you to a larger audience? 

Oh yes! After a couple of months I was asked to do an influencers blogger lunch and provide them with cookies. There was one influencer there that loved my products and had photographs with them. She then posted for me (and I didn’t pay for it or anything). I then used to do many of her events. So my advice would be not to be too greedy at the start or ever, do lots of unpaid work to get your name and reputation out there! 


3. How are you finding your Moodyboard and has it helped with your line of work?   

VanessaMoodyboard helps me organise my week in advance. I have to coordinate the workload for 2 staff and a courier each week. Its very important for me to be able visualize my schedule and plan in advance.


4. What does your typical work day look like?

Vanessa:  I'm up at 6am to start scheduling my social media posts for the day. I then respond to any orders and emails that have come in overnight. I then make breakfast for the kids and get them dressed before driving them to school and kinder.

The rest of my day is then spent dealing with customer emails and phone calls, checking in with staff and then picking up our two kids from school and kinder. After school activities then follow before dinner. After the kids are in bed I then respond to more customer emails before bed.


5. As a mum, what are the challenges you face when running a business, and what do you do to overcome those challenges? 

Vanessa: The main challenges I face when running a business as a mum are school holiday periods with both kids at home and having to coordinate staff, clients and keeping the kids occupied.

Staying organised by using the Moodyboard really helps.

6. As a business owner, what tips do you have for others who are just starting out/ thinking of starting a business? 

Vanessa : My advice to anyone wanting to start a business is to just start and keep persisting. Everyone will want to give you advice and tell you what they think. Get your inspiration and advice from others in the industry and make sure you are organised and use your time wisely. 
I also have a supportive husband who supported me the whole way through and always encouraged my endeavour!
DIY Cookie kits, perfect activity pack for the little ones. 
Chocolate pyramids for any occasion
Follow Cookies and Crumbs Melbourne on Instagram here or visit their website to get your sugar fix !
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Female Figure #2 - Lauren Camilleri of Leaf Supply

Posted by Joey Azman on


It's Friday again and I am so excited to share this next story with you as it truly does resonate with me personally. Any of you currently working a 9-5 job and itching to take that leap to make your side hustle your main gig? Read on as our next female figure shares her journey from being a publishing exec to running a successful business, insight into what her day looks like (not chained to a desk!) and how she balances motherhood and business. 

Our Female Figure #2 is none other than Lauren Camilleri, Co-Founder of Leaf Supply, Author and acting Creative Director of Belle Magazine

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came into business? 

Lauren: I don't think running my own business was where I expected to find myself but I always knew I wanted to be in a creative field. After studying Interior Architecture at uni I went into graphic design in the publishing world of books and magazines. I'm really passionate about print but it's definitely been a tough few years in the industry and when I was looking for a new challenge I started to explore the idea of doing something of my own. I was really getting into my indoor plants and could see it was a growing trend, around this time I met my now business partner Sophia Kaplan and we joined forces to create what is now Leaf Supply.  

2. How are you finding your Moodyboard and has it helped with your line of work?   

Lauren: I'm a really visual person and I love being able to display things on my moody board. From family polaroids to inspiration for the new book, I'm constantly changing it up with the help of my moody magnets. It fits so beautifully in my space and the sage colourway compliments all the plants perfectly.    


3. What does your typical work day look like?

Lauren: One of the best things about running your own business is the variety, no two days look exactly the same. The diversity is very appealing for a girl who was regularly chained to my computer in previous jobs. From creating content for social media, putting together eDM's and other marketing material to getting out to nurseries to source plants and getting my hands in the soil, I relish the different elements that make up my days.

We've just signed on for our fourth book so we're currently preparing for our first shoot days and I'm busy working on the design concept. Writing, shooting and producing the books is an incredibly creative and rewarding element of the business, and one that came rather unexpectedly. 

Leaf Supply Book, by Leaf Supply.


4. As a mum, what are the challenges you face when running a business, and what do you do to overcome those challenges? 

Lauren: Running your own business can be all consuming, there's no leaving work behind at the office. The juggle is definitely real! On the flip side there is flexibility in being your own boss that is particularly valuable as a mum. Both Soph and I have small children and it's been a priority for the both of us that the business work around our lives. I think having a really strong support network is key - a partner who shares the parenting load, day-care and grandparents (total godsend). I couldn't do it without the help. Even still it doesn't take much for things to get overwhelming and the wheels to come off, sickness and sleep deprivation are a constant and I think you just have to accept that there are times that you just have to cut yourself some slack.
Mini Monstera Kid's Tee available at Leaf Supply. 

5. As a business owner, what tips do you have for others who are just starting out/ thinking of starting a business? 

Lauren : It can be a really scary leap for people, especially if they've had the security of a full time job for so long. I think one of the best tips is just to start. It's easy to avoid launching until you feel things are perfect but it's much better to put it out there and evolve it rather than sit on it and then have someone else beat you  to it.
Another tip is to really try and understand the financial side of things from the beginning. Get a good accountant if money isn't your forte and get them to walk you through setting things up properly from the beginning. I think a lot of creatives (myself included) find this side of business very intimidating but the reality is if you're not financially viable you have a hobby not a business. It's really empowering to understand the financial side of your business and what does and doesn't make you money, we've found for us it really helps to focus what we spend our time on and that's really valuable when time is so limited.
Our Autumn Leaves Moodyshape Magnets are stocked at Leaf Supply. 
Sage Moodyboard at Lauren's home amongst lush greenery. 
Follow Leaf Supply on Instagram here or visit their website for all your botanical ware needs. 
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Female Figure #1 - Becca Stern of Mustard Made

Posted by Joey Azman on

Welcome to our first "Female Figures" interview! To kick things off, I am so honoured to have Becca Stern, from Mustard Made join us to share some insight into a day in her life! 
Becca and I first got to know each other through a collaboration in 2018 and have been business friends since! Becca has been an informal mentor to me and has always made some time in her busy schedule to share advice and tips on how to navigate through running a small business, and for that I am eternally grateful. Becca and her sister Jess have created a die-hard tribe of over 88,000 followers over a few short years. Once you lay your eyes on them, it's easy to see why their motto is "fall in love with lockers". 
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