When I think of women who inspire me, Michelle from Curated With Conscience really stands out. Not only did she take a massive risk leaving her corporate marketing role to pursue her passion, she did it knowing that risk would create positive change and support Australian makers and ethical brands doing good in the world.
Inspirational is an understatement!
Grab a cuppa and a notebook because Michelle’s wisdom is guaranteed to energise you too.
What led you to launch your business? What did you do before you launched?
Reading the book “Business as Unusual” by The Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick, back in the early 2000s was a game changer for me: I desperately wanted to be part of this amazing business movement changing the world. I yearned for more purpose in my work but I never quite found it in my conventional corporate marketing career trajectory. Instead I tried to scratch that itch by doing volunteer work with Oxfam and making donations to humanitarian groups.
I actively sought out brands with an ethical ethos to spend my money with. This is where the seed of a business idea was planted. Ten or so years ago, buying ethically invariably meant sacrificing on design and aesthetics. I wanted to buy gifts with gorgeous design and incredible quality first and foremost, that had the added layer of being socially conscious: Beautiful gifts that did good too.
I finally plucked up the courage to launch Curated with Conscience in 2017 shortly after having my first baby, Charlie. While I was at home with my newborn, my anxiety about the state of the world got pretty intense. I knew I needed to channel that anxiety into something positive, for the sake of my mental health.
What’s one thing no one tells you about small business life?
The relentless problem-solving! Especially in a logistics-heavy business like mine. I’ve come to peace with the realisation that the ‘problem solving’ never ends. I’ve tried to reframe it as an opportunity for creativity and innovation.
Was there a moment when you felt like you’d made it?
Funnily enough I have been in business for five years and have experienced rapid growth during these years, however it’s only really this year that I have finally dropped the imposter syndrome. Having a permanent team has definitely made me feel like I’ve made it.
Tell us about one big win and one big learning you’ve had in the last year?
My one big win and one big lesson are actually related. I probably took longer than I should have to start building my team, out of the fear that the growth may not continue at its current pace. Then I found myself in the situation where I was forced to recruit urgently and to be really honest, I was grateful for any help I could get.
A couple of early hires did not work out and I take responsibility for that because I rushed the recruitment process.
My big lessons are
a) engage with an HR expert to help you plan for the team, even before you need a team and;
b) don’t ignore any red flags just because you desperately need help.
What does your team and cheerleading squad look like?
There’s a saying that goes something like “play to your strengths and hire for your weaknesses.” I have no idea who said it and I have probably totally butchered the quote, but I 100 percent agree with the sentiment.
It was very early on in my business journey that I realised bookkeeping was not a strength of mine. I felt anxious every time I thought about it. Especially as I made the rookie error of not opening a separate business bank account from the get-go.
Most recently I am working to remove myself from the day-to-day operations of the business. I am at my best when I am in dreaming and strategy mode. It’s so fantastic to see my team members play to their strengths. There’s an incredible energy that is unleashed when that happens.
Finally, what led you to work with us and how have we impacted your business?
I can’t fully describe the ecstasy of taking a business function off your plate that you are no good at and you don’t enjoy. Honestly, my bookkeeping was in such a mess before I was introduced to Lisa at Accounted for You. I pretty much had constant low level anxiety about the state of my books. I was quite embarrassed to reveal it all to Lisa.
To my surprise and relief she didn’t bat an eyelid! Instead she reassured me that all was well and that it would be sorted out. Which is exactly what she did. That was probably four years ago. These days Accounted for You not only manages my books and payroll, but is a trusted advisor. I know they’ve got my back.
Thank you, Michelle! What a delight it is supporting you to make such a difference.
Connect With Michelle
If you are looking for hampers that do good in the world and have a passion for supporting local, Curated With Conscience is well worth checking out.