When people are looking for a specific product it can take months before they find the perfect one or they don’t find it at all and move on to the next best thing.
For Lara Van Den Berg, that was just not an option and so when she couldn’t find the purse she really wanted, she decided to make it herself.
“I had been in the same corporate role for 18 years and had taken a break in 2016 to spend time with my three children, all under the age of five, and create a better work/life balance,” she explains during her presentation as part of the Conversation Series of Life Instyle Online.
“At the same time I was looking for the perfect leather purse and couldn’t find it. I grew up in a family that owned a family business producing leather goods, so I decided to use my experience, skills and time to create a small range of my own.”
And so Dusky Robin Leather was born. Van Den Berg made sure she designed and created a product that was super functional but a little bit different.
“In 2017 we took a small collection to Life Instyle Melbourne to test the market and the response was amazing. We ended up with lots of incredible stockists and many of them are still with us today.”
So what are Van Den Berg’s tips to start and grow a new business?
1 Test the product. “If you have a great idea, create a small collection and make sure there is a market for it. Life Instyle is a great platform for us and the feedback is instant.”
2 Design local. “When we first started we outsourced quite a few things such as accounting, marketing, etc. However, we never outsourced design. We have always designed the products in-house in Hobart, Tasmania. Our environment is such a great inspiration for new ideas.”
3 Surround yourself with good and talented people. “As the business grew we decided to bring certain things in-house and now we have a small but very talented team skilled in development, marketing, etc and without this team we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
4 Software packages. “These days the technology available enables you to do these amazing things without being an expert. For example, Shopify has incredible templates and apps available that can help you.”
5 Covid -19 in 2020. “The pandemic was definitely not part of our plan and we had to look at our business and respond quickly―what can we do, what can’t we do and how can we keep supporting our stockists? It shone a spotlight on certain parts of the business that we needed to work on including social media and website development.”
While Van Den Berg isn’t able to attend the trade fairs this year, she is looking forward to 2021 to get her new ranges in front of customers.
“I still think trade fairs are great for face to face interaction when showing your products. The feedback on what is working and what isn’t is instant. You take all this information back with you to create the best product possible. It’s priceless.”