I am a Sydney-based entrepreneur who has spent 20 years on and off travelling through South East Asia. I adore the contrasts that abound and the warmth and welcome of the people from fascinating cultures that have pulled me back time and time again. Above all, I am passionate about the creativity and talent of so many emerging designers and artisans that I’ve met along the way. So much so I turned my love for S.E Asian creativity into a business venture.
Merging my passions with the years of experience I gained sourcing products for large UK department stores at the start of my working career, I started the online retailer Temples and Markets. Temples and Markets showcases artisan products from South East Asia, all unique, ethically sourced and hand crafted. The best bit is that my online curated store supports the local communities that have inspired me for years. That was the inspiration, and then came the reality of experience starting and running a business in the e-commerce space.
After a year of sourcing product and then creating and designing the website to showcase the product, the website launched in November 2015. In a short time it had already evolved from a platform showcasing emerging designer Fashion Accessories and Décor from S.E Asia, to an online store supporting Social Enterprises and Artisans working their way out of poverty in the countries I love.
If I was to give any tip to Entrepreneurs thinking of starting a business or already in business it would be “Do Not be Afraid of Evolving” – you never know where it can take you.
It has been startling to see how up and down e-commerce can be. There have been weeks when I really thought the business was taking off… daily orders for significant amounts and then the next week it all goes quiet again. This is all part and parcel of any business I know, but it can be disheartening. The important thing is to not give up and remember that it can take years for a Start Up to really take off.
Working out the best ways to get traffic to my website and convert the traffic into sales is an ever challenging process. Essentially, I could be spending 24 hours a day on marketing but nothing else would get done. There are so many different strategies, from all Social Media platforms, to PR, to SEO, to digital and email marketing that as a one-woman band it can be daunting to try to work on all of those. I have taken the sensible option though and only concentrated on those that seem to be working and provide engagement from consumers. You simply can’t try and crack all marketing, PR and advertising platforms yourself and run the business on a day to day business as well.
The most fun part of the business, aside from sourcing product in the countries I love, is when the orders come in. I still get a kick out of every order I receive as it’s so rewarding to know consumers love the products I love.
Through my business I feel I am living my life’s purpose and that is to make a tangible difference to the life of the artisans whose products I sell. I call it a Win- Win – showcasing beautiful jewellery, home decor and so on, and being able to improve lives at the same time. I'm also contributing to an ever increasing circle of women – those who buy a gorgeous bag or a bracelet who by doing so are positively affecting the life of another woman in a country like Vietnam or Cambodia through trade, empowering them and their families.
My wish is to become Australia's Go-To online curated store for unique gift shopping and I’m continually working on getting the message out there that I am showcasing unique gifts made by unique people from unique cultures, ethically sourced and each with their own story.