#LightbulbMoment: How These Entrepreneurs Turned an Idea Into a Business

Updated 01/09/19

Introducing: #LightbulbMoment, our new series that highlights and celebrates successful women. We ask entrepreneurs to share their lightbulb moment and how they turned an idea into a thriving business.

Starting a business can be daunting and sometimes, your best laid plans can go awry. Transforming an idea into a fully functioning career is a difficult endeavor, but as these seven women discovered, it's not impossible. 

From podcasts, to social movements and accessory labels, these women took their ideas and created successful projects, ensuring their passion and drive wasn't lost along the way. They shared their wisdom with us earlier this year and now, we've collected some key advice from our Womaneer's on how to take an idea and launch your own business. 

Read on to learn more about these women and how they built their businesses from the ground up. 

Vanessa Stofenmacher: Founder of Vrai & Oro

Courtesy of Vrai and Oro

"After seeing the lack of transparency in the jewellery industry firsthand, I became obsessed with finding a better way. I noticed I wasn’t interested in buying jewellery myself and realized it was because I couldn’t relate to anything in the market. Overpriced jewellery didn’t appeal to me, and I had little interest in fashion jewellery that would end up in the trash. So I set out to create jewellery that would speak to my personal values.

"Living in Los Angeles, I was able to create relationships in the jewellery industry and launched our first collection of 10 designs with $8000 in funding. We’ve been fortunate enough to grow from there.

"Embrace failure. It’s the fastest way to learn and grow. Everyone runs into problems when they start a business, but it’s those who are able to see the roadblocks as opportunities, opposed to setbacks, who will go the farthest."

Becky Morton: Founder of Peony Swimwear

Peony Swinwear

"I sold one of my first-ever swimsuits at a market stall in 2012. When my then-boyfriend (now husband and finance and operations director of Peony) and I were setting up the market tent that we bought on eBay the week before for $50, we had a line of girls waiting to come in. We made our first sale within a minute or so after the tent went up. I recall the customer had to pay with cash because we hadn’t had the chance to set up our Eftpos machine. After the first customer flowed many others; we sold out of our first collection within a matter of weeks.

"The insatiable demand for our brand and the incredible loyalty of our customers continues to demonstrate to us that we have created much more than just a swimwear brand ... Over the last five years, we have grown with our customer. We’re not just creating a product, we are creating a world that our girl is a part of. We listen to her, we connect with her, and we grow with her. We have a very clear understanding of who she is, we don’t deviate from this, and I believe this is why she comes back to us, despite all the noise, season on season. 

"I find that big tasks and projects are much easier to manage when you compartmentalise them. Try to view the big leap as a series of steps. Start with the first step and once complete, move to the second. When you chip away at something, it will feel more manageable and less daunting. I would also encourage women to believe in themselves and surround themselves with like-minded people that do too."

Beck Wadworth: Founder of An Organised Life

@ beckwadworth

"My initial step when starting An Organised Life was designing the diary. I wanted it to be functional and luxe, with a monochrome and minimalist aesthetic that would be recognised as the brand's signature look and feel. My background was in graphic design (I studied an Honours degree in New Zealand) and this was the easiest area to start and the core of the brand. From there, I started sourcing printers and manufacturers and sampling the product until it was right.

"I was very realistic as to what my strengths and weaknesses were when I started. I knew I could handle the design, e-commerce, social media, marketing and PR, however production, dispatch and accounts were all knew to me. I also started by writing a huge list and a timeline of tasks, research that was needed and contacts I needed to make. I slowly worked away at it. 

"Be as hands on as possible for the first year. Be prepared to work hard. Trust your gut always, and be patient."

Alison Rice: Founder of Offline, The Podcast

James Evans for Kacey Devlin

"I started to feel a real duty of care as a leader in women’s lifestyle publishing to show more—struggle, pain, mistakes. I’ve been genuinely worried we have an incapacity to show anything less than perfection because so much of what we consume is highly stylised and over-produced. But it is a fake reality and young women trying to find their way in a world lived almost exclusively online need to know that.

"My most recent role gave me the opportunity and platform to build some really special relationships with influencers and I guess ‘women of influence’ (who I now proudly call my friends!), which got me thinking; in the right setting with the right intention, could they help me support young women by sharing more of their stories?

"And not their business stories—there is no lady boss stuff here—but their ‘true self’ stories. What experiences have shaped their morals, ethics, opinions, values and character? What does the person behind the massive following and curated feed stand for? These women are intelligent, strategic, unbelievably kind and extremely hard-working, so I also wanted to highlight those traits. It is one thing to amass a following, but it is another to hone it and develop it.

"So, Offline was born! It is a series of honest conversations with the women behind some of Australia’s most popular fashion, beauty and lifestyle Instagram accounts. Together we get real about life on the other side of the filter and explore the concept of true self.

"My goal isn’t to go viral, but for Offline to be a resource for women who are ready to look past social media’s highlight reel and develop what I am calling our unique female codes. The conversations are raw and imperfect. I haven’t produced a glossy product—I’ve let it have light and shade. I’ve cried in a few episodes as well, so there’s that!"

Reshma Saujani: Founder of Girls Who Code

Getty

"We started out small. We ran a pilot program in my friend's office building with 20 girls. And when it worked, we kept it going and started more summer programs in other company office buildings. Then our alumni were coming back to us and asking how they could pass on their coding knowledge, and some were even starting clubs at their schools to teach their friends. So the idea of our clubs program grew really organically from the girls themselves, and we've continued to develop and adjust our curriculum to make it even more accessible and to bring it to every state in the country.

"Now, we've reached over 90,000 girls across the country, and we're just getting started. The idea works because there is a huge need for this. And we're focusing on what girls want. Girls are excited about coding and computer science when they learn that they can use it to build apps and websites and algorithms that can help their communities."

Erin Kleinberg and Stacie Brockman: Founders of Métier Creative

"We're all about a fake it till you make it mentality,  so we just sort of winged it by pulling in bits and pieces we knew of the traditional agency world mixed with ideas about how we wanted to transform the Mad Men mentality. We both had worked on the publishing side with Coveteur and on the brand side—Stacie at an advertising agency and Erin with her own brand—and we felt like there was a major white space in the agency world, particularly for luxury fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands. They felt snoozy and needed a tour guide to show them the lay of the land.

"We inherently understood how to build brands, create social-first identities, tell stories, find cult-like audiences, and reach like-minded people. Ultimately, we felt like we were the consumers and creators of these social-first brands and knew how to build them and who to build them for. We kept pretty quiet when launching to be the Soho House of branding agencies and shared the vision with special people we met through Coveteur. Our first clients were Jen Atkin as she was launching OUAI, Dior Beauty, J Brand, and Stuart Weitzman.

"Change is good. And it's important you switch things up often. The second you feel comfortable or complacent, ask yourself what do you want to do next. Ultimately, as cheesy as it sounds, I'm all about living and breathing your passion. The fear will go away if the career change is fueled by sheer passion.

"Just do it. What do you have to lose? If it doesn't work out, you can always pivot. Change is the best motivator; it should feel uncomfortable but the more you lean into it, the easier it will get."

Opening Image: An Organised Life 

Related Stories