Meet Judy, the owner of Indigenous by Design, a small business selling earrings that showcases Australia’s natural wood and bright Indigenous art.
Judy owned a café in Queensland six years ago and has taken her learnings from her previous experience as a small business owner into her Indigenous by Design business journey. She has found that her earrings are well received by local galleries and that they want to purchase more Indigenous products from her. Judy is a good saleswoman and so is considering purchasing other local Indigenous products and selling them to galleries. This way she can use her sales skills to support other local Indigenous businesses.
“Now I am looking at business through a lens of knowing the importance of the numbers to know where you are at. If you don’t know what your profit margin is, you don’t really know what you are doing. I have found that my products are quite good, and there is a good margin.”
Read about Judy’s journey with Indigenous by Design.
My business is called Indigenous by Design, and I have been running it for about a year and a half now. I make and sell earrings. The idea behind the style of my earrings is to showcase our beautiful native timbers and the colour differences in the grains. The name of my earing label is Gunggari Girl, because my country is called Gunggari. The classic range is hardwood. I am also looking at colourful perspex earing which I could paint to get some colours onto my products. I would like to expand my range. When I go to galleries, they want to buy more products from me apart from earrings. They ask what else I can provide them with. It might be that I could be a supplier to the galleries because I am quite good at talking to people. I might wholesale other local Indigenous products to the galleries because there is a need there, and I will be able to support other local small business owners who are more comfortable just making the product rather than selling them. This was Tracey’s suggestion because she recognised that I am a good seller.
I usually work in the education space, but I always had other skills. I had seen other people who have their own businesses and thought, how can I do that.
My last business wasn’t sustainable, but now I am looking at whether I will be able to sustain myself when I retire. I am sure I can be good at it if I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I have a lot of ingredients and skills to be a good business owner and to be successful. I know that I have a good product and a good profit margin.
Working with Many Rivers
I worked with Many Rivers when I had a coffee shop in Queensland 6 years ago. They told me that people were mostly coming in to talk to me. My food and drink were good, but I needed to look at the numbers of my business and understand what they were telling me. It was successful for a while, but it wasn’t sustainable because I wasn’t listening to the numbers and the product margin, I was just working. That is what I have been working on with Tracey. Now I can look at a product, and I can tell you the price of every part of that product. It has been a real learning process.
Now I am looking at business through a lens of knowing the importance of the numbers to know where you are at. If you don’t know what your profit margin is, you don’t really know what you are doing. Tracey and I have been looking at that. I have found that my products are quite good, there is a good margin. So, the next challenge is finding a good cashflow.
Tracey and I went through the business plan. That is how I got to see how many factors were actually impacting my profit. We put my finances under a microscope. I think one of my challenges now is overcoming my insecurities. I am scared that people may not like my product, and I am worried that people will rip off my product. I must learn to ride the wave to get there. At the moment, I am still waxing my surfboard, so to say!
The next step for me is to set up a Shopify business website. I believe now that I have a product that I will be happy to put on the website. I have been developing a lot of products and I used to have people make the designs for me. Previously I was drawing the designs, showing the artists and they were making earrings according to my drawings. Now I have done a course so I can do the whole design myself. I have refined the designing process, and I feel that now I am selling the product and telling the story that I want to tell.
Geography is a challenge. I also talked to Tracey about some location challenges. I need to think about how close I am selling the products to other competitors, as sometimes this can cause disagreements.
Knowing my numbers and talking about ways to price things has been the most useful part. There are so many different price points that people want to access. There is a wholesale price, retail price and one on consignment. The biggest challenge that popped up was selling to my own community, as they expect a different price. I learnt to make a conversation around quantity. With an increase in quantity, your price can go down. You must stick to your guns. It is hard because you want your community to be able to access your product at a price point they can afford, but you still need to make money on it to sustain your business. You must have that conversation ready and know what price you are willing to sell at and to who.
My product has been well received, and I have learnt so much detail about the financial side of my business. I have been able to apply learnings from my previous business in Queensland. I know every detail of my pricing, which is setting me up for sustainability. I now look at things in a business way. I use an accountant, and I am covered with insurance. I got product insurance which I hadn’t thought about, and I had to look at things such return policies-it’s all quite in-depth. I have a long way to go yet to be able to live off the business, and I am not too sure where it is going to go next. I have worked out I need to sell to 130 shops to be able to get a decent wage. That is my next goal.
Connecting with other local small business owners in my community. I set up a community meeting for Tracey to talk about Many Rivers. It was fantastic, and a lot of people showed up. I have met other successful business owners in my community, and they have said that everything that Tracey is telling me about starting up is correct. A few of them are now working with Tracey too, and one small business owner said that Tracey always reminds her to ask herself, ‘what’s in it for you?’ At the end of the day, you must pay your own bills.
Future Goals for Indigenous by Design
I am going to look at getting other products. I am also doing some training in laser cutting and 3D printing and skilling myself up so that I can make the products I want, the way that I want them. My earrings each tell a story of waterholes or family travels. They are not just products to me; I always try and find a connection to Mother Earth. That is where I find so much peace, when I have done the training, I can tell the story I want to tell.
I am also hoping that my earrings will be considered suitable for executive gifts. I am still in the development stages but have a vision for excellence in my products and presentation.
Thanks, Judy for sharing the story of Indigenous by Design with us. We can’t wait to support you on this journey to achieving your business goals. Contact Judy to enquire about her products: [email protected]
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