Meet Melissa, the small business owner of Yaye, a luxury bath, body and beauty range in Darwin, Northern Territory
Today we introduce you to Melissa, a Warumangu and Lurutja (Central Australia) woman and owner of Yaye. Yaye (pronounced Yah Yah) means big sister in Arrerente and is a luxury bath, body and beauty range (body wash, scrubs, butter, bath crystals). Her products are infused with native bush medicine extracts such as Silky Lemon Grass, White Cypress Pine and Emu Bush and is 100% Indigenous-owned and operated. After launching in November 2021, Yaye products are already sold through 68 stockist nation-wide, which Melissa hopes to build to 100!
“I came to Many Rivers with a specific lens of what I needed support with – social media. My business coach gave me ideas on what to post as I was green to that world. Cyan was great in giving me feedback on my Instagram – she said it was too polished and suggested I go and do some photoshoots on country. She suggested people and influencers I could reach out to, how to build up a following and profiles I should look at for inspiration. It helped me to start to think about how I can leverage social media for my business – it was a steep learning curve.”
Read more about Melissa’s business journey so far.
My business is called Yaye (pronounced Yah Yah) which means big sister in Arrerente and is a luxury bath, body and beauty range (body wash, scrubs, butter, bath crystals) infused with bush extracts
that are native to central Australia. The business launched in November 2021, but I was working on it for about 9 months beforehand.
I have spent my career in the education sector, working in Aboriginal communities which I still work in full-time. I work on Yaye part-time, and my goal is to make it my full-time job.
Ultimately, I was looking for a change from education and wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to do something different with my life. I’ve been in education for 32 years, and I need a change in season.
Working with Many Rivers
My business had already launched before I engaged with Many Rivers. I met my business coach, Cyan, through a contact and then saw your advertisement on Facebook so I reached out.
Initially, I received help with marketing from Many Rivers, specifically around social media. No I didn’t receive a loan from Many Rivers. I came to Many Rivers with a specific lens of what I needed support with. My business coach gave me ideas on what to post as I was green to that world. Cyan was great in giving me feedback on my Instagram – she said it was too polished and suggested I go and do some photoshoots on country. She suggested people and influencers I could reach out to, how to build up a following and profiles I should look at for inspiration. It helped me to start to think about how I can leverage social media for my business – it was a steep learning curve.
Apart from the support with social media, Cyan introduced me to a couple of contacts that had been working with Many Rivers who have now become stockists for my products. I’m now at 68 stockists and I want to get to 100. The network that I have now is really useful.
Oh there have been a few challenges. On a practical level, being a product-based business, navigating postage has been challenging. Challenging my money mindset has been something I’ve been working through. I come from a poverty mindset, and when you don’t come from money, it’s a challenge to push yourself out of your comfort zone and spend money when you aren’t used to it. I agonised over things like; getting a loan, starting to charge GST and hiring a virtual assistant – all because it’s out of my comfort zone to spend money. When you do spend the money, you have to tell yourself that it’s ok and push through it. Business requires a lot of bravery with money that many Aboriginal people don’t have. It’s a constant struggle each day to push through it.
I’ve also experienced imposter syndrome. It’s a different level for Aboriginal businesses. We are always thinking about whether we have elevated our mob and if we have sought permission from the right people to talk about the right things. And without meaning to be, you are always a social enterprise. It’s an extra level of responsibility. Imposter syndrome is different with a black fella lens on it, you always have to elevate.
This whole process has been interesting. My success has been believing in myself and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve done a lot of work and research around goal setting. I’m hustling like I’ve never hustled before. No one was waiting for a woman to launch an Aboriginal body and beauty range. I invest in myself and challenge myself. I spend at least an hour a day mastering the skills of business, everything from social media, my mindset, time management and the art of the sale.
I am still at the stage where I am doing it all and I’m struggling with the balance. The biggest change has been that I’m not as available as I used to be. I am an empty nester, I couldn’t have done this with kids, this business has been hours and hours of work.
I take a lot of pride in my children and nieces seeing what I’m doing. I take my young nieces to business meetings, have them model for the website and try to involve them as much as I can. It’s nice to see them interested. I didn’t grow up with anyone owning and running a business and so it’s nice to be that role model.
There is so much work you need to do on yourself before you start your business. Talking to other people, learning what you are prepared to sacrifice. There are so many hours that you invest, but you have to give it your all. Knowing when the time is right is important as well. It’s ok to have the idea and sit on it. I was 48 when I started Yaye. My advice to anyone wanting to start a business is to start investing 1 hour a day researching about how to run a business and fully understanding the dedication and time it takes.
I have specific goals – it’s part of my learning. I want to have 100 stockists and be in 100 Hotel or Air BnB rooms across Australia. I want a big fish, like Mecca or Myer to stock my products. It will be very powerful for Aboriginal women to see that representation in a large store.
I believe you must have particular goals that you work towards every day. You must dream big and every day do 3 things that will help you get to your goal. Brian Tracy’s book on goals has helped me create this habit.
Thank you Melissa for sharing your business journey. We look forward to working with you as your business journey continues.
If you would like to stay updated with Melissa and her journey as a small business owner, follow Yaye on social media:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yayeproducts/ Website: https://yaye.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YayeProducts/ | LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-cole-507694208/
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