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The beauty of business: More than a number

Posted 7 months ago in Small business by Erin Smith
Posted by Erin Smith

Brooke Rudzis is the drive and creative force behind Sunday Minx, a proud Australian company that blends its love of bold colours and contemporary patterns with the highest quality Turkish cotton to deliver designer bath towels that feel as good as they look. We spoke to Brooke about the highs and lows of her business journey as part of our beautiful business campaign.

My background is in newspapers. I worked in sales and advertising for nearly 10 years and resigned from my job just four months before I was entitled to long service leave. My friends couldn’t believe it, but the timing felt right.

I’d started to wonder what I could create if I poured all the hours and energy I was putting into someone else’s business into my own. What could I create? I’d worked up the courage to do my own thing and find out.

Creating the concept – rolling with the punches

I had a love of homewares and interiors, and thought my skill set was in creating a brand, building a website and selling a product. In hindsight, there was a lot I didn’t know.

That was the real struggle in the early days. I knew I wanted to create bold and colourful bath towels because I’d identified a gap in the market – but I was one person learning an industry. I had to learn about the manufacture of towels – the different cottons, the way the weave works and the limitations of the machines.

I’d spent a long time creating, fine-tuning and perfecting my initial designs before I sent them off to the manufacturer in Turkey. Then, through broken English, I slowly realised they were telling me they couldn’t make them. The way that the machinery works, you can only have two colours in any vertical line. I had four or five. I couldn’t believe it. At that point I thought my whole approach – the bold colours and patterns – was flawed. That’s why they weren’t already in the market. But I worked and learned and adapted my designs to ensure the dream became a reality.

The more you ask the more you learn. In the first few months, I was trying to absorb so much about so many things. I couldn’t get a grasp on my accounting with MYOB. Someone said, “No, you need Xero” and connected my bank feeds. It saved my life in those early days and I’ve been using it ever since.

Learning to launch – reshaping expectations

The lead up to launch was intense. My husband Shane worked full-time, so each night he would say, “I’ll cook dinner, you sit at the kitchen bench, and let’s work through your list bit by bit.” It was the longest to-do list I’d ever had in my life.

The launch itself was hilarious. The site went live and, other than my friends and family, nobody knew about it! But seeing the sales come through turned all the hard work into a reality. I had set up my phone to notify me when a sale came through. We’d hear a tiny ca-ching noise from my bag in the supermarket and would cheer in the aisles!

Initially, in the first few weeks, we recognised all the names of our customers. That level of support from our network was incredible, but I still remember our first genuine sale. It was from someone from Wagga and I called my husband to see if he knew her. I still get a real buzz to think that the product I dreamt, created, manufactured, imported and shipped, is now in homes all over Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the UK and the USA.

To this day, I make an effort to celebrate every win. Sometimes the successes are the motivator you need to keep pushing forward. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things you’re not doing. But looking back, it’s amazing to realise there was a time when Shane was our truck driver and I was clumsily completing paperwork to get our pallets of towels through customs. You learn and improve and make new, better decisions.

The beauty of business – more than a number

Two and a half years on from the launch of Sunday Minx, that ability to make my own decisions remains one of the most rewarding things about owning a business. It’s tough – you’re constantly working to make sure you have an income and are doing things to improve the brand – but the ability to work from anywhere at any time is so liberating.

It’s not about balance, it’s about a work-life blend. Sometimes work needs to step up and sometimes it’s family. I find it so satisfying to realise you can do both.  

There were times in the corporate world where I felt the give-and-take relationship was out of balance; you often gave and gave without feeling you were having any impact. Now even the smallest success in my business makes me realise I’ve really contributed. The time and energy I invest is growing into something, and I’m more than a number in a crowd.

Brooke received advice from award-winning CEO Taryn Williams about small business marketing and social media as part of our beautiful business campaign. Find out what they discussed.

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