Hi Tammy, welcome to our #bethegirl interview series! Let’s get straight into it…
Let’s start with your background and how you started your business journey?
I have always been quite entrepreneurial and creative from a young age. All throughout my teenage years I had little side businesses – from making and selling Justin Bieber t-shirts on Tumblr, to altering and upselling op shop clothing or vintage market finds on eBay, to renting out dresses. Even prior to that, I was a very crafty kid – growing up as an only child I would often entertain myself by making, sewing, or drawing something.
After high school I was working some retail jobs whilst I started a Business Entrepreneurship course at university, however, having a more creative mind, I really struggled with the mathematical classes in the course, and I could not pass statistics or accounting – I was failing. During this time I was looking for my next little side business (as I always was), but I had no idea what that would be.
I am a huge fashion lover and thought neoprene had a very cool, unique look to it. I had seen some other clothing garments made from this material and so decided to make up some sample bags. I gave one of the samples I had been working on to my mum, and she carried it out to dinner one night. Five people stopped her in the street asking where her bag was from, and that’s when I thought I could probably try and sell a few. I set up a website and Instagram, and as they say – the rest is history. Four years later I never could have dreamt that what was intended as nothing more than a little side business would not only become my career, but a globally recognized brand.
How do you feel about being a woman in business in the modern business landscape?
Today, there are so many amazing businesses run and created by women and I feel incredibly proud to be a part of this community. It is crazy to think that gender discrimination still exists in business – it certainly does and I have not been exempt to this – however, I do believe it is getting better (about time!) particularly with modern platforms such as Instagram, podcasts and websites bringing attention to, and recognizing women for their hard work and achievements in business. In my life, I know more successful females than I do males – it is very cool to see the tables finally turn and to have younger generations grow up in a world where they can look up to powerful women and can dream even bigger than ever before.
What makes Prene Bags so unique and different?
Prene Bags are made from neoprene – literally, a wetsuit – which is a lightweight, machine washable and vegan-friendly material. Not only is the consumer becoming more conscious of cruelty free products, we are also all becoming more and more time-poor. Having one versatile bag that can carry you from work on Friday, to the gym on Saturday, to the beach on Sunday and then in the wash clean and ready for Monday is not only practical, but also economical. Gone are the days of spending thousands of dollars on a designer handbag for everyday use – Prene Bags are affordable, and I focus my designs on being simple and timeless (as opposed to trend based) so that they will stand the test of time.
“Knowing the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams were given my bag was a pretty “pinch-me” moment.”
What is one of the most memorable moments you can reflect on throughout your business journey?
Being recognized by the Australian Open as an iconic Australian brand to create a custom bag for the tennis tournament last year. As a small, young business, being approached by such a well-known, respected event (living in Melbourne, the Australian Open has always defined summer for me) was an incredibly exciting opportunity to be a part of. It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off – the bag completely sold out in the merchandise store on the very first day! It was also gifted to all players – knowing the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams were given my bag was a pretty “pinch-me” moment.
Current day in the life?
Every day is different and you can truly never predict what is going to happen next, but my days are typically spent problem solving. That’s what business is – continually solving problems.
The first thing I do when I wake up is check social media (bad habit, I know!) and then I like to start each morning with a little bit of exercise – either a walk whilst listening to a podcast, or a pilates class. I find just an hour of “me time” before I start the working day makes a huge difference to how I feel and how productive I can be. If I didn’t do this, I would be sitting at my computer all day.
I then check through the previous night’s orders, check stock, and then it is time to attack emails – across all avenues of the business this is a never ending job – and commence problem solving for the day. I may have a meeting or two, and then I like to start working on future products, promotions or projects.
The working day finishes at dinner time, and after this, I try and force myself to “switch-off” from work and not continually check emails or social media on my phone (this is something very difficult to do when you work for yourself!) I will usually spend some time with my boyfriend or watch a little Netflix or Youtube, and I always write a to-do list for the next day before I go to bed.
How do you like to switch off, relax and unwind?
I really love walking with a good podcast – I live close to the beach and the fresh sea air always does wonders – I find the beach very grounding, it always makes me feel happy.
My other favourite “me-time” activity is a bath. I am looking to move house at present and my biggest worry is moving somewhere that doesn’t have room for a bath! I like putting in Epsom salts to relax my muscles and just zone out from the hustle and bustle for a few minutes.
Personal/professional goals and plans for 2020?
I am looking to further hire and outsource this year to keep up with the company’s growth, take Prene to the next level as well as reduce the workload and pressure I put on myself – I have learnt that you do not have to do everything! I am excited to build up a great team and have some better work-life balance.
I also have big plans to expand overseas into new countries as well as release some very exciting new products. 2020 is going to be a big one.
Whats next for Prene?
There may or may not be a completely new range/sub-brand… my biggest project to date. Watch this space.