#bethegirl with Tess, founder of Midnight Mischief

Hi Tess, welcome to our #bethegirl interview series! We are talking all about your business journey, the reality of burn out and ‘hustle culture’, dealing with overwhelm and why “To help others you first have to help yourself” is the foundation of your amazing brand!

Tell us all about Midnight Mischief…
Firstly, thank you so much for featuring me on The Daily Pretty! I absolutely love your blog! 

Midnight Mischief is an Australian luxury sleepwear brand specialising in personalised garments. The vision was to fulfill a noticeable gap in the market for beautiful and quality sleepwear that transcended time. I believe the Midnight Mischief customer values quality and timeless pieces over quantity. Our pieces are the perfect gifts for birthdays, new mothers and for the bride to be – or a beautiful garment to add to your night routine to treat yourself!

I’m interested to dive into your business story, where it began, the highs and lows are what it looks like today?
I grew up in western Sydney with four siblings and was raised by refugee parents from Vietnam. Although I had a very loving and colourful childhood our family struggled with having enough. My parents prohibited me from working in high school because they wanted me to focus on my studies. They wanted to protect me from the harsh experiences of labour work because they believed having a white-collar job translated to financial success and a comfortable life. 

I witnessed my parents sacrificing everything to provide for us and saw them fight over money issues. We didn’t have discretionary income to afford experiences like school photos. From these experiences, I had always wanted to be independent from an early age and would try to find ways to be resourceful with what I had. 

My earliest childhood memory indicating that I liked business was when I was in early primary school. My cousin brought over tadpoles she collected from a dirty pond in a foam cup. I had this brilliant idea to sell the free tadpoles for 50 cents each to my neighbours on my street to buy lollies! My cousin thought I was weird but she ended up helping me convince most of my neighbours to buy our tadpoles! My cousin and I still laugh about this odd memory to this day! 

Throughout high school, my decade older siblings became adults and loved to take me shopping. They wanted to provide me with everything they didn’t have growing up. I always chose items from the sales rack because I learned that I could sell these items on E-bay and my Tumblr page at a higher price to make extra pocket money! I hope my siblings were oblivious to this! 

During high school, I loved my Business Studies class and enjoyed learning about big companies like IKEA and Nike. I also discovered my passion for health and wellness in my senior year in high scoop after discovering Yoga. I felt torn between two options; business vs health. I was young and the adults in my support network convinced me health was a great career choice and stated I would “look like I would make a good Physiotherapist”.

I enjoyed learning Physiotherapy however I always felt there was something missing. Towards the end of my new graduate year, I was scrolling through the “Business” section of Gumtree scouting the prices of local physiotherapy clinics. At the time, I wanted to become a leading Sports Physiotherapist with my own clinic. Instead, I came across a striking advert that caught my attention – it was Midnight Mischief. 

I acquired Midnight Mischief after a month knowing nothing about e-commerce. It was a sink or swim situation and I had no other choice but to sprint to the end of the pool. It was difficult at the beginning of the journey. I had the fear of failure looming over my head and I was scared of letting my partner and sister down. They both gave me a loan to help me kick start the business. The extrinsic and intrinsic motivation pushed me to my physical and mental limit as I continued to work full time as a Physiotherapist. I commuted over 2.5 hours a day across Sydney and became sleep-deprived in the process. I lost a significant amount of weight because I was extremely stressed and I also could not afford to buy lunch to eat either! At my lowest point, I was in quite a fair amount of financial debt. To get myself out of the mess, I would request to do extra reception shifts after my clinic shifts. I would finish at 10 p.m. and because I lived 2 hours away from work I would instead sleep in my car or on the clinic beds to start work at 6 a.m. the next day!  

One year later, Midnight Mischief has grown significantly and I am now working full-time in my Physiotherapy career at a location closer to home. This saves me a significant amount of commuting time. I outsource the majority of the specialised work to various agencies and freelancers. I also have an embroiderer to help me with my workload and have someone to help me pack. 

The best part was witnessing my hard work pay off…And I no longer have to sleep in my car or clinic overnight anymore!

The reality of ‘burn out’ is something that you have experienced in the ‘hustle culture’ that is so easy to get overwhelmed by and sucked into. What is your personal experience with this and how has this ultimately influenced your brand?
As mentioned, I was overworking myself to the point of exhaustion. When I had clients, I would always ask them to reevaluate the stressors in their life and schedule time for themselves yet I was being insanely hypocritical. I was neglecting my physical and mental health whilst preaching this advice. 

From this experience I have learned to be less judgemental and to treat everyone with kindness and patience. Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources and tools they have.  

The customer experience is extremely important to me and I will strive to treat everyone as if they were my own family member.  Regardless if someone writes a nice or nasty email I always aim for it to be a positive experience. You will never know what someone is going through therefore it is important to be compassionate towards others. 

At TDP, we absolutely resonate with the quote that you feature on MM’s website, “To help others you first have to help yourself”. How does this fit with your long term vision for your brand?
Physiotherapy will always be one of my main passions as it is critical and so valuable in our everyday life. Without health you have a poor quality of life and I have witnessed it first-hand in my career. I have learnt that pushing myself to my limits is great for self development however when it comes at the expense of your physical and mental well being it is detrimental in the long term. 

In the future, my dream would be to to use profits from Midnight Mischief to benefit society. One of my dreams is to develop a rehabilitation centre in a third world country. This will combine both of my passions and will address the issues of inequality and access to healthcare and ultimately improve people’s quality of life! 

There are so many things I would love to dip my toes in! I have to remember that I have to be patient and focus on the journey. Good things will come to those who work hard for their vision to become a reality.

What would be your advice for women who are finding themselves in a state of overwhelm whether it’s in their business or their career?
Personally, I like to stop what I am doing to take time to breathe and think about why I am feeling overwhelmed. When I continually ask myself ‘why’ I find that I have catastrophised the issue and it normally has a simple solution. I like to talk to my partner and write down all the things on my mind on paper. Usually, once it is written out in front of me I laugh at myself because it usually was not as terrifying or overwhelming as I made it out to be!

What has really helped me recently is reflecting on how I was raised and how I was taught to react in stressful situations by my parents. Digging deeper and understanding yourself and your behaviours is extremely beneficial to optimise your performance and relationships with yourself and others.

What do you like to do to relax and switch off to enjoy some all-important down time?
First and foremost I love to leave my phone in my bag at the gym and MOVE. I find myself so happy and in the moment when I am exercising and when I am listening to my body. Stripping it back to basics and connecting your mind to your body and being attuned with how you are feeling provides you a good insight on where your head space is at and what you really need. Anything to slow down such as yoga or walking barefoot in grass makes me feel grounded.

I am not sure whether this is switching off but I love to read whatever I am curious about and my non-productive guilty pleasures is reading random answers on Quora!

Personal goals for 2020?
My simple goal for this year is to get back into a consistent gym routine and to travel more when the opportunity arises. The past few years I have focused on my career and neglected social and travel experiences. I am also focusing on saving one year’s salary to ensure I am well-equipped to quit my job. I believe this will help me reduce the financial stress that comes with  transitioning full time to my creative passions!

Your range is absolutely stunning and can be personalised with beautiful monogramming. What are some of the other extra special things about MM?
Design wise, Midnight Mischief garments have unique features such as the pocket and thicker elegant cuffs. Our statement monogram is our unique design that sets us apart because no other sleepwear brand offers it! Since we have a professional embroiderer, commercial equipment and top tier designer software we are able to complete any embroidery designs and tailor it to the customers requests. 

I treat my customers at the same professionalism and attention to detail like I do with my physiotherapy clients. I strive to meet their expectations and provide them with an individualised experience. In the physiotherapy profession, we provide ‘patient-centered care’ and I believe in business we provide ‘customer-centered care’ which is an essential value I strive to uphold. 

What’s in store for Midnight Mischief in 2020?
We are currently working alongside Miss Universe Australia which I am extremely excited about! Our new collection will be worn and showcased on the pageant runway. I will expand the kid’s range and silk pillowcase collection in the upcoming months. A new and fun collection of pyjamas will also be released before Mother’s Day!

Where can we find you?
I’m active on my business Instagram @midnightmischiefsleepwear and on Linkedin 

Shop the range here babes and join the newsletter for a sneaky 10% off!

Hayley x

Hayley Payne

Chief Editor

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