Luxury Dog Brand: Wolfpack – Launching this November – This week’s AWNY Startup Story.

Hayley Whitfield, a former management consultant, swapped the office for her luxury dog coat and accessories brand – Wolfpack. Launching this fall with a selection of luxury coats to help your dog adjust to the freezing New York winter.

Hayley is also a valued AWNY Committee Member working with the events team to create many of the wonderful AWNY events held this year.

Tell us about Wolfpack and why you decided to start this business.

Wolfpack is a high end brand of dog apparel and accessories created in dedication to my Miniature Poodle Rosa. It is centered around luxury leather jackets – think burgundy embossed leather with Italian antique brass accessories at the high end and a distressed vintage brown parka at the lower “urban” end. I’m launching my first collection in October, in preparation for the chilly winter air.

My desire to create the brand stems from my first experience with a New York winter and attempting to dress Rosa in warm clothes. I grew up in rural Victoria and spent 5 years in sunny Sydney before relocating to New York in 2014, so needless to say to an Aussie audience, that I was not prepared for the polar vortex that I walked into and I certainly didn’t have the appropriate attire to deal with it!

I had never before considered dressing my dog and to be honest I was a bit embarrassed about doing it! I sense my dad rolling his eyes at the thought. After navigating various dog jackets for their durability, warmth and aesthetic I found myself a bit lost and frustrated and decided that I wanted to create something for Rosa that was more like her – this maturing, elegant New Yorker. And so the burgundy leather jacket was born and so was the idea to develop a whole collection around it – luxury for the urban wolf.

You are at the very beginning of your business, what have been the hardest lessons in getting started so far?

Patience, persistence and trust!

Patience and persistence have been the most important skills I’ve had to develop so far. I started my business 6 months ago and I have been learning everything from scratch. With a background in management consulting, I didn’t have any knowledge about garment design, materials sourcing, production partnerships or how to launch a product into a wholesale and retail environment. I had no contacts and no idea where to start. I just followed my nose and chipped away at the challenge.

Never creating a product before, I foolishly expected that by just working hard it would translate into results. I am interacting with so many different groups along the supply chain that I actually don’t have much control over my pace and progress. So I have learnt to manage my own expectations around timelines! I’m dealing with some fabulous Italian suppliers who march to their own beat, progress at a leisurely pace and then drop a bombshell like disappearing for 4 weeks to holiday in August. Not anticipating this, my launch date has been completely derailed. But you don’t know, what you don’t know.

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On reflection, I think the most important lesson I am learning is to trust that myself – my pathway, my decisions, my progress is ok, even though there are no visible signs or feedback. I am learning to trust myself and to be comfortable in what often feels like a suspended state of the unknown. There is no validation from a superior when you are the boss. There is little consumer feedback before you have launched a product. So I am learning to trust my instincts and not be paralyzed by the unknown. Whilst this is daunting, it also makes me feel a lot more present and alive.

Where are you looking for mentors, how have people been with sharing information and their networks?

So I haven’t found a mentor yet, but I’d love one! I’m straddling the pet industry (typically quite novelty, lower end retail) and high end fashion and it’s been tricky to find someone with insight across both domains.

However, I have formed a pretty good network by immersing myself within the industry. I have attended pet charity events, casual classes at Fashion Institute of Technology and trade shows for textiles and finished pet products. I’ve connected with other business owners within the pet industry and designers within adjacent categories like leather handbags and accessories. What’s amazing about this city is that everyone knows someone – it’s so diverse – I have found networking in New York to create quite magical connections in a very organic way.


I’m also engaged in some free business seminars through Brooklyn’s SCORE chapter and I’ve applied for some cool women’s mentorship circles through LeanIn and Ok Real. I believe the way you approach a problem is completely influenced by your frame of mind, by the way you feel in the moment. I find women in particular do a really great job of supporting one another, so that we can each take on new challenges in the best frame of mind. So I’m on the look-out for a great female mentor.

What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’

So I am definitely not (yet!) at the “I’ve made it” moment! But I certainly am in the intoxicating inspiration phase. New York is an incredibly vibrant, diverse city. In 2015 I left New York to travel the world with my husband for a year. Deciding that I would dedicate 2016 to cultivating my first business, I knew wholeheartedly that the best place for me to do was New York. This city buzzes with ideas, enthusiasm, niche interests, energy and I am thankful every day for the continued inspiration and momentum that this city affords its residents. So I certainly haven’t made it in the USA yet, but I sure am loving it’s inspirational energy!


What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?

Starting my own business was something that I spent time thinking about for years before getting going. The hardest part for me was simply making the decision to start – to give myself permission. If there’s anyone else feeling this way, give me a call! I would love to sit down and chat with you about your idea and how you could get going, in a way that is not overwhelming and allows you to ease into the process of trusting yourself.

In general though, my advice: Don’t waste time feeling overwhelmed and get comfortable with imperfection….

Starting a business can seem overwhelming, there are a million things to do and you could do all of them. There are several versions of your idea that might all be great. So where to start, where to focus? The answer to me is: start anywhere! Pick a task, start small, one foot in front of the other. And give yourself permission to be imperfect. The most helpful lesson I have learnt is to approach design tasks with an iterative expectation.

There are many evolutions of everything I create – whether its branding, product, or strategy. I have learnt to simply start small and build upon it. This has been my saving grace. Typically, I’m not much of a perfectionist, but I have noticed myself falling into that trap and perfectionism is paralyzing! I have found that an iterative approach releases me from that paralyzed state and I would greatly encourage anyone starting out to find a way to release themselves from any paralyzing expectations! Get comfortable with the idea of imperfection – expect it, accept it – and enjoy watching your ideas improve with each iteration.

Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?

The underdog mentality!

Lisa Messenger’s book ‘Daring and Disruptive’ spoke to me. I read it on a flight to Perth and was compelled to highlight all the quotes and scribble my ideas along the margins. Lisa shares insight about being a girl from a NSW country town, recently divorced and having the balls to start a business in a contracting market. I love her story because it’s not about getting everything right, it’s about giving it go, making mistakes, being the underdog…. I think it’s very relatable as an Australian – we love an Aussie battler.

Starting a business without any idea of what you are doing, no understanding of the industry or the sales cycle and no real connections to help you out – to me, that’s a great representation of an underdog journey. Aussie culture teaches me that it’s ok to be the underdog and I think that keeps me sane most days.

What is next for Wolfpack?

The launch! I’m transitioning from development into production and I’m so excited to see my designs manifest into something tangible. This is an incredibly exciting moment and it will be the first real opportunity to get substantial market feedback – I will be throwing my baby out into the world! After I get a true sense of the market’s response, I will then be able to pivot / plan my next move for the business. And the most fabulous part, is that anything could happen next. It’s such a great feeling and I’m so pleased to have given it a go.


Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members?

15% Discount to the AWNY community, 1 per customer, valid until Christmas with promo code: WE LOVE AWNY
The Collection will be available from November, with free shipping across the USA.


Follow the Wolfpack at: 


Love this AWNY Startup Story? Want more?

Register for our monthly newsletter and be kept in the loop for our upcoming Startup Stories event where you can hear more stories like this first hand and meet some of Aussie women entrepreneurs.

Blog – https://australianwomeninnewyork.org 

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/AUWomenNYC/ 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AUWomenNYC 

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/auwomennyc/

Are you an Australian female who owns a business in New York?

If you do and you want to tell us all about it, email us at awny@aaanyc.org



Faces of AWNY: Courtney Bae


Courtney Bae is an Australian artist, who has been living and painting in New York for over eight years. We spoke with her about what brought her to the Big Apple, her transition into being an artist, and of course, what she loves about New York City.


What brought you to New York City?

I moved to NYC from Sydney to study fashion at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). After working at 3.1 Phillip Lim and Prada Group as a visual merchandiser, I became an artist. I paint figurative works with oil on linen, and I also draw illustrations.

Where do you live? Why did you choose that area?

I lived in SoHo for most of my time here in NY but I have spent the past year in Bushwick and I absolutely love my neighborhood! Or maybe I should spell that “neighbourhood”? I moved here to Bushwick to live with my wonderful boyfriend and now we have a cozy home and an extremely adorable cat.

What do you like/dislike about living in NY?

I love the opportunities here, you can do anything you want as long as you figure out how to manage pressure and stress so that it doesn’t overcome you but rather, so that you can really own your world. There are activities and ideas that you just don’t get back home. At the same time I have to admit that I adore Sydney because of the way it is everything NY is not. To me Sydney is somewhat isolated and untainted, which is really such a beautiful thing.

Courtney Bae painting in the studio.

Courtney Bae painting in the studio.

Tell us one of your ‘only in New York’ moments?

Where do I start? Moments like after I get into a cab huffing and puffing because the person after me tried to upstream me and steal my cab! Or moments like when they bag my coffee?

Any advice for people moving to NY?

Be brave and do it! But be sure to get home to oz regularly and to call your family as much as you can! That will keep you strong and grounded. In NY you’ve got to look after yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.

As a professional working in NYC what are the differences to working in Australia?

NY working hours are longer and harder but you do great things and you walk away rewarded. In Australia, I think it’s more typical that you get to enjoy a healthy and balanced lifestyle but maybe you’re not always recreating the wheel everyday at your work desk.

Continue reading


LookBooker is NYC’s largest online platform for discovering, browsing, and booking hair and beauty appointments online – AWNY Startup Stories

Giorgia Rossi and Renee Robbie were busy working long hours as Management Consultants in Sydney and while trying to find time to get a hair appointment came up with the idea of doing online appointments and the idea for Lookbooker was born. We talk to them about their startup here.

Tell us about LookBooker and what inspired you to come to the USA.

LookBooker is NYC’s largest online platform for discovering, browsing, and booking hair and beauty appointments online. We work with over 350 of NYC’s best salons, spas, and barbershops to make scheduling your next grooming appointment as easy as booking a hotel, restaurant, or taxi. Think of us as OpenTable meets hair and beauty: we’re trying to take one of the oldest industries in the world and move it from offline to online.

We had the idea for LookBooker when we were both living Australia and thought we’d come to New York, the world capital of hair and beauty, and see who was doing online appointments well here. In the middle of winter, we trekked around interviewing salon owners until we realized there wasn’t anyone helping digitize the industry, and the opportunity in the US was too big to ignore. Personal grooming is a $53B industry and there are over a million salon and spa businesses. That was inspiration enough for us to pack our bags and start LookBooker in NYC.


What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’

Walking into the Vogue offices for an interview about the launch of the LookBooker app.

What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business in New York and how does it differ to Australia? 

We haven’t started a business in Australia so don’t have that to compare to. It can be hard sometimes to not have the support network of family and friends around when you are going through the emotional rollercoaster that is starting and running a business. We are fortunate that we have each other and great partners and friends in NYC, but it would be nice to have our full Australian crew around sometimes!

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

LookBooker has grown most successfully through word of mouth. We’ve found that the average New York woman will have 3-4 conversations about hair and beauty a week; that sounds like a lot, but you’ve probably complimented someone on their makeup, or asked someone where they got their hair done this week, and we want LookBooker to be a part of as many of those conversations as possible. We have recently launched a referral program so there is a little added incentive to talk about LookBooker when you’re at brunch with your friends, and that’s been working really well in spreading the word!

Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?

We are fortunate that we have some incredible mentors and advisors who have opened their networks to us, and who provide invaluable advice as we tackle the growth of the business. We have been humbled by how willing and forthcoming people have been to make introductions, have coffee, share advice.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?

Don’t feel like you have to have all your ducks in a row. We meet so many people who say they want to start a business but are just waiting until they get their promotion so they have a little extra padding, or until they meet the perfect cofounder, or until they have figured out every detail of the product. Starting a business is uncomfortable, but you have to get comfortable with that discomfort, and the best way to do so is to just start and not feel like there’s going to be a big sign in the sky telling you now is the time.

You are Co-founders of LookBooker – what are the challenges and pleasures in starting a business with a friend?

Fortunately for us it’s mostly pleasures! We both come from families that run businesses, and so we’ve always been comfortable with the idea of personal life and business blending into one: in fact we kind of like it that way, and so we can’t even complain that when we’re hanging out together on the weekends we usually end up talking about work, though that might be some people’s idea of a nightmare.


Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?

Our team now knows a lot about Australia. Aside from the occasional packet of Tim-Tam’s in the office and the introduction of phrases like “no worries” and “this arvo” we like to think that we bring the more Australian no-BS way of working to our business.

What is next for LookBooker?

We’re continuing to add dozens of new salons and spas to the platform each month, push out new features to the app, and make sure our users are having an awesome experience discovering and booking hair and beauty appointments. Right now we’re focused on continuing to grow in NYC, but our aspiration is for LookBooker to be in all major US cities in the next couple of years and we’re working hard towards that.

Is there anything else you’d like to say here?

Not knowing where to go for a haircut, color, manicure or massage when you move cities can make you feel totally out of whack, and finding the perfect place to go can make a big new city like NYC feel a little more like home. We hope LookBooker can help the women of AWNY discover their hair-and-beauty go-tos, especially anyone new and settling into the city!


 Optional – Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members?

We’d love to extend the offer code AWNY15 for $15 off your first appointment to try out LookBooker: download the app in the App Store or on Google Play. If you’re looking for a personalized recommendation you’re always welcome to drop an email to appointments@lookbooker.co and our beauty concierge will make a recommendation.

Follow the Lookbooker at: 

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/lookbooker1 




Website: https://www.lookbooker.co 

Love this AWNY Startup Story? Want more?

Register for our monthly newsletter and be kept in the loop for our upcoming Startup Stories event where you can hear more stories like this first hand and meet some of Aussie women entrepreneurs.

Blog – https://australianwomeninnewyork.org 

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/AUWomenNYC/ 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AUWomenNYC 

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/auwomennyc/

Are you an Australian female who owns a business in New York?

If you do and you want to tell us all about it, email us at awny@aaanyc.org



From Melbourne via Hawaii to New York – Inspired by love, Paris Awong creates luxury wedding products in this weeks AWNY Startup Stories.

Love is the business for Paris Awong of the Paris Awong Collective! Following love to Hawaii and getting married inspired her collection of luxury wedding products.

You hail from Melbourne but came to New York via some time in Hawaii! That’s an interesting transition. What brought you to Hawaii and then to the Big Apple? 

The old fashioned answer of ‘it was a boy!’ That is what drew me to Hawaii. My dream of living in New York began when I was young, travelling here many times with mum + dad for their work. This planted the seed, and after many years of planning my move, 2012 was the year. Little did I know that at that same time I had just met my future hubby Joey, who is from Hawaii.

So this developed a new and fun sidetrack adventure, and off I went and moved with him to alohaville!

After a few years my handsome Hawaiian popped the question and it was wedding planning ahoy! After 6 months of being a Mr. + Mrs. we decided to continue our adventure, and ‘New York’ was the title of the next chapter.

As the year 2016 began and my business launched, our flights were booked and over the seas we came to our new island of Manhattan.

Tell us about Paris Awong Collective, when you started and what inspired you to want to start this business?  

It’s the common story of how most entrepreneurs start, they think of something they wish existed, and then go ahead and do it themselves.

Well this was my story also. During my engagement, I imagined so many products that I would have loved for myself and as gifts for my bridesmaids, that during my hectic wedding planning schedule, I also had a side business I was developing in the back of my head.

Once I was in wedded bliss and had more time on my hands, the physical planning of a business-to-be began. Ideas and designs were flowing as I let my creative urges soar, along with the marketing and PR side of it to build the brand and name before the launch.

Growing up within a creative and artistic family and studying design and graphic art, I had always known that I wanted to branch out and develop my own business within a field that I loved. I just needed to wait for the moment in my life that inspired me and fed my imagination, and my engagement was just that!

While planning my wedding, the main idea was not of a standard cliché wedding. I wanted to create an event resonant of a high-end modern yet romantic gala and cocktail party, and this is the theme I carried through to my products.

‘Luxury products inspired by modern style’.


Do you design and manufacture your products? Tell us about that and how you oversee the process? 

From the moment an idea comes into my head, to the finished product arriving at my door, I am involved 200%. My favorite part is the design. I create a product, almost to the finished result, in my head, and then I source individual manufacturers whose skills are specific to each product.

Having separate manufactures for each product isn’t the most cost effective measure to take, but knowing that they have individual skill sets focused on each of my creations makes it worth it.

Launching a business can only be done once, and first impressions of the debut collection sets the stage for what’s to follow.

Do you sell online or in retail stores as well? 

After designing our website, I launched the business with our online store allowing our products to be accessible worldwide. Now, after being in business for 9 months, we currently have a number of retail boutiques + online stores carrying the debut collection within Australia, NZ, USA, and Canada.

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How did you go about getting your product into stores? 

Many stores contacted me directly, which was amazing! I had an Australian online wedding registry website order a number of products before we even launched, which was a great sign that my marketing strategy was working!!

I then showcased our products at a trade show here in New York which grew our network and stockists to the US and Canada.

I am now currently researching stores that stock similar luxury lifestyle products to grow our wholesale client base in order to build our network for our growth in the New Year.

What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?

I really push myself to the max when it comes to my dreams, and for this, I feel that my ‘Ah Ha’ moment is still ahead of me in the future. However, I do know that this business is growing and my dreams are being chased and caught.

Making the move to New York and launching my own business were two separate ambitions that collided and are now developing each other in ways that I am so excited by!

What have been the hardest lessons in starting your business? 

The main part that was the hardest for myself, and many new business owners, was trusting in myself to take the risk. I believed in my ideas and products, however, committing financially and mentally to focus on this new endeavor within my life was tough.

Knowing that creating and owning a business was a part of my vision, and that design and marketing are my strong skill sets, made me trust in myself and drive forward with all that I have.

Some people ask how I started it all and then took my business to New York?…’I just did it!’

Do you find business to be seasonal or quite steady? 

Being a new start-up with only 8 months down, it’s hard to compare the seasons at this stage.

In developing my debut collection, my aim was to design products that were universal and not seasonal. Luxury items for fashion femmes, brides, and newlyweds, which are required and desired year round.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

My initial marketing began down the social media route. I developed our website to include a Blog which could also be shared through social media. The more avenues you mention your brand and have clicks and interactions, the more links will be available on the web to build your SEO and status on search engines.

Through social media, I have also been contacted by a number of magazines to photograph select items to include within their product pages. These published advertisements have been a great draw card to other customers and potential stockists.


Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks? 

The most amazed and inspired I have ever been, was when I saw Sir Richard Branson talk at a convention in Melbourne 5 years ago and then afterwards personally having dinner with him!! Yes, this was an insane evening, and an evening that really made me think about Richard’s struggles and failed start-ups and how much drive he had to push through. And thank god he did!!

This meeting was the basis of all my questions within myself.


In addition to that, I have many close friends who inspire me everyday that have started their own businesses and are successful. The insights and back and forth banter with someone who knows the feelings of a ‘start-up’ makes for a great therapist and career advisor!

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business? 

If you know what you are great at, and you have a drive in you that makes you constantly push yourself in whatever you do, then you may just have the strength to take on your own business.

Believing in your skills and talents is ultimately what keeps you confident in pursuing this endeavor.

Like I said before, ‘I just did it!’ Sometimes over thinking things has its burden and can scare you away. If you know your strengths, skills, and have developed a sound business plan, then take this risk and give it a chance!

Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business? 

I feel that Australians have a unique and creative sense of style and design, and this is very much noticed and celebrated internationally. This creative eye that we hold I feel is unique to us, and I feel lucky to be a part of this contribution.

What is next for Paris Awong Collective?

Behind the scenes I am growing and expanding into more avenues. Currently we have our Bespoke Weddings line, which we will continue to grow, and soon we will launch our homewares and men’s line within the New Year.

Our aim is to branch out into more stores within the US and also take it across to Europe.

Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members? 

Of course!! To my fellow Aussie friends take 20% off storewide with the code: AUSSIE20

Enjoy your Luxuries!! Xxx


Follow the Paris Awong Collective at: 





Love this AWNY Startup Story? Want more?

Register for our monthly newsletter and be kept in the loop for our upcoming Startup Stories event where you can hear more stories like this first hand and meet some of Aussie women entrepreneurs.

Blog – https://australianwomeninnewyork.org 

Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/AUWomenNYC/ 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AUWomenNYC 

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/auwomennyc/

Are you an Australian female who owns a business in New York?

If you do and you want to tell us all about it, email us at awny@aaanyc.org




AWNY Picks: What’s On in October in NYC

We’re heading into cooler days, holiday craze, and the brilliant colors of Autumn. So far we’ve not needed to pull out the sweaters, but this weekend will see us layering up and keeping out of the chill. Hopefully you’ll have the chance to get along to one or two of the great events happening in New York over October, here’s AWNY’s pick of the bunch.

Curated by the AWNY Communications Team

We all experience the emotional highs and lows that come with moving from one side of the world to another. The very popular Emotional Transition of Moving to New York event is being run again in October to help us share our experiences, feel connected, and overcome some of the challenges associated with such a big life change. Two sessions are being run – one during the day on October 14th and one in the evening on October 18th. Further information and to book, visit the AWNY blog post on the event here.

The Dwelling Place, an NYC based charity that provides transitional residence to homeless women in New York, and AWNY’s chosen charity to support in 2016, is hosting it’s annual Fall gala on October 20th. Join the AWNY table for this event by RSVPing here.

Today only! A rainy weekend is a great excuse to browse the Affordable Art Fair and thanks to Van Rensburg galleries, AWNY members can get $10 off the entry price. Not much time left for this event so get in quick. Tickets available here.

If you’re walking around NYC while reading this, looking for a brunch spot, then go and watch the NRL Grand Final replay at The Australian at 12 midday. Great Aussie food and atmosphere and a perfect brunch spot.  Details available here.

The New York Food and Wine Festival starts on October 13th and there is so many events on during the three days you’re sure to find something that appeals. The big-star events aren’t cheap, but there are plenty of fun classes, demonstrations, and walk-around tastings that are budget friendly. Hop on the website and check out the full list here.

Another great festival to experience in New York City is NY54 – the New York Film Festival, now in its 54th year. It is running until October 16th, with showings in or around the Lincoln Centre. Tickets are very reasonably priced and there’s an incredible mix of screenings to choose from. Tickets and info from the website.

From Freight to Flowers – tour The Highline! While it’s unlikely you haven’t yet enjoyed the magic that is The Highline, in October you can join a free tour and learn about the story and history of New York’s park in the sky. Tuesdays at 6.30PM and Saturdays at 10.00AM, running until October 29th. No need to register but it is recommended you arrive 15 minutes prior to the tour to guarantee a spot. More information available here.

Greenwich Village Halloween Parade is a fun, over the top event that you should see at least once in New York. It runs up 6th Avenue from Spring Street to 16th from 7pm onwards.  The organisers recommend you get there early to secure a good spot. Exact route and more details can be found here.

Photo credit: Joanna Hishon