Eco Cleaning Supplies Inspired By Australian Recycling – AWNY Startup Stories with Sacha Dunn

Tell us about your business and what inspired you to begin.

I started Common Good when I had small children and became concerned about the chemicals we were bringing into our home. I was equally alarmed by the amount of plastic recycling our little family was generating each week from laundry detergent and hand soap bottles. We remember that in Australia, we’d keep the big plastic container and refill it with a milk carton of laundry detergent. When we couldn’t find anything like that here in New York, we created Common Good and designed a refill station where people could bring their empty bottles, refill them and keep them out of the recycling stream for years.

What is your Ah Ha moment?

That happened before launching Common Good  In my previous career, I was a still life and interiors prop stylist. I used styled for Vogue Living and was the style editor at Marie Claire Lifestyle (remember that magazine?!) When we moved to New York in 2001, it was bad timing to start a new career. But I called a few photo editors and on the third call, the editor said “just keep talking with that Australian accent! I’m so glad you’re here. I only hire Australian stylists and photographer. I’m going to book you on this job.” The accent has been working for me ever since.
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What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business?

The hardest lessons have been about moving from a freelance creative business to manufacturing and distribution. That’s a lot to learn. I feel like I got an MBA in real time. The other big thing I learned, was how to build a company culture. As a freelancer, you don’t work with the same people for very long. Now we have a team of people who are amazing and we look forward to seeing each other every day.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

We were lucky. We created a product we wanted, put it out into the world to see if people would buy it and they did! Beyond that initial success, word-of-mouth is the best thing any brand can hope for and because we have a great mission, we get a lot of people sharing our brand.

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

We have some wonderful mentors! People are either drawn to us by our mission which means we get a wide range of advice from finance to environmental to sales and marketing. I also think we get interest because we’re trying to move the needle in terms of sustainability in a category that is dominated by a few major corporations.

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

Talk to other entrepreneurs! It is like having a baby and will take 2x the time you think it will. At the same time, don’t wait, don’t hold back. If it’s something you really want to do then get to work and make it happen.

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

The whole idea behind Common Good is Australian! It was that A-ha moment of refilling our laundry bottles that lead us to create Common Good. I also think that everything about me is Australian so there are probably a lot of things about how I work that are culturally different because I’m Australian.
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What is next for your business?

We are launching the next phase in refillable household soaps and cleaners! Our new Refill Box Collection uses 83% less plastic than the equivalent bottles and will ship direct to your door.
 

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

We don’t have a promo code but we’d love you to check us out on Kickstarter!

Why the Kickstarter now?

We’re running the crowdfunding campaign because we want to show this product to people and get them excited before we manufacture. We want to get feedback and questions from as many people as possible before we launch. This felt like the best way to get that feedback. We plan on manufacturing in the fall so it won’t be too long before the new products are on the market.

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Follow Common Good on Social Media

Websitehttps://www.commongoodandco.com

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

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/commongoodandco

Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/commongoodandco/

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/commongoodandco/

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

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From Interior Design to Jewelry Design – Eliza from TWO Boss Beads in AWNY Startup Stories

AWNY Startup series: Two boss beads

Eliza Yohana is the owner and maker at Two boss beads.  She creates bold chunky jewelry inspired by both nature and geometry.  She has a background in commercial Interior Design and hails from Melbourne!  She talks to AWNY about how it all began, her challenges and start-up tips.

Tell us more about how you came to the New York area…was it through life, adventure, work or study?

It was through work, not mine but my husband’s!  He is American and we met in Melbourne.  We hadn’t planned to move, but things do change, and in 2012 work opportunities for him were better in New York than Melbourne.   We arrived in Hoboken in October 2012.  Our daughter was 4 at the time.

How was Two boss beads born?

In our first year, I spent a lot of time exploring museums and different districts in New York City.   The area I loved the most was the Garment District with all its bead and fabric shops.  I spent hours in the bead shops and was very inspired by the materials I saw.  I immediately wanted to try out some bracelet designs.  I made and gifted a lot of bracelets in 2013.  Later that year we moved to the burbs so our daughter could go to school.  The business idea was put on the back burner for a couple of years.  I was completely sidetracked by wallpaper removal, light fittings and bathrooms!  By the end of 2015 I was over the renovating (and no it’s not finished!) and considering my options.  When one of the local Moms offered to host a launch party for my jewelry I jumped at the chance.  The party was in December 2015 and was a huge success. I launched my Etsy shop in March 2016.

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Where did the business name come from?

Our daughter was instrumental in convincing me that I needed an Etsy shop.  The name recognizes her as the second boss…sometimes the first!  And I love a bit of alliteration!

What have been your greatest challenges in starting up a new business in the New York area?

I think the challenges I face are ones around working for myself and being an entrepreneur and I think these would apply wherever I set up shop.  In the past, I worked for companies which had structures and parameters to guide me.  More importantly, there were other people to help me along the way!  Now I find that I’m doing everything myself from designing to making, photographing to being an SEO expert.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what task to prioritize to further my goals!

Are you an Australian brand or an American brand?

That’s a difficult question!  I think my aesthetic is very Australian and is a product of where I grew up and my life experiences. This is reflected in my jewelry.  I’d say that it is both and I hope that it is comfortable in either place.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I think my aesthetic is very clean and modern.  It is also playful but stylish.  I’m a big fan of color but don’t generally like combining too many colors in one design as I personally find that hard to wear.  I’m influenced by my years as an Interior Designer and often take inspiration from architecture and interiors.

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Starting up can be notoriously difficult – what’s motivates you to keep going?

I am very harsh on myself and my family and friends are good at reminding me of this! In fact, my local community has been hugely supportive of me.  Also, celebrating small steps or wins has helped me!  And when all else fails I go and make more stuff!

Did you write a business plan or are you intuitively growing your business? 

I started with a simple business and marketing plan.  I find that I am continually revising this as I learn from my experiences and mistakes.  I think that a plan is hugely important.  It makes you think through the why, what and who and it gives direction to all your tasks.  It sounds silly, but I now have a once a week ‘making’ day scheduled (that’s the minimum!).  In my focus on business goals, part of my ‘why’ had gone out the window!

Can you tell me about a great day: a break through, a moment of clarity, making a great connection…a day in the life of Eliza Yohana that inspires you to keep going?

I have mini aha moments often – like the day it dawned on me that I needed to plan my days and months more tactically, so that time doesn’t slip by! Another big realization was that I was making too many different styles of jewelry and this was clouding my vision of my audience.  I saw this as a potential problem when I started but I didn’t anticipate the effect.  I should have listened to my Melbourne friend who said to choose one style!  After nearly a year in business, it is clear to me which type is selling best and which I enjoy making the most and that is what I am concentrating on now.

Recently I have made a great connection with a group of local makers.  I’m excited about that and where it will take me and us as a group.

What are your three greatest learnings in starting up a business?

The first thing that comes to mind is the importance of planning, as I’ve already spoken about.  The second thing is to not underestimate the power of local community – the people where you live.  My local community has been very supportive and I make many more sales here than I do on Etsy.  Thirdly, it is important to switch off.  No one tells you how all-consuming it is to be your own boss.  I find it very hard to switch off.  I haven’t mastered this one yet and it needs to go into the planner!

What advice would you give someone else in a Start-up?

Not to give up too soon! One of my good friends reminded me that the start-up period is typically 3 years – overnight success is great, but some things take time.

Secondly, marketing is King!  Put yourself out there because people want to get to know the real you.  I initially had trouble with this, but am making headway.  This is not natural for me and is something that Americans seem to be inherently good at.  I am watching, learning and trying to have no fear!

Make sure you have access to a mentor or two.  I have some online mentors and the extra opinion is always helpful.

What is your strongest marketing tool?

Word of mouth at present, followed by Facebook.

What is next for your business?

Reaching more customers through other online platforms, a standalone website, wholesale and markets.

Do you have an offer or promo code that you would like to share with the AWNY community?

Yes!  Absolutely!  Use code AWNY15 for 15% off until the end of April 2017.

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Follow Two Boss Beads’ web and social media links:

http://www.twobossbeads.com

http://www.facebook.com/twobossbeads

http://www.instagram.com/twobossbeads

http://www.pinterest.com/twobossbeads

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

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Artist Tanya Chaly explores biodiversity loss through her art in this week’s AWNY Startup Stories

Australian Artist Tanya Chaly discusses the inspiration and challenges of being an artist in New York City.

Why did you come to NYC? 

I moved to NYC in 2006 after living in Dijon, France for 6 1/2 years where I had been teaching at an art school in Chalon-Sur-Saone. My husband’s work brought us to the US but we had been living away from home since 1999, the first move abroad was to the UK.  I feel like I’ve been a gypsy for many years but somehow New York was the first time I moved somewhere and it felt instantly like a home.

What have you been doing since you arrived? As an art business does this pay the way? What else do you do?

No, most artists I know are always cobbling together jobs as a way to earn a living. My first job when I arrived was working as a picture framer doing high end museum work. It was a great group of people to work with in a gorgeous studio overlooking Union Square. I was fortunate to have such a friendly and fun place to work as an introduction to NYC as well seeing all the beautiful work that came through the shop. I also trained and qualified as a fitness instructor and taught bootcamps and classes around the city in between my studio time to supplement my income.

Describe what the start of establishing yourself as an artist was like in NYC.

Hard, exciting and challenging. An artist who had lived here a long time once told me that NYC is like a crucible you either survive the challenges as an artist or you don’t. It definitely was a test of sorts, as you get exposed to so much brilliant, extraordinary work and exhibitions. It’s a great place to tone your work. There is a fierce amount of talent here that I find continuously inspiring. That being said it can be completely overwhelming and you have to learn how to balance it all.  The best advice I got from an artist when I first arrived was don’t expect anything to really happen for at least 5 years. New York is such a competitive and tough place, turned out she was right! I started to get work shown in 2011/2012 and then things just grew from that.

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What has been the highlight of work for you?

Without a doubt my highlight was in 2014, when I received the news that I had been awarded The Explorers Club Artist-in-Exploration-Award (Sponsored by Rolex USA). It’s a $25,000 award for an artist to do a project out in the field. It was an enormous honor and thrill to be selected and it gave me the opportunity to embark on a huge adventure and the most ambitious art project I had ever done. In the summer of 2015 I visited scientists working on restoration project in Gorongosa National Park in Central Mozambique and then I went on to exhibit the work at the Explorers Club in December 2015. I also gave a lecture there about my travels and research. From this experience I began to embark on more art/ science style collaborations and research projects that have involved travel and speaking engagements. I would also add that being featured in Australian Art Collector this year has been another real thrill, it’s been lovely to have some recognition back at home.

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

I don’t have a mentor as such, lots of artists have inspired me and given great advice especially on how to navigate the art scene. One of the best parts of being based here in NYC is that I have had the chance to travel and attend art conferences/symposiums which has been fantastic for networking and meeting like minded people. It’s allowed me access to the University art scene and academic world which is a good fit for my work as I work from a conceptual base. I have also been on a number or residency Fellowship programs which have been crucial to the development of my work.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business/moving to NY?

Be prepared to work hard and in that process find out what you are made of!  Don’t expect things to happen straight away, learn to adapt and go around obstacles, that’s often where the magic is when you diverge off the main path. And never take for granted what a privilege it is to live in such an amazing city!

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

I think my love of the natural world came from growing up in Australia.  Somehow the natural world infuses daily life at home unlike NYC which is such an artificial environment. I am always surprised every time I go home how much nature is ever present even in the cities. The way the bush seems to try to engulf the suburbs, the insects and lizards running around the backyards and the cacophony of early morning Currawongs and Butcher Birds I hear at my Mum’s place.

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What are your favorite places in NYC?

The museums and galleries are all incredible but if I had to pick, my favorites are the Frick Collection, The Rubin Museum and The American Museum of Natural History.

I love to go to the Metropolitan Museum on summer Saturday evenings when the Museum stays open till 9pm. The rooftop has the best view of Central Park and the crowds have all disappeared so it’s the perfect time to visit and explore.

What is next for you and your work?

2016 was a really busy year putting together four solo shows and having work in five group shows. Over the last 6 months I have been on a residency at Brooklyn Art Cluster and I have just completed a big solo show there which is up this month that looks at the drivers of biodiversity loss, (habitat loss, invasive species and climate change).

So I looking forward to starting on some new projects that look more at some of these themes and the scientific community that works on theses issues. I hope to be doing some more travel to biodiversity hotspots and seeing what comes out of these experiences and watch how the work evolves.  Other than that I have a one month Fellowship coming up and after that I will probably be looking for a new studio space!

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Tania’s current show ‘Unravel’ is on display until April 1st at The Cluster Gallery.

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View more about Tania’s work at:

Website – http://tanyachaly.com 

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

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Brisbane ‘nice’ fuses with New York ‘cool’… meet Fashion Startup Mathys Sinclair – AWNY Startup Stories

Meet Thembi Hanify of Mathys Sinclair, who shares her experience of starting-up  a fashion business with her business partner Rachelle Sinclair.

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Tell us about you, what made you move to the USA? 

I came to NYC kind of on a whim, not knowing anyone, and without a job or apartment. I decided to apply for the J1 visa just before my eligibility post-university ran out, and told myself ‘well, if everything fails then I can just fly home!’. And now I’ve been here for over six years.

What inspired you to start the business?

My business partner and I met almost ten years ago in Brisbane, sharing the idea ‘we have to start a fashion label together one day’!

We had always had the idea in the backs of our minds…so once I switched from full time work to freelancing and Rachelle sold her prior label KHALO; we both had the time and energy to create our own fashion label.  I guess it was meant to happen and in 2016 Mathys Sinclair was born.

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Curating art with Gallery Cuevas Tilleard – AWNY Startup Stories chats with Caroline Tilleard

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Tell us about you, what made you move to the USA and what inspired you to start the business?

I moved to New York to get my Masters in Art History. Studying here lead to me work at MoMA, for an art advisor, and for an Upper East Side blue-chip gallery.

I saw the art world from many sides. This helped me discover what I really loved was working with artists of my generation – artists who were dealing with issues I was deeply familiar with. This love was shared by my work colleague Anna Maria Cuevas and together we started moonlighting – visiting studios and curating pop-up shows of emerging artists.

This grew into a full time gallery program in 2015, and now we are adding an artist residency program to the mix.

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

I was thrilled when our exhibition of work by artist Alex Ebstein was reviewed in The New York Times.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

Because art is such a visual medium, instagram is a powerful tool for us. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to buy work they saw an image of on our account.

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

I’ve recently been involved in helping to establish Art/Forward a collective of professional women in the arts focused on building relationships all to foster and advance career growth. It’s been great to be part of a group that is actively looking to share their knowledge and networks.

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