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podcast

 

Today I’m chatting with 3 Australian business owners who I’ve watched do big things during the COVID lockdown.  I was curious to find out what they experienced when we went into lockdown, how they decided to pivot and what that period was like for them.

We’re talking about taking action, asking for help, accessing your community, thinking differently and more.  I’m excited to share their stories with you and I’d love you to check them out, follow them and send them a message of support as for 2 of them, this was their first time on a podcast and I think they did an amazing job!

Sharne – Aria Photography and Virtual Wedding Fair

After launching Aria Photography in 2009, owner/photographer Sharne Perrett has grown her small business into a boutique photography studio based at the gateway to the Yarra Valley.

Owner Aria Photography, elope.yv, Valley Loves Wedding Fair and The Education Series by VL.  

Light lover, magazine collector, coffee addict and passionate multi-tasker.

Sharne is a natural people person, professional and down to earth, and loves candid and honest emotional moments. When you combine all those things Sharne was always destined to be a wedding photographer.  With a passion for the industry and its community Sharne lives and breathes what she does, driven by community over competition.

What we talk about:

  • When COVID hit, Sharne lost most of her wedding booking which had been postponed.
  • They were due to have the physical Valley Loves wedding fair in April 2020 which was now not going to happen.
  • Once Sharne realised that, she had the idea for the first virtual wedding fair ever held in Australia.
  • They ran the virtual wedding fair for the Yarra Valley region in Victoria Australia to support all of the wedding industry vendors as well as couples who were looking to still plan their wedding.
  • With a 30% conversion rate for vendors who attended the virtual event was a success and they are now planning to do the first national wedding fair in the coming months.
  • Key lessons learnt during this time have been:
    • Be agile and move quickly
    • Supporting your community can make a huge difference and it builds trust
    • You always learn during times like this and it’s important to keep growing and trying new things.

Connect with Sharne:

https://www.instagram.com/ariaphotographyaus/

https://www.instagram.com/thevirtualweddingfair/

https://www.instagram.com/valleyloves/

 

Michelle – Grazing with Michelle

My name is Michelle, I am a lover of beautiful décor, indoor plants, I have a passion for home styling and entertaining and my inspiration is Chyka because everyone knows Melbourne girls have style!

​I love good food, good company and a glass or two of French champagne (Veuve is my favourite) 

I love to entertain; I will always go the extra mile and this is what you can expect when you book any of Graze with Michelle’s styled foods.

I am a proud mum to Liam and Georgia and I married my high school love Michael and we all reside in the beautiful community of Eynesbury.  

My love and passion for fine food originates from my Italian heritage – we have a strong family unit, entertaining and family get togethers always revolve around good food, lots of laugher and of course it’s loud

What we talk about:

  • All of Michelle’s event catering and events were cancelled
  • She focused on what key dates in the diary were coming up which were Easter and Mother’s day
  • Michelle decided to start to making Easter boxes for kids and when her boxes where shared on social media she ended up with over 100 individual orders.
  • When it came to mother’s day, she collaborated with a local florist to create unique mother’s day gift boxes.
  • From those sales she was able to reinvest in her business which included updating the online shopping capability and technology on her website as well are decking out her garage to be able to cater for all the orders that were coming in.
  • Main lessons where not to give up

 

Connect with Michelle:

Website – https://www.grazewithmichelle.com.au/

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

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

 

Poala – Fluffy Crunch

Fluffy Crunch® is Australia’s only multi-award winning fairy floss service provider, offering a quirky and gourmet twist to a traditional carnival classic. Considering colour is what most people associate with fairy floss, we're so excited to have been able to innovate this food concept by creating a fun, flavour-packed experience, that will shock, excite and get that inner child in you screaming for more.

  1. What is your business and what was the main focus before COVID?
  • Fluffy Crunch® is Australia’s only multi-award winning fairy floss service provider, offering a quirky and gourmet twist to a traditional carnival classic. 
  • Before Covid our focus was doing as many events as possible, often showcasing our products and services in up to 4-6 events a week.
    • The Sydney Royal Show, 
    • Melbourne Royal Show
    • Vivid Sydney
    • The Enlighten Festival and Floriade in Canberra
  • We also had a regular online presence selling party favours for small private gatherings like birthday parties, weddings and corporate activations. 

 

  1. What did you see happen to your business when COVID hit?
  • With the ban on mass gatherings we had lost 80% of our revenue and our entire calendar of events was wiped out.
  • We were actually in Newcastle for the Royal Show when we started to see the impact of Covid. It was probably about two weeks before they announced the ban of mass gatherings but we started to see event organiser cancelling events.
  • It started with Sweetstock and Meatstock in Melbourne then with the announcement on the 13th of March we knew it was all.  

 

  1. What were you thinking, feeling and how long you think it took you to start thinking differently about what you were doing. 

Part 1

  • Our first thought was what are we going to do?
  • We thought our business was over…and to a degree it was, well at least a part of it.
  • We even found our old resume and started to apply for jobs while we worked out our next move.
  • There were feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness and loss. 
  • We had spent four years building our business and it was all gone…or at least that’s how we felt. 
  • The stress of the unknown and thoughts of potentially closing the doors to our business hit us hard. 
  • We started to spiral downwards and panic set in.

Part 2

  • It took us about 5 day for us to bounce back and start spiraling upwards again. 
  • We had reached out to other business owners and to our business coach for support
  • We changed our perspective and saw this as an opportunity to thrive.

What was your plan of action and what happened when you changed things up?

  • Our initial plan of action was to get rid of all the stock we had prepared for the Sydney Royal Show.  We had over 8,000 tubs of fairy floss ready, so our initial reaction was to give it away. 
  • We created a social media campaign which we called “Our Biggest Giveaway Ever” We decided to give away an obscene amount of fairy floss every Friday until we closed down or started to thrive. 
  • We reached out directly to our facebook and instagram community and started sharing our story and situation. 
  • The support was overwhelming.
  • So we decided to give back even more and launched a Campaign we called “Nominate A superhero” where we gave our followers an opportunity to give back to someone on the frontline. 
  • We offered them a way to spread some sweet joy through Fluffy Crunch.
  • We also supported other businesses in our network by sharing their business in our instagram stories and this led to some collaborations and increased engagement. 
  • We repurposed our Christmas Advent Calendar as our Covid-19 Isolation Countdown Box which boosted our online sales. 

What was the outcome of that?

  • Our business model has completely changed. 
  • In the last 90 days our online sales have increased by 700%. 
  • We are communicating with our Fluffy Crunch Tribe of followers more regularly.
  • We had 3,000 new Instagram followers and over 1,000 Facebook followers.
  • On average every month since moving online we’ve seen 10,000 visitors to our website. 
  • But things are changing again as the government is easing the isolation laws, sales are declining and we feel now will be our most challenging time. 

 

  1. What business and personal lessons have you learnt from going through this year? 
  2. Change is inevitable in business: embrace it and look for the opportunities.
  3. Focus on the problem you solve and deliver your product or service in a different way or through a different platform. Embrace technology and focus on improving your online presence.
  4. Don’t over commit and expect your plans to fail.
    •  test things out, 
    • measure what works 
    • be flexible as you learn and refine your products and services. 
  1. Educate yourself and connect with other business owners. Find a program that will provide you with support and help you and your business grow.

Enter the promo code BOLD to get 20% OFF your next online order (Conditions Apply).

Connect with Paola:

Website:  www.fluffycrunch.com.au

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fluffycrunch

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fluffycrunch.au

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2020-06-17

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