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10 Australian success stories share their advice

We’ve been scouring the nation to find the most inspiring, extraordinary women, and here are a few of note. Over the past few months we have showcased their incredible achievements within their chosen field – whether an author, a fashion designer, an editor, a business woman; they certainly inspire us to believe that anything is possible!

We have been lucky enough to share the career advice from these wonderful success stories, but here are some of the stand out lessons that made each interview special.

  1. Samantha Wills:Be very aware of how you treat people”

“After all, life is a peoples game. If a situation doesn’t work out, analyse how you deal with / how you were dealt with – how would you do it differently? What did you learn about how your were treated? Replicate what you like & what made you feel good, make a note of your experience of who you also DON’T want to be.” 

FN: For young jewellery designers, what advice would you give?

SW: “Designing good product is not enough. You have to build a strong brand, and authentic brand – and a brand is made up of so many touch points. From voice, to logo, to communications, to packaging, to customer service.

At the start – keep it simple. Keep your messaging singular, add more when you evolve – but keep it concise at the start. Build a strong, core message & product.

 Ask people for honest feedback. Sometimes, especially in start up months & years, you have your head down working on everything, you can often loose sight. Ask people what they think of things, doesn’t mean you have to apply their opinion, but at least be open to it.

And the biggest piece of advice would be give it everything you’ve got – You will loose weekends, you will miss nights out with your friends, but if you want it bad enough, you will make it happen.”


2. Pip Edwards: “One thing that I have learned over the years is it’s paramount to stay true to your creative vision. Be individual and be you.”

“Sass & Bide really embodied this creative ethos, from working alongside the creative directors building creative briefs and design concepts to working on our international runway shows and designing accessories. It was amazing to be across a lot of the creative process, understanding how it was built and based around the creative energy and quirk of the girls themselves who were the faces of the brand. My lesson, Trust your knowledge and opinion. Do your research. Know your customer.”

FN: Your proudest moment?

PE: “These moments build and it’s all a work in progress. I think my proudest moment is yet to come!”


3. Danielle Vagner: “Life is always throwing you a curve ball, so you must duck and weave and hope that at the end you have learnt enough about not only yourself but your business to make it a stronger, more powerful place to be”

FN: Is there anything you wish you knew when you started out?

DV: “I think we have grown as a company over the past 22 years and have learnt so much about retailing along the way. It’s been exciting and inspiring, not only for us but for our amazing staff. Because we had no rules when we started, we made up a lot of things along the way that seemed to work because we were so young, full of hope and so very, very idealistic that anything was possible.

We took chances and experimented, as only the young do, because we had a sense of freedom and a knowledge that if it didn’t work it was a labour of love. Perhaps we needed to make those mistakes in order to become the successful retailers we are today. So the simple answer to your question is, personally, no I wouldn’t change a thing as our determination to succeed, even in the face of all the challenges we have faced, has made us as a company strive harder to be the best retailer in the country! We are passionate about our family business, it has heart and soul and you only ever attain that with a history laced with many highs and lows.”

4. Mimi Elashiry: “Always be polite, have a voice when required and enjoy the process!”

FN: What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received in your career?

ML: “It’s all about experiencing and learning for yourself what works for you and what ways to approach and perceive things.

The best general advice I’ve ever received/my favourite quote is from a dear friend Rita Balshaw, author of Hippies in the City– “All you have is here and now. So surrender and just be”.


5. Zoe Foster Blake: “Really sink your teeth in, and grow your skill set in one area then leverage it to open the next door.”

Zoe worked hard in her 20s, and advocates it for all. Now in her early 30s she has built herself the dream job, and with that comes the freedom to enjoy other aspects of her life without that “where am I going” cloud hanging over.

FN: What advice do you give to young people looking to get noticed?

ZFB: “If you are applying for a creative job – you think creative. If you are looking to work in advertising, maybe sell yourself as you would a product review; if you are applying for a job at a wine company, send your application in on a wine bottle label. So, while working in the magazine industry where you have two seconds to sell a magazine cover to a buyer, you need to do the same for yourself”.

6. Zoe Bingley-Pullin: “Turn your passion into your livelihood and stand out- insincerity shines just as bright.”

I was terrible at school, I got 15/100 for my HSC, had dyslexia, and was never in the principals office for the good reasons. There truly is something to say here for it being okay to take your time to work out where your passion lies. If travelling, working or furthering your studies is going to help you find it- do it. Don’t wait for the spirit to move you.”

FN: Your advice for making it in a make-or-break industry:

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ZBP: “I believe in offering everything for free when you start out.

I created my own program, and went into gyms and gave free consultations until I slowly built up a really good database. At the peak of my business I was fully booked across four days, and was really strict to dedicate one day to growing the business, not seeing clients.”

Stand out. Getting the job should be about passion, not qualifications.

  • Know what your product is
  • Be vivacious
  • Find a contact and exhaust a contact- don’t let your connections go to waste
  • Offer things that people aren’t already doing- know the market
  • Represent what your brand is.”

7. Shelley Barrett:I am sure that I speak for all women when I say that success is about achieving that perfect balance between a phenomenal working career, family commitments and personal life. I strive to work on this every day and feel proud when all aspects of my life are work together in harmony.”

8. Dannii Minogue: “[I think that] Young or old, it is great to have a ‘super’ version of yourself who is able to do all the stuff you want to do, when doubt kicks in.”

9. Lizzie Renkert: “I think that young people have an expectation of early success; you need to be an expert in your field – that will make you invincible.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself- I have been re-written so many times, and while at the time it is heart breaking, if you can learn from the changes you will be all the better for it.”

FN: Is there anything you wish you knew starting out?

LR: “I guess I put so much pressure on myself coming up through the ranks,” Lizzie explains that there is an urgency when you are young and looking to prove yourself. “I guess I wished I enjoyed it a little more. Once you are in a management role, the industry is a whole different ball game – while as a junior you are still going to have the perks, just without the stress.” When asked if she would do it all again there is no hesitation, “Yes, absolutely. I just wish it ended differently- it ended quickly.

10. Co-Founders of Stylerunner, Sali Stevanja and Julie Stevanja: “As cofounders of a start up, the one thing we would tell you is to be resilient. The path you plan will often veer in a different direction so you need to be agile, willing and have the ability to bounce back if things don’t go to plan.”

FN: What is your advice on starting a business?

SR: “Find yourself solid mentors. There are actually a lot of entrepreneurs who are willing to share their experiences. Reach out via Linked In, conferences, forums – just find a way to connect. If you don’t have existing capital, don’t allow that to hinder getting started. Put together a bulletproof pitch and take it the bank, angels, potential mentors or investors with confidence, if you believe in yourself, the chances are they will too.”

The full interviews can be found here, in our Features section.


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