We can't believe how lucky we are to celebrate our 5th anniversary with you! What an adventure it has been since 2014, when I decided to change my career path and launch my own business.
In 2014, I was then living in Melbourne, I decided to create a colourful online store, where people could find affordable and authentic Australian gifts and souvenirs to take home or send overseas. At that time (back when the Peanut Butter Tim Tam arrived in the aisles!), it was near impossible to find unique Australian made products to offer to my family and friends in the UK. So I started to contact local businesses and artists, who would not only design their products here in Australia, but also manufacture them locally. My website was growing slowly but surely, and just to make sure the products I was offering were the ones the tourists would look for, a few times a week I started to welcome the international cruise ships in Port Melbourne with my pop up stand near the 109 end of the line tram stop, and I listened to their ideas and reactions about the items I chose for them.
In 2015, I had to deal with a number of unfortunate family matters, so the business took a back seat. I wanted to be there for my family who were interstate during this very tough time, but at the same time it meant I didn't have as much time to push my small business to develop and thrive.
Fortunately, people were starting to believe in my project, and by 2016 my spare bedroom, office, hallway and even garage were filled with beautiful products that I was able to sell to a growing number of customers. I realised that for my sanity (and my partner's, who couldn't park his car in our garage anymore!), I needed to have a proper space to stock my products. I decided to outsource it to a warehouse facility, where someone else would pick and pack the online orders for me. Imagine all the time I would now have to focus on building long-term relationships with my suppliers, learning more about the Australian artists who do such a beautiful job creating hand-made items, and reaching new customers. But surprisingly for me this had mixed success. While I had more time to focus on business development, the warehousing suppliers just didn't grasp the human side of the business. And I didn't like it at all!
In the meantime my partner and I had moved to Sydney to be closer to family, so for two months I rented a storage unit close to where we lived, while I was looking for a proper place for my business. In March 2018 I opened my first ever showroom in Balmain. What a great pleasure to be part of this lively and vibrant village! I loved being able to meet people again, listen to their travel projects, discover why they were looking for gifts for their loved ones or for their colleagues! I finally found my place, that was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was very lucky to be warmly welcomed by the local residents. I recruited my first shop assistant, and now I am proud to employ a team of three lovely women who help me in the everyday tasks.
Today we celebrate the 5th year of the creation of Bits of Australia, and the first year of showroom opening to the public. But not only that - I am glad to celebrate it with you, who supported me during this great adventure, thank you for being there every step of the way. I am glad to celebrate it with my suppliers, who are creating such great products, and with my team, Lucy, Marie and Melody, who do a wonderful job everyday. And of course I am glad to share my success with my partner and family who have supported my project from the start.
So thank you! And happy 5th birthday!