Pinch me, please

I’ve lived in Australia for 8 1/2 years. I swear sometimes it’s passed in the blink of an eye and others, usually in Winter, it slows to a normal pace. Today isn’t Winter. In fact, today was a 39 degree Summer day that pushed my reasoning of “I moved here for the weather,” to the limit. As I sit here at 9pm, boiling in my own skin as it is still 27 degrees, I’m still surprised that I actually live in Sydney.

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I left the UK for a fresh start, coming out to Australia on what was meant to be an extended holiday! Turns out I fell in love with Sydney and the rest is history. Sydney became that elusive, Nicholas Sparks-type turning point for me – a fresh start. After more than a couple of hellish years living in Edinburgh, culminating in redundancy and losing someone close to me. I struggled with depression and migraines that debilitated me at least once a week. I wasn’t living, I was just getting from one day to the next.

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Sydney for me has been a balm that started to heal me – it didn’t fix me, but living here has certainly taught me how to breathe again, how to start to find self-worth and all the things I had lost along the way. I have to pinch myself sometimes, usually when I catch a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge or one of the many beaches in the city. I did it – I moved 11,000 miles away from what I knew and started again. I live in an amazing country and live a life nine years ago I didn’t think I would ever live. Though my opinion on this might completely change tomorrow after a night’s sleep in 27C and another day at 38C – Hell might be cooler!

Asking for business advice is like Googling medical conditions

I’m a planner, I always have been – which explains why I have a “real” job in project management. When I started thinking about turning my love of sewing into something that might make me money I was overwhelmed with the questions and legalities that sprung up. Here’s a few:

  1. Do I need an ABN?
  2. What is all this GST nonsense all about?
  3. How do you actually sell something and will someone aside from my mum really want to buy my handmade goods?
  4. Someone on Etsy already has my name…what the heck do I call myself now?
  5. What’s my market? What is a market?

So, I did what most people do. I gathered a group of friends, bribed them with bottles of wine and food and set about getting some advice. In some ways, I wish I hadn’t. It’s like using Google to try and diagnose a purple mark that popped up out of nowhere – you end thinking you have some kind of viral haemorrhagic fever instead of a bruise. I was left more confused than when I started. I did get some golden gems though, like how to set prices, what to call my sparkly new business and ultimately, the most important, that people would indeed like to buy my handmade wares!

I decided to get some expert advice and popped along to Kirribilli Markets. I had visited Kirribilli years before and was surprised by it – it was thriving where most of the markets in Sydney were dying. I spoke with a woman who sells handmade childrens’ clothing and toys. She gave me the following tit bits of info:

  • Until you are sure you want to commit to this, stay as a hobby sewist – no point in completing all the paperwork for and associated with ABN and GST when you might not stick at it.
  • Be prepared for hard work – especially if you are going to insist on making everything yourself.
  • Social media, social media, social media – oh and some nice looking business cards!
  • Finally, pick a market (of the stall-holding kind) that fits you and your demographic, not the market where you think the most people go.

Sound advice! Finally, the fog cleared and I knew where I wanted to go. I got out my laptop and I drew up a project plan – that’s what happens when your mortgage-paying job is a Project Manager. Equipped with charts, business plans and budget spreadsheets, I got to work

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