Today’s Kick Ass Biz Mama is a lady with a capital L! For the past three or so years she has taken it up herself to teach a new generation of Melbourne’s most stylish how to braid. (And that includes Dad’s too!) So get yourself ready for the next season of Game of Thrones and sign-up to her mailing list pronto.
Tell us about your business – when did you start it and what is it all about?
Braidiance is a Melbourne-based business offering workshops, private parties, and hens’ nights focused on one thing: braiding. In 1 to 2 hours, I teach people who haven’t braided before, or haven’t done it in years. I strongly believe that everyone can learn how to braid!
I got my start in a roundabout way in 2012 at Confest, a hippy camping festival in New South Wales that stands for ‘conference’ + ‘festival’. Attendees can spend a long weekend going to dozens of classes on everything from yoga to joke-telling. The second time I went, I offered to teach a braiding workshop. We spent a couple of hours sitting under a marquee having a great time playing with one another’s hair.
What inspired you to start your business?
I went to a workshop at Laneway Learning (a place for adults to take fun classes, taught by community members). Halfway through, I realised that it wouldn’t be so hard to teach something on my own. But what did I know a little more about than other people? Braiding! My braiding classes quickly became the most popular class that LL has ever run. When I found out there was a waiting list of 200 people, I decided I should definitely start offering classes under my own steam.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
To start a mailing list. There’s nothing more powerful than being able to send information directly to people’s inboxes. I wish I’d thought of collecting emails at every workshop I taught before launching Braidiance. The more emails, the more potential future clients.
What was the most difficult part about starting your business?
I had mental hurdles about how my website needed to look a certain way. But I settled for ‘good enough’ and designed a quick’n’easy one with a template. It’s more important to be up than it is to look 100% perfect.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned about running your business?
It’s pretty intense teaching a room of 30 women how to do half a dozen braids in less than 90 minutes! Because it’s a one-woman operation, if I teach too many workshops too close together I get burnt out. I try to make sure that I’m not over-extending myself.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
No matter when I schedule a workshop, I seem to always miss out on an opportunity to cover an event for my other business, The Plus Ones (a media company/website that focuses on showcasing Melbourne’s best experiences). I just can’t go to everything that happens in Melbourne — though I do try!
What is one thing you wish you had of known before you started your business?
To research prices — I made it up as I went along, and for a while ended up not charging as much for my work as I should have.
What has been your biggest success so far?
What makes me the proudest is when I was hired by the City of Darebin here in Melbourne to offer braiding at a special day for victims of domestic violence. Being able to teach a lifelong skill to women who’d been through so much, a skill that they can use on themselves and their children to make themselves feel better, was very gratifying.
After a long day/night/week what do you do to unwind?
Reading relaxes me. I’m quite addicted: I usually smash through 70-80 books a year. Reading both helps take my mind off worries and fills it with interesting new information and stories. I simply cannot go to sleep without first dipping into a good book.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I plan to continue teaching Braidiance workshops no matter where I am living, in addition to creating a few e-books that will no doubt turn me into a millionaire. The best part about Braidiance is that it’s a totally portable business. People all over the world want to learn how to do fun things with their hair.