I met today’s Kick Ass Biz Mamas by chance, after I posted on an ethical clothing group on Facebook asking if anyone had products they would like to feature alongside my clothing. And boy was I happy I did! A remarkable couple of women who are so full of energy, passion and belief for helping others and making a difference. They are an inspiration to us all, using their privilege in Australia to make a difference overseas.
I have a lot to learn from such amazing women!
Tell us about your business – when did you start it and what is it all about?
Kath and I have created a social enterprise called The Possibility Project, through which we collaborate with slum communities in India and together we are building projects that deliver dignified living through socially conscious work. We have a product range called slumwear108 – these reflect three things that we want to nurture in all communities – contribution of a persons skills, the creative spirit and a sense of community.
What inspired you to start your business?
The business is a natural extension of our passions, mixed with the life-cycle we are in. I have four children, and Kath has three – ranging from 18 to nice. As all of us get older, we have much more time to dedicate to what has wider purpose and joy in our lives. I loved being a high school business teacher, and Kath is a designer, so we put these gifts together to create a social enterprise delivering greater social justice – it just made sense on every level.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
I wouldn’t say our husbands were skeptical but they were ‘realistic’ and every bit of advice was helpful in terms of strengthening our own belief in ourselves. They didn’t get us or what we were doing – so we knew we were on the right track – because essentially we are peaceful rebels!
What was the most difficult part about starting your business?
Honestly – there was no difficulty. It has never been easier to start something – Google is our best friend! The trick is to sustain your business, but if you hear one of our presentations you will understand how we are able to sustain ourselves and our families simply from the attitudes we hold. At the end of the day, your attitude is the only thing you have to make things not difficult.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned about running your business?
Yes! Have faith in what expands your heart. I am more mental approach than Kath – I would go down the conventional ways of doing business, and it was neither effective nor efficient, and it was usually joyless – but every time we have followed our hearts, the impacts have been far greater than we ever thought of.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
None – what is needed is ‘surrender’ not sacrifice! Think of giving over stuff rather than giving up – this way you are usually letting go of all the negative emotions that do arise. Of course as mums we could feel guilty about missing school things when we travel – but what purpose would that truly hold? If you look at what we do, our kids are so proud and are so supportive because it brings such joy to so many (especially ourselves).
What is one thing you wish you had of known before you started your business?
Having taught business and economics for over 20 years I probably ‘knew’ too much and that sometimes stifled inspiration and creativity. The process has been all about un-learning actually, and just doing. If you are comfortable with the idea of failure – then there is nothing you need to learn!
What has been your biggest success so far?
The establishment of Sparrow Sanitation, which is our project that makes compostable sanitary pads for slum communities and building the vocational education program that goes along with that. It is still in early stages and we need all the support we can get, but we absolutely believe in what we are doing.
After a long day/night/week what do you do to unwind?
Simple. Kath likes a beer and I like a Pepsi! Being with our teenage kids and their friends is wonderful too, they have a beautiful energy that reminds you of both the strengths and fragilities of what it means to be human – it is humbling.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
We have no idea – we just know that if it feels divine – we will be doing it.