Most people leave university with a degree and a mountain of student dept. Ziah Lane left with a multi-million dollar business idea.
For the final project of her master’s degree in graphic design, Lane was asked to come up with an environmentally friendly brand. Her idea was No Issue Tissues – tree-free tissues made out of bamboo fibres.
Not only did she pass her assignment; but Lane decided her business idea was good enough to launch. “I did so much research for that project and I realised that the technology existed [to make the product], but no one had. It was such a simple idea, but no one had explored it,” she says. Who better to explore it than Lane herself?
While the idea was simple, developing a prototype wasn’t easy for someone with no manufacturing experience. Lane worked on product samples with Chinese suppliers for around a year until she got it perfect. “[That year] was really hard because I wasn’t getting paid, but I loved the idea so much and believed in it, so it was all worth it in the end,” she says.
It was especially worth it when the product launched in Woolworths in 2015. “It was exhilarating. I couldn’t believe the product was on the shelves and people were buying it,” says Lane, who bought a packet herself so she could look at it on the docket. Yes, she totally told the checkout chick that she created the tissues. “I think I embarrassed everyone,” she says, with a laugh.
In the two years since, No Issues Tissues has expanded to Harris Farm, Coles and a major Hong Kong supermarket chain. The business employs eight people and Lane, now 38, is expecting to turn over $2 million this year.
The biggest lesson she’s learnt is that dreams can come true, “You can actually do anything if you believe in it enough.” Here’s how…
Secret to success: They say, love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s definitely the secret; if it doesn’t feel like work then that’s how you’ll achieve success.
Breakfast of champions: Vegemite on toast with eggs.
Best advice: Explore all avenues and don’t give up when something doesn’t work. There is always another way of doing something. Someone very good at business told me that and I’ve never forgotten it.
Hardest lesson: Your gut feeling is usually right. I’ve regretted times when I didn’t go with my gut.
Top interview tip: Good manners are really important.
Coffee order: My new coffee order is really annoying – it’s a flat white with half almond milk, half regular milk.
Wind down: A good massage and a good TV series.