Shopping for furniture is hard. Shopping for kids furniture is even harder, as Kristy Withers discovered in 2010 when she went on the hunt for a wrought iron single bed for her son.
When her husband got sick of her “harping on about the bed,” she decided to make one herself - launching the furniture empire, Incy Interiors, while she was at it.
Coming from a marketing background, Withers admits she had no experience whatsoever in business or design when she started out in 2011 with $80,000 of her savings. “I went into it naively – and looking back now, I think ‘thank god.’ I wouldn't have done it if I had known what was involved,” she says with a laugh.
What was involved was years of working around the clock and the clichéd blood, sweat and tears. Withers became an expert in logistics, manufacturing, websites and production.
Now, Incy Interiors turns over $7 million annually, employs nine people and counts Serena Williams as a fan.
When Williams posted a video of a rose gold Incy Interiors cot on her Instagram, Withers’ phone blew up. “I woke up to 20 different Instagram messages and five text messages from people saying ‘oh my god, have you seen this?’ It was phenomenal,” says Withers, who gets the same kick when she walks into a friend’s home and sees one of her products.
She lists opening her Chatswood Chase flagship store as another business milestone. “It was bloody hard word, and I almost had a nervous breakdown, but we got there in the end,” says Withers who just launched Pay It Forward, a program that helps other budding businesses.
Her advice for women wanting to start their own empire? “Decide if you want it to be a business or a hobby. Starting a business isn’t glamorous, you have to be prepared to work for it,” says Withers. Wise words…
Breakfast of champions: Poached eggs on toast or Granola and yoghurt
Best advice: Work hard. Stay humble.
Hardest lesson: Letting go. When you start out, you do everything, but as grow, you need to let go, which is hard for a control freak like me.
Top interview tip: Dress for the job. It’s surprising what some people wear to a job interview…
Coffee order: A skim latte - boring.
Wind down: My favourite thing to do is read a book, in the bath with a glass of wine.
Reading list: Usually I read rubbish, but I’m reading Gail Kelly’s book at the moment.