Why Beck Wadworth Left Her Fashion Job to Build a Stationery Brand
You've been working towards building your dream career, but what do you do when you’ve, well, changed your mind? Or maybe you never quite figured it out, and you’re now ready to commit to something you’re passionate about. To celebrate the career changes that can come at any age, we’re debuting a new series, Second Life. We’ll hear from women who got over their doubts and fears and made the biggest changes of their lives.
If you're a loyal MyDomaine Australia reader, you'll be no stranger to Beck Wadworth. The New Zealand-born entrepreneur is the founder of stationery brand An Organised Life and an influencer in her own right. She's somewhat of an organisational expert too, so we've heard from her about goal setting for the year ahead and how to set up your desk for increased productivity, but now we want to get into the nitty-gritty of her career journey.
For our new series Second Life, we spoke to Wadworth about how she built her business from the ground up. Before founding An Organised Life, Beck was working for fashion brand Bec + Bridge, handling its e-commerce, social media, marketing, and graphic design. But at age 24, she started her own venture—the beginnings of An Organised Life—as a hobby. Below, she reveals how she turned her simple idea into a highly-successful business and eventually a full-time job.
Find out more about Wadworth by listening to her interview on the lady-brains podcast and read on to pre-order An Organised Life's new 2019 collection.
When did you first get the idea for An Organised Life? Tell us about your lightbulb moment.
I always relied on a diary year after year to write down my important dates, lists, and goals. When I moved to Sydney from New Zealand I wanted a diary, however I couldn’t find one that was functional yet had an element of style to compliment my monochrome and minimalist aesthetic. I realised there was a gap in the market and this was when An Organised Life was born.
From there I've slowly developed the brand, content and the product offering. I did not have any previous business experience, so there has been a lot of learning and growing along the way. In the last 12 months I finally feel like I have enough knowledge in all areas of my business to be able to develop it and grow it into something bigger.
What made you realise this was something you could actually do as a business, and it wasn't just a fleeting idea?
I started my first year with just 250 diaries. They went crazy and sold out in 3 weeks—I couldn't believe it! My full-time job was very intense and demanding so I decided to hold off (the safe option!) and really work hard for 6-9 months on my production and dispatch research before launching the next round of diaries the following year. Each year I have grown the quantities more and more while I have been learning firsthand from my customers.
From that first year, how long was it until you started working full-time on An Organised Life?
I worked in the evenings and weekends for the first two and a half years. Then I made the leap and went part-time at my job for one and a half years (this was my big growth period where I had so much more time to put into the business) and I just went full-time this year in May. Now that I've done it, I’m over the moon! Time is just so so valuable when running your own business, but I’m so glad I was patient. I had boxes I wanted to tick and knowledge I wanted to gain before I risked running it full-time, and all of it has paid off in the long run.
How did you start to turn the idea into reality?
My initials steps when starting An Organised Life was designing the diary. I wanted it to be functional and luxe, with a monochrome and minimalist aesthetic that would be recognised as the brand's signature look and feel. My background was in graphic design (I studied an Honours degree in New Zealand) and this was the easiest area to start and the core of the brand. From there, I started sourcing printers and manufacturers and sampling the product until it was right.
I was very realistic as to what my strengths and weaknesses were when I started. I knew I could handle the design, e-commerce, social media, marketing and PR, however production, dispatch and accounts were all knew to me. I also started by writing a huge list and a timeline of tasks, research that was needed and contacts I needed to make. I slowly worked away at it.
What did your family, friends and colleagues think of your new idea?
It was definitely a mixed bag! But to be honest it pushed me to work even harder! I’m a big believer in trusting your gut and working on your own journey, so I personally knew it was the right thing for me.
Who were your mentors, or people you turned to for advice, when you first started out?
I didn’t have a lot of mentors when I first started. I was new to Sydney and went into it quite blind, but very eager! I had a few amazing friends who helped me with my launch which was incredible. In recent years, I have turned to so many different mentors for support and advice: Bec + Bridge (my old bosses), Sara Donaldson, Eleanor Pendleton (they are close girlfreinds who have their own businesses), and my close friends, family and partner.
What did you have to learn before you started the business?
The areas I really had to focus my attention on was production and dispatch. I always knew I wanted to go slow, I didn’t want investors or help, and I wanted to learn firsthand all areas of my business, my customers and my products.
Were there any points in the beginning where you struggled?
I think it’s only natural to have doubts every now and then, but the positives always out way the negatives! You just have to keep looking forward.
Can you tell us about one of the early challenges you faced in turning your idea into reality?
Finding a good quality production team was my hardest challenge! I spent lots of time and money sampling with new factories trying to find the right one to ensure the products were of the highest standard.
At what point did you first feel like you really achieved your goals and had become a success?
I can’t remember one single moment. I always set myself goals (big and small) and concentrate on ticking those off. They all help me to grow the business and push forward. I always feel over the moon when a product sells out and when I see customers with their diaries in person!
What advice would you give to others who are trying to turn their idea into a business?
Be as hands on as possible for the first year. Be prepared to work hard. Trust your gut always, and be patient.