Reflections from 4 years in business
Happy New Year! I hope you survived the holiday season and made special memories with family and friends. I stayed busy with dog&boy over the break, but it didn’t feel like work. Despite the stressful days (and sometimes sleepless nights), dog&boy is a labour of love that never loses its shine. Four years into the journey and I’m having more fun than ever. But am I living the dream, like it might seem on the surface? To me, it’s more about loving the challenge. Running dog&boy is no walk in the park, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are my reflections from four years in business – and what’s in store for 2020.
The more you give, the more you get
When I left my full-time job to start dog&boy, I had no idea how hard it would be. Compared to my corporate role, which was secure and predictable, dog&boy seems like a needy child. It requires constant love and attention. It keeps me awake at night. Some days it makes me want to cry and pull my hair out in frustration. But, no matter how much the business challenges me, I love it unconditionally.
My connection to dog&boy is deeply emotional. From the scarves to our suppliers, stockists and customers, I’m invested on every level. Of course, making money and chasing success are natural parts of being in business – but if that was all that was at stake, I wouldn’t have come this far.
Rather than thinking about what I can get from business, I think about what I can give. How can I improve the customer experience? How can I give back to the community? The love I have for dog&boy and all the people who make it possible is what makes me want to keep on giving. The more you give in business, the more you get in return.
Uncomfortable is the new normal
When I reflect on the past four years, I’m amazed by how much I’ve adapted to feeling uncomfortable. I remember the fear at the start of the journey. No formal business training. No formal fashion training. No idea where to begin. Every day was a new challenge that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
In the first year, I was terrified. In the second year, I was still scared but finding my feet. In the third year, I realised there is no comfort zone when you’re running a business. Now, instead of finding that frightening, I find it almost exhilarating. Without the safety net of a ‘real job’, everything depends on me. That has pushed me to challenge myself in so many new, exciting ways.
In the past two years, I’ve mentored fashion students at RMIT University. I’ve presented at the Women in Focus event and showcased dog&boy in New York. In 2019, I was named one of Australia’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders and was featured on the cover of the annual report. If you had told me all this five years ago, I would have died laughing – especially at the cover girl part! They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone and this has been true of my business journey.
Like a swan on the surface
“So, Sonya, you’re one of Australia’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders? You must really have it together”. Um, no… unfortunately not! I like to think of myself as a swan. On the surface, I’m gliding along gracefully, looking like everything’s under control. But, underneath, I’m madly treading water and trying to keep it all together.
It's not because I’m unorganised. I’m a touch pedantic, to be honest. But you can’t control everything in business. No matter how hard you try, issues and obstacles always pop up. Even though I’ve made friends with discomfort, there are still times I feel overwhelmed. The trick is to just keep treading water and take it one day at a time.
This is something I’ve been practicing in the lead up to launching dog&boy THE LABEL. Our fashion line is a dream come true. However, it’s also a huge risk. I know the pieces are wildly beautiful. I know our customers want dog&boy fashion. I know I’ve done everything possible… but, still, there’s no guarantee of success. Until we launch next month, all I can do is keep treading water and being a swan on the surface. Lucky, a great scarf helps me feel graceful, even when my feathers are ruffled!
Join the next stage of the journey
We’ll be taking pre-order for dog&boy THE LABEL in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out! I’d love you to join us on this new journey and secure a limited-edition piece. As always, thank-you for your support. I can’t wait to bring your more scarves, more stories and more simple beauty in 2020 and beyond.