My Cover Girl Moment: Australia’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders

Industry recognises dog&boy as a best practice small business

A few weeks ago, I was named one of Australia’s Top 50 Small Business Leaders for 2019 by Inside Small Business. Now in its third year, the Top 50 celebrates small businesses making big waves in a diverse range of industries.

To be recognised alongside such incredible entrepreneurs was a complete surprise and delight. I never expected to make the list, so you can imagine my shock when Inside Small Business asked to feature me on the report cover. Of course I agreed, and the report was unveiled at a launch party in Melbourne on 22 May.

My hubby and son were there to support me through the excitement, the nerves, and the fan-girl moments (more on that soon). 

You can’t measure success, but you can measure progress

I recently wrote about my obsession with continuous improvement and the pursuit of success. In the traditional sense, dog&boy has enjoyed great success since we started out in 2016. But what does success mean, really? Success is subjective. It can’t be measured, which is why I’m always chasing more. However, being named in the Top 50 feels like a different kind of success – the kind that got me raising glasses with the dog&boy team.

Having loyal customers and strong sales is a tribute to our gorgeous scarves. However, being recognised by industry peers is a tribute to our business. It’s validation that we’re doing things right – that dog&boy is a good example of a best practice small business. We have structure, we have purpose, and we have a scalable business model.

For the industry to acknowledge this means so much, because it was all part of the plan. Growing dog&boy with no business background and no formal training in fashion, I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. But even in the most challenging times, I never lost sight of the big picture. Now, three and half years later, to be recognised as one of the Top 50 small business leaders in Australia is absolutely mind-blowing. From a business newbie to an industry cover girl – that’s progress I can measure.

Mingling with my business idols

The launch event was filled with brilliant business minds, including one of my business idols, Marnie Goding. Marnie is the co-founder and creative director accessories brand, ELK. Like me, Marnie comes from a corporate background. Although she’s much further along her journey, we’ve followed a similar trajectory from the corporate world to the fashion industry.

I’ve followed Marnie for years and always been impressed by her style and business values. When I had to take to the stage after her, it’s fair to say the nerves kicked in. I also had to confess to ‘fan-girling’ when we started chatting after the speeches.

Of course, Marnie was warm, friendly and refreshingly down-to-earth. What struck me most from our conversation is that, after 15 years in business, and with stockists all around the world, Marnie is still across every detail at ELK, just like I am at dog&boy. She’s an ordinary person who has achieved extraordinary things through hard work and dedication – and by finding her place in an industry that’s notoriously fickle.

Our place in the fashion industry

Fashion is an exclusive industry that tends to hero high-end brands. However, labels like ELK and dog&boy prove that real people love to buy from accessible labels. They want to resonate with stories and causes and connect with the people behind the products.

This idea of creating connection is the foundation of dog&boy. In a crowded marketplace of established brands with loyal customer followings, we’ve chosen to do something different. Rather than out-do the competition by following fashion trends, we focus on empowering women to feel special every day. We share stories, deliver a quality customer experience, and give back to worthy causes that are close to our hearts. We do this while looking fabulous, of course. It’s all part of the job description. ;-)

My point is, we’ve found a place that’s perfect for us and our customers. In business, you can’t be everything to everyone – but you can achieve remarkable things when you define, refine and align your offering to the people who want it most. I think this is something dog&boy has done well from the beginning. The fact that Inside Small Business agrees inspires me to do it even better.

See who else made the Top 50

Interested to see who else made the Inside Small Business Top 50? You can download the report here. There’s a profile on every person, plus lots of invaluable tips for small business owners. If you have a business idol (or you’ve had a fan-girl moment) I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below or send us a message.

Sonya xx

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4 comments


  • Denise

    Well deserved recognition for a wonderful products. I purchased a scarf via phone on North Queensland back in July and i must say you give wonderful service. The Scarf was a wonderful choice as Gift for my friend. Now I must decide on one for myself..


  • Judith Needham

    Well done you!! And well deserved. Love your presentation of our scarfs. Amazingly I am also an Elk lover!!!! Keep on keeping on.thank you


  • Susan Spelic

    Congratulations Sonia! Your article oozes energy and passion. To be acknowledged for your creative design talents, quality products and general awesomeness or business excellence ;) after years of hard work, problem solving and grit to go keep pushing for success must be fantastic! Your story is inspiring! I’m so glad we met. 👋


  • Linda

    Congratulations! Love your scarves and have bought several for friends and family who also enjoy your beautiful designs. I try to support small local businesses as much as possible and love when the are recognised for their success. Keep up the good work.


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