hi everyone! can i just tell you how over-the-top excited i am about today’s taking the leap interview. louise bell is the amazingly talented woman behind table tonic – a gorgeous online homewares store based in australia – and such a genuine, down-to-earth person, i feel like i’ve known her for years! table tonic just opened it’s virtual doors this year and already has made quite the splash in print and blogs (even making it into one of my fave mags – australia’s real living!) chances are you’ve visited
table tonic’s colorful & inspiring store site – it transports you away with such beautiful finds as african juju hats and moroccan wedding blankets.
as you all know, i’ve been hard at work trying to start my own online store. so to be able to talk to someone like louise was incredibly inspiring. i love that she talks about how she’s still learning as she goes – doesn’t that just give you incentive to keep working towards your dream?!!
Can you share a bit about yourself…what’s your background? How did you get started?
You know what, I just sat down one night in late December 2009 and started a blog. I had the idea of buying interesting old pieces of furniture from ebay, auction houses and garage sales, and restoring and selling them. I thought the blog would be an interesting way to visually document the process, while at the same time, attracting an audience who would (hopefully) go on to become customers! To cut a long story short, the furniture thing mostly fell away and here I am.
I’m always fascinated by those who are able to take the leap…what hurdles, if any, did you have to overcome?
I suppose the major hurdle was changing industries and starting from scratch. I worked as a graphic designer/creative director in the magazine publishing industry for 13 years, prior to starting up Table Tonic, and could do my job with my eyes closed by the time I was made redundant last November. So, let’s just say I’m learning a LOT as I go, but having so much fun doing it.
What goals do you have for Table Tonic in the future?
I’ve never really been a big picture, ambitious, goal setting type of person. Already, so much has changed since I started it at the end of last year! My main “wish” is to expand the range of beautiful goodies I stock (and to stock the Moroccan Leather Pouffes in every colour under the sun!)
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere – A shop window, books, old movies, people on the street, blogs – the usual suspects!
Can you give us an idea of what a typical day is like for you?
A typical day involves replying to emails (I’m getting more and more enquiries from potential customers, which is good), packing orders and taking them to the post office with my Italian Greyhound, Audrey, listening to Sia, Tweeting, blogging, sourcing new products, managing my finances, sending out press releases – generally trying to be everything and everyone at once!
Creating work and running a small business can be time consuming, can you share how you manage to balance home/work life?
I’m not sure that I DO “balance” it! I basically spend every waking hour that I don’t have the children around me tending to the business, including on weekends, and up to 10.30pm most nights. Occaisionally I will have a night of a week and watch old Bond movies with my husband and 6 year old son.
What one piece of advice can you share with other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Having an online business is such a romantic notion, but there really is so much to know and learn. The more you know, the better equipped you are to deal with any situation. Research and Google things like crazy – there are a bunch of incredible people out there sharing oodles of amazing and inspiring information. Seth Godin (everyone’s fave) immediately springs to mind.
What is the most glamorous part of running your business?
Least glamorous? There is no glamour, let me tell you. None. But there are perks. Meeting and communicating with amazing, creative bloggers and stylists I’ve long admired is a treat. And having all the gorgeous products on my online store at arms reach is heaven. I constantly struggle with my inner consumer, who just wants to keep it all!
Just for fun…what’s your idea of a perfect day?
Waking up in a fancy hotel, finding myself in Lee Matthews (www.leemathews.com.au) with a Gold Amex, followed by a swim in the ocean, lunch with family and friends, an afternoon at a day spa, and dinner/drinks at Jimmy Liks (in Sydney’s Potts Point) with my gorgeous husband. You asked!!
What are some of your favorite blogs or websites?
I hate this question!! Too many to name, but let’s just say I’m loving the ncreasing number of online interiors/decor magazines lately – Lonny, Nesting Newbies, Fryd + Design, SOHI, Rue…
Any guilty pleasures?
Toblerone, a good mayonaise, Gorgonzola Gnocchi, a nice port, margheritas…
thanks louise for stopping by one sydney road and sharing with us!
you can find louise here: table tonic / blog / twitter