Obstacles and Stepping Stones | Part Two: Kirsty Lovell and hello monday
- November 3rd, 2016
- 4 mins READING TIME
In this series, What’s stopping you?, we talk to a handful of business owners about what held them back and how they overcame different challenges to reach launch. Spoiler alert: barriers exist in every start-up journey. You are not alone.
Have you heard the rags-to-riches tale of Triangl swimwear? It’s a good’n. From living off canned food in their tiny Hong Kong apartment, Australian couple Craig Ellis and Erin Deering launched Triangl in 2012. They set a modest goal to turn over $30,000 in their first year. Instead, they raked in $5 million had created one of the most recognisable bikinis in the world.
When long-time friends Kirsty Lovell, Louise Waters and Carl Tippler caught up for brunch on Australia Day in 2015, the discussion soon turned to the recent newspaper article that relayed the inspiring Triangl tale.
Kirsty recalls: “Carl and I had both read the article and thought ‘this is amazing, how do you come up with an idea like that?’.”
Turns out, the idea was right in front of them.
Hello hello monday
Kirsty, Carl and Louise are the founders of hello monday, an online retail brand offering stylish activewear for modern mums. The label launched this year, but the idea was hatched that same Australian Day in 2015, thanks in part to a fourth person at the table – Louise and Carl’s six-month-old, Milly.
Forever the epitome of a healthy lifestyle, Louise was getting a handle on motherhood and was ready to reintroduce exercise to her routine. Over brunch, she shared her frustration at the lack of suitable attire.
“When Louise was looking for things that were specifically suited to her in that period of her life, they were a little bit off mainstream trends and didn’t look like the rest of the clothes she wanted to wear,” says Kirsty.
“Her options were to either wear clothes that she wasn’t really happy with or to stretch and ruin clothes that she did like.”
The friends had found their niche.
But what now?
“I work in banking, Carl is an environmental scientist, Louise is a public health nutrition expert,” explains Kirsty. “So we kind of looked at each other and went ‘we have no business being in this business’.
“It was all about ‘gosh, how and where do we start?’ but let’s give it a red-hot crack anyway.”
Kirsty found inspiration from a recent encounter with entrepreneur Lisa Messenger at Wired for Wonder.
“She said if you’ve got an idea…put it out to your own research group which is your Facebook friends,” Kirsty says.
“You can see if you’ve actually got something rather than spending loads of time, money and energy investing in something that’s [potentially] got no legs.”
When the group acted on Messenger’s advice, the quantity and rich detail of responses made it clear. The idea had legs. And those legs would soon be wearing full-length compression tights.
As the idea gained momentum, helped along by the fact Kirsty was simultaneously completing her MBA, there were some start-up demons to conquer. Most significantly, the stubborn feelings of inadequacy.
Imposter syndrome is one of the most common obstacles people face when starting a new business. For Kirsty, the solution was found at the same Wired for Wonder event.
“I met a bunch of incredible people doing really incredible things…but they’re just normal people doing great things,” she says.
“I had always thought people like that were smarter or better connected or know the industry inside out. But actually, nobody’s the expert before they start. You become the expert.”
Experts in the making
Kirsty, Carl and Louise are still working on their expert status, but they’ve learnt a whole lot in the past 18 months. hello monday’s debut range was met with fantastic feedback and additional products are already in the works. Kirsty says small, considered steps were key to taking hello monday from brunch brainstorm to burgeoning business.
“[My advice to others would be] dream big but step small,” she says.
“Have a huge idea and be really passionate about that idea.
“Have the end in mind and never waiver from that end, but just take each step as it comes.”