Behind the Biz: Sophie & Shelley
It’s an exciting time in the Rust office, as we bring to you our first duo interview!
Meet Sophie and Shelley the mother-daughter duo behind love billie, a retail store that showcases products from Australian small businesses. Sophie and I have been chatting on Instagram for a while now – swapping how to’s for shopping on Instagram and cheering each other along with launches. There’s nothing more invigorating than supporting fellow gals in biz – particularly when we share a passion in supporting up and coming creatives.
In this interview, Sophie and her wonderful mum, Shelley, share their experience of growing a business together, running love billie from separate states, and a whole the ins and outs of running an e-commerce biz. If you love supporting local and treasure hunting, then this one’s for you.
Who’s That Girl(s)?
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Thank you so much for having us!
We are a mother-daughter duo, and we opened our online store ‘love billie’ at the end of 2018. Our range of treasures have been specially curated by us and are all handmade in Australia. All of the treasures you’ll find from us are from small businesses and creatives, made with a whole lot of love! We love to tell the stories of our makers over on our blog, too!
How is 2019 shaping up for you both?
So far, 2019 is fantastic! Having launched in November 2018, we’re really finding our feet in our little business and have so many exciting new ventures coming this year. We started off with our feature in frankie magazine which was a dream come true, and we are preparing for our first market at the end of April! As well as many new ideas that will come to fruition soon.. watch this space!
What was it like living in Melbourne?
Sophie: I absolutely love living in Melbourne – I made the move over at the start of 2018, having lived in Adelaide previously. It’s super inspiring and feels like the perfect place for me right now, with so many amazing creatives chasing their dreams! And of course I love to indulge in the amazing food culture there.. the city just has such a buzz to it.
My mum, Shelley, actually lives in South Australia still, where I grew up, so I make regular visits back to see my family and visit the warehouse and get to work with mum.
What is home to you?
Shelley: Being by the ocean is what makes me feel at home. Here in Kingston S.E in South Australia, our home is by the sea, where I love to spend my time – it’s so calming and peaceful to me.
Sophie: Having grown up on the coast, I also feel at home anywhere by the ocean. I now live in Brunswick which is an inner-city suburb of Melbourne, but I always find time to get to the sea when I can. It really grounds me and I feel at home.
What were your professional backgrounds prior to launching love billie?
Prior to launching love billie, we always had dreams of pursuing some kind of creative path. Now that we’ve launched, we’re still currently working part-time, so it’s a bit of a juggle – but that’s small business! We do have dreams to make it a full-time gig some day soon!
Sophie: I finished my University studies a couple of years ago and am a Teacher by trade! I currently teach on a casual basis which gives me flexibility with our business. During the creation of love billie, I was teaching full-time which was a crazy time – but all worth it of course!
Shelley: While my children were growing up, I was a hands-on mum and went back to work at a Motel when they left the nest. Like Soph, I’m still working my day job on a casual basis, with love billie being our side hustle!
What inspired you to launch an online store?
We are so inspired by makers and creators and have always loved visiting markets together. Finding little treasures sparks joy for us, and we love to support the dreams of small businesses. This was our inspiration behind our product range, which we carefully curated to reflect our personal style.
Since we now live in different states, being online was the perfect option for our store, and we hope to reach as many customers as possible, all over the country! (And one day, the rest of the world!)
How do you meet/find all the wonderful brands you feature on love billie?
Our billie brands have been discovered by us at markets, good old Instagram, and just stumbling upon wonderful people with divine timing!
Have you each got designated roles in the biz, or does it chop and change everyday?
We definitely work very closely together – our phones are always running hot with communication between us, down to the tiniest of details! In saying that, we do have some designated roles based on our individual skills.
Sophie takes care of our Social Media and online store functions, and Shelley is kept busy with our accounting and bookkeeping. Our warehouse is located in Kingston S.E, where Shelley lives, so she also takes care of wrapping up your goodies and shipping your parcels!
What was it like launching a business as a mother-daughter duo?
It was totally effortless. We have always had a super close relationship and have such similar tastes and interests – it was a really organic process. There are times where we may have opposing ideas, but it’s really so rare that it’s never impacted any major decisions. We have so much fun working together, it really doesn’t feel like work!
What’s a common mistake that you see a lot of brands make with their socials?
Sophie: I think with social media nowadays, we’re exposed to a lot more of the ‘behind the scenes’ work from small business owners. I love this, and so we also share the stories behind our makers on our blog. In saying that, I think it’s easy for others to look at what we’re posting, and to think that running your own business is quite glamorous, effortless and ‘easy’… but we know that’s not always the case! It can be tiring and a bit scary.
I love following people who are real about the struggles they go through, whether that’s being a one-person show, or just feeling challenged by believing in their own abilities and dreams.
I also think it’s super important to stick with your brand’s ethos on social media and to be careful not to steer from your authenticity.. Stay true to you and your brand’s message!
What are your favourite products in the shop at the moment?
– I love the Spring’ Candle Ivy & Wood and the matching Room Spray – so divine!
– Magnesium Bath Soak by ‘Finding Your Peace’
– .. and I love my Glass Earrings by Samantha Abbott in ‘Nude’
– I’m in love with our Crystal Jewellery by ‘Whitelightly’, particularly the ‘Rose Quartz & Moonstone’ Earrings
– The Porcelain Hanging Planter by ‘Tea4Two Art’ – perfect for my indoor plant obsession!
– .. and anything by ‘BON LUX’ – I love the Essential Oil roller perfumes as I’ve switched over to more natural beauty products. They’re handmade in small batches in Melbourne!
Do you have any advice for those wanting to launch an online store?
Shelley: If you have a dream, follow it! There’s a way around everything if you want to make it happen.
Sophie: Get yourself out there as much as you can – if you’ve been thinking of starting up your Instagram or blog, just do it! Post as much as you can, get out there and chat with people you meet (whether that be IRL or online) and find others that inspire you. Be authentically you, and it will shine through your work.
Being online has its challenges as we’re so overwhelmed with content these days, but find your niche and roll with your unique flare!
What’s the best thing about running your own biz?
The joy of bringing our ideas to life and experimenting with our creativity – this is what we really love, and why we decided to start our own biz. We still have so much to learn and can’t wait to continue collaborating with and meeting other makers and dreamers.
And the worst/most challenging?
Sophie: The most challenging part for me so far has been learning how to switch off from work-mode.. I think many of us have this problem because we are just so passionate and inspired by our work – but I’m getting better!
Shelley: For me, I’ve had to learn many new skills which has been challenging at times. My husband and I ran our previous business about 10 years ago, but technology has changed so much in this time, that I’ve had to upskill.. but I’m loving the growth and learning process. I am even more capable that I believed.
What’s something that people don’t see/realise that you do (the nitty gritty, behind the scenes stuff)?
There are SO many nitty gritty tasks that go unnoticed when running your own business.. like repetitive bookkeeping tasks that definitely aren’t glamorous, but are necessary for your store to function.
With just the two of us, we work hard to be organised and productive around our day-jobs, so a lot of planning goes into our emails, social media posts, website updates, customer service and general admin.
And of course: what inspires you?
We are always inspired by other women who are working hard to pursue their dreams in creativity and are following their hearts.
Sophie: I think if everyone shared their ideas with the world, unattached to the outcome or any criticism, the world could be even more magical! (Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – read it!)
Shelley: I feel inspired by discovering all of our special treasures, that are so unique and made with love. This is what we love about supporting small businesses and the handmade.
How do you take your tea (or coffee)?
Sophie: Soy Latte
Shelley: Soy Cappuccino
Fave coffee shops/cafes at home
Sophie: I love my local café, Lolo & Wren in Brunswick West for the best coffee!
Shelley: I visit Bliss here in Kingston S.E for my daily coffees, but when I visit Adelaide I love Cherry Darlings, an all-vegan bakery!
Go to outfit
Sophie: A fun maxi skirt or jumpsuit & sneakers
Shelley: During summer, a comfortable dress. In Winter, some jeans and a cute jumper
Sophie: Following my heart to dream ‘love billie’ into life!
Shelley: Becoming a mum. And of course, launching our online store.
Sophie: No alarm, followed by a coffee & a walk in the park with my partner
Shelley: Relaxing, watching a football game at home and cooking a yummy vegan recipe
Sophie: ‘It’s all Good’ by Cassie Mendoza-Jones – read it! I also love Ru Paul and Michelle Visage’s Podcast What’s the Tee!
Shelley: I’m not much of a reader, but I love to watch Netflix to wind down.
Ultimate travel destination
Sophie: NYC forever has my heart, but I fell in love with the Amalfi Coast in Italy too <3
Shelley: My favourite city is London – next I want to explore Germany, particularly at Christmas time
We hope you’re loving this interview series as much as we are! We are curious in nature, and very much enjoy learning the ins and outs of business and start up stories from other female entrepreneurs.
If you have another wonderful lady in mind that you’d like us to interview, drop a comment below or straight to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until the next brew,
Rust Creative helps women in their twenties fast-track finding their purpose. Through 1:1 coaching, group programs and specialised resources, we offer women clarity and direction so that they can ENJOY the most exciting decade of their lives. And tea, always tea.
The Rust Woman
AKA Our Ideal Client.
She's a savvy twenty-something looking for a safe space to he heard and supported. She's confident that she can achieve her goals, but she doesn't know how she'll get there – yet. She KNOWS she has a purpose but needs a helping hand to uncover it.