4 Women Who Are Killing It With Their Businesses
Meet the finalists for the 2018 Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award. These highly successful businesswomen are killing it because they’re innovative, intelligent and are prepared to take risks. And that’s just where their stories begin.
Update: On Tuesday 6 March, Mikaela Jade won the 2018 Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award. A note from the judges of the award indicated that “Mikaela Jade is a true trailblazer; one of the few Indigenous women working in tech and a true innovator whose company Indigital has harnessed the power of technology to bring ancient cultures and storytelling to life.” As winner, Mikaela received a trophy, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and a trip to France toll visit the Veuve Clicquot Maison, the Manoir de Verzy, and the house’s vineyard in Reims.
Name: Hayley Bonham
Company: La Porte Group
Intimidatingly entrepreneurial, La Porte Group isn’t Hayley Bonham’s first rodeo. Creative Director and co-founder of BONEL PR, and co-founder of fragrance house Maison D’Amore, Hayley and her partner Rory Elsom launched their biggest business venture in 2015: La Porte Space. Having travelled around the globe managing the publicity of several high-end fashion brands, Hayley and Rory recognised a distinct gap in the Australian marketplace. Where they’d spent time in some of the world’s most beautiful creative office spaces overseas, they found that Australia was lacking a luxury serviced space for companies to operate, particularly those in the arts, tech and creative industries.
So they developed La Porte Space, a boutique — and highly instagrammable — collection of premium serviced office spaces, photographic studios and event spaces in Waterloo. Designed by Hayley, the building is minimalistic yet elegant and has a markedly European feel to it. Given the niche this development filled, it’s hardly surprising that La Porte Space almost instantly generated a waitlist; thus, La Porte Deux, a second development, was launched in 2016.
Always looking for new opportunities, the duo have started planning a La Porte Space to be developed in Melbourne, and are set to launch their first luxury hotel, Maison La Porte, later this year. Watch this space.
Life’s a beach
Names: Emma Henderson and Victoria Beattie
Company: The Beach People
For some siblings, Christmases and birthdays are more than enough time to spend with one another, but for sisters Emma Henderson and Victoria Beattie, being sisters and best friends wasn’t enough, they decided to go into business together. Inspired by the place they love most — the beach — Emma and Victoria took the world by storm in 2013 when they co-founded their company, The Beach People. Their first, and most iconic product, the round beach towel, is so popular today that it needs little introduction. Going with the Aussie convention to give everything a nickname, the duo dubbed the towel the Roundie, and it was so immediately popular that the first collection of these beautiful cotton towels covered in innovative hand-drawn designs sold out in weeks.
Since then the company has grown from strength to strength, with The Beach People brand expanding to a full range of beach-inspired accessories that are sold globally. But these entrepreneurial siblings are not content to rest on their laurels, aware of their corporate social responsibility they are experimenting with more sustainable materials and are hoping to bring a bamboo-based bed range to market later this year. They also moved part of their production to a village in Guatemala where they’ve partnered with the local community to reopen a previously dormant textiles factory.
The Lazy CEO
Name: Jane Lu
Although she calls herself The Lazy CEO on Instagram, Jane Lu is anything but. The founder and CEO of online global fashion empire Showpo, Jane is head honcho of a company that last year turned over $30 million. Jane’s career, however, started a long way from the world of fashion, in accounting and finance. Today Jane refers to this early phase of her career as “cubicle life”, something she was more than happy to ditch in favour of starting her own business. Yet, the process wasn’t nearly that straightforward.
After joining a friend in a pop-up fashion store and, Jane realised it would work better online. So the pair went into business together. But then her friend pulled out, and the venture folded. It was at this time that Jane really showed her strength of character, picking herself up, dusting herself off, and launching Showpo with a new partner the very next month.
This was in September 2010, and in 2012 Showpo had its first million dollar month, at which time Jane bought out her co-founder. Since then the company has grown exponentially, now shipping to 80 countries around the world.
As if she weren’t busy enough, in 2015 Jane co-founded a not-for-profit networking organisation for entrepreneurial women in business called Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine. Having started up a business without a network to lean on, Jane knows how important this community is to so many up-and-coming women.
Name: Mikaela Jade
When she discovered augmented reality in 2012, Mikaela realised its potential to connect with Indigenous people and their communities and bring some of their stories to life. Herself a Cabrogal woman from Sydney who grew up feeling disconnected to from her cultural heritage, Mikaela had personal insight into how important this undertaking was. Since then she’s built a company called Indigital, which develops new technologies to digitise knowledge and culture from remote communities.
While the company’s app, Indigital Storytelling, is being heralded as revolutionary and culturally important, Mikaela initially struggled to get it off the ground. Told that she was too much of a commercial risk – being female, indigenous and based in a rural location – Mikaela self-funded after which she obtained a government grant until she finally, after cold calling numerous international companies, received support from a UK-based company.
Over the next two years Mikaela worked alongside this company to develop the app. She used photogrammetry, drones, 4D mapping software, and image recognition, the data from which was then sent to the development team overseas.
Having worked tirelessly, Mikaela constantly comes back to her vision, that she wants to give people the opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture and storytelling, and connect them to country. In the future she plans to work with key tourism sites in Australia to incorporate Indigital Storytelling into the visitor experience, and to work with other indigenous communities around the globe.