You’ve no doubt spotted the gorgeous, waterproof travel pouches and tote bags between the covers of our print issues (we’re kind of obsessed with them here at haven HQ) but you probably haven’t heard from the woman responsible for bringing LeMU to our golden shores. We chatted to Belinda Stark from Aloha Distribution to find out what motivates her business, how she keeps her head straight and how she feels about the Gold Coast’s community of business-minded mums.
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
I would say it was the very hard realisation that my career, prior to having my two girls, was no longer really an option for myself and my family. Every mum knows it’s a juggle and my previous working life was incredibly demanding, so going back to what I knew wasn’t going to work for us – especially with a husband who travels for work and no family help nearby.
I wasn’t sure exactly what it would look like, but i knew i wanted to work for myself and kick my own goals. It took a lot of research and a few ideas that never came to fruition but here I am now running my own distribution business. Doesn’t sound very sexy, but it’s pretty amazing – who knew!
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
My eldest daughter started school, my youngest was settled in two days a week at childcare and I really just wanted to move into the new stage of my working life. Being a mum is incredibly rewarding but I think we all need something we can do as an individual, no matter what that is. It seemed like a good time for me to do that for myself and for us.
How did you make your big break?
On a family trip to Hawaii I bought my first Aloha bag (sister brand to LeMU). I loved the bag and believed in the product so after I set up my own business, I reached out to the company directors in the USA about bringing their incredible bags into the country. Very long story short, here I am as their Australian distributor!
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
My background is in sports business and events. I started out working on the Goodwill Games waaaay back when, then worked my way into a management role for a sports industry body. I then worked in Economic Development, bringing national and international sports business to the Gold Coast until I left to have my first little cherub so really, none of my previous experience was in distribution. But, a background in business has helped me ‘make it all up as I go along’. That, and my own personal love for retail, have gotten me this far.
What are the biggest challenges of being a mum and a businesswoman?
Mine are the same as most, I’m sure. Time, logistics and the constant feelings of not being able to do it all – but, honestly, who can? We are all just doing our best, right?
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
Know when to switch off. Be present with the ones you love and always try (I say try) to make time for the things you love/need to do. Make sure you don’t miss the important moments in life, because you don’t get them back. Always live by the notion that if you replace expectation with appreciation, your whole world opens up.
What has been your biggest learning since starting your own business?
Firstly, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone almost always turns out for the better. Secondly, things won’t happen unless you make them. Lastly, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help or advice. One thing I love about this Gold Coast community is there are so many mums doing so many incredible things and they really are a great support if you’re just willing to ask.
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
Coffee, wine and good friends are all food for the soul. Then exercise!
What’s one thing other people who are looking to start their own business should do?
Do your research! If you truly believe in it, back yourself and give it a go – but, make it a calculated risk and one you can see through to the end. There will absolutely be days you may think you were out of your mind to do it in the first place, but if it’s right, you can push through and make it happen.
WIN // haven has teamed up with the LeMU crew to give one lucky reader the chance to win a LeMU gift pack valued at $194. The pack includes a Day Tripper, Mid Pouch, Small Pouch and Hip Pack. Entries close Saturday November 30 at midnight (AEST), and only the winner will be notified. Good luck!