If you’re looking for stylish hats for the whole family, look no further than Nix & Ash.
We chatted to founders Cale and Michelle about what inspires them, their road to success and how they achieve a work/life balance with a burgeoning business and two young boys.
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
Working in professional roles and being the parents to two active and energetic young boys, we were always run off our feet and felt like we were always ‘too busy’. The days were long, the nights were longer, and the juggle was real! We always knew that we wanted a better work/life balance, but it wasn’t until we began our own business that it became a reality.
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
I guess like most things in life… the timing can often never be right! When we first began, we actually created A LOT more work for ourselves. We were still both working, parenting, running a household and then added a business to the mix. There were days when we questioned our choice and nights that became early mornings… but we always came back to our ‘why’ – our boys.
We also had so many conversations about ‘why we loved selling our hats’, how much we valued sharing our product at the local community markets and online as well as the buzz we got from people loving our hats as much as we did! Our excitement and passion really told us that the time was right.
How did you make your big break?
Every time we made a sale it felt like we were making our big break! it is so true that when a small business has a sale- a whole family does a happy dance. I have the fondest memories of us all stopping what we are doing and doing a little ‘jig’ to the sound of the ‘cha-ching’!
Every day more and more people were buying our hats, sharing their pictures of themselves and their family wearing our hats via social media and even seeing our hats worn out and about in the local community. We have had some wonderful local celebrities and influencers that have shared our hats which has been amazing for exposure and for growing our brand.
Our ‘big break’ is a combination of all these wonderful moments.
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
Michelle has worked for many years in the Mental Health industry and continues to do so while Cale was employed in Tourism, Business management and leadership. Both of our roles were very rewarding and fast paced. Our training and experience have laid a great foundation for our success and our love for hats and our dream to share products with the world makes up for the rest. We are learning every day, passionate and eager to grow our small business and work hard. We make a great team and have a lot of respect for what each of us brings to the business – plus nothing is better than matching family fedoras!
What are the biggest challenges of being a parent and a business owner?
Finding the ideal balance! We started the business to be more ‘present’ with our children, to be available to them at the start and the end of the day, to read more books, explore more playgrounds and to have more time. To ensure the success of the business at times, means that we are much busier, have conflicting priorities and deadlines. We share all things parenting and business and work to our own and each other’s strengths. Team work really does make the dream work.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
Being kind to ourselves and realistic. We have realised that we can’t be everything to everyone all of the time, so we prioritise. We have days that are focused on the boys only, days that are for building the business via social media and marketing and time that is spent on the ‘day to day’ operations of prepping, packing and posting our hats. We realised early on that the way we had been working within our professional lives left little time for the ideal balance. We worked on growing the business and then took the leap to place Cale in the business full time. This created the balance we needed and the shift in every aspect of our lives. We now even have time for date morning just for us- Husband and Wife! An absolute game changer!
What is your biggest learning since starting your own business? Is there anything you’d do differently?
Our biggest learning is that we both have our own individual skill sets that not only make our business grow but help us to thrive. We know that we are always learning and seek advice and support on the daily. Hello Google! We have the most supportive group of family and friends and they have been our biggest cheerleaders throughout.
The only thing that we would have done differently is to have done it sooner!
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
We spend a lot of time outdoors in the sunshine and always find ourselves by the water. Tuesdays is ‘date morning’ and we head into Burleigh to share a breakfast and chat while the boys attend kindy.
What’s one thing other people should do who are looking to start their own business?
Talk to others who have started small businesses. We have found there are so many learnings from other small business owners. We attend local markets which is not only a great place to sell our hats but it is a fantastic place to collaborate with other like-minded small business owners.
Starting a small business isn’t easy! It takes a lot of time, effort and perseverance as well as many long days. However, if you are able to sit tight, push through and make it successful the rewards are all worth it.
Finish this sentence: I can’t get through a workday without…
Music and coffee! Wherever we are, we are surrounded by good music and coffee! We love packing hats to the high school hits and enjoy the long car rides to the markets with the music blaring. Coffee is always the go to after long days and toddlers who love to wake in the night.