Women in Business Ep. 2
Welcome to our blog series, 'Women in Business' where we chat with a range of creatives all working hard for something they love.
A place to talk about the challenges.
Where and how they started.
The process they've taken and tips they recommend.
Why socially conscious brands are doing good things.
The hacks for productivity and mental health.
The struggles and rawness of business.
And the advice for us all.
Welcome to Episode #2 where we interview 14 year old, Isabella Robbins. Isabella is one of the most creative young superstars we've ever had the opportunity to meet. She creates a range of products from headbands, hair scrunchies, soap dishes to her newest creation of dresses. We are honoured to stock Isabella's range inside The Salty Collective and interview her today - on how and where she started her brand 'Isabella + Robbins'.
1. How was your business born?
For the last few years my family has been sailing around the world, living on a boat really leaves you with lots of free time so that’s when I started making things for myself and gifts for others. I started with jewellery made from shells and coral we found on the beaches we visited. When we arrived in New Zealand and decided to be land-based in Waihi beach, I registered for the Xmas Makers Market in Katikati, and thats when I started to sell my products. After that I got a lot of compliments on my work and how well I did, this made me realise I could do more than just markets. That’s when I approached Stephanie at her beautiful store, The Salty Collective. That part was scary but she was very supportive of me and my business and she kindly let me stock her store and that’s how it started.
2. Give our readers a little insight to who you are and what the past couple years has been like for you.
My name is Isabella Robbins, I am 14 years old and a year 10 student at Katikati College currently. For the last few years my family has been sailing around the world, from Europe all the way back to New Zealand. We made a YouTube channel called Sailing Nikau to record our adventures (if any of you would like to know more about that you can watch our videos). We are now home for good at Waihi beach. I am really enjoying some things about being home like, learning to surf, being able to sew, access to a workshop and of course my business, Isabella and Robbins. I do miss things like scuba diving, free diving and swimming whenever I wanted while we were on the boat.
3. Walk us through the process you went through to take Isabella + Robbins from just an idea to where it is today.
Most of it came naturally, because I just love creating and making things. I found that I had to take peoples’ advice and make a move on it. Like when Stephanie told me I should start an Instagram, I did it and that was so worth it, because then I started making online sales. Also you need to decide what products people are keen on and what they aren’t, even if you like them a lot yourself. This sometimes can be hard, but I would say that it turns out better in the long run, because honestly you would sell more of the other products and not waste your money and time on making things people were not going to buy. So I focused on spending my time making what was selling well and introducing and trailing new products all the time, now I have a range of things that sell well and people love and I still get to be creative with the new products I make.
4. Where do you find inspiration for your brand?
I spend a lot of time searching through boutique brands and shops on Instagram and following one I like, that are my style, this gives me inspiration and new ideas. I use YouTube videos for technical help and to learn new skills I need to make the products I want to create.
5. We love that you focus on creating an ethical brand, can you tell us more about why keeping your brand ethical is important for you?
I think it’s important to have an ethical mindset, as a Christian, I believe that having good morals and doing our best for people and the world is a great thing and I want that to be reflected in my brand. I love that I can sell locally, I try to use natural products and packaging as much as possible and also obviously everything is handmade by me (all our employees are very happy)!
6. Explain in a few words the positive impact your business creates.
Well obviously when you buy my products it’s a positive thing because you have a lovely locally handmade product and that will make you happy! The fact that I am so young and have created my own business is inspiring to a lot of people, I often get comments from people, both young and old, who are amazed at what I have achieved. I particularly hope I can inspire other young teenagers to do something more creative and productive with their time than just sitting on their phones (that really frustrates me).
7. What challenges have you overcome in creating your brand so far?
Because we live rurally and I don’t have my own transport buying supplies is a challenge, I can order online but the costs of materials and delivery really cut down my profit. I try to buy in bulk and look for online specials to overcome this. Now that school has started again the time factor is a big one, I often sew at night instead of watching TV like my family! Having to teach myself how to sew via YouTube has also been a challenge and frustrating (I would love a local sewing teacher)! But I keep working on creating simple designs that I can make confidently and sell well.
8. How do you balance life, school and business? Do you have a specific routine that motivates you to stay balanced and productive?
Living on a boat and not doing regular school taught me to be really self-motivated. My brother and I figured out that if we got up early and worked hard at our school work we could have it all done by 9-10am in the morning and could be free to explore, play and have fun all day - this really helped me learn to work hard and get stuff done. So now after school I don’t just laze around I make stuff and also on the weekends I like to be productive, I also enjoy time with family and surfing with friends, I find it all works out. I don’t really have a routine but I like being busy so I guess that's why I get a lot done.
9. What is a blow your business has taken as a result of this Covid-19 pandemic?
Well it's impossible to purchase any supplies because all of the shops are closed and I can't make any sales because The Salty Collective is closed. On the positive side, I have lots of time to make more products and let's hope the world will go back to normal soon.
10. What's a mental health practice that you have implemented to help you through this?
I've started to do things like going to the beach and swimming everyday. Keeping myself busy by creating things instead of lazing around watching tv. All these things help me to feel calm and happy during this time.
11. What is one piece of advice you’d like to leave with our readers?
I would say just follow your dreams, try to take away all the ‘what if’s’, I know they are scary and can put you off but you just have to ignore them and give it a go! Be confident in yourself and the ideas and goals you have set for yourself. Always have a smile on your face :)
Follow along on our blog series 'Women in Business' once a month as we chat with a range of creatives all working hard for something they love.
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