Business in Profile
koolaman designs – silver with character®
Tell us about your business
koolaman designs – silver with character® is our business name. Founders Lisa O’Keefe & Stacey Clayton are sisters. The name koolaman comes from the 73,000-acre farming property that Lisa and her husband live on with their three children and Lisa’s in-laws.
It’s all about family! Lisa and Stacey own and manage the business, and with six children, all aged under four we need (and get) fantastic support from our husbands and extended families.
We founded the business together. Stacey manages customer and wholesale enquiries, and the financial side of the business. Lisa deals with marketing, advertising and product design.
As sisters we have the added advantage of knowing each other and being able to honestly bounce ideas off each other.
With only a few cars a day passing Koolaman Station in the far south-west corner of NSW, the opportunity for a ‘retail store’ was very limited. An online store www.koolamandesigns.com.au enables our customers to view and purchase our pendants from all over Australia and the world.
We also travel and exhibit our collection of pendants regularly at boutique fairs, expos and field days around the country such as Magnolia Square in Melbourne and the Pregnancy Babies and Children Expos in the capital cities. Our customers appreciate the opportunity to browse through our collection and see and try the different pendants first hand.
Why did you start your business?
We loved the idea of having a pendant with each of our children’s names and dates of birth. Something that was unique to us and not mass produced.
When we came up with the idea we were both still working part time and our children were in daycare.
Lisa lived on a farm that was, and still is, in drought. We wanted to create an income and have the flexibility of working for ourselves from home. We were looking for something that we could do together despite the fact we live 450kms apart.
That’s when we came up with the idea of the MAMA pendant…. Something different that featured our children’s names and birthdates.
We’ve grown up watching our mother and grandmother and other family members, creating, sewing or painting beautiful things and we knew as soon as we started practicing our stamping skills on kitchen spoons that this was the perfect business for us.
Has starting your own business lived up to expectations?
Starting koolaman designs has been a challenge. Like the business we’ve grown and learned many skills in all aspects of managing an online business.
What have you enjoyed the most about running your own business?
The best thing about our business is the feedback from customers. It’s a real buzz when someone says that you’ve just made their day when they’ve received their koolaman pendant.
We love working with each other, we used to talk every day, and now as business partners we have even more reason. And it’s a great excuse for us to catch up with the kids when we have meetings.
We regularly catch up and stay for a few days and have an ‘extended business meeting’. We enjoy the flexibility that our online business provides. We’re able to be there for our children, rather than having to go back to work at set hours and on set days. The opportunity to get involved with pre-school duty, go to playgroups and spend lots of time with our kids is wonderful. Many nights we work into the early mornings to get our tasks completed before another day begins.
What is the biggest challenge for you in running your own business?
Finding time. Having children is the most wonderful stage, but it is also one of the most demanding. We never seem to have enough time. And the idea of the business is to allow us more time to spend with our family. It’s a delicate balance between business and family life. We’re constantly working at getting it right.
Living on a large sheep and wheat farm, Lisa also has the demands of supporting her husband while he’s working long hours. Ironically the drought actually creates more work around the property, checking that the sheep have enough water and mustering and moving sheep to other paddocks for food.
Funding the business and maintaining cash flow in the initial stages was the most challenging part of the business. Stacey and I used loans from family, and credit cards to fund the business in the early days.
Web design has been a real challenge, however our love of online shopping helped us with our website, we knew what we wanted and that is to have a simple checkout system, secure features to ensure payment and to keep client’s personal details safe. We’ve recently updated our website to include all the administration tasks to make it easier for us.
How do you manage the juggle of running your own business with family?
Since the inception of koolaman designs we’ve had three babies between us. So we’ve become really good at juggling jobs…and working without much sleep. We’ve drawn on each other strengths. We’re able to step into the others shoes and complete their tasks. We’ve had to take on the others roles while the other is coping with a new addition to the family and juggling the demands of family life and owning our own business.
Do you have a favourite networking opportunity or event?
We don’t have a particular event. Our motto is Ask, ask,ask Always ask questions, to other business owners. Never be afraid to ask. We’ve learned an enormous amount since we started the business. The best source of information is from other work at home mums, or other online businesses.
It’s difficult to network when working from home; we make the most of being at expos and fairs and talking to other businesses owners. The internet is also a valuable source of information.
Do you have any advice for anyone out there who may be thinking about starting their own business?
Go for it! Create your business plan, be realistic with your cash flow forecasts and ask questions. Use your family and friends network to share your ideas, source their opinions. Make sure you surround yourself with positive supportive people, take their constructive criticism and make your business better.
Research your product, find that point of difference and use it to work for you.
The most important thing to remember after you’ve got your product is just because you have a website doesn’t mean that customers know about you. Include in your business plan a marketing budget to get your brand and products known. Don’t be afraid to ask other advertisers where they found the best return on investment for advertising. Don’t think that it will happen overnight, a business takes time to grow its reputation and brand.
Back to other great businesses
Today, on White Ribbon Day - and every other day - we're teaching our son to say no to violence against women.
If there is one thing the owners of Tillings Cafe can be certain of, it is that the eatery won't win the award for Britain's best baby-friendly coffee shop any time soon.
A woman who admitted to dumping her newborn baby down a Sydney drain has reportedly been allowed to give him a name.
Are you feeling used up by life's stress, family problems and a demanding job you can't turn off? Many people are way beyond work-life exhaustion. They are functioning as robots.
The world's biggest chocolate-maker says we're running out of chocolate.
A baby who was born at 23 weeks has survived her first week of life outside the womb.
It might sound like temporary insanity, but almost obsessive nesting as you near your due date isn’t uncommon – even if you’re not usually a particularly clean person.
The baby found abandoned in a Sydney drain may have been alone for up to six days without being fed, leaving many asking how he could have survived.
A child's excitement at Christmas time is a beautiful thing, but one dad ponders whether his toddler daughter is getting into the festive mood a bit too soon.
A new experience is radically altering men's views of childbirth.
Italian police have placed 12 doctors under house arrest on suspicion of promoting baby milk formula over breastfeeding.
Cara Simmons arrived at work to clean a large and beautiful house in time for a party planned for that evening. It was soon hers.
Every now and then your child does or says something that is truly memorable.
A few weeks ago, some dear friends of mine had their first baby. As the proud dad texted me a picture I had to fight the natural instinct to say “Enjoy every moment!”
Footage of Australian babies and children sleeping in their bedrooms are among the images on a Russian site showing live feeds from thousands of homes and businesses around the world.
Was there really a man who was actually there by his wife’s side as she laboured and gave birth to his child, all while he was making what he perceived to be meaningful eye contact with a midwife?
Tantrum Trolls are a small but growing species of predatory bottom-feeders who delight in picking on parents at their most vulnerable.
The death of children, siblings, and parents has long term impacts on the rest of our lives.
Love has nothing to do with mental illness. But love may drive a mother to do something about it.
We have a beautiful seven-month-old son, and his allergy rules our life.
A transgender man who breastfed his first baby - despite having his breasts removed as part of his transformation from female to male - has now had a second child.
A Canadian couple were slammed with a million dollar medical bill after their daughter was prematurely during their babymoon.
One in every five dollars spent at supermarkets goes on cigarettes or junk food, according to industry data.
There is no doubt mums have a right to continue breastfeeding after they have returned to work, but one teacher in the US has taken it to the extreme.
We have 4 family passes to give away to see Disney Live! presents Three Classic Fairy Tales, touring Australia this December/January.
Got bored kids? Quickly find the best activities for kids wherever you are in Australia with the Essential Kids app.
Find a Nanny or Babysitter
- Daytime nannies
- Casual babysitters
- After-school care
- Live-in nannies
We are discussing...
- How do I convince her to pee in the toilet?13 posts
- Families dislike our baby name .......WDYT?49 posts
- I Lunched With LynnyP - Which EBer Would YOU Like To Dine With?111 posts
- Ongoing bar thread #541197 posts
- Has anyone seen dairyfree fruit mince pies?1 posts
- Working as a (sub) contractor?4 posts
- Who is doing elf on the shelf this year?36 posts
- Your best boy and girl names2 posts
- Work decision.4 posts
- Crabs12 posts
To celebrate the release of PADDINGTON, we are giving five lucky winners the chance to win a family pass to the exclusive Australian Premiere in Sydney on December 7!
We were green and uninitiated, perhaps a little naïve when it came to the favourite toy responsibility.
She looks him up and down and then touches his chin, but baby Lindsey still isn't sure this clean-shaven man is her dad.
Medical experts say intense fitness routines can be done safely during pregnancy - if the mums-to-be follow some guidelines.
Are our hopes, dreams and expectations for our children what they really need?
Before even giving birth, Katie Myers' maternal instincts warned her something was wrong with her baby.
Some dads-to-be don't miss a beat when their partner is pregnant; others struggle with a range of issues and can become withdrawn, right when their support is needed most.
Katharine and Kris Camilli devised a clever trick to immortalise their family and friends' reactions to their exciting pregnancy news.
"After 30 years on television, I had become what I despised: a painted doll who spent an hour a day and close to $200 a week putting on a mask."
I am secure, confident and strong, but the responsibility of protecting my children can almost bring me undone.
How many weeks til Christmas?
Get the "Santa" shopping done without the kids in tow.