Happy birthday to us! It’s been one big action-packed year for us as a team (co-founders Emily and Sarah) and we’ve had such a crazy journey that we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane with you all!
Throwback 1: Shark Tank
Early on in our journey together we got the chance to pitch in front of the Sharks in Sydney! You may have seen some of our throwback posts in light of this year’s Queensland Small Business Week but in case you missed it, here’s the recap. We made it to round three in the application process and both of us were flown down to Sydney to pitch in front of the Sharks. We were so mentally prepared for it - every question that could’ve been asked, we had rehearsed our answers over and over again (we’re pretty sure we were saying it in our sleep!) and we also made sure that we looked our professional best.
In hindsight however, this meant that we weren’t great for TV because we felt that we were a bit ‘robotic’ and didn’t let our true personalities shine through. Fear of being humiliated on national television was very real and unfortunately we let it get the better of us. We were also just a bit too early on in our business. The take home feedback we received was, “You girls are great, the product is great, but you’re just too early on”. We got some invaluable advice from the Sharks and walked away with an amazing experience with each other which only further cemented our working relationship. Happy work wife means a happy work life!
Throwback 2: Photoshoots, Video Production and Website Facelift
The biggest challenge we have faced with our product is explaining how the VIVRA works. No matter how many times we may say that it’s ‘magnetic’ and ‘belt-less’ the ‘light bulb’ moment doesn’t go off because some people still don’t understand how it attaches. It was therefore a no-brainer that we needed to have a professional video produced demonstrating how the VIVRA is attached and the many different situations that it can be used in. The videoshoot was filmed on 1 November 2016 and we still remember very clearly how exhausted we were after we completed the 20-plus hour day to capture everything we needed. So much thought had to go into timing and location - for example, we didn’t want to miss the money-shot of the sunrise on the beach! We were definitely running on adrenaline and excitement and were stoked and quite emotional after seeing the finished results. It was definitely worth every drop of blood, sweat and tear!
Come April we knew we had to give our website a facelift, which meant professional product and modelling shots displaying the entire VIVRA range were a must. We were able to let our creative juices flow and we became stylists for the day, shopping up a storm to curate the perfect wardrobe to compliment our VIVRA range. So much goes on behind the scenes in the lead up to any sort of shoot: wardrobe, hair and makeup, choice of models, choice of photographer, types of poses to be achieved, location... the list goes on. Seeing it all come together was very satisfying and rewarding, particularly when it was just us (wearing one of our multiple hats), knowing that we’ve pulled it off all on our own! #startuplife #startupbudget
Throwback 3: Events and Activations
VIVRA has participated in many events but one that we particularly look back on with fond memories is when we activated at Australia’s first Night Nation Run, held in Sydney. The weather gods weren’t kind to us but we do as we always do, and that is to soldier on and make the best of every opportunity. It rained and it poured but we danced and we also got to go up on stage too! It was such a great experience because it was a great fit and the right audience for VIVRA. Rain or shine, dance or run, your VIVRA is there for you so you can be hands-free and bounce-free. What an experience!
Not long after returning from Sydney we headed up the coast where we activated for the first time at the Wanderlust Festival held at the Sunshine Coast. The vibe here was unlike any other we had ever experienced. It was very calming and cleansing and it was nice to just slow down the pace a bit. We now understood why Wanderlust is such a popular event to attend. The Wanderlust community is very kind and everybody wants to take care of everything and everyone else. To top it off we also met Sarah Holloway, the beautiful lady behind Spoonful of Sarah! She has been a girlboss that has been very inspirational to us.
Our most recent activation was at the ASICS Event Expo which was held in Sydney Town Hall for the three days leading up to the Blackmores Running Festival. This was the first major running expo VIVRA has participated in and wow, we went out with a bang! We were on our feet for over 12+ hours each day talking and demonstrating non-stop about how the VIVRA is the ‘must have accessory’ and by the end of the second day we had practically sold out of all of our stock. ‘Unheard of’ was the feedback we had received from other stall exhibitors. Runners from all over the globe were trying to get a VIVRA in their hot little hands and customers were begging to purchase the display stock! Needless to say it was an extremely successful event and the little flame in our bellies definitely grew stronger after the validation we received at this event.
Throwback 4: Talks and Inspirational Things
We love sharing our VIVRA journey, so any opportunities that arise that allow us to do this we seize with both hands. It is a reminder to Sarah and I of where we have been, where we are and where we are going. It is so rewarding walking away feeling like we have contributed to another’s journey, hopefully by sparking the inspiration for them to start their own business or encourage them to keep on keeping on.
In April this year Sarah and I had the pleasure of speaking at one of the lovely Sarah Cross’ Retreats @sarahjcross_official. Sarah is one of Australia’s leading product based business experts. She has taught hundreds of creative product-based female entrepreneurs how to improve their marketing, retail sales, strategy and business growth plans. So as you can imagine, when we received the email inviting us to speak we felt very honoured.
We presented to a room of women who were all in the early stages of their business and shared stories about the VIVRA product development journey, obstacles and our future vision for VIVRA.
Another wonderful event which we thoroughly enjoyed presenting at was ‘Dare to Dream’, a one day program run by the beautiful soul @Kylielouise26 who is the grade eight coordinator at ‘Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School’. Kylie was inspired to start this program due to the huge movement of female entrepreneurs. This speaking opportunity was absolutely one of a kind because we believed that it was amazing to have such a great initiative in high school. If only they had programs like this when were at school! We shared our journey with girls from grades 9-12, specifically delving into our tips for startup business and the five things we learnt from pitching to the Shark Tank.
Throwback 5: Telstra Business Awards Nomination
We’ve always been aware of the hype around the Telstra Business Awards and how it’s acknowledgment of a business provides such credibility to the business. So we were of course absolutely thrilled to find out that we were nominated in the ‘Emerging and Energised’ category for 2018. The application process was extensive but the tough questions forced us to think long and hard about where we are and where we would like the business to go (very much like our experience when preparing for Shark Tank!). We were fortunate to make it to the second round where the application became more in-depth - our submission was nearly 10,000 words… the equivalent of a university thesis!
In the end we didn’t make it to the finalist’s round but what was so amazing was that we were provided with a comprehensive business benchmark report based on our personal application. We were elated to discover that we had made it into the top 10% of all businesses that entered the 2018 Telstra Business Awards in Queensland. Go us! The report highlighted where we were kicking goals, where we were sitting comfortably and areas that needed improvement. Even though we didn’t walk away with a prize it was such an incredible experience to put our business under a microscope and take away so many valuable lessons.
Throwback 6: Mia Freedman endorsement
We couldn’t believe it when Mia posted a video of our VIVRA on her @ladystartups page! To have recognition from the lady startup queen herself! What a thrill that was, and we honestly couldn't contain our excitement. Thank you Mia for your love and support - we are forever grateful.
Throwback 7: Katy Perry inspired Witness bum bag
Our dream turned into our biggest social campaign! Emily is a huge fan of the ever changing, ever growing Katy Perry and so when we found out she was touring Australia, along with a lot of other encounters and events, we decided to hop to action! We worked with beautiful Melbourne based designer, Tash @natashadeardenthelabel, and through a lot of designs, persistence and sketches later, we created the perfect samples of the Katy Perry inspired VIVRA!
To generate mass awareness we asked every single person we knew to help spread word of this bespoke VIVRA on their social media. While we knew that it was a long shot for Katy to notice being tagged in a picture we asked our ever supportive network and fans to re-post, re-share, comment and tag and we even managed to get the support of the beautiful Bianca Dye @biancadye from 973FM radio station to help champion our little campaign to get it to Katy. Katy, if you’ve got it, please know that we put every ounce of strength that we had into making this perfect little hands-free bum bag just for you!
Throwback 8: PR love!
We have ticked off quite a few accomplishments in our short time working together, but a particularly exciting moment was when we were interviewed for a piece in the Business section of The Courier Mail, which was syndicated across news.com.au and The Sydney Morning Herald, amongst other publications. Being interviewed was a whole new experience for us, but luckily reporter “Nina Hendy” was wonderful and made the whole process of telling our story so much fun.
In addition to that, we were also included as a gift feature in Marie Claire. Fancy that - an Australia-wide fashion magazine featuring our hands-free bumbag! Being featured in one of our favourite magazines, alongside other incredible and established brands, was a very humbling experience and we’re still pinching ourselves!