Today’s Biz Ladies Profile comes to us from interior stylist and creative director, Sibella Court. Upon returning to Australia after a decade of living and working in New York City, Sibella decided to open her own shop, The Society Inc. Since then, she has been navigating the styling world along with working as a shop owner, all the while fitting in her love of travel and creative collaborations. Today, Sibella shares a bit more about her career journey with us. Thanks, Sibella, for giving us this glimpse into your path! —Stephanie
Read the full interview after the jump…
Why did you decide to start your own business?
Whilst finishing a bachelor of arts at Sydney University, I fell into the world of styling by chance. I’d never considered running my own business – it seemed to fall into my lap and sit quite comfortably with me. After assisting for a short time, I formed my own company at age 22.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
I had started my freelance styling business when I was 22, however when I moved back to Sydney from New York, I opened my shop. Starting The Society Inc. in Sydney was huge for me, but it was exactly what I wanted to do. I was ready for my next step, I had back-to-back styling jobs in the States and loved what I was doing, but knew I would never have enough time for my own ideas and projects. My seaside change gave me time to re-prioritize – I started writing my books, creating commercial spaces, designing product ranges and being open to whatever exciting project or collaboration came my way.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
I’m not one to have ever read a book on business or even considered writing a business plan, but I’ve always asked friends for their advice…and then not taken it. I’ve preferred to forge my own way, with a very unorthodox, almost anti-corporate mentality to all that I have done. With my employees and employers, I choose to surround myself with creative, hard-working people who help mold the direction of the company. Some great advice I was given that I did listen to, however, was to never be afraid to pick up the phone and make an introduction. You never know where it could lead to.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
I think the most difficult part of starting a business is cash flow – do your best!
photo by Chris Court
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
I learn lessons every day, however I think styling and freelance teach me people skills and how to deal with the many different personalities that come my way. I have wrangled a large team of artists and tradesmen, all of whom work in their own distinct ways (and time frames!) and I have had to learn to manage them all under the one project.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experience?
I don’t believe there can be failures in business; everything that happens is a learning curve of what not to do next time! Business wouldn’t be fun without any challenges.
Can you name your greatest success in your business experience?
I think one of the most successful parts of my career has been writing my own job description, doing something I love and being able to earn a living from it. I based my job description on all of my years of experience, and incorporated all of the things I love doing. Along the way I have been an interior stylist, product designer, creator of bars, restaurants and hotels, writer of books and even maker of surfboards. And it is always changing and evolving.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
Never have all your eggs in one basket. Always have a minimum of 10 ideas up your sleeve – with 10 projects already in the pipeline – with hopes that one will be the low-hanging fruit ready for picking! Freelance can be a roller coaster and at times, the direction you had envisaged for your business can be completely waylaid – you might find yourself on an entirely different path. Be open to going on a tangent and morph it into a new direction – there is a lot of excitement in that.