As business owners ourselves, we know what running a business can be like with young kids around. It’s long hours, with lots of soul-searching and hard yakka. So, we take our hats off to Rachael DiMauro, owner/creator of Orcwood, co-owner of Far Fetched Designs AND the lady behind the fabulous Frock Swap Market. Three businesses… PHEW!
But this is not why we chose to showcase Rachael this week. What inspires us about her businesses is that they activate the community, support other makers and create new spaces in which to connect, find new things and shop. Her enterprises truly demonstrate how a business can enrich a community and make it a better, more interesting and more beautiful place to live.
Tell us about your business:
I have three business (actually I am currently setting up a fourth!). The first is my children’s wear and jewellery range under the brand Orcwood. I started Orcwood about 4 years ago when l was working as a Business Development Manager at Penguin Publishing. When a redundancy was offered to me in early 2014, l jumped at it, as I’d wanted to start working for myself for a while. Once l was no longer restricted by an office job, my (now) business partner, Belinda Miller, and l were able to turn our discussions and plans into a reality and we created Far Fetched Designs: a pop-up shop for local makers and crafters to sell via a retail environment. We wanted to be able to grow our own brands outside of craft markets, and offer the same possibility to other makers, too. On top of that, l started the Melbourne Frock Swap with my sister, Nicole, which is a second-hand women’s clothing market in Williamstown. It really came about because we LOVE buying on the local buy swap and sell Facebook page, but we wanted to be able to try everything on!
What inspired you to start your business?
Orcwood was created because l have two boys (one of whom was mad about dinosaurs) and l made him a dino-spiked hoodie. I started getting requests for them, and then orders, and realised l should possibly give myself a name and start selling these outside of friends. The range grew from that. I’ve always loved sewing, but had put it on the back-burner since becoming a mum, so it was wonderful to get back into it even though l struggled to fit it around my office job. Far Fetched Designs started, as mentioned above, when the timing was right for both of us, as we’d had the idea for a while. We thought, we see so many beautiful things at the markets we visit, made by wonderful people, why not bring them to a shop and give people who don’t visit craft markets the opportunity to buy things you don’t really see in shops? As for Melbourne Frock Swap, Nicole and l have a passion for recycling clothes and keeping that in the community. Clothes aren’t disposable and it’s wonderful that our community has embraced that. Plus, we have heaps of fun shopping at our markets, and look forward to every single one 🙂
What are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of being able to work for myself while being there for my kids. I’ve never worked harder in my life, but because it’s for me and my family, it’s so worth it. It almost doesn’t feel like work. I’m also really proud of the networks and contacts I’ve made since leaving my corporate job. There are so many inspiring women working for themselves, especially in the inner west; and they are all so lovely and helpful. Everyone seems to want to see everyone else succeed, and l really love that. Such a vast difference to my office job!
What has been the most challenging aspect of running your business?
I do a lot of work from home, and when you’re at home, there’s an expectation (possibly self-imposed) that you should be keeping on top of the household AND run your business/es, and l really struggle with that: trying to ascertain what will get my attention each day. It’s hard, but still worth it as l do get to pick my kids up from school and help out there when l want to, so the good outweighs the bad. A cleaner would be good, though! And a chef!
What advice do you have for other mums running a business?
While the money may never be as good as a ‘regular’ job (if we’re honest), it doesn’t matter. The job satisfaction you get from creating your own work, building your own brand, is so immense. It’s worth its weight in gold. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint; everything takes time, but at least you know if you go the extra mile, put in that little bit extra effort, the person who reaps the reward from that is you! I’m a much happier person because I’m doing what l love, and that makes our home happier and everything just flows on from that, in a really positive way. So, while our family income may have taken a hit for me to start doing this, it’s growing every year and the possibilities are there if l keep working hard. Plus the opportunity to be there for my kids is priceless.