Ellen Powell, founder and CEO of buzzworthy lifestyle brand The Somewhere Co, shares three rules for your business to live by.
The Somewhere Co. is a Brisbane-based lifestyle company that crafts bold, playful and bright everyday wares for home, work, baby and play. It’s the result of Ellen and her partner’s two brands, Blushing Confetti (stationery and giftware) and Livvy + Harry (baby accessories) being merged into one label.
“We were finding that the same customers were buying from Blushing Confetti and Livvy + Harry, just at different stages of their journey,” Ellen says. “We rebranded to The Somewhere Co. to make our messaging clearer to that market, regardless of their stage in life.”
Since merging the brands, Ellen says business has skyrocketed. The Somewhere Co. team has grown exponentially, and they’ve opened a brick-and-mortar store in Indooroopilly. They’ve even expanded into the US, where they’re now stocked at major retailers like Bloomingdale’s, Free People and The Container Store.
Through it all, Ellen has adhered to three guiding principles that she believes can be applied to virtually any business.
Invest in your future
“We’ve grown from a team of three to a team of 20 within a very short period of time,” Ellen says, “and we’re about to double again this year. That’s phenomenal growth, with lots of moving parts.”
Aside from “lots of wine”, Ellen says the key to scaling up has been a willingness to invest in the company’s future.
“Map out where you want to be and what you think is realistic,” Ellen says, “and then really invest in your systems and processes. If you scale drastically, like we did, there’s no way you’ll survive without having those in place.
“I invested in software a year and a half to two years before we [needed it], because I knew where I wanted to be. Investing in your company takes time and it can be very expensive, but it will be beneficial in the long run.”
Block out the white noise
“A lot of people will have opinions about what you’re doing,” Ellen warns. “Whether those opinions are coming from your friends, your family or your colleagues, you need to back yourself and trust your gut, because this is your journey. This is something you started, and it’s about where you want to be in your life.
“I got so many comments about opening a brick-and-mortar store in the middle of COVID, and how crazy that was… but it’s become a huge part of the expansion plan for our business, and I’m super excited about it. So I think you need to just roll with the punches, trust your gut and try to block out that white noise.”
Hire on values, not skillset
Everyone wants employees who are highly skilled – but, Ellen says, it might be even more important to find employees who live and breathe your company’s values.
“It’s obviously important that you hire skilled and talented people,” she says, “but if they’re not aligned with your values, then you’re going to have issues that pop up along the way. If the wrong person joins your team, no matter how skilled they are, that’s where everything falls down.
“We’ve done a lot of work to articulate our values and what we stand for as a business, and we make sure that everyone we bring into the team is aligned with those values. We’ve recruited an awesome team – everyone just loves what they do, we all share the same vision, and it’s just a lot of fun.
“It’s nice to have a team around you, all working towards the same thing, rather than trying to do it solo.”
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