Home' Forge : Vol 2 No 2 Contents Timmerman says that in some
respects, starting a business at
such a young age was extremely
stressful, but in others it may have
been an advantage.
‘When I first started, I was
completely naïve and I didn’t
realise how difficult it was going to
be. It was possibly a good thing,’
‘It’s a lot of pressure, but I don’t
think it would have been less
pressure for someone older.’
Being younger has also enabled
her to easily relate to her target
demographic of 18- to 24-year-olds.
Facebook, and then Instagram, have
been huge drivers of growth.
‘Facebook was the reason that
people started to know who we
were,’ says Timmerman.
Between Facebook and Twitter, the
online business now has more than
one million followers. Timmerman
handled most of the social media
until last year.
‘We just want to be real – to have
something that’s beautiful, but also
achievable. It’s very important to be
a friend to our customers,’ she says
of their marketing strategy.
Personalised touches, such as
a handwritten note included in
each order, help to set Beginning
Boutique apart. Timmerman says
that unlike some massive online
fashion stores, customers can
also easily speak to a real human
in their customer service team.
Sixteen employees now keep the
business ticking over – and the
team is growing.
Brisbane might not seem like the
most obvious choice of location
for a fashion business, but
Timmerman says that while it
comes with some disadvantages
(slightly pricier shipping to the
rest of the country, for example),
there are also many benefits.
‘We have great talent in Brisbane,
and great creatives in Brisbane.
You’re not competing with heaps of
different companies,’ she says. ‘It’s
a small but high-quality pool.’
About 90 per cent of the store’s
current customers are Australian;
the remaining 10 per cent are
mostly from the United States and
Timmerman says that she’d
eventually like to have offices in
Los Angeles and Hong Kong, but
that becoming a global company is
not her ‘be all and end all’.
Managing a company that has
experienced such high growth
remains a major challenge, which
Timmerman tries to meet by being
available to her staff.
‘I can talk to any of my staff any time.
We just try to keep an eye on things,
and learn and grow and change.
‘I think it’s all about modifying
what you’re doing and listening [to
customers]. I don’t think there will
ever be a day when we stop working
out how we can do things better.’
The business was recently forced
to shift when its old offices were
slated for demolition by apartment
developers. Timmerman also had
to find a last-minute warehousing
solution, after signing three separate
leases, each of which fell through.
Under pressure, she ended up
outsourcing the logistics to Melbourne.
Such hurdles are just an everyday
part of life for the young
entrepreneur, who has become used
to rolling with the inevitable punches.
Likewise, she has learnt to pivot
often, and fast.
‘When we first started, it was
designer clothing – now it’s fast
fashion. We’ve pivoted so many
times I don’t even know,’ she says.
‘We almost went bankrupt multiple
times. You really get very capable of
realising that there’s always another
way to make something happen.’
Timmerman’s belief in the
business that she created from
scratch, and even dropped out of
uni for, remains unwavering.
She readily admits that she still loves
business much more than fashion, and
says her own wardrobe is overdue for
an update. But when she sees a piece
she really loves come through the
site, she resists buying it because she
knows it will be in hot demand.
‘I’d rather sell it than take it home,’
Sarah Timmerman’s top three tips for entrepreneurs
1. Have more money than you think you need, because you are going to need it.
2. Try to laugh instead of cry. Something will go wrong every week.
3. Make sure that whatever you’re doing, you’re quite comfortable with your
choice, even if it makes you bankrupt. The idea and what you’re doing must be
so important to you that you’ll give it everything you’ve got.
TIPPING POINT // 11
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