Simone Schenkel is a PassivHaus certified building designer and our 2020 AusMumpreneur VIC-TAS People’s Choice Making a Difference (Environmental) Silver Award winner.
Simone’s mission is to make energy efficient homes a staple in the Australian landscape. Everyone should have the right to live in a comfortable house that does not cost the earth!
Simone has used her passion, experience and the knowledge which she’ve gained from her upbringing and architectural studies in Germany to create Gruen Eco Design. This is a business where they work with their clients to design homes that are beautiful, energy efficient and healthy for future generations, that don’t cost the earth.
When did you start your business?
It started 2010 as a side business. I then left my full-time job in mid 2013 to concentrate on growing the business. Only to find out I was pregnant a week later. Our first daughter was born February 2014 and the second October 2015. I was basically working part time from home around the kids with a couple of contractors. In mid 2017 I’ve did the plunge. Got my first office and full time team member. Fast forward to May 2021, we are now an amazing team of 15.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
On moving to Australia in 2007, I was shocked at how cold our rental place was. People kept telling me double glazed windows were not needed in Australia. But I wasn’t buying it. I knew something was just not right. And I felt it was my mission to educate people about the benefits of the German way of designing and building homes. I felt the industry needed a shake up and I was game enough to question how building was done here.
In my first few years in Australia I worked in a great design office, that was doing energy efficient homes. But I had to tell prospective clients that if they had less than 500 – 600K to spend on their home, we could not help them with the design.
This was breaking my heart. I am a strong believer that no matter how much money you have available. You can always make your home more energy efficient. It may not end up being an extension or a new home that might win you awards. But that’s not the point. The point is making a difference and improving the way people can live in their homes.
This is where the idea came from. And slowly I started doing small projects at the side. While still working full time. It is important for me to brings awareness and a solution to the very important issue of sustainable, energy efficient building practices and educate the community. With Gruen Eco Design we provide a service where we work with the clients, nurture and help them through what can be a confusing and daunting process of making their dream home become a reality.
What are you most excited about in your business?
Nothing makes me happier to see a finished project and how much the clients enjoy living in their new home. Or even someone calling or emailing me and thanking me for the advice I gave them. We do offer a few free design consultations each months. And telling me how much better their home now performs. This is why I started this journey in the first place. Making energy efficient and sustainable homes a stable in the Australian landscape. One house at a time.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
At the beginning I was good at my job, but knew nothing about running a business. So I’ve worked a lot an myself. Did lots of courses and read books about marketing. Selling, how to lead teams and anything business. There were lots of things that didn’t quite work. But as my amazing coach says. There is no failure. Only feedback. So when something didn’t work, I kept fine tuning it. I kept showing up on social media. Creating content. Progress rather than perfection. I slowly started to trust my team and to hand over tasks where I previously thought no one else could handle them. It is a continuous process of setting up systems, processes and procedures. It definitely is an ongoing process. And there are still lost of things ahead of us that need further fine tuning. But we are getting there.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
You don’t need to do it all alone. Look up and speak to others who’ve done it before. The best decisions I’ve ever made was to say yes to my business coach and mentor. She has literally changed my world.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
Someone had nominated me 😉
Still don’t know who it was!
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
It was very inspiring to hear the stories and achievements of all these amazing women and mums. And it was a real honour to be recognized for all the work I’ve been doing.
What surprised you most about the awards?
Oh, good question. Probably also all the amazing stories of other mums and how they have succeeded.
How did the awards help you in your business?
It was a great recognition and great exposure.
What advice would you give to others mums thinking about entering the awards?
Just do it. You have nothing to lose. But lots of possibilities ahead.
What’s happening next in your business? Any big plans for the future?
We have been expanding last year. Almost doubled our business. And we are not stopping there.
Our aim is still to make energy efficient and sustainable homes a staple in the Australian landscape. And we keep working on that.
All images featured here are from Simone Schenkel.
SAVE THE DATE – 2021 AUSMUMPRENEUR AWARDS!
Nominations open Monday 3 May 2021.
AusMumpreneur Awards Nights 8-10 September 2021
Conference and Awards Presentation 14-16 September 2021.