Hi I’m Janine and I’m the founder of jewellery ecommerce store Desiderate. Desiderate is a small family business, selling beautiful artisan jewellery which is ‘a little bit boho, a little bit bling’. 

We are famous for chunky silver bangles, stunning gemstone rings, earrings and pendants and ethically handmade and original modern bohemian jewellery for the modern Australian women aged 35-65+. Our range is constantly evolving and we regularly release new products to keep up with market demand and changing trends. Our loyal customers love to snap up our new releases and they often sell out within days of release. 

When did you start your business?

2017, but it feels like yesterday! 

What was the inspiration behind starting this business?

I began selling my own jewellery via Facebook to make ends meet and provide for my family. I didn’t have a clue about starting a business, but as word spread and customers began asking for styles, I realised that there was a gap in the market for boho-style jewellery for women aged 35-60+. With a limited budget I launched the Desiderate brand. 

I created the Shopify website and invested in designing and sourcing high-quality jewellery. My initial focus was on creating high quality products and providing excellent customer service. However it was only when I invested in learning marketing that sales grew. As I learned about SEO, email marketing and social media advertising, the brand flourished. The customer service dedication and high quality products ensured that word of mouth spread and customer loyalty with repeat purchase was excellent. 

What are you most excited about in your business?

I love creating and releasing new styles that keep our customers coming back for more. I’ve always been a sucker for a sparkly gemstone or beautiful jewellery and now I get to call that obsession a career, I love that! 

When a customer tells me how much they love shopping with us and enjoying our products, I feel so proud. Recently a customer’s daughter contacted me after she sadly died from MND and that shopping with us really brightened the final months of her life; that was very special for me and my team. CUstomers are everything to us and we love to get positive reviews, we have more than 650 5-star reviews on Google alone. 

What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?

The biggest challenge is undoubtedly right now, facing higher interest rates, inflation and potentially recession in 2022. Luckily we enter this period of economic downturn on the back of a strong period of growth. Our sales increased 183% in 2020/21 and we are still growing, just not at the same fast rate. We are addressing it by taking a long-term view. Downturns are a part of business, and I have contingency plans in place to protect my business in case of reduced sales due to a slower economy. Desiderate will implement the lessons learned from the covid pandemic, where we doubled down on our efforts to connect with our customers. 

On a personal note living with the condition Lupus SLE while running a growing small business is a considerable challenge. Living with Lupus forces me to rest, as stress can flare an outbreak. Medication helps enormously but I’m careful about overdoing it. I used to work constantly but now I have systems in place so my team can keep everything running without me. For example, earlier this year I had covid and pneumonia and was hospitalised, but my team kept the business afloat. Knowing this gives me peace of mind to step away from the business to take care of my health or just to rest and recharge. In a way lupus has been a benefit to the business because it forces me to take care of myself and create SOPs for the business and improve efficiency.  

What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?

Go for it! We are all more capable than we believe. You will get a lot of advice in business so you need to know when to listen to experts and when to trust your own gut instincts. 

It’s important to have an open mindset and be willing to learn. Business requires a multifaceted set of skills, so as soon as you can afford it, outsource what you need help with—finance, tech or marketing etc. 

Be obsessed with amazing customer service as your customers will be your initial source of growth by referring and recommending you. The best business model is to satisfy and delight customers. 

Be willing to promote your business, as no one will do it for you. Put your ego aside and show up strategically as a business leader to get visibility for your brand.   

Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?

To me they are among the most prestigious in Australia with the highest profile and clout, and a transparent judging process. In answering the award entry questions, it forces me to take stock of the business and assess my progress towards my goals. I want to be a role model for other women in business who are in their mid 50s like me, or who live with disabilities like I do (I have lupus SLE). Plus on a strategic level, it helps raise the profile of the business among our target audience and provides networking opportunities too.  

What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?

I love seeing the emerging and established business owners being recognised and I love that it’s not always the one who makes the most money who comes out as the winner. Mums work so hard and I love that we all get to celebrate. 

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the award ceremony this year as I was working in Bali with my suppliers. But watching the ceremony live via Facebook was a blast. I ordered a Mexican dinner delivered to my hotel room and watched. Even online I could sense the positive energy and excitement in the room. Plus I love seeing the women all decked in sparkly evening dresses. 

What surprised you most about the awards?

I didn’t think I’d be able to network as I was not attending the awards in person but I was able to chat with others watching the livestream and we were all supporting and encouraging each other together, that was an unexpected and welcome surprise. 

How did the awards help you in your business?

The awards are great publicity for the business and I could track a spike in website traffic and purchases in the days following the awards — they definitely triggered new customers to discover the brand and shop with us. Plus, winning the award seal adds a level of social proof and trust for customers. 

What advice would you give to other mums thinking about entering the awards?

Definitely go for it — even if you think you won’t win, give it a shot. Even if you don’t win, the entire process will help you learn what a winning entry looks like and give you goals to shoot for in the future. Plus there’s fantastic opportunities to network and connect with other business owners. 

What has been the best thing about starting your own business?

Having the freedom to provide for my family and knowing that I have built an asset that will continue to provide into the future. This gives me peace of mind that is unbeatable. 

I love the work that I do, especially creating new designs and sourcing materials. Seeing a product materialise from an idea in my mind to a physical product on sale on our website is always a thrill. 

And lastly, connecting with customers and knowing that we do make a difference in their lives — that is always so rewarding. 

What’s happening next in your business?

I’m very excited to be launching a sister brand for Desiderate, a fashion label called Taleeta. 

It is designed to suit our current customer base. Using my contacts in Indonesia, I’m creating a label that will be attractive to Desiderate’s target audience. With a boho feel – comfortable, practical and stylish – this new range will be highly appealing to our current audience and take advantage of our existing mailing list. My goal is to launch in Spring/Summer 2022. 

What are your big plans for the future?

My original plan was to wholesale our pieces when Desiderate reached a turnover of $1million. Now that we’re well over that, my views have changed. If we wholesale we lose exclusivity and control of the customer service and sales process. I want to keep our growth and products in-house. 

As we grow, Desiderate will employ more people to build our reach. There is a pleasure in keeping our products exclusive. We have built a reputation for being friendly.

With the expanded growth, Desiderate will move into a bigger space within 12 months. Within five years, we will upgrade our premises to accommodate our continued growth. I will move into a CEO role, with department managers coordinating each of the operational centres.  

What is your website and/or social media links (eg. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram)

Website: Desiderate.com.au 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/desiderate1/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/desiderate__/ 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janineleghissa/