I thought I might kick this Community Blog off with a little story all about me and how I came to be a small biz owner. So first off, hi, my name is Jess - I am co-owner of The Commune Space, a creative agency offering services in Graphic Design, Illustration and Events. I own this biz with my biz partner, Brenton, also my soon to be husband #reallifelovers. He works in technical production and is involved in the events side of the business. So lets take a step back in time…
Rewind back, to when I was a young girl, eldest of four and full of fiery entrepreneurial energy. Before I hit the legal working age in Australia I owned and operated clubs. There was the Flower Power club, the Babysitters Club and the Girls club. These clubs were made all the more official when my Dad (also a graphic designer) made laminated cards for our club members. After this came my first paying job, brochure delivery. I would roll the brochures, box them and then jump in the car with mum and toss the suckers out the window. I also did the odd babysitting job for my neighbours and got paid in cash, every girls dream.
Then came the day, I was finally 14 and 9 months old. I could get a real job. My dad helped me create little A5 ‘work wanted’ flyers and I handed them out diligently. Alas no calls came in. After one very scary and unprepared interview with Subway, I finally caught a break. A friend referred me to the restaurant she worked in. I got the job, working in a Japanese restaurant and that was it, the start of my working career.
Somewhere along the way between school, working in the restaurant and my long term boyfriend, I forgot about that entrepreneurial fire. I forgot about the desire to have a career or even earn money. I finished school and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I loved fashion and interior design but my confidence was lacking. So instead I decided to get married and have kids. Writing this here makes me feel a bit squeamish but I know that so many school leavers feel just as confused as I did and that is ok. Whatever your path is, it’s yours. There’s no right or wrong way to do things in this life, your journey, the order it goes in, is all yours and it’s all perfect.
At the time I had kids I was working in retail and had worked my way up the ladder a little. I left my job in retail when my husband joined the army. We were posted to Darwin and this is where I created my first business. Darwin is a great place for community, we made friends quickly up there to our surprise and eventually grew to love the place. I wasn’t working and started to get itchy feet. Whilst my husband was away with the army, I decided to spend our rego money on registering a business instead of the car. And so the business was born. I had no expectations and didn’t really know what I was doing but I just went with it. With the help of my dad and Lynda.com, I built a website on Wordpress, one of my proudest moments. It was out there now.
Before long I was paying my $500 to do my first expo and the business was starting to gain traction. I was actually making money and it was my own. It felt bloody fantastic and crushed those self doubting fears into the ground. After a few years in biz, the business was starting to attract interstate clients and make some serious money and it blew my mind every single time. I still remember the time I got a big time client, a global brand and the job was $12K. I sent the invoice and in my head I thought nope, there’s no way this is going to go ahead. They will cancel or something will happen, no one is going to pay little old me that much money. Wrong, they did and it was the start of our best year yet.
Later that year my marriage broke down and the decision was made to move. My intention was to just close the business and maybe sell off the assets but a friend said to me, Jess no, why don’t you sell the business? Again that self doubt raised its ugly head and I said don’t be ridiculous, no one is going to buy my biz. Wrong again, I sold the business and it is still operating to this day. Mind blown!! Financially, the sale of the business gave me the security I needed to get myself and my two young kids sorted during the separation and that was the biggest blessing.
Fast forward to the move to Brisbane and I got my first EVER full time job at the ripe old age of 28. I loved it. A regular pay check was such a novelty to me and it allowed me to save and travel the world, something I had never done. I loved the team I worked in and the job was good but again I got itchy feet. The entrepreneur life was calling again and it started in a very similar way to the last. We didn’t have a clear idea on what the business looked like but we knew we wanted to be business owners again. And so The Commune Space was born, an eco events company.
Since this time the business has evolved and shifted but this is where we feel at home. The thought of going back to full time work feels literally impossible to me. My mind will make up a million reasons why it couldn’t work because this is the way I need to work to thrive. I need autonomy and creativity in my work life, I need flexibility as I’m still a mum and raising two kids and I need space for adventure. This is who I am, this is the entrepreneur I am and these are my values: Freedom, adventure and love.
So that’s my journey, perfect in all its zigs and zags. I wouldn’t change a single thing.