Firstly; it seems my last post was over 2 years ago... (*hand over face with embarrassment)... so I have quite a bit to catch you up on!
Secondly; (and beyond writing a lot more regularly), I want to make sure that you take away valuable information from each post and that we share this journey together; what's worked; what hasn't; and the lessons I've gathered along the way.
So, given my first post didn't really start from the start; I thought I should begin with the right intentions and share the FULL story.
Now, I appreciate that law, handbags and innovation are not three words you would regularly hear combined to describe someone’s past 11 years of practice – and, to be fair, handbags and innovation really only entered the scene in the last 2 or 3.
Just prior to completing my law degree; and a semester’s exchange to Uppsala in Sweden; I’d become aware of “Fashion Law”. A specialist area of practice, primarily based in NY city, dedicated entirely to the business of fashion where whole law firms are devoted to serving fashion clients; design conception through to IP protection and registration, bulk manufacturing through to wholesale distribution and retail sales.
Knowing this was a MATCH.MADE.IN.HEAVEN. (the only catch being it solely existed in NY); I knew what I had to do; prepare for and pass the NY bar exam!
Now life has a funny way of directing your path; or throwing you curve balls to teach you lessons, possibly, that you are destined to learn at that particular time and stage of your life….
All the while… the GFC was happening, and NO ONE in NY was interested in sponsoring new permanent international hires.
YOU MUST BE ABLE TO PIVOT / ADAPT TO CHANGE
Following her advice, I continued working in Melbourne under the guidance of a wonderfully understanding financial services Partner and began studying a Commercial Law Masters at Melbourne University (7 subjects in IP and one in Construction, because my husband is a builder).
RELATIONSHIPS; YOUR NETWORK IS INCREDIBLY POWERFUL
The relationship I had, and continue to have, with the supervising Partner where I worked was strong. He understood my drive to follow my passion and was instrumental in assisting me with study leave, introductions and references for applications to work in a top tier Intellectual Property practice.
Moving from a boutique financial services team to a top tier IP team was a fabulous experience. During this 2 year period, I also got married, we purchased a house in Melbourne and my husband started his own business - so we became largely wedded to Australia.
LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
IP law in Australia isn't quite "fashion law" in NY – so I still had that itch … together with a growing frustration at not being able to find a handbag that suited my needs.
I began having thoughts, ludicrous I thought at the time, that I should start making bags myself. Despite having (*what I thought were) totally nonsensical and completely irrational thoughts – the voice kept getting louder...
So I listened to it.
Realising I needed to explore my creative side more fully and incorporate it into my life, I decided to resign and expand my knowledge of bag manufacture before becoming more fully entrenched into the path to partnership career trajectory and family commitments.
Not wanting to leave the law entirely, I took on a part time legal role at Gilbert + Tobin in January 2014.
CAREER BY YOUR DESIGN; SUCCESS IS SUBJECTIVE
Over a 16 month period of extensive networking, handbag construction and digital design courses at RMIT, research and development, the She Lion debut collection was officially launched into the public domain on 8 July 2015.
To me, success by design is ensuring that you align with your personal vision of success, which may not necessarily be the conventional vision of success; it’s one that aligns with who you are, your personal passions and priorities, and ultimately what drives you as a unique human being.
I am very fortunate to have a dual career and G+T has been an integral part of my ability to achieve this. G+T has also afforded me the opportunity to evolve my legal role as I have continued to evolve – primarily unconsciously through the application of the skills I am developing through running my own business (coupled with working with a very supportive manager and employer).
I am particularly proud to be part of a firm that recognises the vast contribution made by lawyers in both billable and non-billable capacities; clearly demonstrated by the recent promotion of my manager, Chief Knowledge and Innovation Officer, Caryn Sandler to partnership.
APPLY COMMERCIAL THINKING TO EVERY DECISION YOU MAKE
When starting your own business you automatically develop a very different thought process; largely because every decision you make affects whether you make or lose money. Immersed in this environment, you are forced to rapidly develop more commercial thinking which very quickly seeps into all aspects of your life.
This approach is equally relevant in a legal context: (1) the development of strong relationships (both internally within the firm and externally with clients) (2) the provision of a quality product (in this context, a quality service) (3) presented in a way that provides real value and (4) a positive buying experience that encourages repeat business.
If you have already stumbled across my "About" page, I have happily leveraged this part of the story below...
As a lawyer, I had become increasingly frustrated at being unable to find a handbag that suited my needs - Like many professional woman, I regularly carry a laptop, paperwork, two phones and technology chargers, together with all of the usual items we insist on putting in our handbags. I also like to look my best and feel empowered in what I wear when I go to work - however, the addition of a big black laptop bag, a cotton tote packed with lunch, chargers and high heels and a bag full of paperwork, is a sure way to kill a good look.
No one enjoys the standard handbag demonstration, pulling everything out just to find one specific item, which you would have preferred to locate quickly and with ease. Amazingly, there are incredibly few handbags specifically tailored for the working woman that are both edgy and functional, and do not cost the earth! Friends and professional colleagues confirmed that that they too had found it difficult to locate such a bag.
Accepting the challenge, the philosophy of: “Fierce Elegance. Premium Practicality. Bold Ambition.” was born.
Thinking as both the consumer and the designer, I needed to create luxurious and strong handbags with a touch of sass (“Fierce Elegance”). Affordable high quality handbags with distinctive interiors specifically designed to cater for everything you might need to transport to and from the office - including technology, paperwork as well as all the usual items we insist on putting in our handbags (“Premium Practicality”). Beyond practicality, I was also determined to create a product that made the consumer feel confident and able to take on the world when they wore it (“Bold Ambition”).
The heart of She Lion is to inspire women across the board to be who they are and to be their best.
All of the same lessons in law have been applicable to SL and at a greater intensity!
PUSH DOWN THE BOUNDARIES; ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
EMBRACE THE FEELING OF BEING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
ACCEPT THAT IT'S OK IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER
FEEL COMFORTABLE ASKING FOR HELP
PERSISTENCE / PERSISTENCE / PERSISTENCE
If you asked me where I would be 5 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought starting my own business was even on the radar.
If you asked me if I thought I would be a mother of a 1 year old, the National Knowledge and Innovation Lawyer at Gilbert + Tobin and running my own handbag business at 33, I definitely would have laughed!
Many things are possible with persistence – ANYTHING is possible with guts and determination!