Windfall Jewellery Founder: Read fierce business inspiration
I’m putting it out there – sometimes, business is a hard slog. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving life with the O&C tribe, we’re growing something great here and running my own show offers me the flexibility to be there for my son and see him to become an even more awesome human each and every day. And it gives me space to start every day on the beach with my beloved doggo, caffeine in hand – #livingthedream. But business can be stressful and there are times it seriously zaps your zest for what you do. The long nights, the complex maze of projects and the just drained AF-ness. Ya feel?
So how do we climb out of the business funk? My advice – talk to people who light the fire in your belly and inspire you. For me, this was connecting with Lani Williams of Windfall Jewellery fame – this lady legend is self-made, self-funded and all kinds of fierce. Soaking up Lani’s brain juice always give me a kick of motivation – not just from our interview but thanks to her wanderlust-fitspiration Insta that packs a punch.
Lani and I initially connected waaaay back when, around twenty-twelve when I launched my first business, Lo & Behold. Since launching Windfall Jewellery in Melbourne, she’s been on a mission to create unique, edgy jewellery designed by the best in the biz – ie Lani herself and her all-female crew.
So, recently I sent her some questions and she kindly obliged. We talked the non-negotiables of running your own business, smashing out admin and emails at 11pm and family outings to the gym. We may have also pondered how on earth we’d make it through each day without caffeine and good Thai food… but the jury’s still out on that one.
Here’s what this business lady, fierce fighter and proud mama had to say on life in business and how to strike that all-important balance.
On the struggles in business
When you’ve hustled on your business from the ground up, it’s your baby and letting go of that can be flippin hard. But Lani will be the first person to tell you that once you conjure the strength to employ staff and delegate, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
“Windfall was my precious baby for a few years and I could never let anyone in,” says Lani. “But once I found the perfect girls for the business it really started to gain momentum – it was a game changer for me. It completely took the pressure off and I realised how important it was to learn to delegate and share the responsibility.”
This year Lani has also made the strategic decision to down tools and step into the role of Creative Director. She says acknowledging the fact that her strengths don’t lie in just jewellery making, but even more so, designing, motivated her to make the shift to drive the business forward. But letting go is a work in progress and three months in, Lani’s still stepping away, slowly.
“I needed to have a big look at our business and pinpoint the areas I can fill with other staff members so I can focus on what I’m really good at and slip into a role that no one could ever fill,” says Lani.
“While I can pay a new team member to create our jewellery, I could never find someone with my vision. So other talented jewellers will take over on the tools while I sail this ship forward creatively. But it’s a slow journey and one that will take some time, so every now and then you’ll still catch me grinding away in the studio while I slowly hand over the reigns.”
Regardless, Lani’s proud to say she’ll still be hovering over each and every piece of jewellery that’s ever made – because keeping a close eye on your baby is just what you do.
On juggling creativity, business and motherhood
But establishing your dream team doesn’t mean the tough times will be banished for good, especially when you’re trying to strike the balance between motherhood, being creative and running a business.
I asked Lani if she had any helpful hacks to balance the lot, and where she sources inspiration for her designs.
“It can be taxing and creativity, especially, isn’t something you can force. Just like writers, artists have blocks too. I wish I could say I blocked out certain times for running the business, making jewellery, and being a mum, but the reality is I have to be as flexible as possible with all those aspects of my life and not stress myself out about it,” says Lani.
“I do, however, have set hours at the shop to make jewellery, the weekends are family time and when I’m home I’m busy being a mum. The second my son goes to sleep though I’m generally running the business from a home office and for some reason it just feels right to smash out admin and emails at 11pm.
“So when am I creative? I do a lot of sketching late at night before I go to bed, but I’m at my best when I travel. I generally design an entire collection, if not a couple, when I’m overseas. It’s when we’re away that I truly find the inspiration and motivation to push my brand forward.”
On social media and scaling
Instagram has played a massive part in growing the Windfall Jewellery brand too. And while Lani’s approach to the content she shares is fairly laidback, it’s her authenticity that shines through with every single post.
“Instagram has been a huge tool for us. It’s vital. We stay connected with our existing clients, reach a broad audience and meet new clients too,” says Lani.
“None of us come from a marketing background so I can only attribute our social media success to authenticity – it’s been key for our business in all areas and I think if we do things with the right intent and for the right reasons, organic growth will come naturally. We are real, and I think that’s what people like.”
Lani’s the real deal alright. Windfall Jewellery is 100% independent and grown from organic profits. She’s never once had a business loan or any financial backing and while sometimes she wonders where the business would be if she sought that additional support, she’s understandably proud of what she’s grown from nothing.
“All the money we make goes back into the business, whether it’s more staff, better equipment, or more stock, and the end result is a risk-free business with no pressure. I sit back and look at this thing that I’ve started from literally nothing and no savings and feel pretty damn good about what we’ve created.”
And so she should.
Even when she was a one-woman band, Lani understood the importance of taking a step back to remember what you’re doing.
“Put the tools down and come back to it tomorrow,” she says. “The work will always be there waiting for you, but the dust would have settled over night and you’ll see the big picture more clearly when you don’t want to bang your head against the wall.”
Good to know it’s not just me experiencing the whole head/wall/banging situation every now and then – in fact Lani believes if you haven’t hit the wall at some point, then you’re just not doing it right.
But exercise and fitness has also proved critical for Lani’s mental health and it’s not uncommon for her to spend some serious family time with both her husband and their son at the gym. When you have a business brain that runs at a million miles an hour, finding that time and space to switch off and reboot is crucial.
“If I’m not healthy then my business isn’t healthy. If I’m not at my peak mentally then I struggle to keep everything in check – fighting, training and exercise not only keeps me in good physical shape, but it’s almost meditative for me. When I’m there I’m not a mum or a business woman, I’m just focused on the drill or the technique we’re doing and my mind stays there. It’s really therapeutic. When I think back to a time before I started training, my business was definitely in a mess compared to the well-oiled machine it is now.”