“As a small business owner and a mum of three, I’ve been feeling the rising cost of living from both sides. When the Australian dollar is low, my business margins change dramatically because I import from China and Spain so I constantly revise my forecasts depending on the exchange rate. To protect the profitability of my business, Millwoods – a footwear label I launched in 2019, I’m looking at different ways I can sell into international markets. Being able to sell in US dollars and have a US dollar bank account will be a major help.
At home, I’ve been getting creative with meal ideas. The kids love having breakfast for dinner and we also do a ‘freezer night’, where we use up frozen leftovers. I’m a fan of bulk cooking so when I make spaghetti bolognese, I use two or three kilograms of meat so it lasts and it’s cheaper that way.
Living on a farm and driving diesel cars, the cost of fuel is a big expense. It’s a 40-kilometre drive to get into Wagga Wagga so I recently bought a second-hand run-about that uses petrol, which is cheaper than diesel. So, even though I had to make an initial investment to buy the car, I know the savings on fuel will add up.
As a kid, I was brought up to buy the best available quality I could afford – and it’s a lesson I’m trying to pass on to my own children. Buying one pair of quality jeans and wearing them until they split is better than buying four pairs of cheap jeans that last half as long.
It’s this thinking that I’ve built into my business, too. I’ve been getting emails from customers asking when I’ll be having a sale – which I understand – but I’d like consumers not to expect frequent sales. Instead, I’d like our customers to know that the shoes are worth it, to recognise that the price point is fair and to trust in the quality and wearability of the pieces. Fast fashion has made it harder for quality brands but there’s a movement towards shopping small, local and premium. I love to see that support.
Since starting Millwoods, I’ve invested almost everything back into the business. I only pay myself the cost of my family’s groceries every week. But recently I’ve had to make some tough decisions because of rising costs and I’ve scaled back the subcontractors who assist me. That does put more pressure and stress on me to get things done but I’m here for the long haul. In business – and life – things are cyclical so at the moment it’s all about getting through this part of the cycle and staying strong.”