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dear strictly business: how do i make my business stand out?

dear strictly business: how do i make my business stand out?


We asked three creative types about getting their business noticed in a crowded industry.

There’s a business for every need nowadays – from inclusive home removals to textured hair care. It’s empowering to know you’re not alone as a business owner. You can easily find others working hard at their passions, and inspiration is only a scroll away. The downside, though, is it can be tricky to make your products or services stand out from the crowd. We asked a few experts for tips on making your business stick out like a sore thumb (in a good way).

Shahn Stewart – founder of floral studio Alchemy Orange and proud Yorta Yorta artist.

Casey Eastwell – founder of swimwear label Hakea Swim.

Nye De Marchi – founder of jewellery label By Nye.

What do you love about your work? Shahn: Taking what I’ve learnt in my decade in floristry and refining my skillset into work that represents who I am, and forming relationships with the First Nations community.

Casey: Learning, creating and connecting with others.

Nye: Building on an idea, creating something by hand and seeing the finished product.Nye and her designs

What do you find most challenging? Shahn: Floristry isn’t interpreted as fine art. That’s something we’re dismantling. Botanic materials are a medium you can use to express ideas – just like you would with painting or photography.

Casey: It can be isolating. It helps to connect with other business owners, discuss our challenges and ask for help. It’s also hard not having the financial resources to develop new technologies, like for recycling swimwear.

Nye: The many hats you wear, especially when you don’t have much financial backing. You are the customer service, production and order fulfilment person – and everything in between.

How do you come up with unique products? Casey: When designing swimwear, I think: how it can be worn with clothes? For example, I’d seen t-shirts with cap sleeves and dresses with open backs, but I’d never seen those things on a swimsuit, so I designed the Chacahua suit. Also, I listen to customers’ needs.

Nye: I try to build contrast into everything. For example, I’ll make a delicate, shapely item that’s also harsh and structured. Or I’ll put two parts together – like the Split In Two or Mixed Business earrings.

Shahn: There will always be a starting material – like a banksia or hydrangea. Then, when I put together an arrangement, it’s important that the colours are distributed evenly and it flows. I’ll see if it needs more height and see what I can find to match those colours while remaining true to the design.Shahn and her floral arrangements

What are your strategies for making your brand stand out? Nye: When I started, I was making things I didn’t relate to. A friend asked, “Why don't you wear anything you make?” I said, “It’s not my taste”. She was like, “That’s a problem.” But I thought I’d delivered a certain product that people expected. I internalised my friend’s advice and changed everything. Now, I start from a place where I think it’s good. If I would wear it, that’s enough.

Casey: Consistency on social media, and having a clear message and aesthetic. Engaging with the customer via Instagram Stories and having a relationship that can be quite casual.

Shahn: Early on, I saw talented florists’ work and thought it didn’t reflect my style, or what I could achieve if I committed wholeheartedly. That gave me the confidence to do it, and it paid off. Also, our audience has always appreciated our transparency and vision, which helps us stand out.

How do you generate fresh ideas? Shahn: I’ll turn on my floristry eyes and go for a walk. I’ll notice the shape of a branch or the texture of a leaf. Floristry is the ultimate career for ideas. With the changing seasons, there’s always something new to create with.

Casey: Through travel. My mind is clearer after a break from my routine and I need to allow myself that space to be creative. Also, I listen to customer feedback and develop a solution.

Nye: I get my best ideas on the toilet. If I have trouble with an item, I’ll sit on the toilet and figure it out. Also being around others who create, especially outside my medium. I’ll look at chairs, vases or sculptures.Casey and one of her designs

What does your industry need to see more of? Shahn: Understanding the Indigenous knowledge that exists behind local materials, and working with local growers instead of overseas growers.

Casey: Sustainability practices, small collections and better materials.

Nye: People who love what they do and are creating something they think needs to be created.

What advice would you give to small-business owners trying to make their business stand out? Shahn: Back yourself and your product. Stay true to yourself and your ideas. In a world full of creatives, that’s how to stand out.

Casey: Solve a problem. Find a niche that no one is doing, or that you can do better.

Nye: Make something you think is genuinely good and represent that authentically, and let yourself play.

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