Hi, I am Alison, the founder and owner of Beautiful Robes. In this article, you will learn about my origins and how I became passionate about customer service and ultimately, how I became a small business entrepreneur. You will also discover what I am currently working on in the business of kimono robes and where to next for me, Alison Schipp, the entrepreneur....
Well, if you are expecting you to drop by for a glamorous description of life in a sassy and creative design studio, you may just want to tune out now.... this is real life baby. And to be honest, if that was my life, I would probably have quit a long time ago. I'm one of these people that needs a serious amount of variety.
Anyway, how did I get started - that might interest you.
I have a background in Marketing and Management - and after finishing a degree in the same in the Commerce faculty of The University of Wollongong, I entered into an incredible opportunity in the Management area of Call centres. I was an Account Manager at Telemasters - owned by Cellarmaster Wines, and, most importantly, part of my salary was a case of wine per month! Can you imagine that! A 21 year old receiving the same "salvage" as the GM of the group. It was a steep learning curve and lots of nights on the tiles (whoops!), but someone had to do it! That was in 1996.... and boy, that was a cutting edge field and incredible organisation.
Sitting in the Bondi Junction office, with immense Sydney Harbour Views, wine industry events and blue chip clients out the kazoo, I decided I had arrived. I cut my teeth on awesome customer and sales focused projects, leading my organisation into some pretty uncharted territory, with crazy hard-coded systems supporting customer outcomes. AND I LOVED IT! And become a well know "FIX IT" lady for problem accounts with customer experience issues (not that they were know as that then!). And knew that specifying systems, developing procedures and marrying staff with them was my thang - all to serve our customers.
Without dedicating too much more time to my career path, my interests became involved in consulting work, revolving around business management, contact centres, website specification, major tech implementations and even tech program rollouts for the Victorian Government. And after a stint in the UK doing the same.... along came bubby number 1.
Well, my priorities got flipped. I had no idea that this would happen. Ever. I felt pretty motivated by my work. But that gooey little kiss and those cute little toes changed my life and perspective forever. And after bub number 2 came along, I realised there really was no heading back to corporate life.
I resolved to find a way to have something for this mind (I like to refer to it as a Border Collie in a backyard when it doesn't have enough to do - serious trouble, digging up well established bushes!) to do, and thinking along the lines of my family background, I decided I wanted to start my own small business, so I didn't have to be away from the gorgeous, sensitive, precious people I had just met.
As small side-step. A little personal background on me - as I think this is relevant here, if we are talking about family upbringing. No need to beat around the bush...... My family are the most loving people. My siblings are the best and we really are the greatest of friends (for the most part), but my parents, dear loves, tried their best, but offered little in the way of support. There was no "setting me up", which would be seen as surprising from a family that really did very well in business over the past 50 years. You know, there was no leg up, no contacts offered, no scaffolding. I used to resent them for that, but now, I thank them for that blessing, as I now can do things that others wouldn't even dream of.
So, that was it. I determined that there was a business in me. Just had to work out what it was.... which became the story about Beautiful Robes, which you can read more about. Needless to say, if there were kimono robes for women involved, I was there, and seriously, who can resist the aesthetic!
Since then, I have thought of a few different businesses to add to my stable, none of which I have pursued outside of the investigation phase, because if there is one thing - I am is thorough, and I can sniff an opportunity from a mile off. I chatted with a good friend of mine the other day and explained to her about a new opportunity, and she said with a stunned voice, 'your business mind just never stops does it?' I have to say, it doesn't, which I guess makes for the passion, dedication and motivation required to do anything as a small business entrepreneur.
And right now for this entrepreneur, I am finding great ways of reaching my gorgeous customers, and servicing their needs.... introducing a range of kimono fabric scarves and kimono textile home-wares.
And outside of Beautiful Robes, I am partnering up with my partner in life (a specific subject matter expert) and website development agency, and we are on the pathway to developing an incredible comparison site in a weird and obscure industry - nothing to do with fashion and nothing to do with kimono robes. This in my view, classifies me as an entrepreneur. And I am seriously proud of that.
This is me, on shoot on our Peninsula Resort Photo Shoot.