Follow your dreams. It may sound like a cliché, but that’s exactly what this successful mother and business owner did.
Skye Anderton had a dream of owning her own business when she was just fifteen. Jewellery was her passion, a passion that eventually drove her to start a successful jewellery brand. She formed Ruby Olive four years ago, spearheading a jewellery and accessories brand that now distributes to over 100 retail stores around Australia and directly to customers online.
“I started designing jewellery and handbags and selling them at local markets when I was 18,” Skye tells Dynamic Business. “That was my first taste of having my own business; it was very local, very small. I decided that I really wanted to expand it, but I didn’t have the skills or experience.”
She moved to London with her husband, her boyfriend at the time, at 22. The intended one-year stay turned to eight, a period of time that enabled Anderton to earn experience in the business industry. She became a buyer for a large retailer, working with a budget of over eight million pounds.
Before long, Skye and her husband decided to return to Australia to start a family, but not before going on a trip to Africa.
“It was actually in the Serengeti that I pretty much made my business plan. While camping, using scrap pieces of paper and a little diary, I started writing down all the things I wanted to do. I didn’t know what I was going to call it, didn’t know how it was going to evolve, I just knew that I really wanted to start when I got back.”
While Ruby Olive has grown successfully over the last four years, allowing Skye to spearhead Lola & Gem Jewellery on the side, she admits that it hasn’t been easy. Many of the issues, she says, come from the lack of support that can arise when starting a business.
“Everyone used to say to me that I wouldn’t earn any money in the first year. A lot of people didn’t think I was serious about what I was doing. They saw me as a student that left at 22 to go the UK and was now back starting a business. They thought it was just a bit of a hobby,” Skye says.
“I made a profit after the first year. It wasn’t a huge profit, let’s be honest. But I thought if I could make a profit after the first year then I’d have some room to move.”
Not only has Ruby Olive seen growth in size and revenue, Skye herself is receiving recognition as an entrepreneur and woman in business. Skye has been nominated in the Young Business Women’s Award category at this year’s Telstra Business Women’s Awards, an accolade that Skye calls ‘humbling’.
“I’ve never really thought about going for awards or accolades. I’m just so passionate about what I do, so for some to call me an ‘entrepreneur’ – and for an organisation I respect to nominate me – I just felt truly humbled. I’m quite excited.”
Skye says that while there are prejudices surrounding women in business, being a woman and a mother of two brings up separate issues.
“A lot of people don’t take mums seriously,” she says. “I have two children, and I think a lot of people assume that mums have stay-at-home jobs or just hobby-type jobs. That’s fabulous for mums that choose to do that, but I have come up against negativity about being a woman and a mother.”
Skye makes sure to point out that there are positive aspects of being a woman in the business industry, referring to the support of other business women.
“The positive thing about being a woman in business is that there’s an amazing community that is incredibly supportive. I think women genuinely want to help other women in business. Many of these women have children, and it’s empowering to know that you can have both. You can have a successful business and be a successful mother.”
Taking care of her family and managing two businesses ensures that Skye is incredibly busy, but don’t assume that being this busy is in any way a bad thing.
“It’s a constant juggle. It’s certainly not easy, but it is very rewarding,” she says. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked so much in my entire life as I have in the last three years of being a mum and a business owner, but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as happy. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”