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You only have to look at business failure rates to appreciate how tough it is keep a venture alive and profitable in today’s environment, but this is something two entrepreneurial mums have done successfully for the past 20 years with their high-end gift business, tonic.

Toni Joel and Nikki Horovitz both had successful careers prior to the birth of their children, and despite wanting to be great mothers they realised that as people they needed more. Missing the intellectual and creative stimulus of the business world, they teamed up to fill a niche in the market for beautifully packaged and high-quality gift items, at an affordable price.

Staying true to their unique 100 percent Australian-made ethos for the last two decades has allowed the venture to build a solid reputation in the market, which means tonic’s products are now in demand around the world. So Joel and Horovitz have entered the export game, signing an agreement with luxury beauty retailer Space.NK to have their products stocked in 65 stores in the UK and US by the end of this month.

Here’s what the duo had to say about fostering business longevity and what it takes to balance work with the demands of a family.

Congratulations on being in the business for 20 years! What do you think the secret is to creating a successful, long-lasting business in Australia is?

We believe having a core idea supported by strong values to drive your business are essential to success.

We have never waivered from the things we value – honesty, value, family and integrity. Plus, the ability to laugh when things get tough never goes astray!

What was the greatest challenge you faced in building the business? How did you overcome this?

Balancing work and family. We always agreed that family must come first, and we can proudly say that with from the very beginning, with the help and support of our husbands and kids, we’ve been able to work efficiently and effectively.

You’ve just announced you’re exporting. How are you managing this rapid growth in demand?

We are cautiously optimistic. We manufacture locally so we can react quickly to our demands. We stock the raw materials and then can build the stock accordingly.

Being a business owner is demanding. What’s your secret to balancing this with demands at home?

The secret is being able to compartmentalise.

When we are at work we are 100 percent focused on the job, and when we are at home we give our full attention to our families. As our children are growing up, we are really noticing the demands at home are changing – in a good way.

You obviously have a very solid business partnership. What’s your top 3 tips for how to choose a business partner?

  • Choose a partner that shares similar values
  • It is essential that you completely trust your business partner
  • Make sure you choose a person whom you can have a good laugh with and maintain a friendship with outside of the office

Looking back at tonic’s history, what are you most proud of to date?

Making something from nothing. We took a concept and began a business without financial commitment and worked hard to make it successful.

If you could offer some words of advice to other budding entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Establish a core belief for your business and don’t let those values change. We believe that if you have faith in your product or service and make it the best that it possibly can be, you’re halfway there.

Be sure to choose a business venture in an area you are truly passionate about, and lastly, don’t rest on your laurels.

What’s next for tonic?

For now, we are focusing on building our export business and extending our product offerings and ranges. We will continue to offer our stores and customers exceptional customer service and strive to continue to produce the best locally sourced and produced product possible.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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