How I got here: Spell & the Gypsy Col­lec­tive

El­iz­a­beth Abegg tells Cosmo how she and her sis­ter took their busi­ness from a mar­ket stall to a global brand

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Contents -

How did Spell start?

‘ Is­abella had moved from Mel­bourne to By­ron Bay and was de­sign­ing jew­ellery and sell­ing it at the mar­kets. I had been a film edi­tor for over 12 years and ended up go­ing through a huge break­up in Sydney and my life got turned up­side down. I then did a self­de­vel­op­ment course. The morn­ing after I fin­ished the course, I called Spelly [ Is­abella’s nick­name] and said, “Do you need a busi­ness part­ner?” She said, “I to­tally do!” So I moved to By­ron.’

How did you and Is­abella take Spell from a mar­ket brand to a pow­er­house busi­ness?

‘I needed to make it prof­itable be­cause Spelly had let me in to the busi­ness and made me a part­ner. When I started, there was the prospect of push­ing whole­sale or our on­line pres­ence. We tried whole­sale and we didn’t feel it was our path. It was the on­line ap­proach that came a lot more nat­u­rally for us through blog­ging, so­cial me­dia, im­agery and cre­at­ing our own ed­i­to­rial. We wished we could have our clothes in mag­a­zines but they wouldn’t look at us be­cause we were tiny, so we cre­ated our own ed­i­to­rial. We started putting bud­get into shoots – pay­ing pho­tog­ra­phers and in­vest­ing in im­agery.’

Why do you think you work so well with your sis­ter?

‘I see sis­ters work­ing to­gether of­ten be­cause sis­ters re­ally do have very dif­fer­ent traits that com­ple­ment each other. Grow­ing up, Is­abella was the cre­ative and I was the ideas girl – it has al­ways been that way. With­out me, I don’t think she would have had a busi­ness, and with­out her, I wouldn’t have a busi­ness – but to­gether we work.’

What type of boss are you?

‘ I’m very em­pa­thetic and com­pas­sion­ate, but I ex­pect a high level of per­for­mance from my team.’

Is it true you only work with eth­i­cally ac­cred­ited fac­to­ries? ‘ When we started look­ing for fac­to­ries to part­ner with, we were look­ing for own­ers we re­ally con­nected with and had sim­i­lar val­ues to. So we could see the work­ers were be­ing treated amaz­ingly and it was f ine, but as we grew and took on new fac­to­ries, we knew our cus­tomers wanted more than just our word. We wanted to be able to say, “These fac­to­ries have been eth­i­cally ap­proved by a third party au­dit­ing body.”’

What are your thoughts on work/life bal­ance?

‘ If you asked me six months ago what the big­gest busi­ness chal­lenge was, I would have started cry­ing and said “the jug­gle”. It’s only now that my youngest has turned three that the bal­ance has come nat­u­rally. Now I feel like I’ve come out of the tun­nel – the vor­tex of mother guilt – and I’m so much hap­pier be­cause my kids are older and ev­ery­thing is fall­ing into place.’

What’s one piece of ad­vice you’d give to Cosmo read­ers? ‘ In busi­ness, don’t be afraid to start small and hum­ble. Start with one prod­uct, do it well and you’ll be fine.’

BACK TO THE DRAW­ING BOARD… IS­ABELLA PENNEFATHER AND EL­IZ­A­BETH ABEGG ARE THE SAVVY SIS­TERS BE­HIND THE BOHO LA­BEL.

OF­FICE SPACE OF OUR DREAMS!

THE STORE IN BY­RON BAY.

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