Recently the Australian government announced a new ‘Innovation Fund‘ to support startup growth. It’s an important evolution of business building for the country, and also a key time to look at Australian business success stories like Elk Accessories. Elk started as a small business in 2004 and has since grown into an international and multi-million dollar fashion brand.
More than 10 years ago Elk Creative Director Marnie Goding was in her late 20s working in marketing, when she transitioned into business development to help her husband Adam Koniaras grow his jewelry business — she relied on her marketing skills and fashion network.
Goding recently shared her creative process, travel influences, and approach to business growth.
Talk me through your creative process.
We pretty much always start with the palette. Inspiration is usually drawn from our travels where we pick up scraps of cloth, leathers, and other bits and pieces. We have a bowerbird‘s nest full of colourful and interesting little things. We bring out these pieces once the palette is confirmed and this starts the design process.
From there the range concept evolves much from what we “feel” we want to make. We go on past successes, we consider trends although we don’t follow them, and we usually have a feeling about which direction we want the season to take.
You’ve traveled from Australia to Europe and China this year and continue to expand your business internationally. How has travel influenced the culture at Elk?
We live in the luckiest country on earth and travel reminds us of that. Travel opens our minds and our eyes to opportunity and creativity and helps us broaden our horizons.
It is so easy to get stuck in the day-to-day — getting out of the office helps us think laterally and not get too bogged down. As designers we say we do our best work away from the office. We always encourage our staff to travel too — it is great to get away but everyone always loves coming home.
Elk just celebrated its 11th year in business. What do you want other female entrepreneurs to learn from your journey?
Australia is an amazing place that allows us the freedom to do whatever we chose. We live in a society where we encourage learning and ingenuity. Everyone has challenges and things that will cause bumps along the way, but overall we have liberties and opportunities that aren’t afforded to many of our sisters in other countries.
We have an ability to share information and to learn from each other; in life or business we shouldn’t be too afraid to seek help or support. We aren’t expected to have all of the answers, yet I think that as women we often believe we should have everything figured out.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We built and continue to build a business that has a solid foundation. We don’t ever over commit and try to look at everything from all angles before we take any significant steps.
One thing we have learnt is that we aren’t in a race and not to worry greatly about what everyone else is doing. This is our journey and we are always looking forward. We are incredibly lucky.
Elk is sold in more than 30 stores throughout Canada.
I’m fascinated by creative women — their passions, challenges, and contributions to society. If you know a creative woman to feature, please tweet @kmarano.