What drove you to start your own business?
Arlia (my fiance) and I first spoke about eloping on a romantic holiday on Rottnest Island. Hours later she fell off a bicycle, hit her head and was having brain surgery. She can't remember that conversation on the beach.
During Arlia's surgery, I was denied information from doctors as I was not 'family'. It broke my heart. We were family, we just didn't have the opportunity to make it legally recognised through marriage.
A year-and-a-half later we had our 'real engagement' (one that Arlia remembers) and when we went searching for wedding inspiration we were faced with a heteronormative wedding industry and were left feeling uninspired. I started an Instagram page on one of my overnight nursing shifts and uploaded a few photographs. It became very clear, very quickly, that there was a whole lot of people, across the world, searching for exactly what we had just begun.
What has been your greatest challenge so far?
Starting from scratch. Literally, I went to university to study social science. Twelve months ago I knew nothing about running my own business. But, I'm resourceful and I'm driven and have the support of Arlia who happens to have a couple of her own businesses. Sometimes finding the time to do everything is a challenge, it can easily become overwhelming. I overcome this by taking the time out to do things I enjoy, like eating a good burger, and come back to it all with a clear head.
What has been one of your best highlights?
The very first Instagram message I received. I'd only posted about 10 photos, had no real direction about what I wanted to achieve. It read "My partner and I are so excited for what you are creating, we would love to share our story with you". That was the catalyst to it all. I'm generally called a dreamer and I felt a fire inside my belly and I couldn't stop thinking about what Dancing With Her could become.
Second to that would have been the launch of dancingwithher.com - I was incredibly taken aback to see numbers going into the thousands in the week that followed launch day. It really concreted that a business like us needed to exist in the world.
How do you keep motivated being a boss lady?
Sometimes it's really challenging. There are ups and down and you really can't be prepared for anything.
I am motivated by knowing that Dancing With Her has so much potential. Regardless of the legalities surrounding marriage equality in Australia, women are choosing to celebrate their love, marry and start families, and so they should! We are here to celebrate that. Also, it's really lovely to open up emails that are full of the most beautiful love stories.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
If I could be half the person my Dad is, I'd be a proud woman. He is the most generous and honest man I've ever met. He has the time to listen to everyone which is such an admirable quality. He would probably consider himself a shy person, but his love for people is always really evident. I certainly get my curiosity and my 'get on with it' attitude from him.
My fiance, Arlia, inspires me to be strong and reminds me that anything can be overcome, even if the journey is sometimes rocky. She supports me in a way that I couldn't be more thankful for and encourages me to always see a few steps ahead without loosing focus on the things right in front of me.
What blogs/mags or insta feeds do you follow for your business?
I've been a Collective Hub reader for a long while. I love reading about startups paving their own way. We are really at an exciting time to be starting our own business. And, as cliche as it might sound, I am incredibly inspired by Sophia Amoruso. I admire that she is 'self-made' - you don't need to have extensive experience and the very best education to get somewhere. You need passion, commitment and you probably need to have a little crazy in you.
What is the best quote, book or piece of advice that has been given to you on this journey?
'Think bigger, don't let your imagination be your boundary.' - forgive me, I have no idea where it came from! I can't do all this on my own, and if I tried, you wouldn't get the multidimensional business Dancing With Her deserves to be. I am a control freak, so letting others in and sharing ideas can be challenging, but I know that it is best for the longevity of the business.
Also, I'd recommend that everyone read 'Thankyou - Chapter One'. It was the first 'business' book that I added to my collection and it has inspired me to always ask. Arlia and I haven't got money to loose (has anyone?!), and I was inspired to know that you could create something from not much more than a whole lot of confidence to ask, the worst response you can get is no.
What would winning the #BOSSLADYDREAM competition mean to your business? How will it change things for you in particular?
If Dancing With Her won the #bossladydream title, it has the potential to really bring to life all the things that are in my head, but the bank account isn't okay with actioning just yet. It means a clear direction for Dancing With Her and its future - which means more representation for a community that has been left under-represented for far too long.
Personally, it would give me the opportunity to immerse myself in learning and focus more on working in my business, rather than on it. That means more content, more collaborations and more education for wedding vendors to become 100% same-sex friendly.
Being recognised as a finalist has been humbling, and has validated that Dancing With Her doesn't just deserve to exist, it deserves to thrive. It's also amplified that fire in my belly and I'm ready for it all!