Julie Para nos spent many years as a social worker before she decided to pursue her dream of running her own interior design business. Founded in October 2010, Kate Lauren Designs now consists of a network of national stockists and is getting its first bites from overseas buyers.
What was the toughest challenge you faced while starting out?
It’s always difficult to start from scratch and take that leap of faith that your business will grow and become successful. My passion for interior design was overwhelming and I knew it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, like all startup businesses, there are bumps along the way.
Suppliers may not deliver on time, demand may be low which is stressful and frustrating, and there is always the constant cash-flow issue. However, starting up a new company with children is especially difficult. Creating that balance between work and family can be tough, and most times one has to suffer in order for the other to flourish. Fortunately, I have a wonderful family who support me and give me the confidence to pursue
How important is social media to your business?
I have found that social media plays a huge role in growing brand awareness and communicating with customers directly. Through social media, I can advertise products, special offers, and other forms of promotions efficiently and cost-effectively. Social media is also time efficient and allows the business to push promotions to the market space quickly without delays normally encountered in the traditional media space.
We also engaged a public relations and marketing company to partner with us to grow our presence in the market space through online media, blogs, magazines, and other glossy publications. This has been very successful, as it has helped us to showcase our products and grow awareness at the same time.
What do you think Federal and State Governments could do to help make things easier for small business owners?
I think they need to make grants and free coaching programs more accessible for small businesses. I am supporting a number of other small companies and individuals in Australia through my business, yet I’ve had to use my own resources to promote and grow my business. The logistics and expenses of attending tradeshows and expos, particularly when we are based in Brisbane, have been very high especially when we are a relatively new business.
What are your plans to expand the business?
Due to popular demand, we are expanding our linen collections to cater to Queen and King bedding and also introducing a range of soft furnishings for adults. The business is always growing and the designs and fabrics of the products are becoming more beautiful and intricate so each collection is more unique and special than the last. I would love to share our wonderful designs and ideas internationally and we have recently moved into a larger office with more staff to accommodate business growth and allow for future expansion.