lady startup

Katie Steele is on a mission to make your home more environmentally friendly.

Mum-of-three Katie Steele was helping her grandmother Grace move into a nursing home when she had a sudden realisation.

Compared to our modern lifestyle, she was reminded of how frugal and purposeful her grandmother’s generation was.

“Things were made from hand, able to be repurposed, cared for and loved so that they could be passed on to other generations,” she says.

This inspired her to create her own business, Haven & Grace Co.

On her website you’ll find the likes of beeswax wraps to replace cling film, kid’s bamboo dining sets and reusable makeup rounds, along with a curated selection of products chosen to help you reduce waste and live your sustainable and eco-friendly best.

We chatted to Katie about how she turned her business idea into reality.

Tell us about Haven and Grace! What is it?

My new Lady Startup is Haven & Grace Co. and it’s an online store dedicated to selling eco -friendly homewares. I specialise in family friendly solutions that take the confusion out of reducing household waste.

What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?

I’m currently on maternity leave with my third baby (I have a 10-year-old son River, a seven-year-old daughter Sienna and five-month-old baby girl Finnlay), and outside of being a mummy, I am a national Business Development Manager for a health insurance fund. My role involves a fair bit of travel, recently spilling into international work and having a break from this to have Finnlay has really shifted my perspective on how I want to work.

What made you want to start your own business?

My real driver to want to work for myself was to build in the flexibility I need around my current family commitments. I’ve always really loved working for other people and as part of a team, but it took us a really long time to have our last baby (four and a half years and six IVF rounds) and honestly that just changed me. I’ve found myself desperate to be at home for the first time ever, wanting to be at ALL the sporting and schooling milestones and just really treasuring family time in a new way. I’ve never seen myself as a stay at home mum because working and juggling has always been a part of my identity, but these days I’m a new woman on a completely different path.

 

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How did you come up with the name?

Haven & Grace Co. is a combination of things for me. Haven means “safe place” or “home” and this brand is aligned with bringing a new awareness and consciousness into everyday households. Grace is my grandmother’s name and she was really the inspiration around this concept for me. I found myself packing up her house when our family moved her into a nursing home a couple of years ago and I was reminded of how frugal and purposeful her generation was. Things were made from hand, able to be repurposed, cared for and loved so that they could be handed on to other generations and she had a real connection with the earth and walking gently on it. So the combination is a little bit of her legacy and a little bit of bringing a new environmental outlook into customer’s homes.

What’s the single best piece of advice you got?

The very best piece of advice that I was given was by Mia and it was to not let perfect stop you from starting. I certainly had been thinking of this idea, mulling it over and formulating the perfect execution for years which meant that I never actually started.

I was so overwhelmed with commercialising this perfectly that I was getting in the way of myself. If I couldn’t execute it exactly the way I had envisioned then I wouldn’t do it at all.

What’s the one bit of advice you would give yourself if you were starting again?

The piece of advice that I would give if I was starting again is to just break it down into bite size pieces (like the weekly tasks) and simply just start. Small steps in the right direction is how I took this business live, not huge sweeping investments or life altering advances in a day. The workload is achievable and practical and if you open your mind to the experience you will be amazed at what one mum can do from the space of her living room in six weeks!

At Mamamia we have an expression “flearning” – failing and learning. What have been your biggest flearnings since you have started your business?

My biggest flearnings have been around technology and feedback. I’m not very tech savvy (mainly because my husband is, so he carries that load for the family) so having to teach myself new skills like web page design was, quite frankly, exhausting. It would have been so much easier to get him to jump in and do it for me but I needed to understand the software and be able to drive it myself, and I’m so proud that I have mastered this.

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I’ve also sold things now to a number of friends and asked them to give me feedback on the website, sales process and after sales experience. This allowed me to see and understand the pain points and areas of improvement through the eye of the consumer which is invaluable!

What do you do when you’re feeling like you’re in a hole emotionally (or financially)?

When I’m feeling in a hole I do a couple of things. I look at where I was six months ago and where I am now and try and get some perspective. I’ll jump into the group and see if there are some posts that I can learn something from or I’ll reach out to my mentor and grab a coffee because she always seems to have something valuable for me to take away and think about.

Financially I’m big on ROI, so I try very hard to make sure that I test things in small quantities and make sure that I will get a return before I dive in too far. Some things are unavoidable though and I try and see it as an investment in myself and the future for our family.

What’s the biggest misconception you had about starting your business?

The biggest misconception is that once you are live people will just start buying from you. I’ve found getting to the sale just as hard, if not more so, than getting to the point where you are ready to sell. The next 12 months for me will be about building my audience, getting my name out into the community and making sure that I get enough traffic onto my site to get sales booming.

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Tell us about your proudest moment.

My proudest moment was showing my website to my husband and my oldest two kids. Sometimes maternity leave can be very much messy hair, vomit on shoulder, wearing tights AGAIN… and in this moment I felt like a superwoman in their eyes again.

What can you recommend to women who might want to get their own hustle going?

To other women; you already do so much for everyone else and this can be something for yourself. If you have an idea that sets a fire in your belly and keeps you up at night then this is the sign you need to explore this dream further. This course will take you from idea to launch if you just follow each step at a pace you can manage. If you want your hand held (like I did) and access to practical and trusted advice then you will not be disappointed.

You can shop Katie’s products on her website Haven and Grace, or follow her Instagram page @havenandgrace for updates.

Been thinking about taking control of your life and becoming your own boss? Interested in becoming a Lady Startup yourself or know someone ready to chase their own bus? You’re invited to join Mia Freedman for this online course where she will personally take you through every step and give you every resource to go from idea to launch. Enrolments are open for a very limited time starting now. Find out all about the Lady Startup Activation Plan here.

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