lady startup

Lara's combined passion for food and fashion launched her dream career.

Tell us a bit about EAT.ME.DO ? 

So EAT.ME.DO was something that organically formed when I struggled to find a ‘proper job’ after I finished my advertising degree. It first started as a hobby which soon turned into a little business project to prove I had the skills and ideas that all the jobs I applied for needed. Shortly after I started I realised I wanted to continue building this little business rather than pursue an advertising career.

EAT.ME.DO is a fashion and jewellery brand which is solely based and inspired by food. I create everything from Cheezel rings to pizza clutches.

vibrant brand EAT.ME.DO

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

I was studying full time at RMIT doing a Bachelor's degree in advertising, went travelling for a bit and then came up with an idea to start my own label.

What made you want to start your own business?

I’ve always wanted to have my own business since I was a little girl, so it only felt natural to progress and make it happen. I love being able to do what I like and have the freedom to decide how to run and what I want to make.

How did you come up with the name?

The name kinda of just came to me when I was brainstorming. It was a combination of two things I love. 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'The Beatles'. "EAT ME" from Alice in Wonderland and the "DO" from The Beatles song Love Me Do.

Describe the staff/ownership structure of your Lady Startup. 

I’m a one lady show. So I wear all the hats within the business and am the sole person that gets things happening. Occasionally I have interns that come in to gain experience in the fashion/design field. The structure and running hasn’t changed a huge amount since I started but I do get a lot more things outsourced as I think I would need about 10 of me to get things done nowadays.

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Did you require investment to start your business? Where did that come from?

Well, I started off very small, just making handmade clay jewellery and had very minimal costs. But as I started to expand into accessories and clothing, as well as getting a studio space in the city costs started to increase quite a lot. But basically, most money that I make goes straight back into the business and making new collections. But no, I did not require investment to start as I was also working part-time at the time too.

What kind of advice did you get before you started and from who?

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Hmm, I didn’t really get much advice from anyone before starting.

What’s the single best piece advice you got?

The best advice I have received is probably - dream big and that anything is possible as long as you believe and are passionate about what you’re doing.

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

I would probably sit down and do a proper business plan and really calculate my time and expenses instead of just getting caught up in creating and making.

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

Hmm, that’s a tough one. I think it’s sticking with your gut and creating things that you are inspired to create as opposed to going with what other people say or seasons. Also creating a solid jewellery range instead of coming up with one-off designs for a whole collection. I used to do this for many of my first jewellery collections. It was just so much work as opposed to sticking to a core range.

What is the smartest thing you’ve done since starting your business?

Probably using food as my inspiration as it really sets my designs apart from other brands.

Are there any pieces of technology or software, apps or systems that have made it easier to do what you do?

YES! The square up card reader is literally the best and simplest device for doing credit card transactions. I can’t speak highly enough of this clever little thing. It’s a lifesaver on market days and the sales reports and insights it provides after are invaluable. Better yet it’s super affordable.

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What do you do when you’re feeling like you’re in a hole emotionally (or financially)? How do you handle those ‘deep-trough-of-pain’ startup moments?

Oh, it’s sometimes a tough one, especially because it’s just me and I don’t have a business partner or staff to console. I usually like to step away, have a break and think about what I really want to focus on and what needs to be done straight away. This usually means limited collections and quantities and just focusing and tightening up material spending etc. It usually only takes a weekend away to clear my head and get inspired and feel motivated to get things into gear.

How many hours a day do you work on your business? Has this changed? How do you manage your time?

Oh geez, it really varies, because do you really ever stop working on your business? It’s constantly on my mind with what has to be done, new ideas etc. I usually start work around 8 and work until about 6. However there are lots of things I do in between that time, no just sitting at my desk. Every morning I’ll write my to-do list with the most urgent things first. This keeps me focused and organised with the mountains of things that need to be done on the daily. I feel like my workload has definitely increased as the time has gone on as demand has increased and I often find myself just trying to get through all the daily tasks like emails and orders as opposed to designing and making.

What are your non-negotiables?

Definitely having my weekends off to focus on life and building my little farm at home.

What's the biggest misconception you had about starting your business - how is it different to what you'd imagined?

Just how many hours you spend working on it. I am constantly on my emails and socials and you just never seem to disconnect with what's going on.

Tell us about your proudest moment?

I think it would definitely be creating an offsite runway show ‘STAND STILL’ with a few other lady designers for this year's VAMFF Fashion Festival. I’m still surprised just how well we pulled it off. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it, even when you have no idea what you’re doing.

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What does your personal life look like? Who are the important people in your life and work?

I’m literally almost the opposite of what I do at work. I trade in the pink food clothing for dirty overalls and gumboots and I spend my weekends with my husband and my puppies building veggie patches, chicken coops and renovating our house. This contrast keeps me balanced and grounded.

How much sleep do you get every night?

I’m an early bird/nanna and have to be in bed by 9 pm and usually get up around 6:30-7am. If I don’t get my sleep I'm one grumpy worker.

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

I’d say go for it! What have you got to lose? Nothing! Even if doesn’t work, at least you will know and will never have to wonder what could have been.

Do you have a mentor? Who do you go to for help and advice now?

I wish! Although my dad gives some pretty good advice on the business side of things.

Since we’re in the #LadyStartUp spirit, which Lady Startups do you recommend? Who should we be looking out for?

Oh gosh there are just so many amazing Lady Startups! I don’t even know who to pick. My mate Abbey Rich is absolutely killing it at the moment.

You can see more from EAT.ME.DO at their website, Instagram, Facebook, or send them an email at [email protected].  If you have a #LadyStartUp or want to recommend one for us to cover, drop us an email: [email protected]

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