lady startup

How the leadership spill made this mum of two $30,000.


For Gwen Blake, last week’s leadership spill gave her more than just a new prime minister.

Last week Gwen and her friend, ABC presenter Annabel Crabb, were texting about the madness that is Australian politics and came up with a meme: A canvas tote bag with the words “Ban the single use prime minister” on it.

The mother of two never intended to actually make the bags, but after tweeting the meme and seeing it go viral, she realised she’d stumbled upon something brilliant.

“I was just chatting to Annabel, and because I work in retail packaging, the single-use plastic bag is very much in my world. Politics is very much in her world. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be quite funny to combine them somehow?’,” she told Mamamia.


Gwen founded Boxer&Co eight years ago and has since designed branding and packaging for big brands such as Nestle, Sunrice and Uncle Tobys.

Her five-year-old daughter was sick over the weekend, her husband was away and she was hosting a dinner party. But still, she wanted to be even busier.

She had the knowledge and contacts to get things off the ground, so she went for it.

Gwen Blake has even designed Mamamia's own merch.
It's brand new, and you can purchase below.

Speaking to Mamamia, Gwen said that by late Saturday night, after she had also prepared for and hosted a dinner party, she had created a brand name - Sans Sheriff - and logo, set up an Etsy shop, Instagram and Facebook pages and ordered 100 bags.


The speed in which she was able to get the business off the ground was amazing.

"Normally, years ago, this would’ve taken months to do but because of technology I was able to do it on my iPhone and my laptop while making dinner."

By Sunday morning she'd sold 15 bags... but then the momentum started.

"As the day went on I realised I wasn’t going to be left with any bags," she said.

"I changed my order to 500, and by the end of Monday I was messaging the supplier and I asked 'how many have you got?'."

She has now sold more than 1500, and at $20 a pop, they've banked her thousands.

Gwen Blake's Band the Single use Prime Minister tote bag.
Gwen's new business was a happy accident. Image: Supplied.

"I give a lot of advice out to people and its been really nice to put my money where my mouth is and do something for myself."

Gwen thinks the tote bag has been so successful because while it is about politics, it's not political.

"When it isn't alienating in any way, it's quite unifying," she said.

"I think people were feeling quite unrepresented in Canberra... it is quite nice to just talk about the ridiculousness of it."

While Boxer&Co will remain her primary job, Gwen has ideas for Sans Sheriff 's future - and it won't solely be focus on our politicians penchant for changing prime ministers.

"I would like to launch unique, one-off, limited edition products when I think of a great idea," she said.


"I don’t want this joke to grow really old, but if we have another prime minister maybe I’ll do it again in another colour."

Gwen is also the designer behind Mamamia's new merchandise, including our Lady Legends T-Shirt which celebrates some of the most kickarse women of our generation.

The t-shirt is available for pre-order here until Friday, August 31.

Lady Startup