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Talita Estelle saw a continuous gap in the market for women’s evening wear, specifically speaking, dresses. She realised there was an amazing business opportunity waiting for her.
She has always loved fashion and decided it was the perfect time to launch her own company in the industry.
Talita is not only the owner of Esther & Co. She is also the director of Elroy Eyewear and the creative non-for-profit organisation, Be Hers. Be Hers is a community conscious online store working with the A21 Campaign and giving 100% of their profit to help fight against human trafficking.
Read her interview with Mamamia.
What is Esther & Co?
Esther & Co is an online women’s fashion brand. As of last year, we became marketplace and currently stock over 25 brands.
Talita Estelle. Image: supplied.
What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?
I've been fortunate enough to have only worked for myself. I love the flexibility, being able to make decisions instantly without approval and being surrounded by the most amazing team who love the company vision and heart of Esther & Co.
What made you want to start your own business?
My parents have their own online business, so I grew up knowing I wanted to go into business for myself too. I have always had a love for fashion so combining the two together seemed like a natural fit.
How did you come up with the name?
I named the company after Queen Esther in the bible. She was a Queen who saved an entire nation. I felt she embodied strength, courage and inner beauty which is the ethos I want in my brand. I wanted Esther & Co to be a voice for the voiceless the way that Queen Esther in the bible was. That's why we donate $1 from every order to charity.
Describe the staff/ownership structure of Esther & Co.
15 years ago I was a high school graduate with minimal money in the bank. Now, I have built an online business that generates over $4 million a year.
As CEO and founder of Esther & Co, I've had an active role in the day to day running of the business since day one, 14 years ago. This includes setting the strategic direction to delivery on a creative vision, as well as ensuring that the team I have around me work in an environment where they can be their best self every day. This year, my husband Ricky joined us as project manager/brand manager.
Did you require investment to start your business?
I took out a loan and made it a priority to pay it back within the first six months of trading.
What kind of advice did you get before you started and from who?
My parents offered endless advice. They were very supportive and have extensive careers in retail business so they are my voice of reason.
What's the single best piece of advice you got?
Treat others the way you want to be treated. Be respectful and always be humble in both your business and personal life.
What's the one bit of advice you would give yourself if you were starting again?
Be prepared to compromise. Not everything can be 100% perfect overnight.
At Mamamia we have an expression "flearning" - failing and learning. What have been your biggest flearnings since you have started Esther & Co?
One of the hardest challenges for my leadership has been finding balance among all of the activities that call on my time and for which I am passionate about.
Two years ago I experienced a burn out due to the long hours and non-stop demands. While no part of me wanted to step out of the business, I know I had to remove myself from the day to day until further notice. I pretty much fired myself for a year to allow that passion and spark I once possessed to reignite.
The flearning for me was that if I take care of myself, the business will in turn be taken care of.
Scroll through to see some of the beautiful designs available at Esther & Co. (Post continues after gallery.)
What's the smartest thing you've done since starting your business?
Taking the business fully online. It allowed us to expand our reach at a rapid pace.
What do you do when you're feeling like you're in a hole emotionally (or financially)?
A few glasses of wine, of course! Okay, honestly, I would reassess where I'm at and look at ways I can improve for the future.
How many hours a day do you work on Esther & Co? Has this changed?
At least 10. I'm constantly plugged in.
What are your non-negotiables?
Trying to maintain a work/life balance. I try to listen to my body. Keeping active also helps keep my mind focused. Although, I'll never say no to a glass of bubbles - it's all about balance.
What's the biggest misconception you had about starting your business?
Knowing who to trust. I think when you start a business you can forget that not everyone will be on your side, and that's okay. It's just something I needed to learn from experience.
Listen: Liz Gilbert has four questions you should ask yourself before you trust anyone. (Post continues after audio.)
Tell us about your proudest moment.
When I switched from bricks and mortar to trading solely online in 2012. I had retail stores prior but knew online was what my customers wanted. It took off straight away and was an overnight success, almost selling through in two days. I didn't anticipate the demand and this was one of the best moments of my career as it really solidified that I had made the right decision for the business.
What does your personal life look like?
I am passionate about advocating for the proper treatment of women and children, particularly as issues tend to intersect in the global clothing production industry. In 2011, I joined the Board of Directors for an anti-trafficking movement, Be Hers.
In 2012, my love for a healthy lifestyle began. I started an Instagram advocating health and wellbeing called @health.and.me where I began documenting my vegan journey and world travels.
This past year I got married to a lovely man from the United Kingdom, Ricky, and we adopted a French Bulldog named Bobbi. He keeps us quite busy.
How much sleep do you get every night?
I am usually a pretty good sleeper and get between seven and nine hours a night.
What can you recommend to women who might want to get their own hustle going?
Keep the boldness in your heart and don't worry what others think.
Never set out towards a goal of solely attaining money. You absolutely must have the passion for the goal you are pursuing or you risk feeling uninspired. No amount of money can inspire like passion can.
Do you have a mentor?
My husband. He has had an extensive career in business so he is very knowledgeable.
Since we're in the #LadyStartUp spirit, which Lady Start Ups do you recommend?
LUXit is a beauty concierge founded by my friend, Fabiola Gomez.
Champagne Showers by Sarah Vickers.