A small business advocate
Many people in the business community might know me as “the soap lady” or the “goat lady”. Our youngest son had suffered with eczema from birth and in an effort to ease his discomfort I learned how to make goat’s milk soap as a gentle protective skin care alternative. In 2004, Billie Goat Soap began. It was a humble affair initially and started in my kitchen. By 2010 we had grown to employ over 20 people and sold the products in over 2000 outlets around the country. Billie Goat Soap was the NSW Business Chamber Business of the Year in 2010 and the Myer Supplier of the Year (general cosmetics) at around the same time. I sold Billie Goat in 2012. The challenges that came with growing a small business came at a cost to my mental health. Needing support, I was shocked to learn that there was nothing available specifically for me – a small business owner. There were resources available for employees and the general public, but nothing for entrepreneurs and business owners. That put me on a path to lobby for change…
Today, I work at the intersection of small business ownership and mental health. It’s quite a unique position. It means I know the realities that come with small business ownership and I am able to link that to our understanding of workplace mental health support strategies. I think it’s fair to say I am obsessed with supporting the mental health and wellbeing of small business owners.
I have consulted on a range of projects that have been developed to support the mental health of small business people. This has included Ahead for Business, My Business Health, Heads Up and I was the original developer of the Victorian Small Business Mental Health Strategic Plan.
I am an engaging and authentic keynote speaker and webinar presenter. I have presented to groups of all sizes sharing stories of my business journey and making the need to consider personal wellness a relevant and motivating topic to think about. I’ve been told that people think differently about the mental health of small business owners after working with me. I’m often booked to speak at corporate events where there may be many small business owners present (like a franchise conference event for example) or where employees work closely with the small business community and want to learn how to better support their clients. Nowadays I have also been engaged to facilitate and present online webinars, something I have the IT capability and joy to do.
When I am not consulting in the small business wellness space I am researching it. I am a PhD candidate with the University of Newcastle. I lecture there on how to grow a small business so it made good sense to extend my academic life into researching my passion – how work affects the mental health of micro-business and sole-operators. You can learn more about my work experience viewing my LinkedIn profile.
When I am not absorbed in my work passion, I’m enjoying my other passion – family life. I live on the glorious Central Coast, NSW with my husband, grown kids who come and go, two excitable dogs and one very old, noisy cat.