Small Business: Solo acts - Liora Saad
Liora Saad, owner of Toodles Noodles, a mainly online stationery business.
Tell us about yourself and how you come to be running your own business
I was born and raised in the Silicon Valley of California. After studying graphic design at American University in Washington DC I lived in Los Angeles for a year where I worked as a graphic designer for the Kabbalah Centre. Even though I loved my job, I was itching to live in a new country. In May of 2007 I came to New Zealand on holiday and never left.
I've since become a resident of this beautiful country that I now call home. In 2011 I decided to start my own company. I have always had a soft spot for stationery and I thought there was a great opportunity to fill a niche in the market for NZ made and inspired stationery.
I have mostly been a graphic designer during my professional career. I've also had the great opportunity of being an account manager and operations manager so was able to see all sides of the business.
What does your working week look like in terms of hours?
Insane. With the holidays coming up business has been booming. At the moment I get up at about 6:30am, check emails, and pack orders that have come in during the night. At the moment I work during the day as a graphic designer for another company but I'm going full time self-employed in the New Year. I come home, respond to more emails, fill orders that have come in during the day and do any design work that's needed. Then during the weekends I do between one to two markets. It's been a hard few months but it's all worth it.
What is December like for you?
Very busy. Being in the gift industry where I also sell gift wrap - this is my prime time. I participate in as many markets as I can, I have all my online stores fully stocked with products and try to be very proactive in following up with wholesale orders. During the year my online stores receive about four orders a week. During December, the orders have been averaging around 10 to 20 a day. A huge bump in business.
When do you manage to take your holiday?
I am very excited to be taking a break over New Year's for a week. A great side about being in the gift industry is that after the Christmas rush people aren't really buying. It's a great time to take a break and refresh the creativity.
How do you cope with not having money coming in for a few weeks during the holiday break?
It is a bit daunting knowing that you've "closed shop" during that week but there are other ways of making money. My business is on the online store, The Market, which is always open. This means people can still make purchases while most shops are closed.
Do you have an accountant who helps you with cashflow when you close for the holidays?
I do have an accountant, but cash flow over the holidays really isn't something I use them for. But it is something I keep in mind and is one of the reasons I do so many markets leading up to Christmas.
What happens to the business in your absence when you go on holiday?
When I go on holiday so does the shop. I can respond to emails and still take orders online with postage being done when I return, but really, being a one woman band, there is no business without me. Since starting my business I have yet to really take a break but I am trying to learn. It's extremely important to take breaks and come back super energised.
Why does working on your own suit you? What do you like about it?
Even though I am on my own - I'm not at the same time. With so many small business owners out there, you are really part of a large community. Plus by connecting with stockists and suppliers, you do talk to people all the time. Another great part of being on your own is that you get to make all the decisions. If I want to try out a new range, a new design, test anything - I can.
What don't you like about it?
It can be extremely stressful and pull you in every direction. When you own your own small business you are the accountant, the production manager, the designer, the administrator, the overseeing boss - everything. So with so many hats to wear, things can get quite challenging at times. Another thing I miss about being part of a larger studio is bouncing design ideas off my colleagues. But again, thanks to social media and great friends, you can now do that virtually.
Any tips to others starting out about how to stay sane working as a one man/woman band?
Keep to a schedule. It's extremely important to not get lost in "internet land". Make sure that you treat your business the same way you would treat a job at a larger company. Do not spend your whole day browsing social media - be diligent. It's also extremely important to leave the house at least once a day. Human interaction is key to staying fresh. It's also important to remember to eat well and exercise. It's really easy to just snack away while working at home and sit in front of the screen but looking after yourself is extremely important.
You can find Toodles Noodles online here: themarketnz.co.nz