Gorgeous crocheted creatures, a part of the La De Dah kids collection.
NAME: Rebecca Meyer
COMPANY: La de dah kids
TITLE(S): Creative Director
How would you describe yourself in 5 words? Creative, hardworking, determined, generous, loving
What is the long version of how you got to where you are today? I have loved making things ever since I was able. I grew up in a small country town with endless creative endeveours sewing, climbing trees, cooking. It really was a great childhood with so much room to be creative. I attended a very small high school and had big dreams to study fashion in the city. At the time there were only two university degrees. I was determined to get into Melbourne even though the odds where stacked against me. I enter my fashion degree hoping to get into magazines. My middle placement I did at Marie Claire Magazine in Sydney, which was amazing. Over my degree I explored different areas of fashion and settled on Kids fashion. I loved the creativity that came with it. After finishing University I headed to London – my dreams where Big. After knocking on door for over a year I managed to get a job in the Kids fashion industry. I started in the testing department and moved to the Design team. I remained here for 5 years I was sponsored to stay and it really was a dream job designing kids clothes for so many big retailers in the u.k and Europe high street. It really opened my eyes to the big wide world with amazing travel opportunities and I learnt a lot inspired by a great design director and creative team.
After 5 years we headed back to Australia where I worked as an account manager and then a buyer at Cotton on kids. I have been extremely lucky to have the experience I have had with great companies. After my second child the opportunity arose a niche was discovered and I took the leap of faith to start La de dah kids. I remember how heart wrenching it was to leave a secure job with two young children, there was a week of sleepless nights but lucky the leap of faith paid off. La de dah kids has just had its 5th birthday and we have grown from one person to gradually 4 full time staff including my husband and myself. It has been a hard going and we feel like we are just seeing to peaks of the light at the end of a long 5 years.
I think it is really important people can explain their main message in a concise paragraph – if the above is the full version - What is you elevator pitch on what you do? We have created a recognized kids lifestyle brand through a lot of hard work and determination.Which enables us to live the lifestyle with our kids , that we have always aspired to.
Are you doing what you thought you would be doing 10 years ago? (If not, what did you think you would be doing?) Yes in a sense. I grew up with parents that owned their own business so the aim was always to have our own business in the kids industry but to be honest never thought it would have started with kids toys .La de dah kids has grown way above any expectations we had.
What does ‘success’ mean to you, and do you consider yourself ‘successful’? Successful is driving your own dreams to happen. I believe that in Australia we are all particularly lucky to have amazing opportunities to make your dreams happen. Success is creating the life that you aspire to have and having the determination, courage and drive to make sacrifices to achieve it. This to me is how I measure success not in terms of money.
What do you still want to achieve (personally & / or professionally) La de dah kids is still in its infancy so professionally still have a lot to achieve. Explore new product lines and hopefully the opportunity to spend a year abroad to build the business in another country. Personally I would love to get to a stage where we have a bit more free time for my husband, our family and myself.
Did you study anything specific for the career you are in? I studied Fashion design at RMIT University. Many of the pattern making, design process and practical skills I learnt are transferable to our business today.
What have been the most rewarding things in your career to date? Seeing our products being loved by our customers. It is still a pinch yourself moment when you see a kid with your toy or you have a customer email about the comfort one of our toys has given their child during a difficult time.
Tell us about your workspace (Office / café / couch / aesthetic) what inspires you about your workspace? We have created a space within our warehouse. It is not fancy but has a relaxed creative vibe . I enjoy having an area separate to our home life. Like many businesses we started out at home so having our first office space is a huge luxury for us.
What are some frustrations you have experiences on your career journey? Gaining and seeking the right knowledge, from the right people needed to grow and support the business at the rate it has grown. Also the negativity that goes with producing products offshore as a small business - we are super proud of our unique production set up .
When was the last time you where overwhelmed & cried from something provoked by work / workload? Last season when my lap top decided to die with all my development on it in the early hours of the morning before flying out to China for development hand over so much work goes into developing a range so seeing it disappear with our back up server blowing up as well was a little overwhelming .
Would you say you put pressure on yourself? Has this gotten more or less as you progress in your career? I put enormous pressure on myself. With both myself and my husband now working full time in the business we have no choice but for the business to work. We have a family and I feel enormous weight to ensure that the business succeeds for them.
If you are a business owner – and you often can’t just check out / have a week off when you are dealing with personal things – how do you keep on keeping on with your business when things get tough? Knowing that so much rides on our business and knowing the livelihood of our family depends on it .
Has your career affected your personal life / relationships? If so how? I have been extremely lucky to have the encouragement of my husband and kids. We all make scarifies but at the end the rewards for us as family far out weigh the sacrifices we have to make.
Has your journey at times felt lonely? How? When I am travelling on development trips it can get a little lonely. I really miss the buzz and chaos of family. Our two boys have travelled with us a lot from a very young age. They have visited factories in India and Vietnam and been to tradeshows in both Paris and Tokyo. I am not going to pretend it is easy but I love having the boys with us.
What causes you anxiety / sleepless nights? So many things cash flow, range release will people still love our new ideas, how will the new range be received.
If you had your time over again, from when you started your career to right now, would you do anything differently? I would probably start a little earlier. Before having a young family.
What advice would you give your 21 year old self? Work hard and be kind the best is yet to come.
Who are some women in business you admire & why? I could seriously fill pages with women I admire; Miyo Fallshaw Founder of (Oishi M), Kristy Withers founder of Incy Interiors, Peta ONeill founder of Love Mae these are all small business owners kicking amazing goals both locally and overseas whilst juggling family and a business. Lynley Garrett Founder of Lee Garrett designs another small business owner with incredible industry wisdom and unwavering work ethic. Samantha Wills For incredible brand creation, hardwork and honesty. For creating a platform that supports and empowers women in Business. Lisa Messenger for her honesty, confidence and inspiring story of how she has built an inspiring global brand.
What traits do you admire in people you surround yourself with? Positive, kind, honest creative people that inspire and work hard to achieve their dreams.
Work life balance… Does it exist (I don’t think it does!) and how to maintain it, or a sense of it?Balance is something that hasn’t really existed especially as we are still in Business infancy and the struggle is very real. We combine a lot of our family life with work – I grew up this way and to be honest I think it teaches our kids that with hard work dreams can be achieved.
Have you ever thought about giving up / quitting? If so, does that feeling hit from the same triggers? Why haven’t you quit? Yes definitely when we have had major hiccups and things have gotten really hard. I grew up learning from parents that had their own business that there will be tough times but there will also be so much good. Getting up and doing what you love everyday is a privilege and one I definitely don’t take for granted.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do? I come in and design all day and travel the world. There is so much more to running a business.
What advice would you give someone who is starting out in your industry? Find a niche, love it, be kind, be original and work hard.
If you knew what you know now, about how much work was involved to get you to where you are now, would you do it again or do something different, if so, what? Most definitely I have always been a believer that hard work gets results. Their may be a couple of things I would do differently but mistakes have also been the biggest learning curves making it possible to learn and reach higher.
I like the quote ‘Don’t just have a job, have a purpose’ - What do you want your legacy to be? To have inspired the people around me to follow their dreams, have a go and make a positive impact.
The SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION is about bringing women in business together – why do you think this is important / (why did you want to be involved in this interview)? I really believe that we should be Supporting and instilling confidence in our fellow women in business it is so important. When I discovered the Samantha Wills foundation I was hugely grateful, to see such a positive change in the entrepreneurial world and one being driven by a women. La de dah kids work hard at empowering women both locally and overseas. Our production set up is particularly unique in offering flexible working conditions for women to work from home around their family needs. We hope to continue building on this and support women both locally and overseas in the workplace.
What are some of your favorite quotes? 'Be ever curious, ever growing and every changing' – The Collective Hub