The partners (and sisters) behind the Mon Amour brand, and their luxe leather offering.
NAME: Taegan and Carly Reid
COMPANY: Mon Amour
TITLE: Creative Directors
AGE: 29 and 31
How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
Taegan: With thunder in my heart
Carly: Mostly rational, a little crazy
What is the long version of how you got to where you are today?
We were born in Newcastle NSW into a strong, dependable and fun family. Our parents were always our biggest supporters, but they were tough, they expected a lot and held us to account. Along with our baby sister Chelsy, we grew up by each other’s sides, we had an inbuilt security net because we were each other’s best friends.
Our childhood was consumed with sport, swimming and Surf Life Saving specifically, and of course school. We were encouraged to give everything we had to anything we signed up to do and so our days were soon occupied with training and such commitments. This went on for the better part of our highschool years at which point study for our HSC and University really tipped the scales in terms of our time. These years taught us the value of goal setting, of commitment, they taught us discipline and focus and how invaluable these skills were in all facets of life.
Our parents were and still are, avid travellers. This has always balanced out their hard work. We were always incredibly blessed to have been given opportunities to travel as a family from a young age. There was always a sense within our home that we were a tiny piece of a much larger puzzle and it has always enabled us, when necessary, to stand back and put things into perspective. We hope that this will be something we can pass on to our own children.
Being from a household of women, with our father being our biggest advocate, we have always had a sense that women can do whatever it is they want to do. This wasn’t a mantra that was plugged into us from an overly feminist standpoint, but rather it was something that went unsaid and the energy of our family meant that I don't think we ever really knew, and certainly if we did we never focussed on, the fact that women are not always on an even playing field. I think this worked in our favour because we were always running our own race, competing mostly against ourselves and supporting one another to aspire to great things, always.
We both studied at the University of Newcastle, Law and Business (me) and Law and Communications (Taegan) degrees. Soon after, Tae moved to Sydney for work in PR and I moved to London to work for a large international retailer. Over the years there have been a few different jobs between us and currently Tae is working as a Brand Manager and I am working as an in-house Solicitor. Mon Amour has been a project of love that has run alongside our 9-5 jobs, which has made life very busy but has also allowed us to take our time when needed to. And here we are, in 2017, having launched MA online 6 months ago, juggling our work and personal lives and feeling proud of where we are at.
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 your elevator pitch on what you do?
Taegan: We create uncomplicated accessories made from globally sourced luxury materials. Timeless, effortlessly wearable and cut from beautiful cloth, pieces that take the wearer from day to night, city to country, East to West, becoming signature to their personal style.
Are you doing what you thought you would be doing 10 years ago?
Taegan: What I knew 10 years ago was that my sister would be by my side, doing something we love. Laughing, living, loving. And here we are.
Carly: I knew that together we were the kind of girls who did what they said they were going to do... so all the years, all the talk, all the plans...I knew that one day they would mean something. Funnily enough, a decade after first talking of all of this we did a full circle and launched something very similar to those initial thoughts. I guess in any moments of doubt, this gives us great comfort.
What does ‘success’ mean to you, and do you consider yourself ‘successful’?
Taegan: As women we hold ourselves to such perfection, in all areas whether it be our careers, families or friendships. In between these huge expectations we set for ourselves is this little thing called life that often gets forgotten in our race to perfection. Success for us is the day in day out grind. The getting up, the smiling when you want to cry, the pursuit of being your most real and your truest self everyday... even when the universe puts you on your arse. If you’re doing this, you have already won.
What do you still want to achieve (personally and/or professionally)
Taegan: More love. More learning. More travel. More laughs. More friendships. More skinny dipping.
More More More.
Carly: More learning always... about myself, my family, my friends, my husband, my business and mostly my children.
Did you study anything specific for the career you are in?
Taegan: Funnily enough we both pushed aside desires to be in creative roles and studied combined degrees of Law / Business and Communications at the University of Newcastle - proof that one can’t change their fate and a fire that rages inside will never go unanswered. Such a background and education has not gone without its benefits. Study at any level teaches discipline and commitment - values that take you far regardless of your industry.
What have been the most rewarding things in your career to date?
Carly: The phone calls and unfailing support from our girlfriends, the random bunches of flowers to the house, the sense of pride we feel from our family, my husband’s belief that Tae and I could start our own company....these things, as simple as they may be, make a woman feel invincible.
All of this became so evident when we did a soft launch of MA. It was a friends and family sale to test our website (which Tae had created entirely) and our production process and times. We set a goal of 20 sales and this seemed huge and scary. But we far exceeded this, and the sense of support that we had been shown was palpable. We started on such a high and with so many people behind us. By far the most rewarding thing to date.
Tell us about your workspace, and what about it inspires you?
Taegan: Currently our workspace exists wherever we find a spare 5 minutes. More often than not you’ll find me in South East Queensland, by the ocean, drinking cold black coffee. A place I never thought that I would call home, but captured my heart with its uncomplicated energy.
Carly lives in our hometown of Newcastle. Texts and emails are exchanged back and forth at all hours. She’s likely down by the ocean baths with her babies or at our studio.
I’m sure you’ve noticed our aesthetic is about minimalism, clean lines, less is more. Black our palette of choice. We both seem to apply these principles to our personal style, homes and offices as well.
What are some frustrations you have experienced on your career journey?
Taegan: Wanting things to be done yesterday! Patience is a trait I have had to work very hard to cultivate.
Carly: Haha the above is so very Tae... For me at times it was the noise of the things I felt were in our way... other jobs pulling all of our limbs in different directions, further study etc... Wanting so badly to be at this point we are at now and not realising or understanding the importance of all the lessons about work, about love and about life that I had to learn before I got here.
When was the last time you were overwhelmed & cried from something provoked by work/workload?
Carly: Since having my children I am so aware of my own behaviour... I thought I knew all there was to know about myself but it turns out I didn’t - they teach me so much everyday. I try to give them my best self, sure they see frustrations I am facing, or sadness, or me being really peeved off, but I try not to overact and so I take a deep breath before I do anything impulsive. I save my OMG’s and WTF’s for after hours facetime when they are safely tucked in bed...there are frequent frustrations and dips, but I think we prepared ourselves for this and having the two of us provides amazing balance in the level of attention these things are given.
Would you say you put pressure on yourself? Has this increased or decreased as you progress in your career?
Taegan: With hindsight I can see that when I was younger and throughout my career, I was so caught up in proving myself over and over again to others - needing reassurance and validation for my work, that I was enough. The biggest learning curve for me was the realisation that no one can give this to you, but yourself. Now the only pressure I put on myself is to prove myself to myself. Better myself, be stronger, be braver, be more resilient, be kinder, for myself and only myself.
Carly: Yes, naturally, I think all women do. It is tough for us, we are balancing so many balls all of the time and we are our biggest critics. Taegan and I put enough pressure on ourselves for the both of us so what we give to each other is kindness, support, confidence and friendship... these things really help to balance our internal critics.
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?
Taegan: As an establishing business, like a lot of others we both still have full time commitments aside from MA. Carly is a Solicitor and full time mother to Sonny (two) and River (6 months). I work full time as a Brand and Marketing Manager. Sometimes it feels impossible and like anything that requires creativity and passion there are ebbs and flows in motivation. Two hearts and minds are definitely stronger than one and means that one of us is always “on”. This helps to lift the other up and kicks their arse into gear when you’d rather be on the couch watching Netflix.
Has your career affected your personal life/relationships?
Carly: Not for the worse. Our family and friends are such advocates for everything we are doing and visa versa and this only strengthens our ties.
My husband is also our biggest cheerleader and he fondly jokes that he has two wives. He has an unparalleled work ethic and he doesn't let me off the hook, he asks me the questions that I may not want to hear or answer. I love this about him.
Has your journey at times felt lonely? How?
Taegan: They say you should never mix family and business. I say you should. No-one understands you more than your family and for this reason, we are never lonely. And on the plus side, any 'fuck offs' screamed, don’t count!
What causes you anxiety/sleepless nights?
Carly: Not having done something I said I would do, I hate ending a day feeling as though I have let someone or myself down. And a messy house...if the house is in disarray then it’s a good sign that I’m not on top of things. I would never knowingly do business with someone who had a messy house.
If you had your time over again, from when you started your career to right now, would you do anything differently?
Taegan: No way! I think it is so important to take the time to learn from others, to work hard from the bottom up. Every single role from my very first in luxury PR through to Senior Creative positions taught me skills and learnings that I took with me as my career progressed. Each role making me stronger, more resilient and less affected by the small things. More importantly it let me work in, with and alongside a number of different companies, bosses and women. It taught me how sometimes one must demand respect and stand up for their ethics. It made me ask the hard questions, to think about business and management and how I wanted to create my own legacy reflective and true of my own values.
What advice would you give your 21 year old self?
Carly: Slow down and enjoy the little things, the little moments, the fleeting conversations, the magic of a beautiful fall day - it is the collection of these little moments that make for a happy life.
Who are some women in business you admire & why?
Taegan: Every woman in business or not. We are all fighting our own battles. And we are all winning.
Carly: In life I admire so many things about all of the woman we have surrounded ourselves with - our family and our girlfriends. In business our little sister Chelsy; she is a firecracker. Through hard work she has the world at her feet, literally. She was so successful and so confident in her path at such a young age. No matter what the project, everyone wants a piece of her, she has that zang that cannot be learnt, brought or bluffed. She works hard and she plays hard - always taking time to breathe and enjoy beachside somewhere new and exciting.
What traits do you admire in people you surround yourself with?
Taegan: The thinkers, the ones that ask questions, the ones that won’t settle - these are our people.
Work life balance; does it exist (I don’t think it does!) and how to maintain it, or a sense of it?
Taegan: What I have learnt the hard way is that while a work life balance a lot of the time feels non existent, what’s important in the face of this is balance in one’s self. The universe kept slapping me in the face with this lesson until I learnt it the hard way. I’m a firm believer that you keep getting the same lessons until you stand up, take notice and make change. For so long I worked myself into the ground and at times into a hospital bed. Did I stop? No! Did the universe put me on my arse again - yes! I finally learnt to push back, to take a breathe, prioritise myself, to know that everyone in business is replaceable, but your sanity and health are not.
Carly: I like to think it is possible and I think the best chance we have of achieving it is to be present in each moment, if that is work be at work, with friends or family, be there with them. Protect yourself by putting some fences around those things and people that are important to you and only open the gate to let something in to impose on that time if it’s a deal breaker.
Have you ever thought about giving up/quitting?
Carly: Yes, often! The reason we have taken a breath and continued on is firmly cemented in something our parents taught us as children, if you make a commitment, you give it your all and you see it through until the end. And we are so far from the end.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
Taegan: That people with their own business are defined by its subject - e.g. we are designers. But in fact, any small business owner fast becomes a marketer, writer, web designer, graphic designer, boss, photographer, editor, accountant and whatever else you require to get the job done.
What advice would you give someone who is starting out in your industry?
Carly: It is easy to get carried away, sidetracked or distracted as you go. New ideas and opportunities are always popping up so before you start ensure you have a clear goal, a clear vision about who you are, what it is that you are doing and why, and keep holding yourself to this.
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?
Taegan: Every challenge, every triumph, every bad boss and every bad day brought us here and for that we say THANK YOU.
I like the quote ‘Don’t just have a job, have a purpose’ - What do you want your legacy to be?
Carly: This is a big one! Ten years from now when our brand is well established and thriving we hope that it will be associated with celebrating the beauty of real women, the movers and shakers, the ones who are unfailingly themselves in the face of trends and time. If we are considered a brand with this social conscience, a brand who appreciates this and inspires this, then this will be something that we will both be proud to tell my daughter about one day.
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)?
Taegan: We have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing women our entire lives. Women with passion and women with purpose. Mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, friends and colleagues. Women we admire for their strength, their character, their humour and their ability to get shit done. These women are our heroes and nothing or no one inspires us more than them.
It is our firm belief that it takes a village of great women to make a great woman and without the impact and presence of these incredible souls in our lives, we would not be half the women we are today. This interview was a chance for us to celebrate this notion of women supporting women.
What are some of your favorite quotes?
Taegan: “You should give a fuck. You really should, but only about things that set your soul on fire. Save your fucks for magical shit.”
“When they go low, we go high” - Michelle Obama
"In moments of doubt I have told myself firmly, if not me, who? If not now, when?" - Emma Watson