Birdsnest founder, Jane Cay, gives her personal insight into the pros and cons of working in a family business in the interview below.
1. Can you please give us a quick overview of your business?
Birdsnest started as a bricks-and-mortar clothing store servicing a country town and employing just four people.
In 2008 we launched online and now employ 150 locals, posting parcels to all corners of Australia and beyond.
The real magic of this business began when we realised we were in the service industry. We consider ourselves the matchmaker between the girl and her perfect outfit which goes way beyond providing a vast range of styles for different body shapes and personalities. Our mission is to inspire confidence in women by solving wardrobe dilemmas with unique online styling support and above-and-beyond customer service.
2. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in a family business?
Birdsnest is a first generation family business, founded in Cooma NSW in 2004. After moving to regional NSW to marry a farmer, I needed to adapt my skills from a previously city based career. Having grown up in an entrepreneurial family, getting into business seemed like a completely natural thing to do, so I jumped at the opportunity to purchase a retail store in our local country town. I love being in charge of my own destiny, carving out a vision and creating a community of people who also believe in that vision. Creating exciting careers in a regional setting is the most rewarding part of my role as Big Bird of Birdsnest.
3. Working amongst family has its difficulties, what would you say is the most challenging aspect?
I guess the most challenging aspect is contemplating the future and succession planning for the business.
4. From your experience, what advice would you give to other family-owned businesses.
At this stage, I feel like we have a lot to learn from family businesses that are in the second or third generation.
5. Why did you want to be involved with your family business?
Initially I went into business with a great friend, rather than a family member. While that partnership lasted only 4 months, it taught me a lot about the importance of being aligned on long term goals if a business is to be sustained into the future.
6. How do you keep your family time separate from the family business dynamic?
We have a working family farm and birdsnest so my husband, Oli, and I both work in separate family businesses. Our children have grown up with the understanding and experience that home life and work life are very intertwined. Luckily Oli and I don’t work directly together so that has probably saved our family life, plus we can be an independent sounding board for each other.
Oli’s first cousin, and my dear friend, Pen Carroll, is part of the birdsnest executive team and despite seeing each other daily tackling the highs and lows of running the nest, we still love each other and are even keen to go on holidays together! Although we probably talk shop too much!!