I don't always step back from work, and take a look at the bigger picture of what Salt & Sand has become, and what our store represents.
I go to work, I open the store, and at the end of the day I lock the door and come home. I plan the week's jobs and tasks, project a little ahead, and continue with the day to day small business world. When I do break from routine, and take a moment to think about the big things - our purpose, our values, and our people - it's a pretty uplifting, heart-bursting picture.
We are a store for women, run by women, and every day we are privileged to meet people from all stages of life and many diverse backgrounds.
In the lead up to the busy season late last year, we put a call out to some of our favourite faces to join us for a photoshoot to both celebrate how far our store has come, and to generate some more content for our website and socials.
I sent the invites, and worried that no one would respond. Frankly, if I was asked the same, I'm not sure I would've been brave enough to say yes!
Slowly, the replies rolled in and we received one excited yes after another. I couldn't believe it, and I was so humbled that all these incredible women were willing to take time out of their busy schedules, pop on their favourite outfit, and stand on a freezing beach with us for a few hours.
Watching my vision come to life that evening, and seeing our favourite people meet each other and make new friends was surreal. A group of women of all ages who had come together to celebrate our store.
It was only when I was explaining the background to an outfit choice for one of the guests that another lady remarked how amazing it was that we knew so much about each person there.
So often I take for granted the access we gain to your world when you enter our store. What may start as a simple "Hello, how are you?" has the potential to turn into a lasting friendship.
I am always in awe of the stories Sal manages to glean from her customers. She will often report to me after a work day who she's been chatting to or had the pleasure of meeting, and the overviews are always filled with life and colour and detail. Maybe an artist from central Victoria who paints the most incredible koalas, or maybe a lady who grew up in the Western District and now lives on a pineapple farm in QLD.
We've met so many beautiful faces through our store, heard some incredible stories, and been there for every kind of life occasion. I've said so many times before that it is the people that make this small business journey so special, and that only rings more true every year.
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Our photoshoot was our third collaboration with local photographer Claire Davie, and she has been nothing short of brilliant on every occasion. She is enthusiastic, she directs novice models with ease, and I think even the most nervous among us felt a little more calm with her behind the lens. It makes me so proud and happy to see Claire absolutely dominating in her chosen profession, and I am in awe of the creative, flourishing business she has built in our local community.
We also roped in Sarah from Acacia Edibles to feed our crowd with a gourmet grazing table which was devoured with glee by our guests. Sarah's catered a few of our events now, and her love of food comes through in every bite. She is also a huge supporter of other local businesses when assembling her grazing options, and there is so much thought and heart behind every mouthful.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to work with women like Claire and Sarah, and I am deeply committed to continuing to use Salt & Sand to champion other local women in business wherever we can. We have some brilliant ladies within our area, and it seems only fair that they are celebrated and supported in their business journeys too.
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Beyond our customers and our collaborators, one of the unexpected highlights of shop life for me has been mentoring the next generation of young women.
I was lucky enough to have some brilliant role models as I started my working life, and it's probably only as I've found myself in their shoes now that I fully appreciate the impact that a mentor can have. I hope that we have created a space for our team that is safe, comfortable and rewarding, and that they know our relationships will go far beyond the years they spend behind our counter.
Our first junior employee from many summers ago is now in her dream job in Melbourne, absolutely flourishing, and she's about to head off travelling - if I'm lucky, we'll catch up for a coffee before she flies out. Few things have made me more proud than watching our girls succeed, both within and far beyond our store. I hope that their chapter at Salt & Sand will always be a bright spot in their story.
Ever since I took over Salt & Sand, I've had many niggling questions about our purpose. Why are we doing this? What is driving us? What is our goal?
Every answer comes back to women, and to creating a community in which they are valued, celebrated and supported.
I am so incredibly proud to be a woman in business, and to work in a space where women are at the very centre. Thank you to our beautiful customers and friends for sharing your lives with us.
You are always welcome at Salt & Sand, and it is our privilege to be part of your story.
Happy International Women's Day!!