Sydney-based entrepreneur Ilde Naismith-Beeley is creating a storm overseas with her uniquely patented product Starlettos, finding high demand in the international market is exceeding all expectations for her high-heel protectors. The mother of three emerged as a designer in the late 2000s when her Starlettos concept turned into reality. Since then she has seen an intense growth and expansion with women all over Australia, and now abroad, wearing her invention to protect the heels of their favourite shoes at outdoor events where they could get damaged due to lawns and soil. I was very excited to get to know a bit more of the background story behind Ilde and Starlettos as well as take a glimpse at her main motivators and source of passion.
What does “Freedom” look like to you and how will you know you’ve made it there?
I love contemplating this question, and there are so many different answers to it. For me, Freedom is a space where I sit with calm, in the eye of the storm. In this place I feel comfortable in myself, able to contemplate and make informed decisions while feeling excitement and hope. I also believe that Freedom is also a moveable state, it is forever expanding as I live and learn to be less rigid and more accepting in life.
Launching my online heel protector business, Starlettos, was one way of attaining freedom. Running my own business gives me autonomy over my schedule and decisions, and adds excitement to my life. However as Starlettos grew from a home based business to a larger scale entity with more sophisticated requirements, and my family grew with three beautiful children, I felt less able to juggle everything. In this time I experienced a loss of feeling the freedom I’d created. This is a common phenomenon for business owners to feel the business dictates your life, and that freedom hasn’t been gained.
As my experience grew, and I experienced highs and lows of growing a global online business, combined with the wonderful chaos of young children, I learned that freedom was less about physical time and more about my decisions and state of mind. I evaluated where my energy should be spent on my business, my family and myself. I investigated which actions in my business were making the most financial impact, what systems could we automate, and what did we need to outsource. Strategically tacking these areas allowed greater business decisions and less guilt! Now my days are busier than ever, and we are delivering Starlettos to more countries than ever, adding products to our footwear accessory range, working with a great team – and I get to attend the kid’s concerts too! This is how my freedom project works for me.
What excites your most about your Freedom Project?
It excites me that everything within Starlettos has felt so huge, and yet there is so much more to learn and experience. It was thrilling to design, patent and launch a quality product that could be marketed to eager customers. Understanding and adapting to the ever-changing nature of websites and social media, and working out how to feasibly grow our little Aussie business to an international one was also a stimulating challenge. During this time my children were experiencing different life phases, baby phase, toddler years and starting school – each period felt defining as a parent, and yet as my children grow I now see that there are so many experiences and opportunities to come. This is true of the business as well, the start up and excitement is brilliant – but equally satisfying is the feeling of becoming a more experienced director, with a long standing much loved product that is now set up globally to quickly reach the customer before their fabulous event!
What has been your major hurdle throughout the journey of your Freedom Project? Have you over come it? If so, how? If not, why not?
The fear of failure is huge when you are starting a business. You put so much of yourself into the design, branding and business decisions, and I remember feeling very exposed in the beginning.
It was learning that fear was a major hurdle that allowed me to look at it with curiosity. Understanding that fear can manifest itself in different forms, but is often at the core of my dilemmas allowed me remove fear from the problem to solve it with less emotion and more clarity. I was better able to pursue important things with vigour. This is exciting because when I’m operating with clarity my energy is directed towards things, not spread thin in every direction. Right now I see that our core product operates consistently and well, so to increase our business we need more options for customers to purchase while they are at our store.
Running my own business allows many moments of curiosity to unfold – there is always a path to choose, a direction to take, a decision to make. People send me endless opportunities, and I research new ways to do things within the business. One fun experiment we tried was a roulette wheel at checkout – giving the customers a chance to win their purchase for free. It wasn’t extremely profitable, but it was fun working with the creators, and a good learning experience about our customer purchasing influencers. I try to maximise on as many opportunities as possible, but with experience over the years, I’ve learnt to seek clarity around options before taking their pathway. This allows strategic decisions to be made with a clear focus and actions that are taken are more likely to make a positive impact on the business.
I am overcoming the fear of failure. It maybe something I will always need to identify and face up to. To be braver and stronger, yet open and vulnerable to make educated and courageous decisions. Curiosity without clarity is too exhausting, and there are always many ways to spread your energy, so finding the balance is important.
What would your advice be to women who have yet to start their Freedom Project?
Whatever your freedom project is, do it. Everyone’s freedom project will be different. Be open to exploring what freedom is for you and what it will feel like. Your freedom project may feel like a huge change, or it may simply be experiencing more curiosity into freedom of the mind, and investigating blockages with curiosity. Whatever it looks like, realise your potential and live a life that allows for you to feel the joy of contentment in whatever storm is happening around you. Something that makes you understand who you are, what you can become and the potential you have for the world around you.