Catherine Scheen fell in love with this range of cookware during her recent trip to Italy - so much so that she decided she had to bring it all home with her and share it with her fellow countrymen and women. And just like that L'Atelier Maison was born.
We came across this white enamel cookware range with their stunning timber lids and trivets a few months ago - you might remember here.
Driven by a passion for great design and a conviction to spread the word, Catherine is taking her wares to Life Instyle, Melbourne 2013 to share her fabulous find with Australia.
How long have you been trading? The wholesaling side of the business, L'Atelier Maison which will feature at the Life inStyle trade fair, went live late November 2012 and the retail website, Timber & Tonic, finally went live on December 18th 2012. I actually started the business after returning from an o/s buying and sourcing trip on 1st July 2012, and started working on the business plan, model, websites then.
Describe your product line. The main products we wholesale and retail are the cookware ranges from Italian company knIndustrie. A stunning range that allows you to cook like a professional using a sexy product that can go straight from cooktop to table. There really is nothing quite like this product elsewhere on the market.
What motivated you to start a business? I have worked in marketing/sponsorship for large corporates in Australia and o/s for the last 11 or so years... it got to the point in early 2012 that I lost my mojo working for someone else putting in between 80-100hr weeks on multi million dollar campaigns, achieving great results for the company but without seeing any benefit to me personally - financially, socially, or physically. It occurred to me that if I could put in even half the time on my own business, the things I could achieve would be amazing! I wouldn't give up the corporate experience and knowledge I gained from working for someone else - the learnings have certainly been invaluable in helping me get out there on my own.
How did you come up with your business name? I think this has to be the hardest part of setting up a business!! The wholesaling company name was relatively easy as I had only 3 days to chose something and get my papers before I flew out to Europe, and I wanted a name that was functional, but also easy to use in France and Italy, hence L'Atelier Maison was born. Timber & Tonic was tougher... I always loved the bringing together of 2 words separated by an ampersand - so spent a few days jotting down words relevant to the business, what they represented and words that I enjoyed saying. It also needed to be catchy, and user friendly. It took me 4 months of playing around with options to come back and choose the first name I came up with of course!
What has been the toughest lesson you have learned to date? It pays to keep the direction of your business and mindset fluid, if you allow things to grow organically you open yourself up to opportunities that you never even considered and suddenly the business starts to take shape in such an exciting way that you never considered.
What do you love most about what you do? I love that I can choose my own path at my own pace everyday. I love spending time with other small business owners and feeding off each others energy and ideas. And I love the amazing reactions from people when I show them the cookware line - eyes light up and they can't believe that something so beautiful can be used to cook and show off at the table! I love these reactions - you can feed off a smile and someone elses enthusiasm for hours!
Where do you find inspiration to keep you motivated? I always thought it was such a cliche that when starting a business you needed to surround yourself with other startups, small business communities etc but I now know how invaluable that interaction is. Surrounding yourself with others that are passionate about small business, excited to learn off each other and sharing crucial stories, their experiences and information to help each other move forward are what I find most motivating about what I do.
Name one thing you'd be lost without in your business. I want to say all these wonderfully creative things... but I have to say having systems in place that allow the wandering mind of a small business owner to be organised and know where things stand are uber critical... that and a 7am workout of our Bialetti espresso machine!!