When sole parent Janine Leghissa turned her creative side into a business four years ago it was out of necessity.
A chronic illness meant she could no longer work in her previous role.
Fearing she would lose everything including her home she decided to do what she loved and founded a jewellery business called Desiderate.
Desiderate grew quickly and has just taken out the silver award in the fashion category at the AusMumpreneurs Awards. It came just two weeks after it was named one of Australia's Top 50 small businesses by Inside Small Business.
Ms Leghissa is proud of both achievements.
She said as such a small jewellery business, it was amazing for Desiderate to be recognised with a silver medal in the fashion category of the AusMumpreneur Awards.
"It is not voted for by the public. It is judged by business people in the industry," she said.
Desiderate was one of 10 finalists in a very competitive category where the gold was taken out by a clothing fashion business.
"It was the first time I had entered the AusMumprenuer Awards. And I was just recently nominated as one of Australia's top 50 small businesses. That is something I am immensely proud of," she said.
"When I started the business it was really a means to an end. I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and couldn't go to work. I would have lost everything.
"I had to find a way to survive as a sole parent so I started selling my own things on Facebook. When I found people were buying my jewellery I started buying gem stones with the money I got from selling my own pieces and I commissioned craftsmen to make my designs."
"It is not an easy ride going into business but I really needed to do something and I looked for a niche market in an area that really wasn't being catered to."
"I describe my designs as "A bit boho, a bit bling". We cater to a 30 plus market and to women who know what they want. Which is not necessarily the latest fashion trend. They want quality. They want value for their money and they want something a little bit different."
Ms Leghissa said delighting customers with the quality of her jewellery and service was her highest priority. And is why she is getting so much repeat business from all over Australia.
"People just keep coming back," she said.
"Our growth rate is pretty astounding."
Ms Leghissa said a looking at the analytics a lot of people in Victoria and NSW appeared to be doing retail therapy during lockdown.
She said jewellery sales were a bit like the lipstick economy at the moment with some people buying more jewellery because it makes them feel good to put it on in front of the mirror.
"There is nothing like wearing a pair of earrings on a Zoom call to make people look at your face and not your bad hair," she said.
Ms Leghissa had previously worked as a national technical manager for a large hairdressing company and knows what impact lockdowns have had on that industry.
"I worked on designing products as well as training systems for staff in salons," she said.
"I ran a swim school for a while. And I had my first hair dressing salon when I was 18. And for a while I was making a living from selling my painting. So I have a fairly creative background."
Desiderate is growing so fast Ms Leghissa keeps reinvesting all the profits back into the business to keep up manufacturing enough pieces of jewellery to keep up with the demand.
Looking back to when it started shed recalled having to build a website which she had never done before.
She didn't have enough money at the time to pay someone to do it and described those first months as a steep learning curve.
"Then I had to learn about SEO and how to implement that so people find your website," she said.
"And I am constantly still learning and gathering every piece of knowledge I can get.
"I also have an amazing team. Including my son Aaron, who lives in Canada, who does all our social media and answering people's questions. It is amazing he can be working with us from so far away.
"My daughter Charlotte also helps. And even my youngest son Zeke, 17, who is still at school."
Ms Leghissa said it was also great to have a business that is helping people in other countries impacted by COVID.
"I source gem stones from all over the world. I have teams in India and Indonesia who handcraft pieces," she said.
"Being able to get to know these people has been amazing. COVID has hit those two countries really badly but we have been able to keep those people employed and helped them keep their families alive."
The AusMumpreneur Awards were presented via Zoom and live streamed on Facebook so customers and family and friends could watch was well.
Read more business stories here.
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