An Optus customer, Kate relies heavily on mobile technology to ensure the success of her e-commerce store and keep her work and personal life organised and on track.
Unsatisfied with the absence of affordable, personalised gifts available online, Kate started Thankly just over a year ago, adding to her business opt. Thankly's customers can choose ethically sourced gifts that are sent within 24 hours, complete with a handwritten note, a special touch lost in today's online shopping experience.
Thankly's aim is to -connect people through tangible messages', something which is reflected in Kate's customer service model. Kate's employees all operate via mobile phone which means that they can respond personally to customers with text messages and even images of the parcels that have been put together for loved ones.
Where did the idea for Thankly come from?
The idea came when I was standing in a post office waiting to buy a stamp for over an hour on my lunch break and thinking why is this so hard? I realised that people didn't send thank you gestures anymore, such as handwritten cards, because it was so hard! We all just end up sending an email – which just doesn't pack the punch a real life card does. As I was standing in that line, I dreamt up this idea (which isn't uncommon for me) about how I was going to solve the problem. That's how Thankly was born.
I am big on sending every day and personalised appreciation gifts and cards. Flowers are expensive and sometimes inappropriate, and there are occasions you should send something but don't want to spend $150. Thankly is about every day gratitude.
What types of gifts does Thankly stock?
Thankly is about gratitude, wellness and helping people succeed and be the best version of themselves – and our gifts reflect this. We have products such as organic gin, boutique cocktails from some of the coolest bars in Melbourne, sugar free, organic artisan chocolates from Byron Bay, cellar aged vintage Bollinger rose` and Australian organic botanical skin care from Rohr Remedy made from Australian bush medicinal ingredients.
All our gifts are designed to be sent to anyone – so it might be someone you don't know intimately. We choose products that if you sent to your boss or employee it wouldn't offend, be inappropriate or over familiar. So for us, socks, jocks and jewellery is a no go.
Why was it important for you to offer a handwritten note option?
Handwritten cards hold value and meaning that emails or printed cards don't have. They feel authentic, personalised and from the heart. People remember a handwritten card and while it can be very hard to write all the cards, it's something we will always continue to offer.
What's next for Thankly?
Thankly grows month on month. We don't advertise and have grown organically through word of mouth. We have such beautiful products and packaging that I think once you get one, you then want to send one! In 2018 we are going to launch a feature whereby the sender doesn't need to know the address of the recipient – just an email address and we do the rest for you.
My personal aim is that every time someone lands a deal or leave a meeting they think to themselves – we should send them a Thankly! I'd like it to become a household Australian brand.
How do you leverages mobile technology to manage the juggle as a multiple small business owner?
I live on my Optus mobile, as do my team members. From video production for our Youtube Channel, Thankly TV, to collaborating on files, emails and our social media channels, being connected is vital to our team and the success of our business.
Being mobile also helps me to work on the go, and juggle an ever changing task list between Thankly and my work at Bondi Vet Hospital. For example, if an appointment is moved or cancelled, I can be kept updated in real time through Google calendar and replan my day accordingly.
At Thankly we send a picture either by MMS or email through our Optus mobiles of every card and gift to the recipient. People love to see what their gift and card looks like so even though it takes longer, it's something we get so much great feedback about.
We take all the pictures from our phones – and we also edit them from our mobiles. Operating from our mobile phones allows us to keep our customers up to date with their order as it progresses, without having to worry about production turnaround times. We can be agile to our customers' needs and their feedback.
How does social media help your business?
Social media allows us to tell our story and tell people what we are about. We aren't just another gift store. We give gestures of appreciation and we are all about helping individuals and businesses stand out and personalise their marketing message. Social media has been invaluable as a startup as it's meant we can build a loyal client base and allow people to engage with our story organically without having to pay for traditional marketing.
We are tech savvy at Thankly and we use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter as well as You Tube (as we also have a Thankly TV channel where we interview amazing Australian people, doing amazing things). We post Thankly Instastories daily which allows people to see that we are just a little team of amazing women, wrapping and writing every single card. People love to see our behind the scenes and I just love it that often people know our names!
You can follow us @thankly.com.au on Instagram or Facebook!
What message do you hope to spread ahead of International Women's Day?
You've only got one life. There's no practice round. Don't waste it in a bad relationship, a bad job or living a life you don't love.
As a woman in business, I see the gender inequality everyday. Women are less likely to be able to raise capital and obtain investment for their businesses (as well as less likely to go and seek investment), and are less able to scale and grow their smaller businesses to become multimillion dollar enterprises. I'd like to show people that it is possible and I'd like to get into a position where I can help other women achieve and build their dream businesses and achieve independent financial freedom.
What advice do you have for women hoping to start their own businesses?
Think big and aim high. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Your support network is your greatest asset and you need to get out there and meet people, whether that's online or face to face.
You will fail at some point and probably at quite a few things. But that's what happens when your learning to fly. You've got to learn to be ok with having scabby knees and getting back up onto your feet and keep going – step by baby step forward. If it wasn't hard – everyone would do it and what it's about is the journey. Everything is a learning opportunity.
My last piece of advice. Believe in your product 100%, it's never too late and learn everything you possibly can about marketing and sales. If you aren't good at these things – you are going to have to learn!
How do you maximize your time?
I work really hard. I have a few productivity hacks that I use to make sure I'm being as efficient as possible but at the end of the day, if you want to be ahead of the game, you've got to work really hard. That means that sometimes it you have to sacrifice other things.
I also outsource every possible job I can afford to. Cleaning, washing, cooking. I also make sure I don't do any tasks that don't push me or my businesses forward. If you try and do everything, you will die! That might mean my car is messy for a while or it might mean that the washing up doesn't get done. You have to prioritise your tasks! I also often wear the same thing everyday! It means I am not as fashionable as I would like it (as I love fashion!) but it means I can get ready in 15 minutes and I don't have to choose something to wear in the morning!
What's a typical day like, for you?
Absolutely insane. I never have enough hours and for me personally, I just have to prioritise – the most pressing things first and if things don't get done and people complain, such is life. Having multiple businesses and a media profile means every day is different. I love that.
I wake up between 5-6am. I live at Bondi Vet Hospital so getting to work is easy! I will often grab a coffee and walk my dog before work. I try and spend 15-30 minutes planning the day and each day I write down three things out of the ordinary I want to achieve for that day – baby steps I can do to work towards my bigger yearly goals.
I often consult at the Vet Hospital between 9-midday most days. Between midday to 3.30 I will do admin, a video or photo shoot for a brand or a radio or TV advert – or will go and help out at Thankly. If I have time, I will then be back at the vets from about 4pm until about 7pm.
Most nights I work until midnight and if I'm not at my desk of an evening editing a video or getting up to date with Thankly, I'm at an event.
I work 7 days – and yes, I still even wrap gifts on weekends when we are really busy.
Every few weeks I'll try and catch a wee break on a Sunday afternoon or take a night off and go on a real life date!. I also really try and get some reading in. I truly believe in lifelong learning and just a little bit of reading each day can teach you so much over the course of a year.