Kirsty Ballentine Turnbull

  • Week Thirty Nine!

    I went to school in Brisbane, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but I got into a Bachelor of Education doing secondary teaching.  I realised I wanted to get to the University of QLD so after I year I went to UQ and did a  BA with a double major in Psychology.  I remember when I was studying Psych we did a couple of Organisational Psychology units and I still know the moment when I had a really strong sense that that’s what I would be doing one day.  It’s about happiness really – creating happy workplaces.  How you can be more effective as an individual and as a team, how leadership affects the entire culture of the organisation.  In the early 2000’s major organisations had a real cultural shift towards organisational programs designed to increase performance and staff retention and just general happiness and productivity within the workplace.

    My early roles in the workforce were based in Melbourne in training and development and then I moved more into organisational development which is a part of HR.  I worked for a big consulting company – working with other companies in leadership development (retention strategies and leadership initiatives) and also career transition which was out-placement and how to restructure businesses when they needed to reduce staff.  I would also step in as a nurturer and a strategic planner working with those individuals to help them transition to the next thing.  I loved the versatility of being in different organisations.

    Johnny and I were married about 13 years ago, and we moved to Perth about 11 years ago – we were just yearning for sunshine and warmth.  I didn’t know Perth but Johnny’s family were all here and we were both able to transfer with our work.  Ava is eight years old and Charlie is six.  When Ava came along life changed!   I went on maternity leave and quickly worked out that I wasn’t go back to the same job at the end of it.  I didn’t breeze into motherhood – we had a really rough first six months with sleep deprivation as so many other mothers do.  I just didn’t know what I was doing and I felt completely out of control.  I had been this high achieving person and all of a sudden I didn’t know who I was, what I was doing and how I was going to get through it.  Ava was about six months old when we got over that initial shock phase and it became beautiful.  I walked a lot and thought a lot and got into a rhythm – and I realised I had changed.  I learnt a lot about myself and I realised that the corporate world wasn’t really healthy.  I had so much gratitude for all the experiences I’d had, but it was no longer me.

    I set up a little business called Resilience Consulting and I ended up coaching people.  Ava was just a baby when it started and I still had the business when Charlie was a baby.  It wasn’t traumatic having Charlie, he was an easier baby and I was a better mother.  The business wasn’t a hugely booming but it was something for me to keep growing and developing, and it was a nurturing way of working.  But I found it really hard to manage that style of business whilst having two young children, because the work was ad hoc. It was hard to have a routine.  One minute I’m sitting with my kids with vomit on me and in my tracky pants and within an hour I’d have to be in the city with my suit, high heels and red lippy on – and I remember the moment when I realised the contrast in life was unfathomable.  I started not enjoying it and it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing any more.  

    I had wound up Resilience Consulting and had started developing Losari which is a very creative endeavour and was going quite well – then just over a year ago I was asked to do some consulting work and it was a pretty full on gig.  I didn’t really want to do it but it was just a few weeks work so I decided to take up the opportunity and see where it led - and I had the most tremendous insight.  I was working in a little office with no windows, putting in huge days, getting blisters from high heels which I never wore anymore – and the work itself was stuff I would have just nailed  years ago.  I would have just blitzed it and been really confident.  I realised I wasn’t performing in the way I used to because that part of my life was done.  You have to want to be good at something to be good at it.  I walked away from the role because I knew Losari was for me.

    Losari started in 2013.  I’d developed the brand before I developed the product.  We bought our current home, and after renting for years I wanted to play with the interior in a way we could afford.  I had always painted so the house is filled with my paintings. I’d given some paintings away and sold some so I had that creative streak but I was drawn to interior decorating more than being an artist.  I started searching for certain pieces I wanted in our home and there were particular items I was looking for from Indonesia – so I went there and I realised I could create them myself.  Then I also decided I didn’t want to just bring things in and sell them in a shop, I wanted to create a brand.  I looked at the other successful brands and labels and I studied what they were doing right, and I understood I needed a look, a signature.   I found a gap in the market that matched what I love – a Bohemian look based around whites, neutrals and texture.  So I went on a massive buying trip with my best friend – she’s the map reader, the sensible one, the planner , she drove the motor bike while I was on the back floating around finding all these beautiful things.  And that became our first collection ‘Lightness of Being’ – with crochet, shells, tribal art, pendants, lace skulls and horns.  All from  Indonesia.

    My marketing was based around our signature.  I met a beautiful photographer who I work with to this day and will continue to do so – and the artistic direction side was what I really fell in love with.  I’m fundamentally an importer, and I think I have got that balance of a corporate side which helps with project managing and I also have the softer, more creative side which really is my mum and dad fused together.  I wanted to capture a sense of being an urban gypsy, a free spirit. Losari isn’t just a label for me, it’s like a canvas.  When I paint, I channel.  I feel a vibration and it manifests onto a canvas and it captures a moment or a feeling in the moment.  With Losari,  I want people to feel a soul moment when they put our treasures in their home.  We’re a small business with a small staff, with warehousing in Brisbane and with a few key teams we collaborate with in Indonesia and India.  The important thing is harmony.  I don’t want Losari to be corporate.  I’m trying to work with a virtual team with an energy that flows.

    Being a mum in business is hard, because it is all consuming.  I work more than full time, and I’m thinking about it constantly.  And as all mums in business would know, with phones and social media it’s really hard to turn off.  I personally, as a mum, need to be more present.  I remind myself that I only have a little time with these beautiful little spirits, Ava and Charlie, and I want to be present for them as they move through each new stage in their lives.  But I still need and value and want this beautiful label Losari – which is like an infant to me – and I want it to grow.  I love them all in different ways, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything different - which is a beautiful moment to reach in life.  It’s also important to realise that this too may change, at some point it may no longer serve me.  I have been lucky because Johnny has been flexible with his work which has been a Godsend.  We have our routine and we share making lunches and doing school pick up.  I often work early in the morning before anyone else in the house is up, and then my day is really 9am until 2.45pm when the kids get home.  I try and put work away and have afternoon with them, and be present.  

    I believe the first step to running your own business is clarity.  Know thyself. Spend time thinking, who am I?  What are my interests, where do my eyes light up, what is my passion, what am I good at?  My fundamental advice is to know what is important to you as a person.  Your  values.  How do you like to spend your day, what sort of people do you like to surround yourself with, and what type of culture or energy do you thrive on?  I think once you’ve got that, you can drop some of the shoulds, woulds, coulds and the indoctrination from parents or husbands or friends or the corporate world.  Be quiet, stop the world, and find that within yourself.  Then gather information.  Start being open.  Now that you have that beautiful insight, talk to people who are succeeding doing what you’d like to do.  And don’t be afraid to say,”I don’t know where I’m going, but this is the first step on my journey”.  Honour yourself.

    Losari brings you collections of treasures for the Home and Woman, inspired by the luxurious bohemian world. Shells, feathers, deliciously soft textiles, lacy crochet, tassels, natural weaves, whites - all designed with love for you to create more soul moments in your life. And to remind you of the big, beautiful, eclectic world that is ours.


    Kirsty understands the importance of finding out who you are and what you want before you can get to where you want to be.  This is the first step in the Business Mamas Diploma of Business – we’re here to help you find out what ‘having it all’ means to you!

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

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