Where are we now ?
If you have tuned into part 1, then by now you have gotten half an idea of just how Salty Shreds came about, my family, and our lifestyle. Its now 2021, and my life is like nothing I have ever imagined. My second daughter Ziggy Indigo was born on October 15th, 2019. Shortly after, I opened up my very first shopfront, increased my product range, and my business began to grow...and fast. Packing orders from my lounge room, my hallways filled with stock, raising two tiny humans, something had to change. At this stage, all the money I was receiving from sales was still going straight back into purchasing more stock. So I did the math, and came up with a solution. I decided to open up a tiny little shop by the seaside, enabling me to have more space to focus on my designs and a place to hold my stock. How would this work ? My partner worked full time, and very long hours, I have two little girls 19 months apart. Life was already crazy. Setting up the shop, dragging my girls along with me, was a massive challenge, and looking back, I don't know how I did it. Then there was still the online orders. Our international sales had gone through the roof, wholesale had increased, and we were only getting busier. My partner would finish work no earlier then 6pm, after being at work for 11 hours already, and go to the shop where he would spend a couple of hours picking orders, to then bring them home, and we would be up till Midnight, checking and packing them, every single night. I recall one night, we were up till 2am, as Ziggy was still feeding and things just took that much longer. We would argue, we were tired. Exhausted, but we had to do it, I had to make it work, otherwise all my hard work was wasted, and I would be filled with regret. It was short term pain for long term gain. Then came the next stage. I had to hire staff. We were both running the shop, any spare time my partner had off, he would spend at the shop and I was with the girls on my own. We had no down time together, and I could no longer do everything on my own. The late nights, the picking and packing, the crowded shop that we were about to outgrow, it was no longer working. I had worked so hard, and was finally able to purchase a brand new warehouse , and employ my first lot of staff to assist. Can you believe it? It was all happening. So many thoughts went through my head. What if sales suddenly stop ? What if I do this, and we don't make any money to afford the expenses we now have? Running a business from your household, you have no overheads. Nothing. It's a whole different ball game when you move into a commercial space, employ staff etc. I was ready. I monitored the growth for months, we discussed it every night . We analyzed the growth patterns, and what we needed to do , to keep growing, to make it work, and it did. Just like that, we moved into our first commercial space, employed staff to work our shop and warehouse, and business just kept getting better. Life was crazy, my girls certainly kept me on my toes, I would work all day and night in and around taking care of them and ensuring I always spent enough time focused on their growth and development. For me, this wasn't sticking them in front of an Ipad or Tv so i could get things done. I have severe anxiety about the use of technology with my kids, and no matter how busy I got, this simply wasn't an option. Finally I was able to take an income from the business. After working so hard, and putting every single dollar earned back into growing Salty Shreds, I could finally allow myself to be rewarded and my family to be comfortable. We were able to sell our home and move into a tiny little beach town , where I surfed as a teenager, and had been surfing for the last 15 years and caught my first wave. Being only a stones throw away from the sand, hearing those waves when you go to bed, and wake, it's been absolutely life changing. Another challenge... moving house with a toddler and a baby and running a business. I remember the week we moved in. I wasn't feeling as stoked as I should. Nope, I was pretty pissed off, and I just couldn't work out why. Hang on, why am I so exhausted? More then usual. Of course, I was pregnant again! This time, NOT planned. So i currently had a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and was pregnant with a third! Life was about to get even crazier. Looking back, the third pregnancy, the whole 9 months, was the hardest time of my life. My business was still growing, I just couldn't stop and take a break. I had to keep designing, I had to keep ensuring sales were solid, I had to ensure my staff were on track and things were running smoothly. Doing this, whilst trying to run and maintain a household, clean, cook, take care of a 3 year old, an 18 month old, shit was hard! The hardest part of it all? Social Media. My followers were growing out of sight, it was a full time job alone. Every where I went, strangers would recognize us and comment, or even call me by name, people whom I've never met. It's a crazy feeling. It's no secret that social media is the way to growing your business. The demands that come with it are insane. I currently now have over 90k followers, and my inbox is flooded daily, with messages I simply cannot read. As much as you try, it's impossible. My brand is my lifestyle. It's not just a job, the clothes aren't just china knock offs or cheap crap from overseas with a label slapped on it. That is not design. That is not work. That is not creativity. The time I spend into each design, it's a daily job. I am back and forth with manufacturers daily, tweaking patterns, measurements, sourcing fabric , discussing finishes, as well as working with my designer who creates my patterns and prints from scratch with exactly what i ask for. I put my lifestyle into my work. Every moment captured, every photo you see, is us, it's me and my girls, it's our daily life. I obviously try and keep some things private, as I cannot and do not want to follow them around with a camera all day, but our salty adventures, our skating, the rad vibes, the good times, just the simple daily things you see, is who we are. Growing your brand, ensuring its always growing, trying to keep up with it all, and make sure you are raising a happy healthy family, is extremely hard. Making time for your partner and ensuring you have time together, it's almost impossible. Imagine doing all this and being heavily pregnant, barely being able to walk, and having a toddler and a baby to look after, a partner who works long hard hours and never gets two consecutive days off. Who doesn't get the public holidays like most do, who doesn't get a full weekend, who is gone early and home after your kids are in bed. That shit is exhausting, and I cannot believe I made it. We made it.
Ocean Wylder, our third baby girl, born July 31st , 2021. Absolute perfection. All those aches and pains my body was feeling , all went away the moment she was born. How did we get so lucky? Ocean left hospital the same day she arrived, and we were straight down the beach ! She was home where she belonged, and the last 3 months have been absolute bliss. Am I less stressed ? No. Am I less busy? Hell No . My girls fight daily, the work I have just grows and grows, and by the time everyone is asleep, and I sit down to try and crack that never ending list, I can barely move. But, I deal with it, I make it work. I have to . I have the most fiercely independent, strong minded little girls, who are nothing short of brilliant, and give 100% into everything they do. They never give up until they get it, and spend their days doing what they love, and enjoying the simple things. I like to think, they get this from me. They inspire me and drive me to do better every day, and I am proud of who they are becoming. I make it all work for them. I still no nothing about running a business, but, I've learnt more these last few years then any degree could have taught me. Building my own company, my own brand from the ground up, whilst building a family, that cannot be taught. My love for design , my love for the ocean, the surf / skate lifestyle, it gets bigger every day, and the ideas I have , the designs I have in the works, I can hardly contain my excitement. Seeing the love from not just mothers buying for their children, but ladies and even men buying for themselves, it's nothing short of a dream. Every day, I am constantly trying to improve, finding ways to make our product even better, whilst focusing on sustainability, illuminating the use of plastics, and overall trying to do better myself as a business owner and a mother. I am so grateful to all of you that have made this possible, to those followers and supporters all over the world that understand the pressures of motherhood, that understand there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes, that are kind and supportive, that have helped grow my brand and in turn, support my family and our lifestyle. You are truly amazing.
Love Ash & her 3 salty mermaids