Why I’ve decided to take Bandit to a four-day work week

Who came up with the idea of the 5 day work week? Why is it an unspoken rule that we have opted to abide by without giving too much thought to it? What if we broke the rules, could it be better?

I’ve asked myself these questions many times over the years. Maybe you have too.

Usually, it was a fleeting thought that would be whisked away by the next email that slid into my inbox. However, after an absolutely eye-opening year that was 2020, and over the earlier months of 2021, my once fleeting thoughts became more of an urgent inquiry.

An article I came across earlier this month by Philip Sopher read, “The seven-day week is completely man-made. If it’s man-made, can’t man unmake it?”. Applying this to the way our society is deeply entrenched in the five-day workweek, I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s time we business owners moved it to the top of our list and educate ourselves, question it and take action. Because honestly, I believe the traditional workweek is dead and it’s time for something better. Better for our mental health, better for our creativity, and better for business.

If you’re a business owner yourself, I know what you’re thinking…and of course, it crossed my mind, moving to a four-day workweek would mean that we would be at a disadvantage in a world that favours the five-day workweek, right? But hear me out, after sitting with the idea, I realised the service and creativity we can offer when our team is refuelled and firing with all guns blazing is far greater and our clients will reap the rewards too.

Being in the creative industry, it can be hard yakka forcing creativity between the hours of 8:30 am-5 pm Monday-Friday, and quite frankly unrealistic and unfair to expect our team members to be ‘on’ unfailingly day in and day out. I believe mental health and creativity are intrinsically linked, each feeding the other.

So, what if, like many other businesses over the world, we made a more sustainable shift and took a 60/40 approach to the week to recharge, operate on a deeper level at work, and create space within our lives for those things that light us on fire. Would it feel better? Would our work be better? My gut says yes.

Our Mission statement here at Bandit is to ‘create killer design and have a good time while doing it’. It’s time to throw the ‘rules’ in the bin once again, and do what we’re here to do; to do things differently.

The Bandit studio will be moving to a four-day workweek from 4 October 2021. We can’t wait to make this thing we call ‘work’ even better.

I would love to hear from you if you’re adopting an alternative working arrangement in your workplace too. Hit my inbox mikeila@banditdesigngroup.com.au, I would love to exchange ideas.

Starting a business in the sustainable space with Indi

We love chatting with inspiring business owners, risk-takers and change-makers about the journeys, successes and challenges that have paved their paths.

Caitlyn and Dave, the duo behind Indi share the story about how Indi came about, how they consciously limit their impact on the environment in day-to-day business and the ups and downs of starting a product-based business. Pour yourself a brew and enjoy!

Let’s start off slow, how do you like your coffee?

We both drink almond FW’s. We are lucky to live down the road from a pretty epic coffee shop that makes their own almond milk!

Tell us about yourselves and what lead you to start a business together?

Dave is a Home Designer, and I am a Registered Nurse. We live along the coast in Perth with our two sausage dogs Indi & Ernie. We have always wanted to get into the product design space and in October 2019 (with a vino in hand) we were talking about how we’d never found a reusable coffee cup we loved. From that convo, we decided to design something that was luxurious and functional, and Indi was born.

Tell us about Indi and what made you want to start a business in the sustainable space.

Indi is a lifestyle. We want to inspire people to do better when it comes to the planet. What initially fired us up is reading that in Australia alone, 50,000 takeaway coffee cups end up in landfill every 30 minutes! We knew that we could be part of the solution. We are currently evolving on the daily! We initially had the idea to bring a Reusable Cup and Water Bottle to the market and now we are heading into the Luxe Beach and Homewares space. With everything we do, we want to create beautiful products that are long-lasting and of course, good for the planet.

What do you do day-to-day in your business to limit your impact on the environment?

Great question! We make every decision with the environment in mind. For example, everything from our swing tags to box packaging and mailing cartons are made from recycled card stock. All of our materials are printed locally by a printing company that runs on solar and uses vegetable-based inks. We offer sustainable packaging (box free) to our customers and we use our Instagram to educate and empower people about doing better for the planet.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of starting Indi?

So many things! I would say though, receiving our first Cup shipment (after many delays) and getting over 800 Cups packaged and sent out in 3 days, has to be up there in the highlights reel! Seeing everyone in the days after this (and every day) using their Cups was pretty special.

And the most challenging? Have there been any major screw-ups or lessons learned?

So many! Our initial Cup shipment was delayed a few times after we had taken orders during our Pre-Order phase. That was pretty stressful. We have since learned that business life is full of setbacks! That and, we won’t be doing Pre-Orders until we know our products are well on their way!

We have absolutely loved working with Indi, why was it important for you to find a design studio to partner with?

Thanks, guys, right back at you! We can’t imagine doing this without you! We knew that investing in Indi from the beginning in the form of branding was really important. Having the foundations set, such as a beautiful logo and other brand assets including brand colours, is what has really set us up for success. We get SO many compliments about our branding and Instagram and we really believe it’s our design team (you guys!) who set us up for success here. Our branding is the best investment we have made in our business.

What’s next for Indi? Are there any exciting new projects underway you can share?

We wish we could share more, but for now, we’re keeping it under wraps! What we will say is this – think Luxe Beach and Homewares. We have some pretty cool things coming!

Where can people find you and Indi products?

You can find us on Insta @the.indi.life.com or head over to our website to check us out – theindilife.com. You’ll also find our Stockists there.

Building A Brand Story

Your brand is a living thing, it has the opportunity to tell an ongoing story. A story about you, your services, your products, the lifestyle you’re selling.

Your brand story has the potential to make your brand wildly influential to your target audience if you can nail it on the head, it will kick-off your know-like-trust factor which will lead to brand loyalty.

True magnetic customers don’t just buy your product, they buy your brand and more importantly your brand story. I like to call them super-fans. They’re the kind of customers who love everything you do, no matter what, they’re your cheerleaders and tell every man and his dog about you.

A brand story is the weaving thread through all that you do. It is a narrative that encompasses the feelings that are created by your brand. It can be a real or a conjured up story, the only thing that matters is that it’s clear and easy to follow.

Your brand story and how you tell it is what sets you apart from your competitors because it’s unique to you. If you can craft a compelling brand story, your audience will give you their hearts and loyalty because they care about you, and ultimately, want to buy from you to feel connected and be a part of your beliefs, your journey and your way of life.

So, how do you go about starting to put together your brand story?

Start by writing down things like:

  • Why did you start your business?
  • What do you hope to achieve with your business?
  • Who do you do it for?
  • What are you most passionate about?
  • What’s the most rewarding thing you do?
  • Why are you different from your competitors?

From here, you’ll see some common themes pop up and it will help you become really aware of what you want to tell your audience, what you want them to believe in and feel a part of.

Your brand story should be weaved through all of your communication with customers – your website copy, social media captions and videos, it should also influence your marketing messaging.

The strongest of visual brands are connected to your brand story and will tell it visually. That’s why the first thing we do in our studio when starting on a new brand project, before going anywhere near the tools, is to deep dive into your brand strategy before we bring it into the visual realm. If you want to chat brand or get the professionals on board, you know who to call.

Why You Need A Damn Good Brand Strategy

How can you build a brand that really encompasses who you are, what you do AND that is absolutely magnetic to your target audience? Time to put some pep into your brand strategy.

Creating a beautiful looking brand is just as important as the experience your brand offers. What we mean by that is stimulating all of the human senses with your brand. What you touch, what you see, what you feel, what you hear, what you smell, it’s part of your strategy and everything you do in business is adding to your brand’s story.

The ticket to creating a strong, magnetic, and irresistible brand is crafting an engaging story, getting clear on who you are and what you want people to think of you.

Your brand is not just about your logo, colours, and fonts. Your brand is the perception of your business, determined by how people feel about your business, products, and services.

With the right tools and strategy in place, your brand can influence the way people engage with your business, how they feel about your products and services, and ultimately grow your business in the right direction.

Branding, in any form, is anything you do, to try and shape those perceptions.

Branding can be tangible and intangible things your business does. Be it the logo and colours you use to make people feel a certain way, how you show up on social media, the emojis you use, how you answer the phone, reply to an email, the printing stock for your business cards, the music you play in your store or the incense you have burning in your studio. It’s all branding. And every business has A LOT of brand touchpoints and outlets. No detail is too small.

We chat to tons of business owners every week, and the things we hear come up most often are things like; “We don’t really have a brand”, “I feel like it’s all over the place”, “I can’t quite seem to bring it all together”, “We’re not selling to who we thought we would”, or my personal favourite – “It just really doesn’t represent who we are anymore”. These are all valid reasons to take a giant step back and look at your bigger brand picture and form a brand strategy.

Your brand strategy is one of your greatest business assets. It is your game plan for standing apart from your competitors and achieving your big juicy business goals. It helps you map out your brand foundations – what your brand stands for, who your ideal clients are and how you want them to think of you. Once your brand strategy is crystal clear you are ready to make informed decisions on every aspect of your business.

We all know good design is good business, but both are limited without a purposeful strategy in place. Let’s just be clear here, your brand strategy is not about selecting the perfect shade of peach or making those final tweaks to your logo. We have a bit of work to do before we get to that.

It all begins with mapping out your brand vision – what is your business’s reason for existence? Dive deep into your vision, mission and values, and how you’ll deliver on them (for some tips, here’s a post we prepared earlier). Once your strategy is crystal clear it sets you up to make informed decisions on every aspect of your business and ensures your positioning positively impacts your bottom line.

To help you get the ball rolling, we’ve created a little pocket rocket of a template that will kick-start your brand strategy! Download our free one-page brand strategy template when you sign up to our newsletter. You’re so very welcome.

Once your brand strategy is finalised, it should be consolidated into a handy dandy document. We call this your ‘Brand Bible’. A Brand Bible articulates the essence of your brand – from your vision, values, and mission, to your brand personality, tone of voice, logo and brand mark instructions, art direction, colour palettes, typefaces, templates, and more. This document will ensure there is consistency across all of your internal and external touchpoints. It’s vital that everyone within your business gets their hot little hands on a copy as they’ll now become your very own brand ambassadors.

A strong brand strategy is one of the smartest tools you can invest in for your business. So if you’re dead serious about pepping up your brand strategy, chat to us today!

How to define your brand’s vision, mission, and values

We all know good design is good business. When your business’s brand is thoughtful, purposeful, and clear it supercharges your potential. It gives you the power to shape people’s perceptions, influence how people engage with your business, and acts as a mighty strong footing for your business to grow.

Not only does your business need to look its best on the outside, but it also needs to feel its best on the inside too. That’s where forming your brand’s vision, mission and values come into play. These foundations will help you get crystal clear on who you are, what you do, and why you do it to help drive your business and ultimately attract, engage, and sell in all the right ways!

Defining Your Vision

Your brand’s vision is ultimately your business’s purpose and reason for existing – it’s what you want your business to accomplish in its lifetime. A vision should excite the bloody pants off you, buzz you to get out of bed in the morning, and give you a challenge – so don’t be afraid to set the bar higher than you think you can reach!

The most powerful vision statements are short and succinct. You should be able to jam-pack your vision into a single sentence, or just a few words. Do some research and take a look at some of the world’s most successful businesses and their visions.

  • Nike – To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
  • Ox Fam – A world without poverty.
  • Virgin – Changing business for good.
  • McDonald’s – To be the world’s best quick-service restaurant experience.
  • Ikea – To create a better everyday life for many people.
  • Uber – Bring transportation — for everyone, everywhere.

To define your vision ask yourself these two simple questions:

  1. Why did you start your business?
  2. If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you have your business achieve?

Now use those answers to pull together your golden vision statement.

Defining Your Mission

Your mission should state how you are going to achieve your big vision. What are you going to do, how are you going to do it, and who are you going to do it for?

Your mission should be clear and describe what you will do to achieve your vision every day within your business.

Here are some examples from the world’s largest corporations to give you some creative juice. Drumroll, please…

  • Uber – Transportation that’s safer, cheaper, and more reliable; transportation that creates more job opportunities and higher incomes for drivers.
  • Google – To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  • Kickstarter – To help bring creative projects to life.
  • Disney – To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovate technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.

To define your mission, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What do we do?
  2. How do we do it?
  3. Who do we do it for?

Now combine your answers into a beautiful sentence and voilà! You have your mission.

Defining Your Values

Your brand values are the backbone of your business; the guiding compass for all that you do. They establish why you’re in the game, what you stand for, and what you believe in. Every business decision, service, product, and interaction with customers and stakeholders should be aligned with your values because truth be told, a big contender for getting your customer or client on board often comes down to how aligned they feel to your brand. Having your core values outlined will keep you accountable and consistent throughout all aspects of your business and help to attract those who hold similar values – win-win.

What matters most about the way your business operates? What does your brand live by every.single.day?

  • Quality
  • Unique
  • Innovation
  • Knowledge
  • Inspire
  • Ethical
  • Integrity
  • Relationships
  • Community
  • Collaboration
  • Purpose

Take your pick and add your own! Write out what each value means to your brand to give it purpose and context.

Wrap Up

So there you have it, folks, you’re well on your way to defining your brand’s vision, mission, and values! Print them out and stick them on your wall where you and your team can see them every day. It’s a good idea to go back and revisit these over time to make sure you’re still feeling aligned to them, business is ever-evolving and as you grow your foundations will too.

If you need help defining your brand’s vision, mission, and values or building a brand strategy that gets your business pumping, then get in touch with us, we would love to help!

Taylor Pitsilos: Designer Op Shop Emporium

Women in Business Series: This series is dedicated to shining the spotlight on women in business who inspire us every day.

Taylor Pitsilos is the founder of Style By Tala and co-founder of Designer Op Shop Emporium. We had a chat with Taylor about the rewards and challenges of running a business, how to make your side hustle a full-time gig, and mastering the art of a work-life balance.

Talk us through a typical working day for you right now.

The store is open 7 days a week so I begin 6 out of 7 days opening the store but from there, my day can spread into many different directions. The morning will most likely consist of a coffee / quick run-down meeting with my business partner Sharyn. Throughout the day, I’ll have many run-ins from vendors coming to re merchandise their spaces in DOSE, ill take some snaps for socials…(edit the pictures, save them to drafts). I’ll look through bundles of pieces brought in from the general public to sell to us, merchandise a section of the store, have a fitting with a model or run to a photoshoot, write an article for the store’s magazine… all while consistently replying to daily emails, store enquires and of course serving customers. Lunch is almost always late as you eat when you can in retail. Close the store at 5 pm but continue being responsive on socials for our clientele after closing time… The work doesn’t end because the store is closed. Then onto the next day!

What advice would you give to people wanting to start their own business?

My advice would be to back yourself in your business, have faith in your own ability and reflect on your successes. Not everyone is going to like your business but that’s okay and finally to be prepared to never work a normal Mon – Fri, 9-5 day in your life again!

Looking back, are there any indicators from your youth that influenced you to start your own business?

I was always a creative person and never overly academic at school so heading to uni wasn’t for me and I felt ready to jump into work straight after school. Both my parents worked for themselves and mum was definitely a big influence as she owned a ladies fashion retail store in the Canberra Centre when I was growing so I guess following in their footsteps was natural for me.

What was the driving force behind starting your own business?

Growing up I was obsessed with Fashion and knew in some way shape or form that was the industry I wanted to be in. Living in Canberra, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for working in fashion unless it was for myself.

What’s your take on work-life balance?

As I work 6 days a week in store and am often still working outside of those hours, I do try and maintain a pretty busy work-life balance. I try to be as organised as I can both at work and at home. I find it helps to keep my house tidy and to schedule my weeks into my iPhone calendar. Every morning I take my dog to the park before work and most evenings after work, when I get home I spend time with my friends as they are like my second family. Sunday’s are my day off so I try to always plan something fun like a day trip to Berry or get out in nature and go for a hike. I do think it’s very important to take time out of work to clear your mind and freshen up for a new day/week.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of taking the leap from having a side gig to it becoming their full-time gig?

It is a difficult decision to make, especially if you have a mortgage or big bills every week. I would suggest ensuring you are 100% financially ready before taking the leap into full-time work without working for anyone else as well. For 5 years I worked full-time for myself and part-time for someone else, which helped me feel financially stable. For three of those years, I worked 7 days a week. You have to be prepared to put in the long hours and know that working for yourself full-time most likely won’t happen within the first year of your business.

What have been the most rewarding and challenging aspects of running a business?

The most rewarding aspects of running a business are definitely the freedom to work within so many aspects of the creative and fashion industry. I am lucky enough to work with my family and a really solid small team so coming to work is like being at home. My Mother Sharyn is my business partner so I count myself pretty lucky to be able to share this experience of growing our store with her. As for my styling business, fashion is my greatest love so being able to dress models and style clients as a part of my job is incredibly rewarding.

Some aspects of running a business I find challenging would be as an owner, everything falls back to you. It’s hard to not take criticism personally and trying to manage/oversee every aspect of the business can also be difficult at times.

We all have hiccups and are met with challenges – tell us about your biggest challenge to date and how you got past it.

Our biggest challenge to date would be our last year in Braddon as the rent was extremely high and by this stage and it wasn’t becoming viable to stay where we were. We had to make a decision on where to take our business from there and how we were going to overcome the situation. Luckily for us moving to Fyshwick was much cheaper in rent and as we had been operating for over 5 years, we had established a loyal following that supported and embraced our move. We re-branded our store and added in our vendors to create more of a destination experience for our clientele and expand the business.

What’s your favourite day of the week?

Sunday – my day off, haha! Don’t get me wrong I am borderline obsessed with my job but Sundays are my chill day, nothing beats it.

Where would we find you on a Saturday morning at 9 am?

At work! I have always worked Saturdays and it’s our busiest day by far. I wouldn’t actually know what to do with myself if I wasn’t at work or at a photo shoot on a Saturday morning. Rarely ill take a weekend off but when I do, it will be a weekend away.

Find out more about Taylor, Designer Op Shop Emporium & Style By Tala at dosemporium.com.au, @dosemporium or @stylebytala.

Sianne Fitzsimons: The Lab

Women in Business Series: This series is dedicated to shining the spotlight on women in business who inspire us every day.

Based in Canberra, The Lab is your ultimate beauty destination sans the BS. Come for the self-care, stay for the chats, owners Sianne and Tegan have created a cult-following, buzzing, light-filled studio, which you just want to spend hour upon hour in, being doted with the best of the best self-care rituals.

So, pour a cuppa and enjoy our chat with Sianne herself on what it’s like running The Lab and her best advice on starting a business.

Talk us through a typical working day for you right now.

No such thing. We see around 60 clients per day and every day is different. Tegan and I will always arrive super early to clean and set up for the day. As soon as the clock strikes 10 am there is no telling what will happen haha!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t spend all your money on a fit-out! Focus on the service and the rest will follow.

Who’s in your team, what are their roles and why do you love them?

Tegan – Co-Director and Senior Brow Artist

The funniest human on earth! Can shorten any word in the dictionary and make a new adorable word. She is magnetic, super stylish and great at managing people.

Carly – Senior Brow Artist and our very first staff member

The cutest human to ever exist. Her laugh is infectious and her attention to detail is second to none. Quirky, incredible, uber-talented, patient and beautiful all rolled up in one.

Telisa – Senior brow artist and lash lifting QUEEN

A natural at everything she does, makeup, lashes, brows – literally anything beauty and she nails it every time! New mum to the cutest and trendiest little beb, immaculate human at all times, arrives 1 hour early to work every day, loves pasta and our second and equally loved recruit.

Nay – Senior Brow artist formerly the receptionist

We call her Nay ‘fix it’ Mcfeeters because she literally fixes any and every problem that ever existed. She is adventurous, hilarious and our little baby forever. Super witty, fun-loving and always ready to help. Incredible brow artist and all-round good human

Ellie – Receptionist

Literally the most chilled human you have ever met. Nothing ever phases her! Super talented makeup artist and cutie patootie to boot. The light of our lives, always super positive and smiley no matter what! Our little Ellie Angel face.

Luana – Senior brow artist (threading)

Our newest recruit and our beautiful Brazilian bombshell. Incredibly fast learner, an amazing artist and so adorable! We are currently teaching her all the Aussie slang and marvelling at her skills and love having her as part of the lab fam!

Me (Sianne) – Skin specialist and best human to ever exist. (JOKES)

What advice would you give people wanting to start their own business?

DO IT! It is even harder than you could possibly ever imagine but if it is your passion then go for it. You need to understand the market you are entering and why you will do it better. Tegan and I started with a wax pot and a chair in the corner of our friend’s clothing store – if we can do it anyone can do it!

What advice would you give someone who is thinking of taking the leap from having a side gig to it becoming their full-time gig?

HUSTLE! We started The Lab as a side gig and worked our BUTTS OFF until we could safely take the leap. You need to see a gap in the market and fill it! Work and work and work until everyone knows who you are. Have no shame, take every opportunity and not only be the best at what you do but offer the best and most GENUINE customer service – at the end of the day, it’s about the experience.

What are your strongest attributes that make you a successful business owner?

I think as co-owners, our strongest attributes are the other’s weaknesses and it works perfectly! Tegan is a beautiful soul, incredibly hard-working but also super relaxed and chilled. Everyone loves her and she has a massive cult following not only because of her brow ninja artistry skills but also because she is so darn likeable! I on the other hand am insanely driven, stressed at every turn and can’t switch off for a second. Tegan keeps me grounded but my constant state of anxiety though is not ideal (and the reason why we advocate for self-care) keeps me on my toes and constantly evolving the business.

What is your spirit animal?

Barb my cat because she is hilarious…

What is your favourite day of the week?

Sunday – Netflix and Chill. It’s the only day I dedicate entirely to myself.

Find out more about The Lab at the-lab.com.au or @itsthelab.