April ’16 WBS Business Woman of the Month
I’m an Australian born Greek girl from Melbourne’s Western suburbs. I grew up in Newport and finished my VCE at Bayside Secondary College in 1999 and I then went on to study Graphic Design at Vic Uni. I now live in Point Cook with my husband and 2 little girls while running the admin side of our family business, Ellsim Cleaning Solutions & Property Care and my own business, Frosted Tiers.
Tell us about your business
I pride myself in offering the highest quality product to my customers.
The processes and equipment we use at Ellsim Cleaning Solutions are unique to us. We have top of the range equipment which give a deeper clean than anything else on the Australian Market. We also have specially formulated cleaning solutions, specially designed for us, including our exclusive hyper dry system which gets carpets and upholstery dry faster than dry cleaning. My husband has 7 year experience in forensic cleaning and his knowledge is second to none.
Ellsim Cleaning Solutions & Property Care does not work on a “One Size Fit All” policy. Every customer is different and so are their needs. We aim to deliver a personalized service for every customer to meet and surpass their expectations. We are a family owned business based in Point Cook. We are fully trained to the highest of European standards, which include 7 years in forensic cleaning, and use the latest and top of the range European machinery that come second to none and make us unique in the Australian market. They are regularly maintained and environmentally friendly products are used to ensure a thorough and detailed clean with a focus on sanitization, offering our customers the “display home” look. Our products are specially formulated to clean deep and prevent stains from returning.
Frosted Tiers is all about changing the perception of the cake for your special occasion. The days of wanting a cake just as a centerpiece and something that “not many people will eat” are long gone. We strive to have amazing tasting cakes which will leave your guests will be want more. It’s all about the perfect texture, combined with a brilliant flavour.
Why and when did you start your own business?
Ellsim was created after my husband and I moved back to Australia after living in Greece for 3 years. With my husband’s extensive forensic cleaning knowledge, we believed that Ellsim Cleaning Solutions would bring something to the Australian market that does not exist.
After the birth of our first daughter, I felt a change in me. I no longer felt like myself and could not put my finger on what was wrong. I was diagnosed with severe postnatal depression and began seeing a counsellor to help me through it. During one session she asked me “what do you think, in terms of something that is just for you, makes you happy” and the first thing that popped into my mind was cooking and baking. From that moment, after a lot of research, Frosted Tiers gradually started forming and in October 2014, Frosted Tiers was born. Although I still have my bad days, getting into the kitchen and creating amazing cakes helps me through those difficult days.
What does being a business owner mean to you?
Having my own business allows me to have the flexibility I need while raising a young family. Besides that, it give me a sense of accomplishment when we have delivered amazing results in someone’s home in the cleaning aspect, or handing over a cake that makes a customer’s face light up when they first lay their eye on my creations.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
For Frosted Tiers, I have met a wonderful lady by the name of Vy Tran who has a business called The Cake Reaction in Windsor. She is an amazing artist and brilliant mentor who has always had her door open for me in terms of advice for business as well as technically. I also draw great inspiration from Bronwen Weber from Frosted Art Bakery in Dallas Texas, Katherine Sabbath, Sharon Wee and so many other internationally renowned cake artists. In terms of general business for both Ellsim and Frosted Tiers, I try to take in information from wherever I can. I love Richard Branson’s approach to business and always look towards this advice in books and online. I also have a family friend who has gone from basically nothing to an ever growing brand in jewellery design. Her name is Sue Sensi and she is just someone who I admire for her creativity and dedication – Sue Sensi Design
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
I don’t think I have one single achievement, but sitting back and looking where I am today in comparison to where we started, it amazes me and I just hope I can look back to this moment in 5 years time and see some amazing growth again.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Being in business for yourself is scary. It’s definitely something that will push you out of your comfort zone. In order to see growth and for your business to flourish, you need to constantly push the envelope and keep stepping out of that comfort zone. As Richard Branson says “You don’t learn to walk by following the rule. You learn by doing and by falling over”.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
The most valuable tool in our belt has been honesty, working hard to gain trust in our customers which in turn has given us amazing word of mouth advertising. People are more likely to recommend a business who they trust. We believe in community and have given great focus to being a community minded business. Combined with the power of social media, it has help our business quickly get off the ground. We are active members of the Point Cook Action Group, we have always donated our time and services to local causes and in general always been willing to pay it forward.
What is one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
I try to adopt the thought of “run your business as if it belonged to someone else”. That constantly plays in my mind and is something that keeps you motivated, especially when I have those days that I feel lack of drive. Have regular short term goals and tell someone about them in order to have some accountability.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
Besides other local businesses and business networking groups, the small business mentoring program run by Business Victoria has a wealth of information which has helped me from time to time.
Business Victoria – Small Business Mentoring Program
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Fun and relaxation? What’s that?!?
I just enjoy spending time with my family and anything that takes me away from the kitchen or office and gets me outdoors from time to time.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
I can’t think of three, but the 2 skills I know that I need in my case are patience and organisation. I believe patience is a skill that I am still learning. There are days that I have been completely unorganised and I saw how it affected me in terms of stress levels, which in term affected my product.
What is a fear you face in business? How do you manage fear?
I think fear of the unknown is something I’ve had to face many times. The only way I’ve been able to face it is head on without thinking. It’s a bit like bungee jumping, I guess. I just take the plunge and hope it works out well. If it doesn’t, well I just learn from that experience and move on, if it does, then it’s a pay-off for facing that fear.
What are your top 5 goals you want to achieve by the end of 2016?
• Try to achieve a better work/life balance, as it’s a bit too much work at this point.
• I’d like to begin supplying a café or coffee van with cupcakes.
• Obtain a large contract for Ellsim Cleaning Solutions.
• Find the time to take the kids on a holiday.
• Learn to not sweat the small stuff and find a way to relax.
What makes you happy?
My family and friends make me happy and hearing true gratitude and happiness from our customers.
Have you had to make any scarifies whilst running your business? If so, what are they?
Both my husband and I have sacrificed family time while running our businesses. We definitely don’t get to spend as much time as we used to with the kids.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most and why?
As mentioned above, a lovely family friend of mine, Sue Sensi, is someone who I admire and have watched her brand, Sue Sensi Design, just grow in leaps and bounds as well as the beautiful Vy Tran from the Windsor business, The Cake Reaction. She is just an amazing cake artist and I ever aspire to have the skill level she does.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
I would eventually like to see Ellsim Cleaning Solutions as a franchise. That is my main goal for that particular business. In terms of Frosted Tiers, I would like to be at the level of Sharon Wee, Buddy Valastro, the boys from Ace of Cakes and possibly have a famous bakery/café.
How do you measure your success in business?
Do you have kiddies if so how many? And what is their favourite activity to do with you.
I have two little girls. Michaella who is 7 and Raphaella who is 5. They are angels when apart and devils when they are together, like most sisters. They love doing anything active. They both do Jazz dancing, but they love going to the zoo, riding bikes and driving to new places to explore, like the Great Ocean Road, Geelong, Sorrento and the Dandenong Ranges.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful (Albert Schweitzer)
Connect with Ellen
Womens Business Society Team
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