WBS Interview – Josmara Leon

Being a business owner means doing what I love. Maybe working harder and longer hours than having a ‘normal’ job, but with greater rewards and doing it with love and passion. Having my own business also allows me to be creative and to push myself out of my comfort zone.
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Meet Josmara from The Perfect Gesture

The Perfect Gesture


I was born in Venezuela, the third of four girls and into a huge extended family. I came to Melbourne almost 5 years ago with my husband looking for a better life. Although homesickness is something I live with every single day of my life, I feel blessed to be where I am now. I am a mum, wife, sister, daughter, auntie. I am also an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher to international students who want to gain entry to Uni here. I grew up watching my mum and sister at the sewing machine creating beautiful costumes, dresses, curtains, you name it! And slowly built my way to it too. So, although I enjoy teaching, there is a feeling of peace and accomplishment I get when crafting that I don’t get anywhere else.

 

Tell us about your business

I create handmade items for personal use or as gifts using fabric and yarn/wool. Currently, The Perfect Gesture’s products are made for babies, toddlers and women, but I am always expanding the product range and coming up with new items; the goal is to be able to cater to older children and men as well. This is where I see the beauty of custom orders too; even if it is an item I do not have on offer yet, I may be able to create it so my portfolio is never ending. Products also change with the seasons so there is really not one item I focus on. The Perfect Gesture also offers handmade favours for parties, to make any celebration that bit extra special and memorable.

I live by the motto ‘handmade is best’. I truly believe there is something about making, buying and gifting handmade items that really expresses your love and care towards someone. For that reason each and every one of my products is unique; none two pieces are the same.

Why and when did you start your own business?
I had been toying with the idea of having a handmade business for quite a few years, mainly in partnership with my mum. During my pregnancy, I really got into sewing and crocheting (I actually learn how to crochet then) and realised I could do much more than what I thought I was capable of.

Only 3 months after I had my daughter, I had to return to work, and when she was only 6 months old we had to enrol her in child care. I then started thinking about and looking for others ways to earn money for my family as I was not ready for this situation and wanted something that would allow me to be home with her. Having a full time job away from home was not making me happy.

It took me over a year of thinking, but in April this year I decided to put away any fears and reservations I had and just go for it. So, my business is still in its infancy; there’s lots I have to learn, but I have made up my mind and plan on consolidating this decision every day.

What does being a business owner mean to you?
Being a business owner means doing what I love. Maybe working harder and longer hours than having a ‘normal’ job, but with greater rewards and doing it with love and passion. Having my own business also allows me to be creative and to push myself out of my comfort zone. It also means being able to show my little girl how you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to; or at the very least, give it your all instead of regretting not trying, and thinking of all the ‘what ifs’.

The Perfect GestureWhat or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
In business, I would say my fellow country woman Beatriz Guevara has been my inspiration. She is a role model of what a successful mum and entrepreneur should be. In the short time I’ve known her she has changed my life and taught me so much. It is, in part, due to her influence that I finally decided to start my business and make my vision a reality.

For The Perfect Gesture, my biggest influence and inspiration comes from both my mum and my sister Natacha; I run new ideas by them all the time and make sure all products are quality approved by them. My father and my whole family have also given me great support and encouragement and without them I would not be able to pick myself up after falling down. They all believe in me more than I believe in myself.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Making the decision to actually start my business, registering my business name and attending markets to showcase my products. This whole world is completely new to me and just deciding to be part of it is my best accomplishment so far.

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Connect with people! Network! To truly survive in business (and any area, for that matter), you have to connect with others and not be isolated. Leave your fear behind; do not compare yourself to others, even if they are more experienced. Just get out there and connect; create partnerships and help each other out.

What is one thing you have learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
In the few months I have been a small business owner, I have already learned that you need to get out of your comfort zone; whatever that means to you. In order to be successful, you have to push yourself and go further, get rid of all fear and be confident about you, your skills and your business.

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?The Perfect Gesture
The Small Business Victoria website http://www.business.vic.gov.au/ provides good resources and offers workshops. Before I decided to start my business, I actually attended a mentoring session and I plan to attend the Small Business Festival in August http://www.business.vic.gov.au/events-workshops-and-mentoring/victorias-small-business-festival to better support my business venture.

Do you have any new projects coming up (or have you just completed a big project ~ reached a milestone, etc.)?

I am currently working on setting up my own website; a place where people can see what is on offer and also enquire about custom orders. I hope once this is up and running I won’t have to rely on markets that much and also people who buy from the markets know where to get more goodies.
I am also working on creating a few new items. This time I am adding clothing pieces to my list of products.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Knit and crochet!
Other relaxation activities include reading, taking a long hot bath when I can, listening to music, playing and being silly with my daughter, going to the movies or catching up on our favourite TV shows with my husband.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Maybe not in this order but:
1. Be motivated and energetic.
2. Push yourself and get out of your comfort zone.
3. Be social media savvy.

What is a fear you face in business? Have you overcome it? How do you manage fear?
Every time I create a new product or attend a new market I have this feeling of ‘what if people don’t like my products?’ I have slowly come to the realisation that not everyone will like them and that it is OK. I am happy with my items and this will show when I talk to customers. At the end of the day all that matters is that I am happy with my results and that I use feedback to become better and stronger, not to let it get me down.

The Perfect GestureWhat are your top 5 goals you want to achieve by the end of 2016?
1. Have my own business website
2. Add a few items for older children and men to my range
3. Attend new and bigger markets
4. Reach 500 likes on my Facebook business page
5. Be able to go on vacation and visit my family

What makes you happy?
My family makes me happy. Talking to my parents and sisters, spending time with my daughter, laughing with my husband makes me happy.

Have you had to make any sacrifices whilst running your business? If so, what are they?
Of course! It’s hard juggling a teaching job, a business, being a mum and doing all the housework plus having time for myself and my husband! The biggest sacrifice so far has been attending markets on the weekend as it means I don’t get to spend much time with my husband and daughter. But I know it’ll all be worth it.

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most and why?
I admire all businesses run by mums. It is quite challenging finding the proper work-life balance to do this and all mumpreneurs are simply amazing.

Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
I hope people will know about The Perfect Gesture by then and want to buy my products whenever they want to give someone something special. I would also like to have a little shop with enough stock for people to get those last minute gifts.
In 10 years I would have left teaching to pursue other goals and to focus 100% on my business.

What book has inspired you the most? (OR What is your favourite book?)
This is a hard one. I haven’t read that many business books yet, and I have read too many other types of books to have a favourite. One book that has stayed with me since I read it and can’t seem to stop thinking about is ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak. It’s a really sad book, but it teaches the power of love and resilience.

How do you measure your success in business?
Success, in business or otherwise, is best measured by happiness. How happy I am reflects how successful I consider myself to be. After all, what is life without happiness?

Comments and reviews from customers can also be a determiner of success in business; if customers are satisfied with the product, it means I did my job well.

Do you have kiddies if so how many? And what is their favourite activity to do with you.
Yes! I have an 18 month old daughter, Camila. At the moment she loves reading, singing and dancing with me, so there’s lots of silly activities taking place at our place all the time!

What is your favourite inspirational quote you would like to share with other WBS members?
“Life is not the amount of breaths you take; it’s the moments that take your breath away” From the movie Hitch

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Womens Business Society Team

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