DAILY MAIL - HANDBAG BUSINESS CREATION - 29TH MARCH 2020

Mothers who created a handbag business out of their garage turn over $1MILLION in their first year

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-8158797/Mothers-created-handbag-business-garage-turn-1MILLION-year.html

Best friends who launched a handbag business out of their garages turned over $1million in their first year after the brand took off internationally, specialising in neoprene fabrics, gym and laptop bags.

Hayley Norman, 37, and Tammy Bishop, 41, who are based in Adelaide, first came up with the idea for Willow Bay Australia over a few cocktails in 2017.  

'Both of us were loving the use of the neoprene fabric in fashion and had our own ideas about how it could be used. We both loved bright colours and handbags that have lots of practical features,' Hayley told FEMAIL.

Hayley Norman, 37, and Tammy Bishop, 41, who are based in Adelaide, first came up with the idea for Willow Bay Australia over a few cocktails in 2017

Hayley Norman, 37, and Tammy Bishop, 41, who are based in Adelaide, first came up with the idea for Willow Bay Australia over a few cocktails in 2017

But like most start up companies they had to start running Willow Bay from their houses to keep costs low, first working out of Tammy's garage and then using both of their garages
They are well known for their neoprene designs

But like most start up companies they had to start running Willow Bay from their houses to keep costs low, first working out of Tammy's garage and then using both of their garages

'We were both creative and had our own skill sets and we thought together we could create a company that allowed us to channel our creativity.'

Between the pair, they have expertise in finance, retail management, photography and even experience owning small businesses previously.

But like most start up companies they had to start running Willow Bay from their houses to keep costs low, first working out of Tammy's garage and then using both of their garages. 

After generating a $1million revenue in their first year, the ladies continued to garner a huge reach and grow rapidly

After generating a $1million revenue in their first year, the ladies continued to garner a huge reach and grow rapidly

'We moved to having both our garages full, then having two garages and a storage facility and now we have a warehouse and an office. Having a centralised place has made work life much less stressful,' Tammy said.

After generating a $1million revenue in their first year, the ladies continued to garner a huge reach and grow rapidly.  

'We released so many different designs in our first year of business, many different colours and features in our bags that our customers were really loving the optionality we had on offer,' Hayley said.

They put their success down to always placing a big emphasis on customer service, treating every single person with 'care and respect'. 

'We listen to our customers and ensure every single one of them is happy and we think this is a big part of our success,' Tammy said

'We listen to our customers and ensure every single one of them is happy and we think this is a big part of our success,' Tammy said

On top of running the Willow Bay company, both Tammy and Hayley are big believers in giving back to the community, and so do with regular charity commitments
'Put simply, we like to give back. We are approached regularly by charities whether it be schools, fundraising events etc asking for donations and we always donate,' Hayley said

On top of running the Willow Bay company, both Tammy and Hayley are big believers in giving back to the community, and so do with regular charity commitments

'We listen to our customers and ensure every single one of them is happy and we think this is a big part of our success,' Tammy said.

'We have always offered a 12 month manufacturers warranty on all our products too, we think this gives our customers peace of mind when purchasing.'

On top of running the Willow Bay company, both Tammy and Hayley are big believers in giving back to the community, and so do with regular charity commitments.  

'Put simply, we like to give back. We are approached regularly by charities whether it be schools, fundraising events etc asking for donations and we always donate,' Hayley said.

'Our largest markets are places like Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong and from what our customers are telling us, those places have more of a handle on the virus now,' Hayley said

'Our largest markets are places like Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong and from what our customers are telling us, those places have more of a handle on the virus now,' Hayley said

The ladies haven't noticed a decline in sales at all since the coronavirus pandemic, if anything, they have noticed an increase

The ladies haven't noticed a decline in sales at all since the coronavirus pandemic, if anything, they have noticed an increase

'We have donated hundreds and hundreds of bags to Share the Dignity, The Village Co, purchased tables at fundraising tables at the 65 Roses Ball for the past two years, donated to the bushfires, Red Cross, Catherine House, Children's Cancer and Westmead Children's Hospital. We have and will continue to help wherever possible.'

That will continue throughout the coronavirus pandemic, where they haven't found any reduction in online sales as yet.  

'Our largest markets are places like Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong and from what our customers are telling us, those places have more of a handle on the virus now,' Hayley said.

'We haven't had any decline in demand, the main hurdle we are facing at the moment is the freight delays in and out of Australia. Otherwise we are feeling very fortunate that our business is still progressing well. 

'So for now, it is business as usual and trying to remain as positive as we can. We are ensuring only one of us is working in the office at a time and when one of us leaves we are disinfecting the place with Glen20 to be safe.'    

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