It’s hard enough starting one successful business, let alone three. But hard work didn’t stop Erika Geraerts from taking on her three brands: Willow & Blake, LBSS Cafe, and frank body. Today she talks to us about how she got her start, the best advice she received, and why she decided to commit to all three brands at only 26.
Twitter handle: @erikageraerts
Location: Melbourne, Australia
School: Star of the Sea College, Monash University (Journalism).
Secretly Obsessed With: Listening to other peoples’ conversations.
On My Nightstand: Flowers, a glass of water, a cup of tea, a lamp, a photograph, a notepad, a book or three – currently: Nora Ephron: I remember nothing. David Foster Wallace: A supposedly fun thing I’ll ever do again.
Last Thing You Read: Dan Barber, The Third Plate. Also, David Foster Wallace: This is Water.
How did you get started?
I was offered a job straight out of (while finishing) university in copywriting and social media – I worked for almost two years before feeling the itch to go out on my own. Two of my best friends, Bree and Jess were in a similar position – we all had a love of writing and decided to create a content agency, Willow & Blake – something we felt like was missing from the Melbourne communications front. We hustled to get work from our friends and their friends, anyone who would let us write for their business or brand. It slowly grew from one client to ten to more, from two staff members to 7. Now we share an office with frank body – our second business which was born from the idea that we were creating content strategies for clients – why not do it for ourselves. Meanwhile one of our business partners Steve came across the idea for the original coffee scrub product when he had two women come into his cafe asking for left over coffee grinds to use as a body exfoliator. The rest you could say is history. Oh, I got hungry and tired along the way so decided to make a cafe with four friends, LBSS. It helped with the hunger, not so much the tired.
What made you want to start not one, but three businesses?
Boredom? Naivety? And very clever people around me that I couldn’t say no to.
How did you break into the global market with Frank Body?
Social media was the key driver to frank’s initial success. Today it’s a mix of this, PR, digital and print advertising, and a lot of face time.
Tell us about your daily routine?
Wake up – exercise in the form of stretching some things or punching others- go to LBSS and eat the same thing every time, or make breakfast at home. Drive to work, write emails, sit in meetings while writing emails, talk to people while writing emails, write copy in between writing emails. Do you notice a trend? See friends for dinner or cook at home, write some more emails, read something, listen to something, stare at something, sleep. Start again.
What key elements played into your success?
Kindness, curiosity, patience, persistence, coffee.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?
Be kind. Be a sponge. Don’t ask of one person what we used to ask of a village.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
Heaps. No money, no inspiration, no patience, no motivation. Conflict etc. It’s all a part of the complex ride.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
My best pal, Charl.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? When do you feel most successful?
Willow & Blake, going out on our own and providing a job for four other incredibly talented writers/employees. I feel most successful when I receive one email from a client thanking us for our work, or one pat on the head from my best friend.
What advice would you give to girls looking to enter your industry/space?
Be kind, curious, patient, and persistent.