Riding the technological wave of online shopping, Liz, as CEO of Set That, now works with stores and digital publishers, including bloggers, to optimise and streamline the shopping experience for busy women. This CEO role brings together all the skills Liz has developed over a 30 year career in Business Strategy, Sales and Marketing, Technology Design and Development, Project and Operational Management, HR and Finance. Liz has managed to successfully traverse that long and winding path from being a busy mum of three children under 3yrs and 3months working in a corporate role, through the years of being an exhausted working mother of three teenagers trying to balance “being there” for all those that needed her, to now being the CEO of her own successful online retail business with her three offspring almost ready to fly from the nest.
Breaking down retail barriers, Set That is an engaging social hub that makes online shopping easier, rewarding and more inspiring. The site provides access to over a million products in categories such as fashion, home, beauty and kids from global iconic stores like Saks on Fifth, Bloomingdales, Sportscraft, Saba, Anthroplogie and J Crew. Delivering an engaging and inspiring social shopping experience, Set That helps you to shop more efficiently with online guidance from others. Set That was launched in May 2013 and enables people to see a wide range of products from multiple stores on the one site. Other creative and talented site visitors have already styled these products into inspirational sets for you to browse. You don’t have to go searching for various pieces on different sites. If a set inspires you to shop, you can buy one or more of the products and the set creator is rewarded for their inspirational styling and sharing.
Seeing the lack of well designed online shopping sites that enabled shoppers to have an inspiring experience, we embarked on a project to transform the process. We wanted to create a site that would make online shopping easier, rewarding and more inspiring. Coming from a business background of designing and delivering new business processes enabled by technology, the massive growth of online retail seemed in need of some different thinking and approaches.
What was your first job?
My first job was for three years as a part-time sales assistant at Myer working in various departments and learning all about retail processes and the user experience of a shopper in the days before online shopping!
When you decided to start your own business, what was your big “why”?
In the beginning the why was more a “why not?”!! I had decided to take one year off consulting to have a change of pace and when the opportunity arose to create a new business from scratch,with everything that entailed, the timing seemed perfect. The importance of the “why” became more pronounced as time went on and the grind of starting a business started to become overwhelming. It became clear to me then that the “why” was to bring together all my skills to create a successful business that would underpin a charitable foundation.
What have you had to give up?
Starting a new business takes all your waking hours and energy for at least 12 months to two years. I had to give up time with my husband at night relaxing after dinner and any sort of social gathering during work hours! Pretty much no lunches, social tennis or golf, or coffee catch-ups for two years.
Your proudest achievement to date?
In business, I am most proud of the fact that I have been able to take on roles where the path was either undefined or ill-defined and then lead a team to achieve amazing outcomes. Generally in life, I am most proud of the fact that, with the help of a very supportive husband, I have been able to find the balance between my family and work life to successfully raise three amazing young people who are ready to take their place in society as contributing adults.
What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?
I think the projects have been most exciting are those where the outcomes have been a transformation of all three areas of culture, processes and skills. I have been involved in global rollouts of technology in publicly listed companies to transform processes and it is very exciting to see the change that creates within the company at all levels.
What would you tell your younger self not to do?
Don’t worry too much about what course you are going to study – but you know you don’t like Chemistry so why are you opting for Pharmacy!
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Trust your instinct. I have learnt over the years to listen much more to that inner voice without it having to scream at me before I stop to listen. Instinct is the distilling of your beliefs, values and experience into a quiet message that will guide you on the right path.
What’s next for you and your business?
2015 is shaping up to be a very exciting period of growth for Set That. 2013 was focussed on getting the technology right – I wish we had read “The Lean Startup” much earlier and more closely! 2014 was all about learning and relationship building – with social media, retail partners, new models of selling and marketing, digital publishing. 2015 is about Making it Happen!