My name is Sophie I am 28years old and I live in Byron Bay
STAR SIGN: Libra
MY PASSIONS: I’m passionate about travel and photography, and I am currently turning my mind to how I can create a business out of those passions. I’m very inspired by powerful women and anyone who has worked out how to live a non-conventional life. I’ve been most inspired by Timothy Ferriss and his concept of the Four Hour Workweek, and also Pareto’s 80/20 principal, in which 20% of effort yields 80% of results. I’m constantly trying to implement the 80/20 principal into my life.
I’m afraid I will not be able to financially provide for my family forever. I’m also afraid that through working too hard, I will miss parts of motherhood.
LOCAL SACRED LOCATION: Dolphin Beach, Byron Bay
MANTRA: Work Smarter, Not Harder.
I got into business and parenting at a young age. I was 23 when I fell pregnant and by the time Archie was 1yrs old I was onto my third business, FlockStocks, which was my first real business success. Now I co-own an app company, Applause Apps, which provides passive income for the family. My biggest thing is freedom, which I guess is what motivated me to get into business in the first place. Parenting scared me because I was young and I felt like I was just getting going, and building a powerful career was something I knew I wanted to do. But I’ve managed to balance life pretty well. In my relationship we are all about role reversal! Tim was mostly the stay-at-home dad and I was the go-getter. Now we spend a lot of time traveling. I love taking photos so sharing that journey on instagram is what I’m most into at the moment.
MY BUSINESS JOURNEY:
I created an automated business, support my family and now work one hour a week from anywhere in the world.
It sounds good, but it took a lot of hard work to get here.
I ran my first successful business when I was just 24, living in Byron Bay, NSW Australia with my partner Tim. At the time, I had just had my son Archie. Previously whilst working at the local cinema, I had tried my hand at another online business, selling 1950’s inspired dresses on eBay. I learned a lot from the failures of that first venture, and when the book ‘The Four Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss somehow landed in my lap, it resonated with me. Loudly.
I had always known there was more to life. I didn’t believe we had to spend our time doing things we didn’t enjoy or weren’t fulfilled by.
An actionable way to create this lifestyle I knew existed. It made so much sense to me that nothing could get in the way of me following-through on the idea. Not the sleep deprivation of being a new mother, or the fact that we had no spare cash to start a business.
The timing was almost comical. In a worst-possible-situation way. We had just gone broke during the Global Financial Crisis. With me pregnant, we were living in our home, all the rooms rented out and the property on the market. Try as we did we just could not hold onto the house and we lost it, and Tim’s local café business too.
With the money from the sale of the house, we payed back our debts and were left with $2,300 to our names, no assets, and me with my cinema shift work and a tiny baby… but I was busy hatching a plan.
During nap times I read and re-read 4-Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss) and carefully followed the steps, late into the night, or whenever I could sneak a spare moment. In the book it mentions creating a list of potential ideas for businesses by using the Adwords Keywords Tool. I already had some understanding in the beauty section and so whilst searching in that general area I uncovered the rising trend of Feather Hair Extensions. The competition on that keyword was low and the global monthly searches were pretty high. I decided to test the idea. I set up a testing website using Weebly and made 11 “sales” in four hours! It proved it was a winner before I had invested any money.
So, with the very last of our money (and one last foray onto the credit card), I began FlockStocks Feather Hair Extensions. It was really hard to get hold of the feathers, but I tracked them down and began selling. I figured out how to make my own website with Shopify and I was off… and it was crazy! The store took off, at the speed of light. I was one of the only advertisers using Adwords ads for the words “feather hair extensions”. I was getting so much traffic to the site, and I had nearly no competitors. Meanwhile, celebs were being spotted everywhere wearing the feathers and the trend was skyrocketing. Every teen in America wanted feathers in their hair. I was off and running, selling over $100,000 in my first month. Not in time to save the house unfortunately, but perfect timing for a fresh start in life.
We serendipitously opened our FlockStocks store with Shopify whilst they were running their second annual Build-a-Business competition. The contest was a global revenue based contest open to all new stores launched with Shopify. FlockStocks was the front-runner for maybe 7 of the 8 months the contest ran for. The cash prize for 1st place was $100,000 and to meet Tim Ferriss in person. I couldn’t believe what was happening in my life and how much things had changed from just a few months before.
At the final hour, another business, Coffee Joulies, pipped me at the post for first. We ended up winning our category (jewellery and apparel) but not the overall. We won a trip to the States, $25,000 in cash and a lunch date with Seth Godin at his office, one of my ultimate business gurus. It was a priceless, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I still can’t believe it happened. It was the beginning of an exciting climb back.
We couldn’t save the house, but we did what we always threatened we would do, if ever things went bad for us. We put all our stuff in storage and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. We lived in a villa on Koh Samui for about 4 months. After all the stress of losing the house and having our first child, it was bliss. Eventually we missed Australia and decided to come home.
Rather than be reckless with the savings from FlockStocks, I decided to go back to the cinema and keep building a stable financial future. I was on a high from all the excitement of the Shopify win, all the public interest in my story, and the satisfaction of creating a successful store from scratch. But the feather trend was dying out so I bided my time, full of confidence, keeping eyes peeled for the next opportunity.
Through Tim Ferriss’ blog, I heard of Chad Mureta who was running a course on how to make apps. I always loved the idea of a digital product. No shipping, inventory, rent or staff, the perfect lifestyle business. So I joined up.
I roped in a friend, Stephi, from the cinema and we gave it a shot. We decided to make photography apps, based on doing some market research and seeing what was trending. That was about three and a half years ago. Our very first app was a hit and we haven’t looked back. We have about 35 apps on the store now with a pretty decent passive income. At times our apps have been ranked higher than Facebook, Clash of the Clans and a lot of big apps. We have over 20 million downloads now and work no more than 1 hour per week currently. It has become a true lifestyle business, which supports both our families and allows us to now do what we love, which is travel and be with our friends and family.
When we started, we hadn’t downloaded any apps, we had no programming skills, and worked at a job that consumed around 40 hours per week. We shared a desire to search for a better existence, one that allowed us to do all the things in life we were born to do. I did have experience from FlockStocks, but it was all self taught. We had no particular advantage, education or financial support. Just had a strong inclination to make it work.
Now I can say I’ve checked off a lot of items on my bucket list, thanks to the businesses I’ve built. Apart from meeting Seth Godin in New York, I’ve also managed to thank Tim Ferriss in person, been published in books and magazines, attended international conferences in San Francisco, Toronto and San Diego, been on the Four Hour Workweek blog, lived and travelled overseas and heaps of other personal achievements.
I am now onto my third business venture and would classify myself as a serial entrepreneur. The business I started with Stephi in 2012 making apps has been extremely liberating, and a great follow up to the excitement of Flocktocks. Now we are both working a travel blog and app as a passion project and seeking new opportunities in lots of different areas. Recently I’ve begun sharing my journey with the world via instagram on my account @tribeintow where I share my passion for photography and my thoughts on travel, family and entrepreneurship.
You can follow Sophie on instagram here