The Leap Stories #29: Kate Pierce

With a love for small batch designers, her Australian homeland and the feel-good act of gifting, Kate Pierce realised there was a gap in the market. In 2012, Kate quit her corporate job in project management and set up Antipodean Love, bringing together the best of Australian and New Zealand gifts, homewares and souvenirs for discerning gift givers  – with the help of with husband James (the in-house IT manager!), daughters Ruby and Bella and their cheeky german short haired pointer Lulu.

It was on the career break with her new born baby and some time her hands, that Kate had time to marinate the idea for her business. A session with a career counsellor then sealed the deal. With a bittersweet inheritance, a call of intuition and a rough business plan Kate took her project management skills and turned them on herself!

Antipodean’[an-tip-uh-dee-uhn] means ‘people or things that come from or relate to Australia and New Zealand’ and that’s what Antipodean Love is all about. Kate now runs her online store from Ballarat in regional Victoria, and proudly support ‘home grown’ designers’ across Australia and New Zealand and their small batch goods. And in the spirit of gift giving, Kate has generously offered a beautiful giveaway to one lucky reader. Scroll down for details.

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What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

I wanted to be a lawyer or own an ice cream shop, I saw major benefits for both! I loved writing lists and following rules and I am also partial to a gelato or two. I did also have a strong desire to join DFAT and work overseas but this was a very romantic notion of me flitting around the globe on international postings.

What did/do you study?

I studied a double degree at uni. Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Management and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Mandarin Chinese. I had never studied Mandarin before but I remember thinking that this was going to be a major market for Australia and an area for huge growth and potential. It also tied in nicely with my DFAT dream.

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Hand-wrapped online orders packaged with love from Antipodean Love ready to go out to customers.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

There have been a few but I would honestly have to say it was when I packed up my life and moved to Shanghai when I was 21 and had just finished university. I remember lying in bed the night before my flight buzzing with excitement and also absolutely petrified with fear. I moved over with two friends, we did not know a soul and basically created a life for ourselves in an amazing, crazy, foreign country. It was not easy but we put ourselves out there and some gorgeous expats took us under their wings. You get back what you put in and we were so fiercely determined. It was an amazing crazy time, maybe a little too crazy but I learnt so much of myself. I took myself out of my comfort zone and I felt in control of my destiny and felt that only good things could happen. The naivety of youth is bliss.

What were you doing before you made your leap?

Before my Shanghai leap I was at university. Before my current leap to Antipodean Love there were many many leaps to get to this point. I had always wanted to start my own business and have something of my own. After having my first child, Ruby, this fire in my belly definitely grew and I really wanted to make it happen. I wanted something that was going to work with my family and also give me something for myself.

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Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

My biggest influencers are the people that have instilled a confidence, and believed, in me.

My husband James has an amazingly positive influence on my life both personally and professionally. We met through work many years ago and now work together on Antipodean Love. James makes me feel a peace and confidence that I cannot put in to words. I am the volatile one and he keeps me grounded and focused, I am eternally grateful that I took that job at Telstra many years ago and met him.

My good friend Jo is amazing! She has achieved incredible things and taken huge leaps many times over. She has instilled in me that you must have courage in your convictions, back yourself and feel the fear. I have always felt so supported and nurtured by her, she is my constant cheer squad. We have our own mutual admiration society.

Another amazing influence on my career was not a person in particular but a team. When I worked in the United Kingdom I worked on a project to offshore work to India. It was an aggressive and high level project and I was the youngest in the team by far. I was pushed way beyond what I believed were my capabilities, I felt respected and was made to feel very confident. This work experience presented me with so many opportunities. I worked in India, managed teams in both continents, it was amazing.

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

For Antipodean Love I would love to say that I had a rock solid business plan in place but this was definitely not the case. I had a notebook scribbled with ideas, figures, feedback and ramblings. I had the support of my family and my gut kept telling me that I needed to do this. I needed to trust in myself, let go of the fear and do it anyway. As I started this business up between having my gorgeous girls it really does feel like my own non human baby. I created this venture from conception to inception, it is mine and something that I am very proud of.

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What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?

I needed something for me! In the newborn haze of my first born we were living in Canberra and I knew very few people. There was a lot of one-on-one time with my bub and a lot of time to think and workshop things with myself. When we moved back to Melbourne I went and saw an amazing career counselor and I remember leaving the session and essentially having a light bulb moment, the idea and concept of Antipodean Love was born.

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

You need to have courage in your convictions, trust your gut and add a little sprinkle of optimism. Life is an amazing journey, full of changes and leaps. If you do not move forward you will not evolve as a person and realise the many amazing opportunities that are out there. I also genuinely believe that people want to help you and see you succeed. This I have really felt since moving to Ballarat, we have built an amazing community here and one that has been extremely beneficial for us. You get out what you put into life, feel the fear and let it propel you forward. You are capable of amazing things and, to be honest, for me I have really only come to realise this after being pushed beyond measure.

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How did you fund your leap?

My father had recently passed away and I received an inheritance. I remember at the business planning stage thinking to myself that I would allocate $10,000 to the venture and see what happened. The worse that could happen would be that I would lose those allocated funds. I saw it very much as nothing ventured nothing gained and a risk that I had to take. I must also hasten to add that I also had the added security of husband working full time so that was a definite security blanket for us.

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What other leaps have you made in the past?

I have made so many. I have lived overseas a number of times, changed jobs and lived in too many places to remember. Life is full of leaps, be them big or small. The personality that I have means this will be a constant and ever evolving feature. We get one shot at this life thing and it is not something to be wasted wondering about the what ifs.

What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?

I have been very fortunate and can honestly say that I have not had any leaps that have not worked out to an extent that has been detrimental to my health, wealth and happiness. I have taken the leap when an opportunity has presented itself, run with it and when it has run its course been presented with another leap and taken it! That, for me, is what life is all about.

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Just a few of the gorgeous prints on offer at Antipodean Love.

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

Apart from my crazy heart-stopping irrational fear of mice and rats and the fears that everybody holds for their loved ones, it would have to be self doubt. I am a little prone to dramatisation and over analysing things. There are days when I can feel totally off track and a bit of a fraud.

Essentially I have come to realise that with the support of good people around me and in taking a step back anything is possible. While that doubt may always be there, fundamentally you have to trust your gut and take calculated risks that will move you forward.

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How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.

I would say I am currently sitting on an eight. I am very happy with where I am at and where my business is tracking.

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

Having my own business has given me something for myself which I so desperately sought in the fog of being of a new mum. It also allows me flexibility which in this crazy ride of motherhood is a major plus!

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

Having your own business consumes you (well it does me) and while the flexibility is a major plus it also has the downside of a lot of late nights due to helping out at school with my eldest or running around for all the activities. But you know what, I would not have it any other way! I get through it by accepting that this is why I started having my own business in the first place. I wanted to be around for my kids and if that means a few late nights a week due to be present for them then so be it!

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What might be your next leap?

We have just moved into our own designated space/office which is very exciting. I managed to contain the business in our home for as long as possible but it was starting to take over our lives. We needed a boundary between work and life balance, we also needed to regain some seriously needed room in our humble home.

What are your favourite words to live by?

“This too shall pass.” This has held me in good stead both personally and professionally. When you are deep in the trenches things can feel never ending, it may take time but things change and they do evolve.

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Who do you admire who also made the leap?

There are so many small business owners that I admire, too many to mention. If you are giving it a go and have kids in tow I tip my hat to you. I have never met her but what Allison Jones from Lark has created is really impressive.

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

Do it, do it, do it! There will be periods of doubt, it is not going to be easy but, boy-oh-boy, you will feel the rewards. Believe in yourself, if you never do it, you will never know. Be confident in your concept, be willing to evolve and change. Work hard, be nice and good things will happen. Things do take time but with patience and determination you will be amazed what you can achieve and having your own business is so rewarding and fulfilling.

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Right now I’m:

Hearing: Pumping myself up with Pharrell Williams – Freedom
Eating: Sharing a snack with my little one
Drinking: Coffee from the sensational Vegas and Rose the first of many for the day
Reading: Would love to say a book but in reality my iPhone
Loving: When I get to sleep in past 7am on a weekend
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GIVEAWAY! To win this delicious care package above for you (or a loved one) from lovely Kate and her store Antipodean Love, which includes a gorgeous Salus Organic Lemon Myrtle & Ginger Heat Pillow, Salus Organic Lavender & Black Salt Body Soak and Chai Latte Soy Candle by Pigeon & Weasel , head on over to Instagram and tell us your favourite antipodean designer to enter!

Much love, Kylie x

ps. Here’s a little Freedom for you this Sunday evening


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