“You’ve Got All The Variables Working For You”: The Style Cantina On Starting A Business In Your 40s

“You’ve Got All The Variables Working For You”: The Style Cantina On Starting A Business In Your 40s
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Heads up: our Women in Media Awards are TONIGHT! We’ve been prepping all week for this night of nights, and we’re pretty damn excited about it.

But not just because it’s a great industry night out; we think that recognising and celebrating all the inspiring women in our industry is of the upmost importance – which is why these awards are in their sixth year.

In fact, recognising powerful women in general is important. And what could be more powerful than quitting your job to start a business you’re passionate about?

That’s exactly what Michelle Thomas and Danika Johnston did about a year and a half ago.

They’re the leading ladies behind The Style Cantina, an online destination where women can find fun, colourful fashion and style inspiration. Some of the pieces are designed by Thomas and Johnston, and some are pieces they’ve found by chance – but all of them have one thing in common; bold designs.

This boldness has gifted the ladies with almost 12,000 followers on Instagram, where they originally launched their business.

“We just started taking info from lots of other women that dress beautifully with lots of bold colour and shouting out to them and trying to build this little community and then started to pre-promote that The Style Cantina was coming,” Johnston said.

The Style Cantina launched in November last year, and Johnston and Thomas used their media contacts and friendship networks to get the word out. They attribute their organic growth to a serious gap in the market for women over 35.

“It was relatively conclusive that there was this wide gap for women sort of 35 and up that love fashion and colour, but no one was speaking to them, let alone listening to them.

“We felt we were instinctincy on to something,” Thomas said.

“In that age bracket, you get forgotten about as a consumer a lot.

“Everything [in fashion] that was marketed to our age group was [very] beige and grey and not much else. We both love clothes, and we like to feel good about ourselves,” Johnston added.

Both women left their corporate roles and The Style Cantina was born in their living rooms and kitchens, and finally, on Instagram.

And Johnston said that women in their 40s, despite being ignored as consumers, were more confident than ever – confidence which could perhaps lead to starting a business like The Style Cantina.

“Quite often, at 40, you’re so wise, you’ve had a wealth of life experience behind you, which you certainly don’t have in your 20s or in your 30s, and with it comes this exuberance of confidence.

“You’ve got energy, and you’ve come disposable income, you’ve got all the variables working for you,” she said.

But the pair said starting their own business has been anything but easy: they have five children between them, and for these power women, the “struggle is real” trying to balance work life and family.

“It’s actually easier going to work everyday and managing a big team than it is to sit at our a kitchen table,” Thomas said.

“[But] when we’re together, we’re very focused and driven and productive because we don’t have a lot of hours in the day where its just the two of us.”

“Running your own business, you cant switch off, its your money, your throwing everything into it, and your so passionate about it. This has definitely been the hardest but probably the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” she added.

“If you’ve got an idea and you’re really passionate about it, just go for it. Have a crack and really back yourself. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”

B&T‘s Women in Media Awards 2018 will be held TONIGHT at Doltone House – Jones Bay Wharf. Find all other info on the website

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