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Chicks We Love: An Interview With Ingrid Bonner Of Homebodii & Her Advice For Female Entrepreneurs

Welcome to Chicks We Love! Here at Chip Chick, we love inspiring women to follow their business dreams while giving them the tools they need to make it happen.

Chicks We Love is our new series showcasing, well, chicks we can’t help but just love! Get ready to meet some of our favorite exciting female entrepreneurs and hear all about their wisdom for helping you to succeed too.

In this article, I caught up with Ingrid Bonner, Founder of Homebodii. Here is Ingrid’s inspiring story and her words of wisdom for you!

Photo courtesy of Ingrid

What was your inspiration behind starting your company?

At the age of 30, I decided to make my Homebodii dream a reality. Being new to the industry and without a design background, all I had was my own determination, and with raising a toddler I needed every bit I could muster. I first launched at a local market with the help of a local dressmaker.  

The direct feedback I received in these humble beginnings was the best market research I could have asked for and as a result, Homebodii began to mature into something very special. With determination and perseverance, Homebodii went from our spare room to a small factory. Fast forward through a lot of hard work, and we are now in a bigger factory with our own showroom, with my products being stocked in leading national and international retailers like David Jones and Nordstrom.

I managed the business with my sister Marianne for the first two years. Which roughly translates to; a 24hr email service, always being ‘on call’, first name basis with couriers, and wearing a measuring tape around my neck as my staple piece of jewelry. What we did in our early days was to listen to what our customers wanted by offering an excellent, personalized service to each and every one of them.

Organic growth and word of mouth has been a big factor in the success of Homebodii. Couple this with being picked up by international stockists like Revolve Clothing and Anthropologie and the brand has been put on the map globally.

What is your favorite aspect of the brand or product line?

Often when a new custom print or design is created it becomes the favorite. It has that ‘fresh new kid on the block’ appeal.

However, in saying that it is very hard to choose a favorite as our designs have evolved from our very first original pieces and they all have a close place in our hearts.

Each Homebodii design has its own unique story behind it, rooted in the brand’s vision.

What do you aim to accomplish in the next year?

Well, it’s definitely already been a big year for us; dealing with huge wholesale orders like never before and branching out into partnerships. At one point our whole premise was just boxes upon boxes, definitely a proud moment for me!  

Probably the most exciting thing I’m working on is the building of a new location for us! We are simply growing so fast and want to make sure our surroundings are reflective of that. I’m a designer so I’m looking forward to some interior decorating and design in our new office space, I’ve already started a mood board haha!

Photo courtesy of Ingrid

What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur?

With business growth comes more challenges, for us this has meant moving to a bigger premise and investing in more staff. Also, finding our way through the mine field of international business and logistics has been a bit of a mission in itself.

This is all in addition to the daily intricacies of manufacturing your own label that we have to navigate as well. I have had to rely more on my team and learn to have faith in their abilities to implement my vision for the brand.

What advice do you have for other women that would like to start their own company?

My biggest piece of advice is probably to make sure you are building your business for the right reasons! I think the largest aspect of my success has been my genuine desire to fill a gap in the market for the benefit of women.

Authenticity filters through into your products- being personally in love with what you are creating will mean you are prepared to put all the hard work and effort into ensuring everything is the best it can be.

Customers can see and feel the personal touch that we add to their lives, which is why it’s always been hugely important for me.

Why and how did you end up an entrepreneur? Was it a path you always envisioned pursuing?

Ten years ago, I was pregnant with my second child and working as a PR consultant for a French beauty brand that was entering into Australia. It’s so funny looking back now- it’s like what Steve Jobs said about connecting the dots in your life. This was truly a great foundation which served me enormously when it came to creating my own brand.

I learnt from industry professionals about the importance of a quality product and excellent customer service. At this stage, Homebodii was still a dream that was floating around in my consciousness. I am not really a big planner, I truly believe that you need to surrender to the universe and let the ebb’s and flows of life take you where you’re meant to be.

In saying that, hard work and determination must be applied alongside, as well as a true passion for what you are doing. I dived in to this with the intention to make garments that make women feel beautiful and that’s the core value I continue to stick to.

What tools do you recommend for other women who would like to be entrepreneurs?

There are so many wonderful tools available to us these days at either a very low cost or no cost at all. Social Media is of course a no brainer in today’s digital world, and ensuring you are prepared for online interactions with customers is a must.

Of course, each business will have different tools that work most effectively for their product so it’s hard to recommend blanket options that would suit everyone.

Photo courtesy of Ingrid

How do you overcome failure or fear?

This may sound a little cliché but when it comes to ‘failure’ it’s not really a word I believe in, in the traditional sense. I always view it as just a lesson to learn from. When something doesn’t go my way, it means there was obviously something I needed to learn from it.

Making mistakes is all a part of growing and evolving as a person and a brand. Next time you’ll know exactly what not to do! Fear is a natural reaction we have to things that are unknown to us.

Our mind tries to spin these elaborate stories about all the scary things that could happen, but at the end of the day you literally will not know until you try. Use that fear to propel you forward.

I guarantee you that every single successful person has felt fear and hasn’t let it hold them back from reaching the potential they knew they had within them. 

What habits contribute to your success?

Success to me is a feeling of fulfilling a desire or wish and having an outcome that enriches you and those around you, as well as making you grow as a person. Life is a journey; all the ups, downs, plot twists and curves are what makes it exciting.

I don’t see success in a material sense, it’s more about having a fulfilling lifestyle. Success to me is having a great family, a wonderful supportive network of friends, a rewarding job and being healthy. So, in that sense I do feel successful. I think everyone defines success differently, but at the end of my life I don’t want to have any regrets.

I’d rather spend my money on amazing experiences than designer handbags…although I do have a few of them too.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Oh yes, this is a big one! In my family the traditional roles have altered. My husband has definitely stepped up and is taking the children to school more, caring for them while I go on business trips and being more involved in the day to day raising of them.

Overall, there is a feeling of being a more equal contributor in the marriage and he has gained respect for me as a business person. I have been married for 11 years and together with my partner since I was 19, so we have gone through many chapters!

From raising small babies, working part time, juggling a new business and more, the relationship has matured and strengthened along the way.

What does your typical day look like?

I’m usually awake by 6:30 and try to be in the office by 9 or 10 depending on how much is going on that week. The one thing I like to do is pick the kids up from school so I’ll be in the office until 3pm, go pick them up, do the cooking and then start working again until night-time.

When it comes to running a business it’s really just about finding a balance that works for you. I always like to take things day by day, and naturally there are days that feel a bit chaotic and hectic, and days where everything flows.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

My family! They are and always will be the most important thing to me and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without being able to come home to all the love and support I receive from them.

Bre is a female millennial go getter residing in New York. One part entrepreneur, one part geek, she obtained her degree in Textile/Surface Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology.

She has held some exciting roles in both fashion as a designer working for brands like Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel, as well as in ad tech working for publishers like Ziff Davis.

Today she operates her own luxury label Bre Avery, along with Chip Chick Media which reaches millions of women each month.

Bre is passionate about teaching women how to build a business and be an entrepreneur, in addition to keeping her readers informed of the latest technology trends and exciting products to improve their lifestyles.

You can send Bre a message here.