Q&A: If you go down to the woods today…

This week we chat to Ebby Carson, founder of Little Bird Boutique Events. Intent on satisfying her creativity, Ebby transitioned from a career in corporate governance to build a business offering Sydneysiders a bohemian picnic experience.

ISB: What was the inspiration behind you giving up a successful corporate career and founding Little Bird?

EC: The main reason was I was just burnt out. I have been in the corporate world since I was 18 and I wanted to try something different and embrace my creative side. I’ve always been involved in creating events and wanted to do something in that area. I also wanted more time with my family. My son was in daycare from the age of eight months and then in before and after school care since he started school. I didn’t want to miss out on this precious time with him.

ISB: And how have some of the skillsets that you acquired working in governance and events helped you in your own venture?

EC: I think they’re skills I was born with to be honest, just ask my mum about the concerts I would organise as a child! I am extremely organised with a fine attention to detail and I love arranging events. In my corporate career I learnt to deal with high-pressure situations and stress, as well as expectations from clients. The events world is completely different from my role in governance but I am the same person in both.

ISB: Conversely, what was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise up and running?

EC: I had worked very hard for 20 years so I was able to invest properly in the business and give it the time it needed to become profitable. My biggest challenge was just getting my name out there and competing with so many other businesses. I had to make my offering unique and I worked with a business coach who helped me see the biggest selling point of my business was me. Putting myself out there as the face of the brand is when things really took off.

ISB: The socially intimate nature of the service you offer means COVID-19 will have had a significant impact on Little Bird’s operations – what happened when the virus first hit, and how have you managed your way through the crisis?

EC: When the virus first hit everything just shut down for three months. I had a few jobs for couples and small families so was able to keep myself busy and the business moving, but financially it was a huge hit. Once restrictions started lifting, particularly once we got up to social gatherings of 20, things really picked back up. I am now busier than I was before the crisis. The beauty of the business is that we can operate with small numbers, it’s designed that way. We can also spread people out because it’s not a traditional party with people seated at tables indoors so we can adhere to restrictions better than most.

ISB: What is your vision for the development of Little Bird in the next couple of years?

EC: My ultimate goal is obviously to be as financially successful as I was in my corporate career. I’d love to have staff and a premises so we can offer more services. Being a sole trader means I can only take on so much myself and running the business from our home at the moment means I can only acquire so much stock. I would love a storefront where clients can come and view our inventory and meet me face to face.

ISB: Finally, what is the number one piece of advice you’ve learnt on your start-up journey you’d share with others looking to give up the relative safety of a salaried role to start their own business?

EC: It’s actually a piece of advice Jim Carey gave to the 2014 graduating class of Maharashi University of Management. He said, you can always fail at something you don’t love, so you might as well go out and try something you do love! That just hit me. I have the respect and qualifications in my corporate field, so I can always go back to that. It was just time for me to give something I had always wanted to do a chance, and being your own boss is pretty awesome as well! My advice is start it as a side hustle, go part time in your corporate gig first if you can to test the waters – that made it crystal clear for me where I wanted to be.

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