This week we chat to Anchalee and Kirah, the 15-year-old co-founders of Meg & Indy. The Brisbane-based venture that the girls started in October 2019 creates eye-catching designs on reusable calico bags handmade cards featuring images taken by local photographers.
ISB: What was the motivation behind you setting up a business together at such a young age?
A&K: We both love a challenge and wanted to create something of our very own, to give us some more independence. We launched our business aged 14 with very little experience and high hopes. As we were naive, and still are, everything is a learning experience – from how to work Facebook to keeping on top of finances. Family has been a huge motivation, pushing us to try our hardest, and people doubting us has actually helped a lot, motivating us to prove them wrong.
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise up and running?
A&K: We have had many setbacks but what really challenged us was finding the right process to print bags. Sourcing eco-friendly, affordable equipment was extremely difficult. We wasted time and money on the wrong equipment in the beginning and that put the business on hold for months. This mistake was due to our lack of research and getting ahead of ourselves. We were very keen to start the business and hadn’t thought everything through – we quickly learnt that this was unrealistic. Although this rough beginning was unfortunate, it helped build resilience.
ISB: I understand sustainability is important to you both – how do you ensure that all your products meet that requirement?
A&K: Our main product, our calico bags, are ecofriendly, being made from 100 per cent cotton material, and soil-association approved, water-based ink. This means it is free from toxic chemicals which are often used in fabric ink. Our handmade cards focus on caring for the Australian wildlife by featuring native wildlife species, many of which are now endangered. As well as these main products we sell up-cycled cushions and other sewn items made from the scraps of the cushions. This minimises waste and gives used things a new life.
ISB: How have you gone about marketing and selling your products bearing in mind you don’t have a storefront?
A&K: We have struggled with marketing in the past but are beginning to get the hang of it. We attend markets – our main income source – regularly, although school and our social lives often get in the way! We also have an online store on Madeit, an Australian-owned company that facilitates businesses selling specifically handmade products. We chose to sell with them as a sign of support for other Australian small businesses. There is also less competition compared to other online stores and the pricing is fair and reasonable. Building our online presence has been a slow and steady process of posting daily and being active online to engage with our customers. We are growing our online following with “shoutouts for shoutouts” and involving ourselves in as many local handmade groups as we can.
ISB: What is your vision for the development of Meg & Indy in the next couple of years?
A&K: We hope to sell more products, such as earrings, which are a work in progress. We currently sell our products in three different gift stores and would love increase that. Ultimately we want our incomes to come from Meg & Indy, we are not sure when this will happen but are determined to get there.
ISB: Finally, what is the number one piece of advice you’d share with friends looking to go into business together?
A&K: Starting a business with anyone else can be challenging – sometimes ideas and hopes for the business don’t not line up. So, it’s important to discuss what your aspirations each of you hold before you do start one. You can get caught up in only working on the business when you’re together, which can be tiring and create a tense relationship – you also need to spend time together as friends. We have had our fights, but in the end they have built our relationship. I could never imagine doing this alone and regret nothing about us having the business together.