Sunshine Trader is a brand new home decor shop in the heart of Brunswick heads in Northern NSW. We chatted to Sheridan Knell about her passion for the art of gift giving and local and handmade products.
You’ve only just opened up your doors - describe the last 4 months.
I know it’s a cliché but it really has been a dream come true! I opened my doors on the first of November last year, just in time for the Christmas and holiday craziness, so I am still taking it all in. I’m feeling very lucky though. I’ve made great connections with some terrific people. Both my suppliers and the customers coming through the doors have all been super supportive. I’m stoked to be open!
Looking back would you change anything or do anything differently?
Mmm….the benefit of hindsight would be handy! (Laughs) I think in the process of setting up and opening the doors I have learnt a lot, and if I hadn’t had a few bumps in the road it might not have turned out how it has. I’d maybe make a few logistical changes like having the website operational a little earlier – I’m just getting to it now.
What were you doing before you opened?
I was Operations Manager at Harvest Cafe in Newrybar. I’ve been in the tourism and hospitality industry around Byron Bay and the Gold Coast since I left school. I think that was a great learning environment to lead me into this adventure. In that time I also completed a Bachelor of Business in Event Management.
What was your reasoning for starting up your own business?
I have wanted to do this for a very long time! Perhaps it stems back to my childhood…I have great memories of birthday’s and Christmas with my family. It has made me love the art of the gift of giving. I also grew up around craft markets. My mum is a jewellery designer and used to sell her work on weekends up and down the coast. I have an appreciation of handmade and local, so to be able to source and sell unique products, made by designers and artists with ethical values feels right.
Did you have the capital in the bank to just go for it?
Not really, but I did it anyway! (Laughs.) It would have been nice to have had more funds for the startup, but I made do with what savings I had. I also sold my car and was lucky enough to have very supportive people around me to help out. Because funds were tight I had to be smart with the decisions I made and where the money was spent.
Some people keep their business just online. Were you ever worried about opening up a store in a small coastal town?
Not really. I’m such a people person. I couldn’t imagine just doing the online thing and not having a shop front. I have always lived in the area and in the last couple of years have seen changes and growth in Brunswick Heads and thought the time was right.
Did you have a business plan or a vision before you opened up the store?
(Laughs.) Definitely had a vision, kinda had a business plan! I was working full time up until about a month before opening, so it was a challenge juggling everything, but somehow it all fell into place.
What was it like setting up the place?
I had amazing support and encouragement from my family and friends. My concepts and ideas were brought to reality with the help of our friends, Fran and Allan. Their time, creative ideas and amazing building skills led to a shop fit out completed on a budget.
What’s the best thing about being your own boss?
It is such a good feeling to be able to make decisions in line with my values. I’m a hard worker and now I’m working hard for myself.
You’ve so many different designers and merchandise in your store, yet it all flows so effortlessly. How do you do that, and do you have tips for someone who may lack that skill?
If you ask my partner, Leon, he would tell you that I spend an awful lot of time searching the web, Instagram, lifestyle blogs and Pinterest looking for new artists and designers! I had people whose work I’ve followed for quite a while that I really wanted to stock. I love the idea of local brands and supporting the creators of new and exciting things. If I am excited about a product it works because the customers sense my enthusiasm.
What are your Top Tips for starting your own business?
1. If you feel passionate about an idea and are willing to put in the time and energy, absolutely give it a go.
2. Follow your heart and stay true to yourself.
3. Always smile!
Where can we find you?
Shop 1/16 The Terrace, Brunswick Heads, NSW, 2483 (Store front on Fingal Street).
Best way to contact you?
Instagram - @sunshinetrader
Facebook – Sunshine Trader
or Email me at email@example.com.