Christie Cook founded Avery Verse Bag Co in Sydney, Australia in July 2016. As a fashion lover, she loved luxury bags and wanted to be involved in producing them so that she could put her name to bags she found exciting. She knew two things: she wanted to create a high-end product and focus on quality.
When she combined those two perspectives, Avery Verse was born.
LIONESS: What makes product unique?
COOK: Our leather is vegetable tanned. This is a 6,000 year old artisanal process by which the leather is prepared for manufacture using bark, fruits and other natural products. It’s biodegradable and sustainable. Ninety percent of luxury bags are tanned with chromium which is carcinogenic and nonsustainable. Furthermore, we don’t mark up our prices to look ‘luxurious.’ The industry average is a 13 percent increase in pricing annually. That’s ridiculous. Instead we’re affordable (as we’re honest) yet luxurious.
LIONESS: You could have worked for anyone and would have been successful, why become an entrepreneur?
COOK: I have worked successfully for other people but realized that even a very good employer can’t invest in your passion as well as you can yourself. Yes, they’ll provide you with a steady pay check and some nice perks from time-to-time but they can’t provide you with the opportunities you can get for yourself as an entrepreneur. When working for others, there are limits to your expansion. When working for yourself, the sky’s the limit. I like that a lot. It’s a little scary but it’s also a wild and fun adventure.
LIONESS: What was your last, “why did I go into business for myself” moment?
COOK: I haven’t yet had that – hope I never do.
LIONESS: Every female professional should have a _____.
COOK: Quality handbag and a good attitude.
LIONESS: If you could steal some business mojo from another mogul, who would it be and why?
COOK: Richard Branson. His motto “screw it, let’s do it” is a good one. He seems pretty happy with his relaxed yet highly assertive approach to business.
LIONESS: What is your business motto?
COOK: Start global.
LIONESS: If you could give other entrepreneurs three tips, what would they be?
COOK: 1. Do a lot of research about your industry and product before starting up but don’t be dictated by research. The cold hard facts should guide your decisions to an extent, not turn you off business altogether or cause you to lose your passion for your work. When reading about other entrepreneurs there tend to be two camps; the overly optimistic, ‘you can’t fail’ camp and the pessimistic, ‘why try?’ tribe. Neither is a complete picture. Expect both highs and lows, stress and success when starting a new business. Success in business isn’t an event, it’s a process and a journey. 2. Be patient. Almost everything will take longer than you initially thought; manufacturing, web design, shipping, advertising…not everyone has the same definition of ‘deadline’ as the business owner. Manufacturers can have delays with orders due to things beyond their control too for example; public holidays and natural disasters. 3. Be prepared for expansion right from the start and keep working on building brand awareness. It’s easier to set systems up from the start rather than stopping something that’s in motion to re-organize. Know from the beginning where you are going; what’s your manufacturer’s upper limit with production? Can you realistically handle large orders? Really look at the logistics of expansion so you’re not caught off guard when you take-off.
LIONESS: Has there been a piece of technology or software that has been a lifesaver to you?
COOK: I’m going old school on this one and thanking the internet. Without it, we could never afford to do what we’re doing and it would take so much longer to launch a business. Just think, in the past if you wanted to set up a business, you’d have to visit a long list of people to determine who you’d use and you’d also have to make a ton of long distance phone calls (all of this would cost a small fortune and devour enormous amounts of time). Our business needed to launch online. I have a young son so there’s no way I could do this without Google by my side.
LIONESS: What is your goal for the next year?
COOK: To create greater brand awareness and to expand our line. 12) When someone is telling their friend about your business, what do you hope they say? I’d love for them to say, ‘I’m so excited about Avery Verse. They’re a bag business providing affordable luxury. They produce biodegradable, non-carcinogenic leather bags that can stylistically compete with more established brands. Where have you been all my life? (No doubt this person is a well versed fashionista).