Small business owner and jewellery designer, Teresa Tiong took her knowledge and expertise from the fashion industry and launched her own jewellery label, Au Revoir Les Filles. By designing and creating one-of-a-kind pieces, Teresa has taken the jewellery industry by storm, with prominent Australian celebrities wearing her designs on television. We sat down with Teresa to find out more about being a small business owner and entrepreneur.
Tell us a little bit about you
I studied Hauté Couture in Paris, and worked in the Australian fashion industry for over 10 years, designing for Manning Cartell, Sass & Bide and Charlie Brown. I’ve been really lucky to design for these iconic brands, the experience and mentoring I got was incredible.
When I design for others, I have to take their ethos and aesthetic into consideration, merging it with my own style. This led to me dreaming of having my own brand, to be totally free and creative with my designs. I finally took the plunge, and a few years ago I launched my jewellery label Au Revoir Les Filles.
Tell us about Au Revoir Les Filles
I design modern heirlooms. Growing up in Singapore, I was always inspired by books, film and stories. These inspirations formed the themes of my collection, from Memento Mori to white alchemy. I also look at antique jewellery passed down from my grandmother to my mother and down to me when designing.
Our target market is 18-34 year old women who love effortless style and a je ne sais quoi Parisian vibe. The jewellery is dainty and fine, perfect for layering. They add a delicate lux to any outfit. We only use natural gemstones, and the designs are crafted in sterling silver / 14K with hand-set Australian opals, freshwater pearls, rose quartz, pale pink and grey tourmaline diamonds.
What was the hardest part about starting your own business?
Everything was so tough! Setting up a business from scratch, the admin work, sourcing reliable suppliers, managing finances and time – it was a big learning curve. I’ve always been a designer so that part comes very naturally to me. But when you have a business, you have to wear so many different hats, and it can get very stressful and overwhelming.
Being organised is key, and the more you do something, the better you get at it. It’s important to be kind to yourself, and allow mistakes to happen and grow from it. You are not your business, so learn to compartmentalise. Exercise, eat well, chat with other business owners, get support and advice. Keep yourself healthy mentally and physically!
What do you enjoy about running your own business?
It gives me a thrill every single time I get compliments on the designs. I’m so grateful to our loyal customers who come and visit us at our pop-ups, and it’s been incredible hearing how they layer and wear the jewellery. I love getting their feedback and it often gives me inspiration for new designs.
Flexibility is a big plus. I can work to my hours, and my day-to-day is not regulated to just being at a desk. I can meet my mentor, go to a tradeshow, meet friends over coffee to brainstorm new ideas.
One of the best things is definitely the amazing people I’ve met who never fail to inspire me with what they are achieving with their own businesses. Talking to them and getting advice has been invaluable to me, and I’ve cultivated some great friendships along the way.
Any business achievements you are particularly proud of?
We’ve had quite a few celebrities wear our jewellery, like The Veronicas and Delta Goodrem. It happened out of the blue. We got contacted by their stylists and suddenly the designs are on The Aria Music Awards and The Voice!
Why do use QuickBooks?
I was managing our finances on an Excel spreadsheet and it started to get really hard once the business grew. Quickbooks really made it easy for us. It was cloud-based and got rid of a lot of unnecessary paperwork. The customer service has been great and provided a lot support, so it made it easy for us to get it up and running in no time.
What features of QuickBooks do enjoy the most?
I like the Smart Automation part of QBO. It learns how you sort your expenses and income, and creates customisable rules for them so you can do it quickly in the future. I also really like the layout, it’s very modern and easy on the eye, very intuitive and easy to navigate.
What’s next for Au Revoir Les Filles?
Growing the business in an organic and sustainable manner. A lot of our customer base is Australian, but I would really like to focus on international this year, as the overseas market is so much larger.
What advice would you give fellow entrepreneurs?
Analyse the market and make sure there is a niche for your business. There are so many hidden costs associated with starting and running a business, it’s really important you get your budget right – you don’t want to be overstretched and not have enough cash flow.