This is a LMBDW member submission by Alison McLeod.
Personalised Favours company founder and online entrepreneur, Melissa Wilkinson, began an e-Bay business in her garage nine years ago.
Through a whole lot of blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice, the business has been transformed from a backyard operation into a multimillion dollar international enterprise, operating throughout Australia and the US.
This is her story.
In the beginning
Mel always knew she had to be successful because she loves expensive stuff.
With a degree in Industrial Design (Hons) and a background designing product ranges for clients including Disney, Adidas and David Jones, Mel is passionate about designing and creating beautiful, innovative products with a sentimental edge.
Her own engagement caused Mel to observe a gap in the wedding market for original, personalised, reasonably-priced wedding products, so she set out to rectify the situation by establishing an online store to fill this void…and the rest is history.
A strong support network
Mel learned early on that she couldn’t do everything. If she was to succeed, she needed to rely on a strong and supportive network of family and friends to help along the way.
From having her parents pack orders in front of the television at night to calling on her friends to courier jobs that wouldn’t otherwise have made it in time, a strong support network has been a major contributing factor to overall business success.
Joining forces with her brother-in-law, Matthew, in 2013, was a turning point for the business. Matt’s technical prowess enabled PF to embrace new technologies and continually innovate in the online space — essential for growing sales and staying ahead of the game in the rapidly changing e-commerce market.
From employing her first employee without having the budget to pay her, to manually delivering her initial orders because Australia Post didn’t consider her volume large enough to qualify for an e-parcel account, Mel has persevered in the face of adversity more times than she cares to remember.
Moving from her home to her first factory marked a major milestone for the PF brand, as people began to take both Mel and the business seriously.
Having outgrown two more warehouses since then, another recent move to an 1800m² factory premises on the scenic NSW Central Coast allows all artwork, design and product customisation to take place onsite and sees PF well-placed to continue to grow at the same rapid rate well into the next few decades.
Now operating under the umbrella of Foresight Online Group Pty Ltd, the business currently incorporates six successful e-commerce marketplaces, employs 20 staff and dispatches more than 2500 orders across Australia, Asia-Pacific and the US every month.
Sharing her story
Mel is sharing her story to encourage women everywhere to support one another and inspire other young women to achieve their goals.
She is hoping to highlight how supporting and empowering one another can help every woman realise her dreams.