Businesswoman, mother, traveller, friend: the life of women in the 21st century is dynamic and multifaceted. To celebrate this, over the coming months we will be profiling a series of interesting and accomplished women, to find out more about the layers that make up their life and style. Our first subject is Tina Clark, founder of Sagitine, a company that makes stylish shoe boxes and wardrobe storage solutions.
The mother of two young daughters - Sabine, 6, and Gisele, 4 - Tina left a career in the finance world to start her Sydney-based business almost three years ago. “They say necessity is the mother of all invention and it’s definitely true in this case,’ she says. “I searched for two years for beautiful storage boxes and when I couldn’t find any, I decided to make my own.”
Here’s what Tina has learnt along the way…
Never stop travelling
“Travel makes one very resilient and it really pays to be super organised. There is also the joy of learning about new cultures and places. I grew up on sheep farms in Boorowa and Yass in south west NSW, and didn’t leave Australia until I was 14 (a ski trip to New Zealand). Then I took off to Europe on my own for a year at 18. That was when I really got the travel bug. I’ve been lucky enough to live in Paris, New York and Hong Kong since then. Really I just travelled in all my holidays for 20 years. There is nothing more inspiring than visiting somewhere for the first time - my first trip to Tokyo is etched in my memory forever!”
Be open to new experiences
“Finance was the very last thing on my mind when I finished high school, however somehow I ended up as an assistant on an options trading desk at 19. A few years later, following an arts degree in French and political science, I found myself working in New York as an equity sales trader. An old friend offered me the job - I had no clue what it actually entailed but at the age of 23, I was just keen to go to New York! I had five years there and it was the most amazing time of my life. [I started Sagitine because] I had always wanted to have my own business and not be chained to a trading desk for 12 hours a day! We have just moved into a beautiful Art Deco apartment in Coogee and I work from my office there, with amazing views of the beach. It’s the first time since I started the business nearly three years ago that I have a separate office. It’s life-changing to have a desk and not have to clear everything off the dining room table each night!”
Persistence pays off
“The manufacturing of my storage boxes, [which are made from environmentally friendly, sustainable cardboard and trimmed with leather], has been a massive challenge. It took me a whole year and many, many rounds of samples to get to the quality I was happy with. I have now found a fantastic agent in Hong Kong and we are working with another group of factories. Happily, the quality just continues to improve. We are currently sampling some wonderful luxe versions of the box stands in leather and brass - they’re going to be gorgeous!”
Find the right supporters
“Terri Winter, the founder of [Australian retail design store] Top3bydesign, has really been my biggest champion. I was introduced to her early on in the development process and she has been a constant support ever since. I can only applaud her as an incredible retailer and also such an incredible champion of Australian design.
Embrace your environment
“Swimming in the ocean is my number-one love and so I have always lived at the beach in Sydney. After years of working 12-hour days (plus late nights spent in the bar), I love nothing more than being outdoors. I’ve always said New York is the best big city in the world and Sydney is the best lifestyle city. The joy of just stepping out the door and playing on the beach with my girls is hard to replicate anywhere else.”