There are so many fascinating and inspiring stories that sit behind brand names and company banners. Today’s pick of Australian businesses offer us an insight into the world of fashion, food waste, landscaping and going out on your own. Each business took courage, determination and a leap of faith.
There’s a renegade in all of us, sometimes it’s just a matter of letting that voice be heard. Make yourself a cuppa and get ready to be inspired.
A Repurposed Life by Ronni Kahn & Jessica Chapnik Kahn
Life throws us mysterious ingredients. If we are brave enough to put the recipe aside and experiment, it’s right there that things get interesting. As the owner of a successful events company, throwing away huge volumes of leftover food at the end of the day came with the territory. But when Ronni Kahn hit midlife, she found herself no longer able to turn a blind eye to her food waste problem. Hand delivering the untouched food to homeless shelters around Sydney became her renegade solution. Little did she know that fixing her small problem at work would lead her to unlock a hidden purpose at the very core of her inner life. Now founder and CEO of the food rescue organisation OzHarvest, Ronni leads hundreds of staff and thousands of volunteers with the goal to nourish Australia. She serves in an advisory capacity to government and is an instrumental leader in changing federal laws to improve social justice and environmental policies. A Repurposed Life is the story of how Ronni found her voice, her heart and her deepest calling. From her early years growing up under the brutal system of apartheid South Africa, to a socialist commune in Israel, Ronni finally settled in Australia to discover a profound new way of living. Shared with the humour, warmth and energy that have made her an internationally renowned keynote speaker, this heartfelt exploration of the choices that define us will speak to anyone seeking a more passionate expression of being alive.
Jim’s Book:The Surprising Story of Jim Penman Australia’s Backyard Millionaire by Catherine Moolenschot
We all know Jim’s. Maybe you just passed a Jim’s Mowing trailer on the road; or maybe there’s a Jim’s Cleaning van parked across the street each Tuesday morning; or maybe your best mate is laughing all the way to the bank after quitting the city and starting his new Jim’s Fencing franchise, but do you know the real story behind the Jim’s Group and its founder, Jim Penman? Brutally efficient, socially awkward, and a tireless perfectionist, Jim is as complex and fascinating as the Jim’s Group. This book is a warts-and-all look at his colourful life that delves deep into how he ignored conventional thinking to turn a few mowing rounds into a corporate juggernaut built on always putting the customer first. Jim’s unique approach revolutionised Australia’s business landscape, providing thousands of people the opportunity to create and grow their own businesses. Most Australians know very little about the man who created one of the nation’s most famous companies. For all of his success, Jim is remarkably unassuming and approachable. In this authorised biography, author Catherine Moolenschot sat down with Jim and over one hundred people who know him, from franchisees and franchisors, to family, friends, and adversaries, to get up close and personal with the surprising story of one of Australia’s biggest brands and the man who made it all happen. Jim’s Book tells the fascinating story of the man and the business that bears his name. Equal parts biography, history and philosophy, this book takes readers on a journey through one man’s remarkable life.
Kiwi: The Australian Brand that Brought a Shine to the World by Keith Dunstan
You probably have a tin of shoe polish tucked under the laundry sink bearing the little bird logo that has been in homes around the globe for over a century. Founded in Melbourne by William Ramsay in 1906, Kiwi is one of the most iconic and enduring international brands ever to have come out of Australia. One of Australia’s best-loved journalists, Keith Dunstan tells the remarkable story of the Ramsay family and how they created and nurtured the Kiwi brand. Always quick to seize a marketing opportunity, the Ramsays sent Kiwi to England with the Anzacs in World War I, putting a brilliant shine on belts, bridles and leggings as well as boots. Soon there was a Kiwi factory in London, and in time Kiwi ran 24 factories worldwide, selling more than 250 million cans of shoe polish annually.In his inimitable warm and chatty style, Dunstan follows the fortunes of the Ramsay family as they built the Kiwi brand over the decades: business decisions good and bad, grand houses, the latest cars, constant travel, and their marriages, quarrels and friendships. He also tracks the clever advertising strategies that kept Kiwi in the public mind, including the notorious sign that caused traffic accidents in Richmond in the 1960s. Richly illustrated in full colour, Kiwi is the fascinating inside story of one of Australia’s great families, as well as one of its great brands.
Chapter One by Daniel Flynn
The world probably doesn’t need another book. However, Chapter One is more than a book. It’s an invitation. And it’s addressed to you. To inspire you to challenge everything, to remind you that you can turn ideas into reality and to present you the opportunity to be part of bold idea that could change the course of history. Chapter One is the story of three kids from Melbourne, Australia with zero experience in business who had an idea and the crazy belief that we all have the power to change stuff. It started with the World Water Crisis (and how to end it) but has developed into an award-winning consumer goods brand that empowers millions of people to fight poverty with every munch of muesli, sip of water or pump of hand wash. And that’s just the beginning. This is the story of epic proportions by Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn about Thankyou’s gut-wrenching decisions, wild mistakes and daring moves in business, marketing and social enterprise so far. You’ll laugh at their boldness, cry at their failings and be inspired by their determination. But more than that, you’ll understand that, no matter your walk of life, you too have the power to change stuff.
Butterfly on a Pin: A memoir of love, despair and reinvention by Alannah Hill
Unflinching, funny, shocking, inspiring and tender: this is a story like no other. Alannah Hill, one of Australia’s most successful fashion designers, created an international fashion brand that defied trends with ornamental, sophisticated elegance, beads, bows and vintage florals. But growing up in a milk bar in Tasmania, Alannah’s childhood was one of hardship, fear and abuse. At an early age she ran away from home with eight suitcases of costumes and a fierce determination to succeed, haunted by her mother’s refrain of ‘You’ll never amount to anything, you can’t sew, nobody likes you and you’re going to end up in a shallow grave, dear!’ At the height of her success, Alannah walked the razor’s edge between two identities; ‘the good’ Alannah and the `mongrel bastard’ Alannah. Who was the real Alannah Hill? Reprieve came in the form of a baby boy and the realisation that becoming a mother not only changes your life, but completely refurbishes it, forever. Yet ‘having it all’ turned out to be another illusion. In 2013 Alannah walked away from her eponymous brand, a departure that left her coming apart at the seams. She slowly came to understand the only way she could move forward was to go back. At the heart of it all was her mother, whose loveless marriage and disappointment in life had a powerful and long-lasting effect on her daughter. It was finally time to call a truce with the past. This extraordinary book is the fierce and intelligent account of how a freckle-faced teenage runaway metamorphosed into a trailblazer and true original.
CEO and entrepreneur Emma Isaacs forgot to draw up her life plan, and she doesn’t have a list of five-year goals. She doesn’t believe in work/life balance – after all she has five children and heads up Business Chicks, Australia’s largest community for women. Like Sheryl Sandberg, who told us to ‘lean in’ to find success, Emma wants to show us that you can’t plan every detail and wait for the confidence to kick in before you begin; instead, take action now, do what feels right and figure the rest out as you go along. In other words, you’ve got to learn how to ‘wing it’ rather than wait. Drawing on her own life and the stories of the many men and women she has met and interviewed – from Sir Richard Branson to Bill Gates to Girlboss Sophia Amoruso – Emma tells us how to: * Turn a dream into a job * Turn a job into a business * Network like a champion * Protect your time for the things that matter * Get fired up not ground down by the kids/career juggle, and * Understand that sometimes failure is part of the brief. Emma shows us that often the only thing holding us back is ourselves; that you can follow your dreams; and that there’s no reason not to start doing so right now.