Meet the Founders: Bec & Sim
Two sisters, bound not just by blood but by a shared vision to support local, shop small and to embrace all that we are as women. A simple idea that was inspired by a need to give a meaningful, yet convenient gift that brings natural, eco-friendly and non-toxic products into our homes and onto our bodies – with that in mind mass + muster was born. Out of a desire to start a family-based business and a side hustle to inspire, live green and change lives for our planet.
Simone comes from a background of finance and after throwing in her role as a partner in a high-flying firm, she has followed her passion and spends her days working on her own business based in Melbourne, dedicated to finance advice and support for women.
Bec is a mum of two young ones which take up most of her time, yet she still manages to be at the helm of a franchise business on the Gold Coast and dabbles in photography when her schedule permits.
Read on to find out more about this dynamic duo and how these entrepreneurs turned their idea into real life.
First up, where does the name mass + muster come from?
Bec: We actually started with a name that wasn’t mass + muster. We originally researched and had our circle of friends vote on a few choices, and one came in as the clear winner. But, when Sim and I got together and wrote down our ideas and business plan, the name just didn’t suit. We had established who we were in that plan, what our business would be, and the name wasn’t strong enough and didn’t suit our personalities. Regardless of it being what some would consider a trendy name, it wasn’t going to work.
From there it was just brainstorming strong words, inspiring words, finding synonyms for those, and just wanting to find something that stood out and was different. Long story short, both of those words mass + muster came into play on our scribbled notes, and both had such strong meanings that fit what we felt our business would be about. And our name was changed. Just like that! The words sounded great together, we felt so good about what they meant, and we didn’t once think, will this make sense to people? We just knew it made complete sense to us.
How did this idea transpire when you already have such busy fulfilled lives, with families and full-time jobs?
Bec: Our siblings had been wanting to start something together for some time. Always chatting about what might be suitable for us, what we’d enjoy giving a go. Sim just had this thought one day when she was looking for gift boxes, but couldn’t find anything quite right. She called me and said, ‘what do you think about us getting into online gift boxes’.
I just thought, ‘yes’, the idea really suited us both. We made sure we were 100% aligned on our personal ideas for the business, before we began the initial steps.
Simone: Yeah, Bec nailed that one. As a family we have wanted to start a business that we all work together on, for some time. After a trip to New Zealand Bec and I hashed out the initial idea, and I spent some time looking online at businesses offering gift boxes. What I noticed was while there were plenty of names in the market, there seemed to be a bit of a gap in the market for environmentally friendly, or non toxic gift boxes. From not just items inside, but through to how the boxes presented, with or without reusable or recyclable packaging.
There is so much talk about climate change and environmental issues everywhere you look, I just knew we couldn’t introduce something new without being highly conscious of this. This part of mass + muster has kept us pretty excited through the whole new biz process. It feels good to do good.
What steps did you put in place to get the ball rolling?
Bec: I flew to Melbourne, (Sim lives there), to discuss it properly and the ideas just flowed. I just wanted to get stuck into the fun stuff of choosing great product, but Sim being the business mind she is, had us stop and write out our entire business plan one very long morning. But I do have to say, after writing that was when it started to feel like an really achievable, great idea. And we haven’t stopped pushing forward since.
Simone: I knew we needed a business plan to get the idea off the ground. It’s a great document that puts all of your ideas in one place, and allows you to get clear on your objectives, mission and values. It makes the brand feel like a real tangible thing and gets the idea out of your head and onto paper. From there we started researching local, small and handmade products and started a spreadsheet so we could start reaching out to them. We knew if we were finding a beautiful natural product, made by a mum who might sell it at a market on a weekend, we were onto a good thing. The kind of thing we wanted mass + muster to be about.
Any advice for those wanting to start a side hustle that is their real passion? Or in other words, the thing they daydream about while sitting at their office desk about to hit the 3pm slump.
Bec: Be prepared to juggle. It isn’t easy to spread your focus outwards in different areas. But the want for it, and pride in it, will get you there.
Simone: Make sure there are many parts of your business that you are passionate about, and interested in. I see many people starting side hustles for the wrong reasons – many to make quick money – but in most cases that’s not what happens. You have to invest so much into it, time wise and financially. It’s a hard slog and can be very slow going.
Sustainable and reusable wraps included in the mass + muster Green Living gift box
What inspires you daily to keep putting in the hard yards to share the mass + muster brand?
Bec: It’s ability to keep progressing. mass + muster isn’t just one type of business, but it will veer off into so many different areas. And at the same time, will enable us to focus on giving back to different areas that are important to us both. We haven’t built this brand to be just about Sim and I. But to be about women, women in business, supporting great ideas, to support our charity of choice, and to be able to push that part of it as far as we can push it.
Simone: To be honest my involvement is far less than what Bec puts in. She has taken on the daily operations aspect of the business which has been great. Now we are in a different position in term of really assessing the business and as such have been able to engage specialists in specific areas of expertise to helps us achieve our goals.
How did you come across the One Girl charity and know that was the one you wanted to work with and support?
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to sustainable living?
Bec: My non-negotiables. That’s a hard one, because it’s definitely still a work in progress for me. I’m never going to be living fully sustainably, and I wont pretend that I do. But I can make changes, one thing at a time, and do my bit like most of us are trying to.
I do know it’s been many years since I have used those single produce bags at the supermarket. Having your apples separated from your oranges just always felt so unnecessary. I remember before self-service, how all of my produce laid out together to pick up and weigh really bothered the cashiers. It’s pretty great to see that that’s completely normal now.
Simone: Practice what you preach. As stated by Bec, it’s a work in progress. Being more aware of products, plastic waste and thinking twice about things that once seemed so normal, like getting a takeaway coffee has all opened my eyes to alternative businesses that are doing their part to combat these issues. Supporting them is one way I feel like I am also contributing. If Bec and I can build up our business with this ethos, this is a great thing and something I would be extremely proud of.
What things would you like to implement in your life but haven’t got around to doing so yet?
Bec: That old cliche… Work life balance. That’s actually a big one for me.
Simone: I have achieved much in my life to date, which has given me the ability to do the things I want. I am very fortunate in that respect. Starting this business is something I’m excited to achieve personally for my own goals, but also for the impact we can potentially make in different areas.
A gift box business is such a risk given how saturated the market is. However, I believe business should have goals, and purpose. And contributing to those in terms of what we can achieve outside of our own personal goals, will speak for itself.
What’s your favourite way to unwind and have some ‘me time’?
Bec: Read a book. Do a training session. Binge watch a great tv show!
Simone: Getting out and about, throwing some spontaneity into what is normally a busy routine! I love food (and wine) and Melbourne is the quintessential city to find amazing places to really enjoy that side of life.
If people could take away one thing from coming along on the mass + muster journey, what would you like that to be?
Bec: To have enjoyed that feeling that comes from giving, doing good, supporting a small business and giving back. To not only enjoy how great sustainable products feel when you introduce them to your daily life, but to feel how far that great feeling travels within the reaches of our brand.
Swapping the bad stuff with the good stuff has to start somewhere, and it would feel really great knowing that it may just start with us!
Simone: I agree with what Bec said. This is more than just giving a gift. I also want to stress how necessary, and gratifying it is to support a charity you are passionate about – this is incredibly important to me.
Along with all the small businesses involved in our venture. It’s not just Bec and I you are supporting. But many genuinely good people, doing good things.