Check out this interview on Sassy Australia featuring our Founder and CEO Shana Buchanan.
From time to time you come across those people who just stand out. They walk into a room and you instantly notice everything about them. Their impeccable style, fabulous taste in shoes, beaming bright eyes and their natural pezaz. Well, this is exactly how it went down the first time I met Shana Buchanan of iDecorate. We were in Paddington, Sydney, it was ANZAC Day and we were roaring in a game of Two-up. Little did I know that this bubbly beauty had a head full of smarts and an impressive resume to boot. Earlier that week, prior to the festive long weekend, this brainy babe had hosted an evening with our mutual girlfriends to run through the importance of superannuation. This just made it all the more better.
Fast forward several years and we are reunited. This time both of us living in Hong Kong. We clicked again and Shana began to tell me (over several wines of course) about her dreams of iDecorate. This intrigued me all the more, as I love a girl with passion in her heart for a huge dream she’s following.
So without giving too much away, this is where you’ll meet Shana for the first time. She will be popping by monthly to give you Sassy Girls all the tried and tested information and bursting at the seams inspiration you need to get where you want to be. Whether that be succeeding in your current job or throwing it all in to pursue your goals.
So, without further ado, meet Shana…
So you’ve taken a leap of faith and started your own business recently. Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
I first started working for $5 an hour in our local knitting and craft store when I was 12 years old – I haven’t stopped working ever since! Early employment is a common denominator in the journeys of most entrepreneurs. I approached every job as ‘tools in my tool belt’ whether it was marketing at Red Bull, selling real estate or working night shifts at the local petrol station to pay my first mortgage at age 19. After obtaining degrees in law and commerce, I pursued a career in funds management until I reached my goal title ‘Portfolio Manager’ by age 26. It’s funny how we can get so hung up on titles! The lure of growing economies in Asia brought me to Hong Kong in January 2012 and I soon realised that this was the land of new opportunity. A business plan I’d written almost six years prior for an ‘online styling service provider’ (which I’d half registered a patent for back in 2006) was dusted off the shelf and iDecorate (a dream I’d had for some time) was finally realised.
What’s the story behind creating iDecorate? Can you explain how it works?
I’ve always had a fascination with houses. I’d spend hours drawing with my dad and pouring over the floor plans of houses that were given away each month in prize-home competitions. I was independent and doing a law/finance double degree at Griffith University. I bought my first house in Carrara at the age of 19 and my second house in Brisbane by age 22 by doing graveyard shifts at the local petrol station in Robina. I became utterly obsessed with decorating and gardening and looking back now I realise that I’ve always felt a need to create an environment that reflects my personality. Good design gives me great comfort.
Some time later, I got engaged and spent the following two years trying to style a picture-perfect wedding that reflected our personalities. I would spend hours trawling over inspiring images from blogs but I could never find the products to match. Despite running a family textile business and working with some of Australia’s best interior designers, I was struggling to visualise how the décor would look together. The cost of hire was more expensive than buying the items outright and I couldn’t afford a planner or stylist.
In summary, iDecorate is a one-stop decorating site that makes buying for the home or special occasion as easy as ordering takeout! Via our inspiring style-board tool, people who love beautiful things can access the world’s best decor at incredibly affordable prices (plus it’s delivered direct to their door). iDecorate is ‘making beautiful affordable’ allowing users to drag, drop, style and shop online. A first-time user can drag pictures of their home or venue onto the style-board and then drop products onto it and style their home or special occasion online. We’ve taken the process of creating a physical scrapbook or mood-board and digitised it, with our style-board tool.
How’s traction working out so far? Any big milestones?
In the past 18 months we’ve tested the beta site and business model in Australia. We’ve taken considerable steps to de-risk the business and now we’re focused on China, Hong Kong and the US. With Pinterest recently valued at $5bn we were pleased to see this article published last week. It will also be published in the print magazine shortly. Also, we’ve recently been named as one of the hottest 12 e-Commerce StartUps in Hong Kong, which you can read about here. We are exploring opportunities to take iDecorate across the region and have been approached by agents in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
We have made a world-class addition to our team, Anouk Darling. She’s become a strategic partner to oversee and build our brand and marketing communications initiatives, and has been appointed to the Advisory Committee. Anouk was key in the brand development of Australian airline Jetstar and her clients include global brands like Westfield, so it’s fantastic to have a mentor of Anouk’s calibre.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Buying and styling! I get to shop for a living, spend my days styling and be surrounded by beautiful things. I also love managing my team. I have such a young dynamic group of girls. We don’t always agree, but I love the creative process when collaborating and learning together. In a start-up your staff are joining because they believe in you and your vision. They’re not joining for the money so it’s all blood, sweat and tears to begin with. I find it immensely satisfying to make my team know how important and valued they are.
Visit iDecorate for all of your home or event styling needs. Get creating!
This gorgeous photography was taken in Shana’s apartment by the uber talented Kathy Li ofKayellePhoto.