A passion for interiors put Bianca Serratore on the path to starting her own online business selling unique homewares.
Coux Lifestyle was born out of Serratore’s own frustration to find beautiful homewares at affordable prices.
The online store offers a range of stylish pieces for the home including furniture, stools and ottomans, wall adornments, cushions, throws and other home decor like placemats, sculptures and vases.
The Sydney-based business began as an idea when Serratore was on holiday in Bali in April 2016. By November that same year, she began putting together a business plan to bring the idea to life. A few months later, things began to evolve and this month she launched her first collection.
“It started really quickly but took off really naturally,” she said.
“My dad had been bugging me for many years to get into business with him and do something incorporating interiors and homewares.
“Now, I get to sell some of my favourite picks and pieces, a little bit of love for your home.”
Her father ran a successful beauty business for years and had skills in logistics and importing, while Serratore’s background in public relations and marketing meant the pair would make ideal business partners.
Serratore had also studied interior design while she was on maternity leave after having her first child.
“Interior design wasn’t something that I ever thought I’d pursue but it was always something I was very interested in. I’ve always had an eye for homewares,” she said.
Then, while she was on maternity leave after having her second child, an opportunity presented itself and the timing was right for Serratore to take the leap and start her own business. She resigned from her job in PR and got to work on Coux Lifestyle.
The first collection
A selection of products, handpicked by Serratore, are available as part of the first collection which features a distinct modern bohemian style.
The range incorporates elements like stone, woven fabrics, wood, cane and seagrass in a neutral colour palette.
“I worked hard on developing a style for the first collection because I wanted to make sure all the pieces looked good together or at least complemented each other,” Serratore said.
“Most of the products I would use in my own home – if I think it would look great in my home then I believe it’ll look great in your home too.”
For her next collection, Serratore said she hopes to change it up and offer an entirely new theme. She’s also exploring options for creating some of her own pieces.
“I might look at going into Art Deco for my next theme. It’s a style I really like and it’s very different from the modern bohemian theme of our first collection.”
Challenges of starting a business
One of the biggest challenges of starting a business was learning how to do so many things from scratch, Serratore admits.
She has tackled everything from general business admin to building her own website to managing inventory and shipping products.
“I’ve had to teach myself so much and learn about all the things I didn’t know about… but I’ve enjoyed the challenge,” she said.
“For instance, I’m so glad I took the time to teach myself how to build my website because I could put the time and care into it that I wanted.”
Serratore said following her true passion was key to building a business because it keeps her motivated and reminds her why she started.
“It helps that I’m passionate about interiors and design so all the hard work makes it worthwhile,” she said.
Sharing her love of interiors with others ultimately means that her customers get to experience the same joy of living in an inspiring environment.
“It’s so important to love the place you come home to at the end of the day. You want your space to be beautiful, and something that inspires you and feels like a retreat,” she said.
Serratore said, undoubtedly, one of the best things about starting her own business is the fact that she has had the chance to work on something of her own.
“It’s super fulfilling. It’s so nice building something that is my own – I can have the flexibility of caring for my kids while working on something I’m passionate about,” she said.
And while she has risen to the challenge of taking on multiple aspects of the business that lie beyond her natural skill set, Serratore said she strongly believes in outsourcing.
“Outsourcing allows you to focus on the things you love doing and the things you’re good at. I will probably end up outsourcing things like admin to a virtual assistant,” she said.
She has also hired a professional photographer to take quality images of her product range and finds collaborating with another creative instrumental in helping her business thrive.
“My photographer is also a graphic designer and she has an incredible eye, so there was definitely a collaborative effort when putting together products for photoshoots. As someone who works on her own, which can be isolating, it was so beneficial to share ideas with someone else. I do think a second opinion from someone you can trust is invaluable,” she said.
While her business came together very naturally, Serratore said the best advice she could share was encouraging others to recognise when the opportunity arises.
“The timing was good, I had a lot of support from family and friends and I knew I had to just go for it. I don’t think there ever was as good a time as this to start my own business.”
All images by Ashleigh Brisenden.