For my guest blog this year I wanted to look specifically at women who are running a creative business from a regional location. One lady who is doing this, and with great success is Tracy Lefroy from Cranmore Home. I knew of her business even before I began looking for prospective interviewees and I was blown away to discover that she is based on a farm in Western Australia.
So, just as I was, I am sure you will be inspired by Tracy’s story.
Where are you based and what business are you in?
Cranmore Home is a curated collection of Australian-designed and ethically-sourced homewares, art and fashion. The online store is complimented by a brick and mortar store located in my hometown of Moora, Western Australia, 180km (a beautiful two-hour drive) north of Perth.
Have you always lived in a regional/rural area?
I have spent the majority of my life living in WA’s beautiful Wheatbelt and Midwest region. I grew up in a very small place called ‘Irwin’ which is near the coastal town of Dongara, 350km north of Perth, just 10 minutes from the beach and with three sisters to keep me on my toes…. It was a pretty ideal childhood.
Like many country kids, I headed off to the city for high school and stayed on for Uni, where I completed my Honours in Agricultural Science at the University of WA. I greatly enjoyed some ‘obligatory’ overseas travel before moving to Northam in the Wheatbelt for work.
In 2005, I was the youngest recipient to be awarded a prestigious Nuffield Scholarship, which took me to some amazing places around the world. Since then, I have been farming with my husband, Kristin and his parents at our property ‘Cranmore Park’ near Moora.
How long have you been in business? Has it become easier, or harder as time has gone on?
The seed for Cranmore Home was planted in 2010 shortly after my husband and I moved into our beautiful old farmhouse. Three babies, three years and a once-off pop-up shop later I launched my website and in 2014 opened a retail space in Moora.
I started this business because I am passionate about Australian food and fibre and the manner in which it is produced, AND I saw a massive gap in the homewares market for a retail outlet that championed our amazing home-grown designers and artists.
I had passion, a great premise and a strong business background but absolutely ZERO retail experience! So I always knew it was going to be a steep learning curve and a lot of hard yakka (I am a self-confessed workaholic). What I didn’t expect was the amazing array of opportunities for me to grow my business- I am currently developing a trade/commercial arm of Cranmore Home, which is super exciting for my little business.
So to get back to your question…. It’s definitely not easier, but it is not necessarily harder either. Cranmore Home is this amazing vehicle for pursuing my passion and the more I put into it the more rewards, challenges and crazy experiences it throws at me.
What has been/is your biggest challenge?
With three young kids, I juggle Cranmore Home around family, farm, friends and other life commitments. Like any working parent and partner, the work-life balance situation is constantly being tweaked but I am getting better at taking a breath, stepping back and knowing that while I cannot "do it all" right now, I can do my best at each facet of my life.
Business-wise, freight is the biggest cost challenge as I offer free Australia-wide shipping. It is just not cost-effective to freight stock across the Nullarbor to my showroom in Moora only to send it back to customers on the East Coast. As a result, I now have warehouse space in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth where stock is sent direct to my customers.
What are you most proud of?
My three gorgeous kids! I’m also incredibly proud to be a farmer and business owner that champions Australian design. Having the honour to represent incredible designers + makers whilst living and breathing farming, has been such an honour and something of which I am very proud.
What would you do differently in business if you had your time again?
Eeek, I am an eternal optimist so my sights are firmly set forward, I am not great at hindsight. But I have learnt a few expensive lessons in my first few years of Cranmore Home. One of the areas I am trying to improve upon is really targeting and refining my advertising spend.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Wow, in 10 years my kids will all be at high school, which is scary and makes me a little teary! Life will be so different but, there is nothing like three sets of boarding school fees to keep you motivated in your business.
What are you looking forward to most in the next twelve months?
We have an amazing ‘Winter Workshop’ planned for July. Now in its third year, the Winter Workshop is a dynamic event, with the format changing yearly. This year I have such huge ideas… now to get them to happen!
I learn so much from collaborating with the Cranmore Home designers and it is such a rewarding experience being part of their creative process. The Winter Workshops is an opportunity for my clients to be able to experience this same creative excitement and fulfilment plus be exposed to the beauty and heritage of ‘Cranmore country’, the WA wheatbelt.
Can you offer anything special to CWC readers?
I sure can! I would love to extend a special CWC offer of 15% store-wide here at Cranmore Home (only excluding Heatherly Beds). Just enter CWC15off at checkout to redeem.
Have you got anything you'd like to plug?!
I have just started a fortnightly newsletter to bring my customers behind the scenes of Cranmore Home. It features sneak peeks of new products, subscriber-only discounts, first dibs on advanced orders and takes clients ‘behind the brand’ to get to know the amazing designers and artists that I proudly represent.
To sign up just fill in the pop-up window when visiting www.cranmorehome.com.au
What is your favourite social media platform for your business?
I am a very visual person and a firm believer in the phrase ‘a picture says a thousand words’. Instagram allows me to express the motivations and inspirations behind Cranmore Home.