Prior to starting YCL Jewels, Fabienne was working as a nurse in an aged care facility to help get her through her nursing degree. Two units shy of graduating she left to focus on building YCL full time. What began as a hobby, making jewellery at her desk at home during high school, Fabienne is completely self-taught. Her creations have now been worn by the likes of Jennifer Hawkins, Lorde and Delta Goodrem. The label is driven by Fab’s own values and as a result is 100% cruelty free. Fab is a passionate animal lover, owning a rescue greyhound and two cats. Her insight into living a wholehearted life, animal advocacy and ethical business is definitely inspiring!
Q: Where do you get your financial advice from?
Recently I’ve been getting a lot of financial advice from my business mentor. He has been able to educate me on bigger financial tasks I haven’t previously thought about like setting up shares. I’ve also learnt a lot from fellow friends who are in business. I’m lucky to have a close group of women who are also in business who I can bounce ideas and get advice from.
Q: What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made?
I would say quitting my job in 2013 before I got the business off the ground. This was an extremely challenging financial time for me but it was during this time that I think I was able to form better habits – yoga and meditation for example – that helped me get through a period of time that was quite fraught with anxiety and wondering what was next. I also worked part-time in a local raw food cafe and at a boutique that stocked YCL in exchange for renting the space to sell YCL Jewels there. Those part-time gigs allowed me a little breathing space to not be so reliant on the next sale or feel like I wasn’t making any progress.
Q: Do you have a strategy when it comes to finances?
I’ve grown YCL Jewels on cash flow alone. We have never had any loans or overdrafts and I think one of the key aspects of being able to do this is by planning our finances and invoices in advance, as well as prioritising the business first. I have only taken a wage in the past year (YCL Jewels turned four in 2017) as the business’ success is much more important than something I want to purchase for myself. During the first few years of the business I was incredibly lucky to have the support of my partner and his salary to help us through. We lived very simply and still do as neither of us draw our drive from material possessions. I’ve never seen the company’s money as my own and so for the first three years I really only ever drew money from the company if we couldn’t pay a bill. It’s taken a lot of work on my own mindset to get to a point where I feel comfortable earning a salary from the business. Day-to-day I still don’t spend wildly and am more likely to splash out on something for my greyhound – Atlas – than myself, but I have recently purchased a few investment pieces that mean a lot to me but I know I will have for a lifetime.
Q: Do you ever speak to your friends about money, investments, purchases?
The great thing about having friends that own businesses too, is that we’re able to uplift and inspire one another, especially through challenging periods which is always experienced no matter what business you’re in. I wouldn’t say that money is the key focus of our conversations however we are always there for one another if this does come up. It’s been interesting in my own relationship with my partner who is on a fixed income to have open conversations that let him see that just because the company is turning over a certain amount doesn’t mean that figure is sitting there for whatever we want. It’s been a great process to be able to let him see that side of the business and just what the costs with running the business is. It certainly has given him a greater understanding and responds to our money chats a little differently now!
Q: Looking back over your life, what are some of the most pivotal money moments (negative or positive) that you remember?
*Once when Paypal denied me access to my account because there was “too” much money coming in and it took me weeks to prove my identity.
*The first time we had 12 orders in one day which was a really pivotal moment as we were lucky to get 12 orders a month at that time.
*When I first started to pay myself a wage, which happened 3 years after launching.
*One of the more recent moments was when we turned over 300% more this financial year than we did in 2016.
Q: Do you consider yourself clued up financially?
In terms of finances, stock and investments I truly have no idea and I’m proactively working to know more in these areas. It is something my business mentor and I talk about a lot as I do want to be more in the know about these things and if they’re right for me. I’ve never been fearful of money or overwhelmed by it so I think money and I have always had a good relationship with one another.
Q: Do you remember any big financial lessons that you learnt at school / uni / in business?
I was always the teenager that had a good amount of money and could always pay for myself. I had a really secure and well paid job in nursing and this taught me a strong work ethic, as well as how to manage money. If I think about it, a lot of my attitudes and lessons with money came from my Mother. She was a single Mum raising my sister and I, and I knew that I wanted to be financially secure myself but that there had to be a better way. I wanted to carve out a different path for myself in terms of my career. I was the teenager in my social circle that was doing the hardest job (nursing assistant in aged care and dementia – not glamourous!) and working two days a week earning $600, whereas a lot of my friends were working in various retail jobs and earning far less. I’ve always had a firm belief that working hard and earning a good income doesn’t have to mean slogging 100+ hours a week and just getting by.
Q: If you have a financial question – who or where do you go to get your information?
I turn to my mentor, Tony, who is a mentor to me for a little bit of everything. Our sessions aren’t solely focused on the business and a lot of our conversations expand into financial education or challenging beliefs, and myself as a person which ultimately influences how the business grows and operates.
Q: Superannuation is notoriously dull. Do you feel like you’re on top of your future financial situation, or do you not consider it at all?
To be honest, it’s not something I personally think about in great detail. There’s an element of naivety in the sense that I don’t fully understand it (however I’m trying to change that and learn more about it and the different facets of it all) and it feels like something that I won’t access for such a long time so it isn’t necessarily front and centre of my decision making. And then there’s also the rebel in me that wants to challenge myself to not have to rely solely on my super in retirement and look to other ways I can be making sure my family and I are set up for the future. I do have a wonderful accountant that makes sure my Super is taken care of for the time being.
Q: Financial literacy appears to be lacking amongst younger Australians. How do you think this can be improved and what do you see as the big issues?
I think that as teenagers we should be taught how to manage our money well without fear or a scarcity mindset. The younger generation needs to be taught positive values about earning money and not being fearful of earning large amounts of money as well as in contrast, not feeling disempowered by money. We really need to shed the stigma and the limiting beliefs about money.
Q: Would you call yourself financially responsible or irresponsible?
Q: What’s the best piece of financial advice that you can impart on our readers?
To not be afraid of money in whatever that way means to you because the thoughts we think about money manifest in our life.
Q: Where are the gaps in your financial understanding?
Sometimes I feel everywhere. I think we all suffer a little bit from imposter syndrome. I just always ensure I am making decisions that will be the best for our team and the business and I lead from that.
Q: What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
Probably a cruiser bike because I never use it.
Q: What’s the smartest financial decision you’ve ever made?
To start a business.
Q: If you run your own business, what are the toughest challenges you’ve come up against from a financial standpoint, and how do you work through them?
Cash flow, prioritising what gets paid first, negotiating costs and making sure the company is financially stable.
To trust yourself.