The 2017 AusMumpreneur Awards are voting now, and many well-known (and well-loved) North Shore Mums are among the nominees! This week we bring you the inspiring story of Kitsa Yanniotis from Emporio Organico, who is a finalist for the Social Impact Award.
Tell us about yourself and your business:
I’m an ex-lawyer and psychotherapist-turned-nutrition consultant specialising in gut health. I started my store Emporio Organico (which is housed in a two-storey, heritage listed terrace) just on two years ago. We are an organic and eco-friendly family lifestyle store. We cover children’s health and food based solutions, eco-home and eco-beauty, digestive health, cultured and traditional foods, allergy-friendly and gluten-free, chemical and additive-free as well as more specific diets like Paleo, GAPS & Body Ecology. I wanted to create a one-stop shop to make the transition to a healthier lifestyle more easily achievable.
What inspired you to start your business?
When my son was born I watched him struggle with his digestion, waking every night in pain. It’s been quite the journey to get to this point and I’ve learned many valuable lessons. I realised I could help many people in similar situations to ours. Creating a store meant that I could bring together all my research and the knowledge acquired over the last 15 years recovering my son’s and our family’s health. I wanted to demystify the road to better health and make it more accessible to all as there was too much confusing information out there that took me years to unravel. It didn’t need to be that complicated.
What do you love about being a mumpreneur?
I love that what I do never feels like a job -and that every day I’m excited to go to work and share what I love. I also love the variety of my work as I can wear many hats on a daily basis. As a mum I can always be available for my child and fit my work in around his needs which has always been important to me. I could never do that with my old career as a lawyer. It’s also been important to me to create a business that he can be involved with in the future if he chooses.
What has been your greatest challenge and how have you addressed this?
My lack of IT expertise meant that I was taken advantage of by my first lot of unscrupulous web developers who took my money and then went into receivership before completing my website. I had to learn how to write code and many other things to get my site up and running. The upside was that I was then in a much better position to pick an IT team who have supported me admirably since then.
What have been your greatest achievement in the past 12 months?
On a daily basis it’s so gratifying when customers come in and tell me of their improvements due to products and protocols I’ve recommended. For the bigger picture, streamlining my business by identifying the non-growth areas and re-focusing all energies to move forward in the best possible way. This means that in the next 12 months I am looking toward opening an organic allergy friendly cafe on our premises as it will be a great adjunct to our store and something our community has been asking for.
What do you wish you knew before you started your business?
The need to be extremely discerning of whose advice you take and who to trust – even those who are so called experts in their field – no one will ever care about your business as much as you do so if in doubt always listen to your gut and follow your heart.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business for the first time?
Expect the unexpected and be flexible and adaptable enough to be able to roll with the punches with unforeseen expenses and demands on your time. As long as you keep your vision and the fire burning in your belly you’ll get there – not always the way you expect but the way it’s meant to be.
Why do you believe you should win this award?
I am an innovator at heart and love finding solutions to problems. What I am doing by having a focus on gut health in my store is at the cutting edge of current medical science. The importance of the gut/brain connection and the microbiome are finally being seen as at the root of many modern diseases and disorders. There is an increase of children with special needs with food allergies, intolerances and behaviours and I believe that I can help many parents and children with the journey I’ve had with my son and all the learnings, the research and study I’ve done over the last 15 years.