In honor of International Women’s Day 2024 (IWD), we caught up with Christina Fedders, founder of Designstuff, to chat about her journey in the world of design and retail. Join us as Christina discusses her experiences, the hurdles she faced, and her perspectives on steering Designstuff through the ever-changing landscape of design, business and ecommerce.

Can you tell us about your journey from the fashion industry to founding Designstuff? What inspired the shift, and how did the idea for Designstuff come about?

C: My career began in fashion, where I spent a decade as the general manager of buying and design. When I became pregnant with my first child, I realised the demands of fashion retail wouldn’t align with my family life. That’s when I identified a gap in the Australian market for high-quality Scandinavian homewares, leading to the founding of Designstuff.

Facing challenges as a woman in the design and retail industry must have been tough. Can you share specific obstacles you encountered and how you overcame them?

C: Certainly. Being a woman in this industry has presented its challenges, particularly in negotiations with manufacturers overseas. I’ve had experiences that were quite unique, like being served a glass of milk while others had rice wine during a negotiation. Nevertheless, I’ve never let such experiences hold me back. My focus on quality time with my family, my leadership style, and a commitment to sourcing unique designs have been crucial.

Balancing family life and entrepreneurship is a common struggle. You mentioned the importance of quality time. Can you share more about how you’ve managed to balance your entrepreneurial journey with family life? Any specific strategies or lessons learned?

C: In our family, quality time has always been a priority. We make it a point to have meals together, starting the day around the breakfast bench and sharing end of day learnings and moments around the dinner table. Finding balance was difficult, and I initially struggled with feelings of guilt, but over time, I’ve learned to be present in the moment and prioritise what matters most.

Diversity and inclusion play a significant role in your team’s dynamics. How has diversity contributed to your team’s success at Designstuff?

C: Our team in Melbourne is a diverse group with varied skills, upbringings, and cultural backgrounds. Diversity has naturally played a significant role in our unity. We all share a passion for design, care for customers, and respect and compassion for each other, and function as one cohesive unit.

Empowering the team and trusting their abilities is a key aspect of your leadership, and has contributed to the shaping and development of Designstuff. Looking ahead, what challenges and opportunities do you foresee in the ever-changing landscape of ecommerce and design?

C: The future holds both challenges and opportunities. As online retail becomes more competitive, my commitment is to continue sourcing unique pieces, designing bespoke and functional collections, and delivering exceptional service to our customers. I have big plans for the future of Designstuff, and while I miss aspects of the fashion industry, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and excited about what’s to come.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, what advice would you give based on your own experiences? Any key lessons or insights you’d like to share?

C: I believe anyone with a niche market they’re passionate about, and a supportive network, can succeed as an entrepreneur. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals, trust yourself, and enjoy the process. It’s about finding that balance and pursuing what you love.