#57 Keeping up with the Kardashians – Olivia Carr, Founder and CEO, Shhh Silk | Mental Health at Work Training

Nov 10, 2023

Olivia Carr, Founder and CEO of Shhh Silk, a global brand that sells silk pillow cases in 50+ countries, shares her remarkable journey, including a marketing coup involving Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. Despite a very challenging childhood and lacking tertiary qualifications, she built a successful multi-million-dollar business. In her new book "Self-made", Olivia has now created a blueprint that has helped hundreds of women to develop and build their own businesses. Olivia's resilience and innovative approach have transformed her life, making her a true self-made entrepreneur.
"Caring is making sure that when somebody walks through those doors that we have interaction with every day, that I am in tune with how they're feeling. I can read how the team are feeling. And to me, what care means in the workplace is that you are so present, that you actually are so highly attuned to what's going on around you."
- Olivia Carr


  • What caring means in the workplace for Olivia
  • A marketing coup involving Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner
  • A blueprint that has helped hundreds of women to develop and build their own businesses
  • Resilience and innovative approach that transform life


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 Transcript from the interview

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Graeme Cowan, Olivia Carr

Graeme Cowan  00:22

What does care in the workplace mean to you?



Olivia Carr  00:26

That’s such a such a great question. The first word that comes to mind for me is probably connection. And I think that’s not just connection with with my team, but it’s connection with, you know, the guy that comes to pick up the LZ post orders every day, it’s it’s caring is making sure that when somebody walks through those doors that we have interaction with every day that I am in tune with, I guess how they’re feeling I can read, I can read how the team are feeling. And to me, that’s probably what care means in the workplace is that you are so present, that you actually are so highly attuned to what’s going on around you.



Graeme Cowan  01:06

And you’ve had a very interesting journey. Olivia, you’re now the founder of silver silk. And but you’ve had a very interesting life in getting there by just sharing for our listeners a little bit about that journey.



Olivia Carr  01:24

Yeah, you know, I might, I don’t think I’ve ever done this in an interview, I usually start at the point of turning pregnant 19. But I actually think that this is probably the right place to talk about where my journey kind of really started. And that was from a really young age. Sadly, I grew up in a house where my dad was an alcoholic, he’s Scottish. So he’s lived a really hard life. He was born in the 40s. So I imagine his upbringing was really challenging, I can genuinely kind of appreciate that. And as an adult now, I appreciate probably why I had the childhood I have. But in saying that, that really did kind of shape some of the poor decision making that I made early on in my life, which led me down a path of a little bit of reckless recklessness. I’ll say, you know, I started drinking really early, I was like, 12, I think when I first experienced half a bottle of vodka, which cannot be good for a 12 year old, you know, 13, when I started experimenting with, you know, drugs, and just mixing with the wrong crowds, like I had no role models around me, I didn’t have any good role model role modeling at home, no real sense of what love looks like or connection, which is interesting, because connection is something I value hugely today. And then it was during that kind of period. I mean, none of this I knew at the time, like it’s only on reflection going through a lot of work over the last few years with my mental health, that I’ve been able to kind of go through this process. But a lot of that makes sense as to how I ended up starting the life that I started, which was falling pregnant at 19. And then getting myself stuck in a really kind of downward spiral financially, for my entire 20s. Raising a child alone, Young was tough. I think I definitely had postnatal depression, but 23 years ago, it was not hugely recognized. But again, on reflection, I looked back and I think I think some of those thoughts you were having, probably a signal that might have been something going on there. But again, it all of these things, whilst they were really challenging to live through. What they did do, which was incredible, is they taught me how to overcome adversity, because you know, you kind of have two choices in life, you either stay stuck in the hole, and spiral or you do whatever you can to climb your way out. And I think I was blessed that I was so young and naive and a lot of ways of just how much I was struggling. And it just gave me this inner kind of strength and tenacity to just do whatever it took to turn my life around. which thankfully, I have. But you know, there’s many and I’ll allow you to ask questions, but there’s many moments pivotal moments along the way that I was able to turn the life around. But my start in life was super challenging, as I’m sure many listeners, you know, we all we all have a story and we all have challenges and adversity. But yeah, it was tough.



Graeme Cowan  04:19

And you mentioned how tough it was, you know, growing up in a household where there was one parent is an alcoholic. We did you have other siblings?



Olivia Carr  04:31

I did. So I have a sister who’s three years older. And so not only was there alcohol abuse my father was there was domestic violence happening at home as well. So I was the youngest. And I sided with my dad. Not because I didn’t know any better to be honest. So as long as I can remember I kind of went on his side and I’ve since learned now that that was my kind of defense or my protection to myself. Sadly, my sister partnered with my mom so she copped a lot more of the abuse than I did. But yeah, that was, that was tricky. Yeah.



Graeme Cowan  05:05

You went through also describing the part from your early 20s, or your 20s. And it was a time when you were a single mum. And so I probably assume that, you know, the income wasn’t always predictable. And enough. Can you talk a little bit more about that? Yeah.



Olivia Carr  05:28

So my first job was a real estate agent. So I was probably 20 at the time. And it’s probably similar today, real estate agents don’t actually earn an income as such, you get a retainer. And I remember back then it was $19,000 a year. And childcare just to put that in perspective. So my daughter went to childcare from six weeks of age, it’s the youngest they could go, she was the first dropped off and the last picked up because I always tried to work hard. But the reality was that daycare back then was still about $95 a day, you’d get a little bit of government subsidy, but nowhere near enough to cover it. I then had rent. And I was earning a really, really low income. And a lot of that was linked to the fact that I was so young. And again, real estate probably wasn’t the best job to choose because you know, the retainer works that you kind of when you finally do sell some homes, you’re then back paying the retainer that you’ve been paid. So in order to make money in that career, you need to be in it for a long time. But again, I didn’t know any of this. So naturally, I kind of was living way beyond my means. And I started falling into some really severe financial debt. By the age of about 26, I was about $100,000 in debt, I just had my second child. And this is funny, fascinating, very strange. But majority of that debt started with Simulink fines like the road tolls were you know, they were back then they were about $3 A trip. But because I was working full time getting from house to house with real estate, and a City Link fine would be the lowest on my priority of bills that I needed to pay. So they just weren’t getting paid. And sure enough, over time that $3 turns into $10 turns into 100 turns into a warrant for your arrest, which is about $300 A fine. And that added up to just under just under $100,000, where I eventually ended up in the Melbourne Magistrates Court facing potential prison time for my debt. So that was another rock bottom moment, but also a life turning moment to turn my life around.



Graeme Cowan  07:28

And what was it that you know, obviously, that’s a crisis. Were there any other factors in your turning your life around? Or was it just very much self directed and self made? Yeah.



Olivia Carr  07:40

I mean, I think, Gosh, then there was so many other things like the ceiling was just one element of it. But I remember having an a4 binder, and it was thick of debt collection letters. And it got to the point where I was just so numb to the situation of what was happening around me. And I just could not work out a way out. But I almost just blocked it. I almost just literally went into severe denial could not get on top of it. And I think the only thing that actually made me get on top of it was the day that I literally I remember calling my dad and saying that this, this literally could be it because it depending on the judge, and depending on I guess, I don’t know how it all works and what they thought that day, I genuinely could have spent one day in prison for every $1,000 I owed, which was how it worked. And I think was blessed. I got a great judge who could say I wasn’t trying to be a criminal. I was genuinely, you know, doing it tough. But I think that day in that court, because I was faced with such a harsh reality of where my life was at, that I knew I had to at that point, I knew I had to take some serious action. Well, firstly, now that I’m older, I can acknowledge that you know what, what I potentially could have done in my 20s is chosen to not drive on the highway actually take the longer way and avoid the $3. Fine, like, that’s where the ownership piece comes into and the accountability. But again, at the time, I probably wasn’t mature enough to think like that, if I’m honest. And that’s where though when I went to court that day, I realized, well, you know what, I’m going to have to make some decisions with my career. I’m going to have to start earning more money. I’m gonna have to start doing some side hustles I’m gonna have to start building like, it’s up to me to get myself out of this. There’s no no more making excuses. There’s no more poor me. I mean, I played the I played the poor mum, poor 19 year old mum card for too long. And, you know, it was poor me for a while, but at some point, okay, cool. Now, you chose to take this path, I guess. And you need to have full ownership of it and do whatever it takes. And that’s essentially where the start was for me to turn my life around.



Graeme Cowan  09:50

And what were some of those first steps if you think about, you know, the week that followed your appearance in court what steps you took.



Olivia Carr  10:00

This one was terrible, like it was painful. Literally calling every single person I owed money to and setting up payment plans and begging. And I think, you know, the good thing about something like COVID happening is I think there’s so much more empathy now from, you know, utility companies, or if you call up the bank, and Sam, you know, I’m really doing a tough, I think there’s a lot more empathy and understanding. But again, this is all, you know, quite a while ago, calling up a credit card team and saying, Hey, I really can’t make that payment. But can you work out like a payment plan, it was really tough back then. And I had to have those conversations time and time again, and kind of get it to a perfect art where I could almost a everything off, in total from, you know, when I first started falling into debt took me 14 years to pay everything off from beginning to end. But I then had to go and get a better job, I had to go and do literally whatever it took to get on top of it, there was no more ignoring it. I mean, one of the things I talk about in my book is, you actually do need to open your bills. Like if you’re going through financial hardship, just putting them in the top drawer, doing what I did, getting to the point where you no longer open them, it’s only going to escalate. And it’s only going to make the matter worse, because you will get late fees, and you will get penalties and you will get you know, marks on your credit file like I did like, it starts with the basic open the letter, make a phone call, ask for help. Asking for help is a big one. That’s something that took me way too long to learn the power of like, you know, put your pride aside. Put the ego aside, just tell the truth, you cannot afford to pay the bill and ask for help.



Graeme Cowan  11:51

And so that, I guess was the beginning of taking financial responsibility and getting your life back on track. What, what about your career, then what did you decide to? What changes did you decide to make in your career?



Olivia Carr  12:06

Yeah, again, this probably comes back to me, preventing my own growth in a way because I left school at 16. So I didn’t finish VCE in Melbourne. And I left school actually to study acting, so not just to completely drop out, like the headlines love to say I actually did it to study acting. But it didn’t really help me get a corporate role back then. But I always had this limiting belief, I guess that I didn’t finish high school. So I can’t go for, you know, a senior role. And during that process, I realized that you know, what, I have lived such a life, I’ve had so much real life experience. And I think that that’s so valuable to an employer, that I actually started going for jobs that you know, would usually require an MBA or usually require, you know, my, my previous job to starting silk was a general manager at Pacific brands. So bonds and Sheridan and the guy that was in it prior to me was doing his MBA. And I was like, You know what, I know, I could ring, you know, run rings around this guy, because I have the street smarts. I have the, I don’t know, I have a different skill set. And I just had to back myself and start going for these roles. It’s kind of like I say, you got to ask for help. You’ve also got to put yourself in the rain. Right? You’ve got to give yourself a chance. And, and I actually did end up getting the job.



Graeme Cowan  13:25

Yeah, fantastic. And so how did that then pan out that what exactly what was the title of that role? And who was not? Yeah.



Olivia Carr  13:33

so I was the general manager for Pacific brands. Yeah, yeah.



Graeme Cowan  13:39

Well, that’s a big step up from being a real estate agent. That’s most strive, that is a huge



Olivia Carr  13:48

tip. Yeah, there are a few steps in between. So don’t go straight into that role. I actually had my first business when I was 24. So I set up a business for four years, I won yet, the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2007. Best startup in 2008, got burnt out, walked away, went and worked for the National Retail, sorry for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. For a while. I also had a job, but this was probably instrumental to my mindset. I actually got a job as a sales manager for a personal development company, where I was just in and around mindset stuff all the time. And it was from there that I then took the leap to the GM role.



Graeme Cowan  14:29

And who was particularly influential in that personal development role. I’m sure you would have seen lots of speakers, lots of walks, looks lots of CDs at the time, probably. Who was particularly influential to you.



Olivia Carr  14:46

You know, it was actually the guy that was running the business. His name’s Andrew Henderson. He lives in Queensland, but he did live in Melbourne. I actually featured him in the book. He was my first mentor in life. He was is a fascinating or is a fascinating man in the sense that he has come from very humble beginnings, but has used the power of reading, you know, positive mindset, personal development. And he got into real estate at a young age and kind of built in self from nothing. And I guess I learned from him just how powerful what you put into your mind and the daily mind training really can change. It really can change where you are at life like it’s you are one decision away one thought one action, you just have to believe it, you just have to, yeah.



Graeme Cowan  15:40

I interviewed probably about a year ago, and they called Suzanne Steele. And she is now the managing director for Adobe in the UK and Europe, she had a very similar path to you and that she didn’t qualify, didn’t have any perfect qualifications. But like you got a really great mentor who could see the potential and say might be interested to have a listen to her because it’s extraordinary on his world, really, really insightful. When did you decide that you didn’t want to work for other people anymore?



Olivia Carr  16:19

I am a terrible employee. So I’ll admit that. I think it’s just in its in my personality, I’m very hard to manage. Not hard to manage. In this sense. It’s just I have so many ideas. And unfortunately, if you’re working in a corporate, there’s process and things that you have to follow. And it’s just I don’t run it that slow pace. So I knew I was always going to find it challenging to work somewhere for a long time. Just because I found it really frustrating. And after having my first business in my 20s, I knew the joy like the the passion from creating something and making impact. So it was only a matter of time. And I think I’m truly grateful for the opportunity that I was given at Pacific brands. I had the most amazing CEO at the time, John Paul is he used to be I think he was x Foster’s he was what I would call a people leader. Like he was so heart driven. I actually left at the time that he was moved out of the business. And then we got the CFO to the you know, going from a people heart led leader to a numbers lead leader. And it was it was really great to see the difference between that. But coming back to your first question, what does care look like in the workplace? I would say that he epitomized what care look like and I, I always felt that. And when he left, I guess my love of that role had left a little bit as well. But it was around that time about 10 years ago that I started to understand what ecommerce was. And I was like, this is really interesting. Like there’s so much potential and anything where I think there’s untapped potential is always going to get me very curious. So I decided it was probably time I was getting very itchy to kind of do my own thing. I’d cleared all my debt only just it was like literally the same year that I was finally let’s call it debt free. I had no credit cards, I’ve got rid of all of it. And some people might be like, Well, why would you jump? I mean, I can openly share. I was 34 I was earning 210,000 plus bonuses at that role, which I think for a woman who hasn’t finished school, and that was my first kind of senior role was quite a healthy salary. Why on earth would I then finally get on my feet and then jump. But I guess that’s, that’s who I am as well. It’s like, I’m not kind of, I’m not scared to take a risk even after how hard my life had been. And I just knew it was time. And so I decided in 2015 to kind of back myself again, take on a whole lot of risk and started start a brand. So it’s been a journey.



Graeme Cowan  18:51

Why choose silk?



Olivia Carr  18:54

Yeah, I’ve always slept on silk. So any of your female listeners will probably know. Hairdressers recommend them all the time. They’re really good for your hair. If you get your hair blow dried, they prolong your blow dry. So it’s as simple as that I loved them. And I went to America once when I left Pacific brands to see, you know, the world of opportunity. What might I do next? And it was on that first night that my pillowcase was taken away with the housekeeping. So when I returned home five weeks later, I was like, Oh, I got to pay $100 to replace it. Like that’s annoying, like silk is expensive. And I just wanted to zip like a hidden zipper. And I couldn’t find one anywhere in the world. I was like, ah, that’s really interesting. I mean, if I want one, why don’t I just make one and three days later I went over to China and learned everything about silk and thought you know what, I’ll give myself six months. If this doesn’t work, I’ll go back and get a job. So that’s kind of how I started. It’s simple story and it hasn’t been easy. It’s really challenging right now with everything going on in the world. I still a very luxury item. But it’s been my best learning The playground like, yeah.



Graeme Cowan  20:03

And those first six months, what was some of the milestones that made you think this has got legs?



Olivia Carr  20:12

Yeah. So there’s, there’s probably one of my biggest PR stories that I’m most well known for. So when I started, I didn’t have a marketing budget, I self funded this on my own. So I had limited I had about six months worth of, I guess, money to get me by. And so I knew I needed to do something really big. And I love big ideas. I think the bigger the better. And I was like, You know what, I know the Kardashians will love sleeping on silk. They’ve always talked about it in the show that they’re always seen carrying, you know, the silk pillowcase when they travel. But their pillowcase genuinely looked like it was handmade it was didn’t fit the pillow. Well, it just did not look like it should be on the other end of their arm at all. And I genuinely thought to myself, if I could make something that I love that I think looks amazing. Could I get it in the hands of the family? And would they then want to use it and share it? And I thought, I mean, everyone thought I was crazy. Even having the idea but I I genuinely believed in it. And I bought myself a ticket, I flew to La hired a car. And I was planning to go and deliver them to Christiana, which is the mom to her work residence because I had the address of her work residence. What I didn’t realize was that she worked from home. And it was in a gated community because I don’t we don’t have gated communities in Melbourne. So when I got there, I was like, wow, now what because you know, I turn up to this thing that would be equal, I guess, to try and get into prisons very highly kind of secure. And I said I had a I had a parcel and I wanted to drop something off to Kris Jenner and they let me through. And then when I got to the got to the property, there was a big do not cross because she was renovating her driveway. And I was like, Oh, God, one now I know I shouldn’t be here because you know, I’m actually in a residence. This is no one turns up on even here. You’re about to get it. You don’t turn up on someone’s doorstep. What do I do? Like I’ve just landed from Australia, and a UPS truck turned up at that exact same time. And he walked over the thing, he was dropping off some boxes. And I was like, Well, this is my moment. And I do believe in like there’s some universal gifts sometimes that were given. That was one of them. Because at that exact moment, you know, I was there he was there. So I was like, Well, it’s obviously permission from the universe to just step out. So I followed him in the driveway, and I put my parcels on top of his he pressed the doorbell. I heard noises inside. And then I got out of there. And a few months later I I heard from their assistants, and pretty much for six or seven years now we’ve had relationships with the family, they are constant supports. I think what’s really important is I actually had a four page letter inside that package. And let us share about my story about my life, about my bigger purpose about my mission to want to do good in the world and pay it forward to others, just like others have done to me. And I acknowledged that what I was asking of them. I acknowledged that, you know that that’s something that they could commercialize. But I just didn’t have the funds. But I made a commitment that if they supported me, I would always pay it forward. And I think that’s fundamental to why we still have a relationship with them today.



Graeme Cowan  23:10

And what did that do to your orders? Were they you know, failed on social media?



Olivia Carr  23:16

Yeah, I think because it was momentum. And this is back in the day, like 2015, they weren’t really paid a lot of paid commercial agreements with celebrities and brands, and even influencers. They were kind of still bloggers back then. So I was very fortunate. This is also when they still had their own apps. And they had websites, which they don’t have now. But they genuinely were just so happy to get products that they love to give to their followers. So I would get email saying, Hey, we’re doing a giveaway, we’d love to give you a silk pillowcases, they would give you the hero banners on their website, it would stay on there for a month, you’re getting all this traffic to your site. Like it was incredible. Like none of this could be replicated now because the whole landscape has changed so much. But over a period of around six to 12 months, it went from me working at home, in my study to an office at Chadstone shopping center with nine staff. So it wasn’t one moment. I think it was a continuation of all the amazing things we were doing together. Yeah.



Graeme Cowan  24:11

I understand your mother and your daughter. Were involved with the business. How did that go?



Olivia Carr  24:17

Yeah, so I mean, it’s one of those things like when when I looked back and when I started it, I guess whilst I always think big, I don’t know if I really, I didn’t think big enough to know where I was going with this brand. So you know, mom used to come over just after work to help me with the orders, like and my daughter was there. She was 14 at the time. And you know, it was like we’d be sending stuff to celebrities. And she’s like, this is kind of cool. I’m sending something to, you know, Ariana Grande or Selena Gomez like she was in it because it was just a cool thing to do. And it was very humble. Like it was just the three of us hanging out. It was very cool. And they both still work for me today. So I think one of the nicest things was that finally being able to give her a beautiful, talking about caring, like the most beautiful employment opportunity, which will be her last because she could retire. Now she’s retirement age. But my mom’s always worked incredibly hard. I think she’s been undervalued in her career and never really recognized. And so to be able to give her that is such a beautiful gift. And my daughter has been with me for eight years and is graduating next week from Monash to start accounting at Deloitte next year. So we’ll be going through a transition where she’ll finally leave the nest. And I think that that will be that’ll be healthy for her more so than me. Definitely, yeah.



Graeme Cowan  25:38

What have been some of the growing pains? What were some things you didn’t expect? In getting all these orders? What were some of the things that blindsided you or you just didn’t? Yeah.



Olivia Carr  25:50

definitely having a product based business, it is a cash consuming cow. Like it’s anyone that deals with, you know, products in E commerce or just products generally, just, again, pre COVID, how things work has changed a little bit recently, especially with the impacts of the economy, but you always had to pay for things before they landed. And that can be really challenging when you’re small, and you’re trying to scale because you’re constantly all the cash that you’re making is being reinvested back into stock. And then if you don’t balance that and you carry too much stock, you’re then you’ve got no access to cash flow anymore, because it’s tied up in access to it’s different. It’s a juggling act, a constant juggling act, we’ve just since moved to a completely made to order model to kind of overcome the need to constantly, you know, the bigger you grow, we had 200 skews, different skews or different products at one point, really hard to keep them all in stock all the time really hard to get a positive cash flow business when you’re constantly having to reinvest in so many products. So we’ve just taken a really bold move in the last month and turned our entire business to make to order will it work to be confirmed all signs at the moment appointing that’s a better way to do business. It’s it’s better for the planet as well, less consumption. But that is driven by one of the biggest pain points which is cashflow in the business. I think another another big one really is just like fatigue and exhaustion. Like there’s just, I’m in a business where it’s ecommerce, it’s 24/7 365 days of the year, I just took my first holiday to Europe this year, in eight years. Admittedly, the timing sucked it was the 30th of June. And I had to cut it short by six days, because what I realized is you can be on holidays. And yes, this whole idea of work anywhere from your laptop. Yes, there’s elements of that that are true. But you just can’t switch off like there’s no real switching off. And whilst I have a lot of balance in my life, the problem with ecommerce is if you do take your foot off the accelerator, it has almost an instant impact in your business. And that can be really hard to manage. And I’m probably still in the process. Now at the moment of still experiencing my second run of burnout. I put up a public. I’ve since deleted it. But I had a bit of a meltdown in July after Europe. I came back and I said that’s it. I’m selling the business. I’m done too hard. But really what that was was just a very open expression of being burnt out again.



Graeme Cowan  28:26

Yeah, you’re having the business now? Seven.


Olivia Carr  28:29

So yeah, at its peak, we had 11.


Graeme Cowan  28:34

Yeah. And what do you think is the key to a great leadership team or a great team for producing results?


Olivia Carr  28:45

That’s a great question. So I would say that you have to treat your employees. Firstly, like, as volunteers, like we talk about this at work all the time. Like, even though they’re paid. They’re volunteering or they’re choosing to choose you to come to work for every day. Like I think that a lot of people have that the wrong way around like they my employees don’t owe me anything. Like I owe them immense gratitude for choosing like there’s so much choice in the world, we all have choice, but they choose every single morning ears, take the pain away, take the perks, take everything else, they make a conscious choice to come and work for me or for for the business every single day. And that to me, I think when as a leader when you truly come from that lens that comes through and how you I guess love and nurture your team and how you support them how you recognize them. It’s not something I ever experienced in all of my different careers. I never felt like an employer really saw things that way. But the irony of that is I’ve left all of them. So you know if things had been different. Yeah, yeah.


Graeme Cowan  29:59

And how do you ensure that people feel free to contribute their ideas? You know, you said, you’ve got lots of ideas and you bring a lot to the table, I’m sure. But if someone else brings an idea, how do you how do you determine whether it should be on the organization’s agenda or not?


Olivia Carr  30:22

Well, this is interesting, because we’ve we have, so we’ve done a lot of agile work and a lot of design thinking, we will try everything. Because I think sometimes what I might think is not going to work actually might work or something, I think, you know, will work won’t work. So I’m not scared of trying ideas i We foster, like an environment of innovation. So no one’s idea is a bad idea, I guess. And that comes right down, like some of the best ideas we’ve had is from, you know, one of our 16 year old, casual staff that are in the warehouse that might just see something and have a totally different way. Now, there’s never really been an idea that costs a huge amount of money that we’ve had to really stop and say, Hang on, does this make sense? But generally, it’s the everyone’s ideas are equal, like, and we also don’t have any hierarchy where we work. Yes, people have job titles, and they have roles and whatever. But no one’s less or more important, like, myself included, like I sit alongside the team. It’s an open plan office, there’s none of this, like, I we have a cleaning roster, I do the cleaning as well, like it’s, I would never expect my staff to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. I also wouldn’t only ever put my ideas forward, because then I might as well just work on my own. So I guess we just, we encourage ideas. Yeah.


Graeme Cowan  31:41

I saw something on the internet. That was true or not. But there was an article, I think, said, not making money from $50 million business and turnover. Was that true?


Olivia Carr  31:57

Yeah. So there might have been a lot actually talked about this in the book. So when I first launched the business, I had a goal and I put it out very publicly. And I will say I studied PR, so I kind of know how to get the clickbait headlines. I think it’s important for any business owner like to be able to sometimes have the ability to do that. But I guess I’m at a point now where I’m like, You know what, I want to get the headline, but then can we talk about the truth behind it? So the truth is, when I first launched, I went out and I was like, You know what, I want to grow this to a $50 million business. Now we got it to 10 mil. And the point was, in the article, I’m not sure which one you read, is that there was a good amount of time, probably it took about four to five years where we weren’t making profit. So it’s really easy. Like, I truly believe this, it’s so easy for anyone to make a million dollars in revenue. It’s so easy, not so easy, less easy to make 10 million revenue. But it’s really challenging to make profit. And so I am now an advocate for Can we just flip the conversation to it doesn’t really matter how much investment you got, how much capital you raised, how much revenue you’re making, could actually start talking about whether you’re making profit or not, because that’s what we need to talk about. Because this will break the cycle of businesses being set up and then failing, because they keep aiming for these like ridiculous milestones, throwing more and more money into it and thinking Hang on a second, I forgot to check if we have money in the bank, after all of that. And that was a huge lesson for me. You know, we lost a property that about $1.5 million of actual personal cash was put into this business in the end, and it was just, you know,


Graeme Cowan  33:33

not good. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You’ve just bought the book selfmade. Why did you wrote the book? Yeah.


Olivia Carr  33:43

Why did I write the book? It’s a good question. I’m so thankful I wrote the book, if I knew what writing a book entailed. Thought twice, to be honest. But I wrote the book truly to impact. I’m in a season of my life where I care mostly about impacting others about helping people, bringing them on the journey. If I can open a door for someone, if I can make somebody’s day that little bit easier. That’s why I do what I do. So that was really the driving force behind it. I mean, I stepped out of my business for eight months to write, to write the book and suffered. You know, it was our first loss in four years. But I did that because I do believe in the bigger purpose. Why I call it self made is fascinating. It was the night before the first lockdown in Melbourne, in 2020. And those that are listening for Melbourne will remember this. All the stores were about to close. And it was 6pm was the start of our curfew. And I called up a tattoo parlor. We just had our first three donut days of no sales on both of our websites. Because that was the time where there were no handouts yet everyone was freaking out. There’s so much uncertainty in the world. And I was like, wow, since the day I launched in 2015. I’ve never experienced $0 Sales Day. And I was like, here we go. This is it. I’m losing it all. As the day has come, it’s out of my control pandemic is bigger than me. So I caught up at a tattoo parlor and asked them to inscribe the two words self made on my wrist. And that was a pact to myself that if I did lose it all that I would rebuild, and essentially, to me self made is not a measure of financial success. It is not how much money you have in the bank, it’s actually how much fire and stamina you have in you to rebuild your life, to turn your life around to get yourself out of a hole. That to me is what self made is.



Graeme Cowan  35:32

And how do you take care of yourself? How do you make sure you’ve got enough fuel in your tank?


Olivia Carr  35:37

Yeah, therapy is so important. Tomorrow I am I’ll be having my 31st session of therapy with my psychologist since November last year. I’m really proud of that. I am also very privileged, I will say that I think it’s a it’s a unfortunately, it’s a sad privilege to be able to get so much therapy now. Because, you know, we Yes, we get our health mental health care plans in Australia and you get 10 sessions subsidized. I think there could be so much more done in the space of mental health. But to me truly, like I want I couldn’t have gotten through the book writing process without therapy. I can tell when I need therapy, like you know, before today’s call, I write down all the notes of the things that I need to talk about this week. And it’s really fascinating, because to me, like speaking with my psychologist, a lot of it will be mindset stuff like, you know, maybe it’s a really challenging time at work right now. Or I might be going through, I don’t know something we How can I, how can I overcome whatever it is that I’m facing at work. And whilst a therapist is not a business coach, often the thing that I need help with is my own mindset around something, it’s my own baby, I’m experiencing some, you know, lack of even the book coming out is a big one. It’s really scary to kind of put something out in the world and be open to opinions on your life, right? And it’s like, I need therapy for that, I need to be able to say, you know, it’s okay, not everyone’s gonna like you, not everyone’s going to agree with what you say, and that’s okay. But I know that I need therapy in order to be able to build that extra layer of resilience and protection for myself around it. Some of the other simple things I do I get out in nature, like eco therapy is amazing, it’s free, because nothing ever, every single day I need to be outside or go to the gym. The gym is something that I think is really not talked about enough for mental health, like just moving your body, like moving the energy through your body, you don’t have to go crazy, you don’t have to do anything, you know, get one of the cheapest 24/7 gym memberships, like I have, just do something to your body. And it’s in that daily, like, if I know I’ve gone to the gym, and I’ve done something for myself for that day, then the rest of the day seems to go okay, because I’ve at least committed to myself for 45 minutes. I can tell when I’ve had three days of not going to the gym, I’m like, Ah, neat. I know, there’s that that’s balancing itself though, because I can’t, I need to be careful with that too. It’s like you can go too far on the other end when something becomes so pretty cool to your own, you know, equilibrium that everything is in balance, I think is what I’m learning. Yeah,


Graeme Cowan  38:23

I have a keynote presentation called self care isn’t selfish. And I talked about three elements of you know, our well being our resilience. The first is vitality, which is our physical health, you know, exercise, good risk, good food. The second is intimacy, which is our emotional health that you know, the support we have in our personal and private life and also in work. And the third is prosperity or contribution health, you know, that can often come from our career, but also the social contribution, whether it’s for a charity, I think I mentioned that I was involved in starting and growing a okay for 13 years. And each of those three really, really important like three three legs on a stool if one’s in bed shape, still fall over. And I you know, the message is we need to act like VIPs and acting like a VIP is saying I deserve to top up the vitality, the end of the sea of the prosperity every single day. It’s an I learned the hard way as well. Like, I had a profound depression for five years. I was out of work for five years. And it was just what gradually, you know, got me out but it’s, you know, it’s become a real ritual. I have like this weekly plan or a self care plan. It’s very cool. By telling me intimacy and prosperity and every Sunday, I work out you know what’s happening in the week ahead. So that Each of those glasses is full during that period of time.


Olivia Carr  40:02

That is really cool. I mean, just listening to that, you know, I do a lot of, obviously work on myself. I’m a big believer in you know, you have to take ownership of your own mental health and, and you do, you really have to own yourself in all, you know, the light and the dark. Not easy at times. But I think for me, the next process that I’m going through, it’s probably under that is the intimacy part, I think I’m stuck, I’m so good at giving to others, probably comes from being a mum, you know, so young. But I don’t find it easy to receive love, genuine love from those closest to me. And, you know, I’m starting my next book called self love, which is about my journey back to myself. And that starts with loving myself. You know, I can go to the gym, I can, you know, drink the green juices, as they say, I can do all those things. But it’s deeper than that. For me, it’s like, you know what, it’s time to let the armor down. It’s time to be open to heartbreak, which is something I’ve never experienced in 42 years. And the sad thing of that is because I’ve never let anyone in. So you know, you can’t experience heartbreak or heartache, you definitely not experienced love. And I’m blessed to be going through that process at the moment with someone and it’s really challenging. It’s intimacy. I don’t know, intimacy, even with yourself is I don’t know, it’s not easy. It’s takes a lot of work. And a lot of work. Yeah,


Graeme Cowan  41:31

yeah. Really, really does.


Olivia Carr  41:34

One of the things no one teaches you this stuff, right? No one teaches you how to have relationships with yourself and with others, and how to love how to receive love if you’ve never been shown it.


Graeme Cowan  41:45

Yet, but also, you know, just being our authentic self. You know, one of the, one of the slides or quotes I use in my keynote is from the author and poet, Angela. I mentioned Angela Mae who and I love it because she says success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s so you know, it really brings home to us it’s a, it’s about following our path, not someone else’s. And. And in further evidence of that, there’s a book by brawny where the Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Number one is that I wish to live a more authentic life and not try to please other people. Number two was I wish I didn’t work so hard. They’re really the wisdom I think in you know, both what Bernie were found, but also Angela Mae, who I think imprint on that incorrectly. You’ve also through the self made book, you’ve launched the self made movement, you have self made squads, what does that involve? Oh, I’m


Olivia Carr  43:04

so proud of this, like, I’m so proud of this. I just pitched this to a TV network. I’m really hoping to get some momentum behind this. So I think one of the things that I’ve experienced as a business owner is just how isolating those first few years can be, you know, working on your own, having support around you, not even through the hard times, like when good things happen. There’s no one there, like and then you realize, Wow, I’m doing this, and why and it can be. It’s a really challenging process. And just with everything going on in the world, right now, with people’s mental health, I just think it is such a time to get around everyone to kind of nurture support. Maybe this is the intimacy thing. And just bring people up the ladder. And if there’s anything I can do to help another, that’s, that’s always gonna light me up. So there’s the self made squad, essentially, it’s like Ghostbusters, we turn up in a bus, it’s branded. It’s myself and my team. So you’ve got branding experts in there, financial help marketing, customer care myself with PR, marketing, sales, wholesale, etc. We turn up to the workplace, if they work from home, they’re invited into our workplace. And we spent a whole day free of charge and we sit with them. It’s very informal, they fill out a bit of an application and they share with us what support they need. And often they might think we’ve received a few applications, they might think it’s financial help, but actually, what you find out is it’s actually they just need a bit of love, right? A bit of encouragement, you’ve got this. It’s normal, we feel you and we’ve spent a day with them helping with their business, giving them whatever resources I’ll open whatever doors I can I have my black book, whatever context connections, anyway, that I can help. You know, we give them templates, the cat like whatever it is that they need, just just to kind of give them a bit of a leg up. So they can do this through the website. You fill out an application and one day every month we go into the workplace and we do our thing. Yeah,


Graeme Cowan  44:58

that’s fantastic. It really amazing and sure makes a big difference in the lives of those people that you’re part of. It’s been really fantastic catching up today. And if you have joined our chat very much, and I always finish by asking, you know, if you knew what you know now, what advice would you give to your 19 year old self having just given birth to your daughter?


Olivia Carr  45:29

Oh, gosh, there’s so many. But I think I think the most fundamental answer would be asked for help. Like, it sounds so basic. It’s actually really hard to do when you know, you need it. I just think ask for help.


Graeme Cowan  45:49

That’s a that’s a really wonderful message. Because, you know, there’s that saying, isn’t that everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle, you know, nothing about me than ones that ask for help. But, you know, by asking, it also helps the other person to make their know they’re making a contribution, but you may find out things they’re struggling with as well as conversation.


Olivia Carr  46:13

Yeah. I’m so appreciative. This has been amazing. Like, it just feels very, I don’t know, you have a very calm aura to you. Yeah.



Graeme Cowan  46:24

Thank you for being part of the caring Co. I’ve enjoyed our chat very much.


Olivia Carr  46:29

Thank you so much.


Graeme Cowan  46:34

That’s great. Thanks. So that was really, you know, much. We ended up in some interesting places. And there’s a couple of books that I found really helpful on the intimacy side of things. There’s one called friend intimacy. Yeah. He’s somewhere yeah. Yeah, so it’s a combination of friend and intimacy sort of thing. Oh, that’s cool. But how to deepen friendships for lifelong health and happiness, or what I love about it talks about a model, we need three things to have that intimacy. The first is that, you know, it’s a positive experience to be with people. Well, that’s a do. The second is it has to be consistent, you know, we have to keep on trying. And then the third element, which men have a lot of trouble with, including myself at one stage of my life, is that you’ve got to be comfortable to be vulnerable, and talk about what what isn’t working out for you. So yeah, I know people have the first two, but not necessarily the third one, which I think really does take it to a deeper level. The other two, it’s a husband and wife team, John and Julie Gottman. Yes,


Olivia Carr  47:56

Yes, they do. So amazing. My psychologist always talked to me about them. And like, the whole thing about the relationship house and


Graeme Cowan  48:03

yeah, yeah, and therefore the book, I think it’s called the seven secrets to great marriage or something. And they’ve done so basic stuff, I’m not sure if your psychologist told you about. But they actually, you know, put people put a couple into a house, like a, like a weekend. So it’s like a holiday, but they wire them up as well. And so they can see what they’re saying what they’re doing. But they can also measure the physiology behind it. And they identify, you know, the three biggest threats to, you know, those really deep and meaningful relationships and the the three things that, you know, the couples, they call the masters or disasters, and I was very lucky, I had masters as my parents, and the three things that they do is that they respond to beads. So what that means is if someone says something, that beautiful bird, the other person makes an effort to do it and say, oh, yeah, that is amazing. Or look at the harbor, I don’t just grant and keep reading, they actually respond to the beard. The second thing is that they play the issue, not the person so if you’re fighting about you know, putting out the garbage, it’s not saying you’re you’re lazy, that’s why you’re not doing it saying it’s talking about the actual problem, you know, is there some way can we can remind each other to do something about it? And third one is that you know, they’re really supportive when things go wrong so that’s that’s important, but But even more important, is celebrating each other’s wins. It’s even more important than you know, being a comfort when things don’t go right sort of thing. And yeah, it’s it’s simple stuff. If but, you know,


Olivia Carr  50:02

yeah, it makes it it’s gotta be applied. Yeah. And that’s been


Graeme Cowan  50:04

all part of my journey as well, like I was out of work for five years, and gradually came out of it. And then it was just doing lots of exploration like you’re doing and lots of assessments and that sort of stuff, and also finding some really good books for podcasts as well. So


Olivia Carr  50:26

how did you get yourself out of it,


Graeme Cowan  50:29

it was a combination of things, it really was that the IP staff it was, it was resolving to, when I first started, it was resolving talk every day in nature, and started off with 15 minutes pulled up to 45. And then it was reaching out to friends and family isolated myself from I felt really ashamed. And, yeah, so I didn’t, I didn’t look forward to it, but, you know, catch up for coffee or catching up for beer. But afterwards, I felt really good. So just, you know, plan to do more and more of that. And the third element was, you know, learning to meditate, and meditation, had been putting my life and I was depressed, I couldn’t do it. And that when I lifted my mood a bit, this became an everyday part of my life sort of thing. And the final of me was, you know, making a contribution, writing my first book back from the brink, where I share my story, but also the story of other people, you know, some well known some not that, what they used to get out of it. And I, I surveyed over 4000 people to find out what their recovery and led to the IKEA framework, and the IKEA framework is about how we identify someone who’s struggling, the C is for compassion, how we, you know, ask, are you okay with empathy and, and truly listen, A is to help them to access help, whatever help that might be, could be a doctor, a psychologist, and accountant or financial planner, are is for revitalizing work a lot of method, if you’re stressed, you should be at home. And that’s often the worst thing if you’re at home by yourself. So can stay connected with your work mindset has been shown to be really good for recovery. And then he has for exercise, and yeah, so it’s sort of an add on to the AOK. Now, okay, was very good about the conversation. But then we’ve provided programs that really help with the how to help, you know, so it’s this help sheets about how to find a mental health service GP, help or help prepare for mental health discussion with a GP psychologists and psychiatrists? Yes, it is. It’s, it’s been a, you know, a really great journey. And, you know, if you told me during that five years, that one day, that it would lead me to reevaluate my values, my priorities, my mission, I would have thought you’re crazy, but but it really was the, you know, that crisis point really led to a big difference.


Olivia Carr  53:13

You honestly do have a really, like, beautiful, calming aura. And, yeah, I mean, I’ve met a lot of people and it’s, it’s not something you can fake it’s yeah, so that’s nice. Yeah.


Graeme Cowan  53:28

You know, I really do try to live an authentic life and and, you know, listen to people like Bernie waves spent lots of time with people die. And that was a big regret. They were living their life according to someone else or other people rather than what was important to them. But you know, she’s done extraordinary things. You should be very proud to live here and look forward to following your journey.


Olivia Carr  53:53

Thank you so much. I’m so appreciative. No worries, all the best. Thanks. Bye.

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