INTERVIEW | VIKTORIA NOVAK
Viktoria Novak is taking the fashion world by storm! Her head pieces are distinctively and sought after by brides and celebrities alike. We are amazed not only by her beautiful pieces, but her work ethic - yes, she does make every piece by hand!
We were so excited to do this Q&A with Viktoria, enjoy!
Name: Viktoria Novak
Current Title / Company: Milliner, Viktoria Novak
What was your first job out of university and how did you land that position?
One of my first jobs was a Visual Merchandiser for Figgins Holdings, who owned shoe shops Shoobiz, Molini, Scooter and many others. I was responsible for decorating their windows in all of their Melbourne stores. After working for 5 years as a Sale Representative for Shoobiz in Canberra, I scored my dream job as a Visual Merchandiser via the Company, and moved to Melbourne.
What inspired you to create your business?
After leaving my role as an Interior Decorator, I decided to study Fashion Design, because I wanted to dress people and not rooms. Throughout my studies, my primary focus was on Menswear’s fashion. I had the intention of finding a job with a Menswear fashion label after my studies were over, but in a last minute twist, I was placed in a Millinery elective class.
I had no interest in Millinery at first, and it wasn’t until the teacher emptied a garbage bag full of recycled materials onto the floor and said, “Your task is to create a headpiece from the junk on the floor. All entries will be sent to Melbourne and will be judged on creativity, uniqueness and style”. To my surprise, my design which was inspired by the Sydney Opera House at the time, won first prize. I received Millinery materials and tools as my prize, and I instantly grew this love for Millinery. All I found myself doing was creating headpieces.
Another Milliner pulled me aside at the time as I was slowly growing my label, and told me that I could never sustain a successful and full-time business just creating headpieces. So me being me, full of determination I decided to give the Viktoria Novak label a chance, to see where I could really take the business. What started off on my bedroom floor, is now full-time business in Sydney, where I run and operate my own boutique and am stock internationally, nationally and across selected Myer stores. All I do, every day, is create headpieces. Many people don’t believe that I create and hand make everything by myself. I am a perfectionist! It’s all I do, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Take us through a day in the life of your business?
It’s all go go go in the Viktoria Novak boutique and I wouldn’t have it any other way! An average day consists of design work, beading, beading and more beading, consulting brides whether in person or via telephone/Skype, and working closely with various stylists and publications.
Has anything surprised you about the journey to creating your business?
I guess my biggest surprise is how social media has changed the world. Once upon a time, advertising in the White or Yellow Pages was the way to go. Sadly, “old school” in no longer the way, the consumer wants to be able to access and get their hands on goods and services immediately. We live in a changed world today, with everything available to us instantly. As a result, I think consumers expect more from businesses because of social media, and the demand is far greater than it was 10 years ago.
Obviously, your business has grown! So, let's talk money. Tell us about the intimidating process of finding funding for your business. Any advice for women who need to find funding for their own startups?
Obtaining the necessary funding to start up your new business is a big challenge, I won’t lie – it’s not easy. As entrepreneurs, we have some great business ideas, and rightly so, we believe in those ideas. If you don’t believe from the start, you won’t succeed. My advice to anyone that doesn’t have the luxury of funds, is to start slowly and to not try and grow too big to quickly. I know that’s easier said than done, but from experience – I started on my bedroom floor 10 years ago creating race-wear fascinators. It takes time, patience and persistence and slowly funds will come through to assist you along the way to grow your dream business. Remember, we all have to start from somewhere!
Your business has developed quite a following. Can you tell us a little bit about marketing your business? How did you spread the word?
I think some businesses are intimidated to use social media to market themselves at first, until they realise how powerful it can be. The key is to have some continuity throughout your marketing and to work with the same minded people/businesses as yourself. Also, you need to allow time to dedicate to social media, it’s like a new born – it needs to be feed. You can’t just post once a week and expect to have hundreds of new followers/fans overnight. Also, mix up your posts a little – it makes your account more fun and enjoyable to view.
What do you think is the key to the success of your business?
My passion and love for what I do, I hope that those two very important key words show throughout my work. Also, being unique and not worrying about what others are doing in the industry, stick to what I believe in.
Best advice you ever received?
You have a gift and talent for Millinery, you should really consider giving this a go. Thank you to my TAFE teacher who believed in me all those years ago. I was also told by someone in my past that when you put your mind to something, always finish the task with integrity and do the best possible job you can do! Never ever give up.
I wish I knew how to ….. Swim, Sing and Surf.
What is your coffee order? Believe me or not, I don’t drink coffee. A glass full of ice, with a wedge of lemon and Evian water is my perfect beverage.
TV show do you wish was still on the air? Seinfeld and Revenge
Next travel destination? I would love to visit Dubai.
What advice would you give your 23 year old self?
Probably the same advice I gave myself 10 years ago, and that’s not to listen to too many opinions and to do what I love. Remember, in life you would much rather regret what you did, than always wondering what if. If I had listened to others as a 23 year old, Viktoria Novak (the business) wouldn’t be here today!