How small business can flourish in big business
We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Today there is a major shift away from the thinking that we can learn one profession, have one job and stay in it for decades. Further to this, many businesses like the Cotton On Group, are moving away from traditional models of office-based, nine-to-five working, towards a more agile and innovative approach.
As a global business operating in 19 countries and with 22,000 team members globally, the Group are passionate about attracting talented and creative people to join its Australian and global teams. With a business model that distinctively favours in-house capabilities over out-sourced resources, the Group is committed to its people and encourages creativity, entrepreneurship and individuality.
At the same time, the Group recognises that its team members have interests and passions outside of work. Even if it’s not your day job, you can still start your dream. Through their people-first approach and the fostering of creative workspaces, the Group has seen the business and its people flourish – both personally and professionally.
Today, the business is full of passionate team members and part-time small business operators, who have found an additional outlet for their creativity and extra income. Of the 1500-team members based at the global support centre in Geelong, the Group has over 50 team members who also operate their own small businesses, offering a range of products from artworks, graphic design and prints to furniture, homewares and makeup.
Hannah Pearson is one of the team members whose penchant for homewares, coupled with her artistic talent and innate ability to interpret trends, saw her turn her design hobby into a vibrant new business venture.
In 2015, Hannah took the plunge and launched Pear + Son, a homewares and accessories business, featuring Hannah’s DIY stools, copper-dipped candle holders and pastel-painted bowls.
In just a few months, Hannah became a regular on the local market scene in Geelong – running pop-up stores at the Group’s annual Christmas Market together with King of the Castle cafe on Pakington Street.
Through the support of her family and friends, the local community and the Group, Hannah has continued to grow her business with the goal of taking Pear + Son beyond Geelong and the surf coast.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the Group’s flexible working arrangements which allow team members to pursue their passions outside of work – which for me is Pear + Son, she said.”
In early-2017, Pear + Son relaunched and took on a new direction which focuses on the creation of vibrant felt clutches and wallets.
“These little beauties are full of colour and fun and offer something different for our customers with the front frill being fully removable and interchangeable,” she said.
Jake Thompson is another talented team member who was able to transform his love for photography and videography into a successful small business. Working as a Senior Filmmaker for the Group, Jake has been inspired to turn his passion into a creative venture, where he consults to a variety of industries on art direction, film and photography and graphic design.
Over the last three years, Jake has embraced opportunities to travel, network and up skill at the Group, which has assisted his own business to flourish. In October this year, the Group celebrated the 10th anniversary of its philanthropic arm, the Cotton On Foundation, with a special photo exhibition which showcased 70 pieces of work. Jake participated, displaying 10 pieces of work from the Foundation’s four project regions in Uganda, Thailand, South Africa and the Northern Territory.
Hannah and Jake are testament to the Group’s commitment to continuously build its internal talent pipeline and develop leaders of the future. By creating a workplace that is supportive, creative and flexible, the Group will continue to invest in all team members’ personal and professional development to encourage others to build their own success stories.