Career

Mon Purse Founder Lana Hopkins Dishes Out Advice For Female Founders

As she prepares for an exciting new venture, Hopkins says "if cult startups have any advantage, it’s a human quality. Soul is key."

By Emily J. Brooks

Career

As she prepares for an exciting new venture, Hopkins says "if cult startups have any advantage, it’s a human quality. Soul is key."

By Emily J. Brooks

In the age of the internet, if you are not a tech billionaire by 23 something clearly went catastrophically wrong. This notion remains in part responsible for the mid-life crisis hitting at 30, not 40, but it also gives rise to ambition and innovation. It doesn’t discriminate. A good idea executed well becomes a parachute for success. Anyone can build one, and one woman who did was Lana Hopkins. She may not be 23 and she may not be a billionaire, but she is the founder of Mon Purse, a multimillion dollar luxury handbag company re-imagined through the customisation process.

Hopkins’ “ah-ha” moment didn’t arrive while working in print and digital ad sales at News Limited, but instead when building a bear for her nephew at Westfield. After enduring an unsuccessful search for a handbag, she decided to buy her nephew a gift and found herself at a Build-a-Bear workshop creating her own plush toy. “That’s when I realised those two activities were not mutually exclusive,” Hopkins recounts. Why search for the perfect handbag when her perfect handbag was completely different to the woman beside her? Why not create her own? Research followed, along with a trip to a Turkish factory, some self-directed coding and MonPurse was born.

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“If cult startups have any advantage, it’s a human quality. Soul is key,” says Hopkins. “Consumers want to buy from brands where they can see their own reflections. If you have no soul, they won’t see theirs in your company. Millennials shop differently, and align their wallets with their values. You have to stand for something now.” Hopkins believes your strategy also needs to be as firm as your purpose, with the two creating a solid foundation for any company. “Be clear about the problem you are solving, know your venture’s purpose and stay true to that. This will allow you to build a team of people who are genuinely aligned with the core purpose. Remember the beginning defines the end.”

“Your mission, values and vision are not going to suit everyone and that’s OK,” says Hopkins. “Don’t hire blindly. It’s crucial to vet your stakeholders as meticulously as they vet you and your company. This process allows you to establish the right team for your startup, agree on and set clear goals, then ensure all stakeholders are accountable for their key areas of responsibility. But it doesn’t stop with key stakeholders. It extends to every team member in your business. We consistently attracted talented, like-minded people at Mon Purse and were fortunate to have some of the most supportive and intelligent shareholders, some of whom I am fortunate to call friends. Yet in hindsight, I would have ensured the due diligence was extended more broadly, and clear operational and financial metrics were set in place to ensure the purpose I believed in was executed. Sometimes, even if you have a clear purpose, stakeholders can drive it in a different direction if their motives are different. It is imperative to do your due diligence and check the previous history of all stakeholders (both executive and non-executive). Also gain an understanding of their goals and vision to ensure you share the same north star. Further to that, seek sound legal advice when executing any legal agreements – the investment is well worth it.

You’ve hit the glass ceiling. And our paywall.

Help us smash it by becoming a Future Woman for as little as $4 a month.

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