Female led business set to put Chinchilla on the map
OWNER and creator of Chinchilla's My Felt Lady Candice Mason is one of nine women chosen across Queensland to form part of Canvas Co-working's unique Female Led Aspiring International Regional (FLAIR) incubator program to help take her business to the next level.
The mother of two said she's excited to grow her local business so she can help give back to the community by creating jobs, and mentoring stay at home mums who are keen to get into exciting business ventures.
"We sell high quality merino felt that's 100 per cent Australian wool felt that's nonflammable, safe to use for children, biodegradable, and it repels 97 per cent of bacteria - so we're looking towards the sustainably market which is really important," she said.
"At the moment I'm just pottering along here doing my thing, cutting up hundreds of thousands of meters of felt a year and going okay but not really going anywhere, and not sure where to go next.
"They are going to help me run my business in Chinchilla as a rural sector and have a large retail online business that isn't subject to drought, and the highs and lows of the gas industry.
"I'll be able to provide jobs for locals in town, we could create anywhere between 20-30 jobs with the business which is a real big deal for me - I'll need cutters, packers, where house staff, drivers, trucks."
"In the end we are going to research, develop and implement a plan to breach the international market… we want to grow as a 100 per cent Australian wool felt business for the overseas market.
"More specifically I would really like to support, but not limited to, stay at home mums.
"I want them to come and work with me because we have ways of assisting them and growing their ideas, because it doesn't just stop with felt."
Mrs Mason started up her business in Chinchilla in 2013, to try her hand at a more fulfilling and meaningful career while being a stay at home mum.
"I was going really crazy, it was when the heavy downfall of the gas industry hit town and I lost my job (as a product sales co-ordinator for Asia Pacific for company called Ansaldo STS)," she said
"I wanted something that didn't require me to leave because I was missing the children, they were babies, I wasn't like every other mum that wanted to go back to work… I wanted to work and stay home.
"So I said, 'hubby can I have a few grand to open up an online and open a business for fun?'… And it just got bigger and bigger.
"I just see so many mums like me who have children or moved out here for the gas industry, but I want to support that network with my business.
"Being able to hire these women who are intelligent and just want to get out of their home, and they want to get back into business life, and get back to some normality after children - and that's what it was like for me, I wanted to keep that side of me that I was good at.
"My business will be able to offer so much - kids who leaving school, with traineeships and apprenticeships in marketing, sales, customer service, social media, international export.
"We have the ability to support that and Flair will really help me get it out of my head onto paper and work out where to start."
The female-led businesses were chosen after a successful Selection Bootcamp where teams presented their business and ideas for obtaining access to international markets.
The program will assist eleven female leaders and their teams through a growth phase of their business and help generate the foundations they require for conducting business with global clients.
Applications for Flair Incubator were received from all over Australia, however, travel restrictions and limited flight options due to COVID-19, minimised attendance to the Bootcamp to those based in Queensland.
Flair Incubator will begin with a week-long residential at the end of August, followed by monthly residentials and virtual masterclasses and mentor sessions every week.
The program will culminate in December with the Flair Showcase to present their business concepts to potential investors and customers.
This project received grant funding from the Australian Government, along with financial support from the Advancing Regional Innovation Program - Darling Downs & Maranoa.