I am EXTRA excited to share Emma with you because well, what isn't there to love?! She is a cop by day, solopreneur/founder of Canvast by night and she calls Brisbane home!
Are you ready? Let's do this.
Get to know Emma in 30 seconds...
Tea or coffee?
Coffee - til I die.
Pizza or burger?
Chocolate or candy?
Your best friend would describe you as…
Crazy, loyal and unpredictable
Name three items you can’t live without...
I can make it two, coffee and my Canvast
What are you watching/reading/listening to right now?
My friends and I just started a book club (honestly, I think it was just an excuse to drink wine) so I just finished The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I’m also half way through ‘Game Changers’ on Netflix, got sick of hearing about it from everyone else so wanted to see what the fuss was all about.
What is your current obsession?
There’s a couple of podcasts I’m crushing on hard at the moment. Happy Hour with Lucy and Nikki is a vibe and Shameless - they’re both very much pop culture podcasts and it’s nice to listen to something that’s not business related for a bit!
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Mexico is my new obsession. But I’ve got Italy planned for next year - 4 weeks of aperol spritz, yes please!
Now for the deep dive…
What does a ‘normal day’ look like for you? Do you have some form of routine during the week?
I’m a shift worker - so my routine is based around what I’m working, not necessarily Monday to Friday. I’m trying to implement some non negotiables, but have realised I might need help with this - so I’m doing Kiah Worling's program at the moment.
So on the days I work at my regular job, I do the bare minimum (emails, socials) and then on my days off, you’ll most likely find me at a cafe getting it done! I’m doing this business owner thing solo, so it includes everything from new product development, wholesale stuff, blogs, processing orders, creating social tiles, scheduling - honestly I could be here forever listing the things I do on my days off!
It’s also really important to me to be moving and active, so I try and do at least 4 sessions a week where I really sweat and work hard. I walk my dog. I try and schedule in self care and down time and ALSO allow myself some room to dream and journal and work towards some big picture goals too.
That’s a lot isn’t it?
Do you have a system or do you use particular apps to help manage your never-ending to do list?
I do EVERYTHING in my Canvast. I really believe that I’m way more productive working out of a paper planner. I find when I’m on my phone I’m extremely distracted and constantly being pulled in different directions. Don’t get me wrong, tech definitely has it’s place (I’m well aware it’s 2019) but when I see it all laid out in front of me in my Canvast, the overwhelm is taken away. There is a plan in place. So if someone comes to me and says, “can you do this?” “wanna do coffee?” “are you free?” - I don’t just say yes and hope for the best, I can give an answer without stressing the F out.
Before we dive into your adult life, career and all things cop-life and Canvast, I am interested to know about your childhood… what were you like growing up? What did your life look like back then?
I had such a wild imagination. I remember my Grandma always saying that looking after me as a kid was easy compared to my sisters. I could turn anything into an adventure.
I always wanted to be an actress - probably my one regret was not pursuing that to be honest - but I was definitely an entertainer.
I was a tomboy, running around playing mud footy and climbing trees and building forts, I was in musicals and tried every sport I could. I was probably the most competitive kid ever, if I did something I had to be the best at it.
I’m really grateful for the childhood I had.
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Listening to your interview on Seize The Yay, I was surprised to learn that you weren’t in your 20s anymore. What were your 20s like?
Haha I get that all the time! It’s crazy, I don’t ‘feel’ 32 (I think because my life looks very different to most 32 year olds)
My 20’s were great actually! I travelled a lot, working and travelling through Europe. I figured out probably in my mid 20’s that my life wasn’t going to look like my friends back home. I was 25 when I joined the Police as well, so the second half was spent living and working out West, which was also an amazing experience.
I guess I really allowed myself to try things, explore, work out what I wanted my life to look like, what I will and won’t settle for. I went through some really tough times (don’t we all?) and am proud of how resilient I became in my 20’s - actually spending time alone in my 20’s was the best thing I ever did.
As you know, I started following you as your were preparing your van for the big Australian road trip SOLO. What inspired you to take that trip? Were you concerned about being a young female travelling alone?
Ahhhh the famous Australian road trip haha what a disaster that was! I was in a really good position at work to take some leave without pay, and I wanted to make the most of that. I had been following other van accounts for so long and I’m the kind of person that just says, “f*ck it, I’m doing it” - I have never really let fear hold me back from doing anything. There were definitely times DURING the trip that felt a little hairy, but it all turned out. As you know I’m a cop, so I’m well aware of the psychos that are out there (haha!) but I was pretty smart with how I went about it. I also slept with a knife under my pillow, so there was that too.
I’ve always been planner obsessed. I’m so organised. Although I would say it’s a real juggle now that I have a fulltime job AND a business (and everything in between) so I rely on it now more than ever. I could never find one that I loved, so I thought, “why not make your own?”
I was also in a really tough place at work. I felt myself being undervalued and started second guessing my worth. Honestly, it's crazy how quick toxicity can seep into your life. Creating Canvast was not only an outlet for that, it became something that I injected positivity and a sassy “f*ck anyone who tells you you can’t” attitude into, so anyone else using it felt empowered and strong and unstoppable.
How do you even start creating and then producing a product like Canvast?
Winging it! Haha honestly though, I’ve learnt so much by just taking things one step at a time. If we wait until we are ‘ready’ it will never happen. I worked with an agency who built the Canvast brand, the website and also created the Canvast and then I researched printing companies who would print and import them. That is a VERY simplified version of the process, obviously, and from idea to launch it was about 8 months in the making.
What has been your biggest struggle to date?
I mean, owning your own business in general is one big struggle (in like, the best way?) but as a product-based business sales are your priority - so I’d say trying to nail the marketing/sales side of things has been a process. I don’t want to say it’s a struggle because I’m not unhappy with it. I’m stoked every time an order comes through, and I’m not losing money, so I’m enjoying learning along the way what works and what doesn’t.
Actually I take that back - mindset has been a real struggle for me. I know a lot of other business owners who can attest to this, but my mindset and getting through periods of self doubt and absolute mental sabotage has been a struggle for sure.
What advice would you give to someone entering the eCommerce space?
If you’re not prepared for hard work, don’t do it. Is it worth it? Absolutely. But it’s tough. Nothing about business is easy. Spend the time before you dive head first really nutting things out. Get specific on the details, really deep dive. Get quotes, figure out who you want to work with and surround yourself with, talk to other female business owners, only take advice from people who have DONE IT. Don’t let other people’s fear or objections creep in. And you have to LOVE what you’re trying to do, or you will fail. You will.
Balancing solopreneuring with your day job as a police officer, what have been your biggest challenges? Does self doubt ever creep in?
In the early stages the self doubt was all about whether or not Canvast would even be a ‘thing’ - I was thinking things like “who will even want to buy this?” “who am I to think I can just make my own planner and make a business out of it”
Now I’m like “f*ck, how do I outsource and where can I afford to shift things around to make this work long term?”
My doubts currently are whether I can grow at the pace I’d like to. I want to double my orders in 2020, so it’s less whether I’m capable at all, and more about whether I can GROW as much as I’d like to.
The balancing act is hard, days off aren't even a thing at the moment but I’m smack bang in the middle of a growth spurt and implementing things that will make my life easier. But knowing what business is like, I could lose my shit and end up at the bottom of a red wine bottle next week for all I know.
What about your biggest victories? What are some things you are especially proud of?
I’ve always said launching is something I’m really proud of. It’s a journey, man. When you dream about something and envision it and what it will look like - once you finally see it and feel it, it’s a really magic feeling.
I’m onto my third print run, which is really cool. There’s thousands (THOUSANDS, GUYS) of Canvast out in the world being used by incredible women. How f*cking cool is that?!
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Don’t take advice from people who haven’t done it.
I can’t imagine a situation where you WOULD take advice from someone who hasn’t done what you’re trying to achieve. Block out the noise. So important.
Who is a go-getting gal that you look up to or admire?
Ooo this is tough! Locally, Sam Laura Brown who is a blogger and coach who I met since starting Canvast. I could go on and on about how amazing it is to watch Sam and how she does business. We are totally different in what we do, but if you want to see how to dream and pull things off like a pro? Go watch her.
Amber from Baiia The Label which is a sustainable swimwear brand, and she’s also someone I met while Canvast was still just an idea. I’ve watched Baiia go from strength to strength. It inspires me a lot. Honestly, surrounding yourself with other women who are going through the same things as you is so important.
And on a bigger scale, Sarah from Seize The Yay - that woman. My god. She is just an absolute boss, and just makes it look so effortless. Thinking about her schedule makes me dizzy, and yet, she has time for everyone. She is just so graceful in the running of her (multiple) businesses and I love her haha
What is next for Canvast?
I just launched my second product, in collaboration with Marika Day. It’s a health tracker, and honestly something I will be using to get my health sh*t together. Until I started testing it, I didn’t realise how much I personally needed it!
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Goal: sell out of current stock and go to work on the design of a new Canvast to be released at the end of next year.
Goal: I’m going to work to be in a position financially where I can live on my own and turn my second bedroom into an office and have Canvast pay me ‘rent’ - lord knows I need the space!
Goal: Workshops! I love face to face stuff, so 2020 will see a lot of workshops - watch this space!
What is next for Emma (aka. you, the person)?
I have a lot of personal money goals, and obviously travel next year is high on the list as well!
I’m working really hard to manage the full time job and business stuff so I don’t burn out and make that work, but there will be a point next year where I sit down and figure out what I want everything to look like long term with that as well.
Any final pieces of advice for go-getting women reading this?
If there has been something burning in you for a while, don’t ignore it. Just start. Even if it’s little steps towards it. I was only speaking to my copy-writer Laura recently, who had almost resigned herself to the fact that having a ‘side-hustle’ as a copywriter was going to be something she just does here and there and not something she could do full time. She worked bit by bit on a project she had been thinking about and released it the other day and it BLEW UP. Stop playing small. You are capable and you are MAGIC. And if you don’t believe it yet, get yourself some friends who remind you constantly until you do.
That’s it, folks! I would like to say a big, big, BIG thank you to Emma Lewis for a) agreeing to this interview, I originally had it planned for LAST YEAR but #Life and for b) dealing with my chaotic brain. I asked Emma if we could do the interview in the busiest work month of the year, I had to drop a ball and unfortunately, as always, it was my blog (sorry!)
I fell in love with Emma by following her on Instagram and you will to:
- Here's Emma's Instagram >>> @thehappinesshunter_
- Check out Canvast.co on the 'gram >>> @canvastco
- Go buy yo'self a Canvast.co diary (and no, you don't need to wait for 2020) >>> Canvastco.com
As always, thank you so so much for reading,
(Pssstttt before you go.…. do you want more go-getting goodness delivered straight to your inbox?)