PODCAST EPISODE: How Dominique Overcame Hard Times and Started her Online Business

In this episode I chat with Business Jump client, Dom from Living Parisienne about how she over came being a single mum living in paris to find her dream business.

Find Dominque over at:

Nat: Hi Dom, how are you?

Dom: I’m very well thank you. It’s nice to be here.

Nat: I’m absolutely thrilled that you’re here, thank you so much for joining us. For everyone who’s listening, I’ve got Dom on the line. She’s actually a Business Jump client but she’s also here to share her story which I think is really really inspiring. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your business first of all and then we’ll get stuck in to your story?

Dom: My business is called Living Parisienne. It’s a French inspired homewares and lifestyle business which came about because I lived in France for almost 10 years. And I’ve just moved back to Australia so that’s basically what it’s about. It’s a directory style business at the moment but I have hopes that in the future it will become a marketplace as well to showcase the best from Paris inspired homewares that I’m finding here in Australia for those people who love a bit of Paris and who also want to style up their home in the Parisian way.

Nat: Perfect. I remember when we first chatted about this concept and I thought ‘Yes!’ on so many levels. You were coming to me with something very niche, something that you were obviously very passionate about and something that had been in your everyday life already. You have a very inspiration back story because you’re a single mum, so do you want to fill me in a little bit more about how that has been, how living in Paris was and how it all evolved for you to take that experience into a business.

Dom: Basically becoming a single mum has been the biggest driver for me to starting this business because I actually had no intentions of moving back to Australia. If I was still living in Paris today, I would still be working at my job, which I loved back then. I loved my life in Paris but having my own business over there wasn’t part of the plan. I left almost 10 years ago, 2008 I moved over there and originally it was only supposed to be for a year or so because my former career was as a French teacher. I really only went over to improve my French and had the intention of coming back to Australia to continue teaching. But things happen and I found a really good job over there and I created a life that I loved and I ended up staying. And then in 2014 I met my son’s father and very early on into the relationship I fell pregnant, so it wasn’t planned. He wasn’t as excited about the pregnancy so we made a decision pretty much right then and there that he wouldn’t continue. So, I became a single mum at that moment. I was a single mum from the beginning.

Nat: What was that like for you in that moment?

Dom: It was hard, I’m not going to lie. I’d always wanted to be a mum but not in that way. A single mum doesn’t plan to be a single mum. Whichever way it happens I don’t think it’s anyone’s desire to raise a child on their own. It’s the job of two people. In fact, it’s the job of more than two people! It’s the tribe, the support network. You need a lot of people around you when you’re raising kids. So, for him to walk away, that was his choice. It was not easy for me but I looked at it this way – I was 37 when I fell pregnant. I’d been living in France for 6 years at that stage and built a really nice life for myself. I didn’t really want to be a single mum but thought I’m 37, if I don’t have this baby I may never have a baby. So that was my choice and I decided to go ahead and do it on my own.

And I had the intention of staying in France, I didn’t want to move back to Australia. I really wanted to stay over there, my life was in Paris and I loved my life in Paris. I had no intentions of coming back home. I have great family, my sister lives in London so she came over, and my parents came over for the first year, so I had a lot of support in the very first year when my son was born. But then the second year it got hard. It was really really hard. So between 12 months and 2, my son is 2 and a half now, I was working, I was doing everything, doing drop offs pick-ups from day care, juggling work, I was also doing a masters at the same time in translation studies so that was something that I was aiming to pursue more when I was living in France, but I’d gotten to a point with the masters that I didn’t want to stop it. So I was juggling study, work and raising a child, in a foreign country, with amazing friends and support, it’s just not the same as in your home country.

It just got too hard, so I made the hard decision to move back to Australia with my son and to be honest, it was a huge relief. As much as I miss Paris and I love that place so much, the moment I arrived back in Sydney, this huge weight on my shoulders lifted immediately and having my parents involved with the upbringing of my son and they’re just fabulous. My sister still lives in London so she’s finding it difficult being away from all of us but it’s just so lovely to be close to my family again.

Nat: So do you think that was meant to happen? I would look at all of that turbulence as a realignment to bring you back to Australia.

Dom: I actually agree with you. When I first arrived in Paris….Paris is a hard city, for me it was a bit… everything fell in to place when I went to Paris. I went with a backpack. I went with no job. I went with not knowing a single person and was living in a backpackers for the first month or two. I’d never envisaged my life to turn out the way it did living in Paris, of finding the people that I met, of finding the jobs that I did, of creating a beautiful network of friends and building an amazing life in a city I feel very connected to. And I’m like you, when things started to get hard, so when my son’s father decided to leave and I was in this position of raising a child on my own, still determined to do it in Paris, I remember the last 4 or 5 months, so from about August/September of last year, just before I moved back, I was so exhausted that even getting my son to day care was a struggle. Getting myself to work was a struggle. Everything just seemed so hard and it really felt like I wasn’t thriving, I was just surviving. And I didn’t want to live in my favourite city in the world, surviving. I mean, what’s the point? It doesn’t become why I live there anymore. I knew deep down I had to go. And even though everyone kept saying to me, oh we’re going to miss you, please stay, you can do this… I just knew I couldn’t. I had to be back in Australia. I guess it was funny because I’m very much like that too, things aren’t working for me anymore. This is too hard. Life shouldn’t be this hard, when it doesn’t need to be.

Nat: I love that so much. Whether it happened straight away or it came over time, you had an awareness of, it’s not meant to be this hard, and life is meant to be for living and I really believe we are meant to be waking up every day feeling absolutely content and fulfilled so it’s like that realisation came to you, where sometimes other people just continue living with that disservice of themselves, not living their best life, and just living with it and muddling through. And that’s one of the things I think is inspiring about your story, that awareness that you knew, that there was a better way, a calling for you to come back to Australia.

Dom: Yeah I think it was which is why I was sad to leave, but at the same time, I felt ready to leave.. I also wasn’t being the best mum over there. Like when I was at home I just couldn’t be… I was plonking him in front of the television as much as possible just because I needed a break, I needed to get away. I wasn’t engaging with him, I was just going through the motions of each day. And that wasn’t what I wanted. And as much as I wanted my son to grow up in France, he’s half French, that’s where he was born, and because he doesn’t have his father in life I wanted to immerse him in his culture. But I didn’t want to do it in the way we were doing it. I wanted to be a better mum to him as well. I didn’t want to be exhausted, which I was. I’ve never felt that level of exhaustion before in my whole entire life. It was hard. So when I came home, I felt an enormous relief. It immediately was lifted and I knew everything was going to be ok.

Nat: So how long had you been home for before you got in contact with me? Or before you started thinking about an online business?

Dom: That actually came out of the blue! I’d thought about having my own business before, but it had been like a little French café or a little French this or a little French that, and it all seemed very overwhelming. I’d need a lot of capital or a business partner… it was too much, too hard. I knew I didn’t want to go back into teaching full time. I like teaching but I’m not passionate about it anymore and it’s just not something I want to be doing. At first I was looking just for other jobs within education but outside of teaching, but because I’d been gone for nearly 10 years I was struggling to even get job interviews. So I was like hmmm ok! Why am I not getting an interview?! I’ve got so much experience, I’ve got international experience and I’m educated and this is weird! I was perplexed!

Nat: You know why that is though? It was still aligning you and guiding you.

Dom: I so agree! And funnily enough the more rejections I got, the more relieved I felt. I actually tapped into that and I thought if I’m feeling relieved about not getting a job, this is actually telling me I don’t want to work for somebody. And your Business Jump FB ads were popping up on my phone at the time and I would read them but I wasn’t clicking on anything. And then they kept coming back and I remember being in bed on my phone, which is terrible I know, and I actually clicked on your advert and it was almost immediate. I thought this is what I want to do, this is what I can do, this is it, this is what I’ve been looking for! So I started looking at it more and more and I decided to do something with French because I needed to still be connected to Paris, I needed it to be in my life and the ideas kept flowing from there. I signed up only a couple of days after I’d clicked on your advert, so it was end of April, only a few months after I’d got home, found your ad and it was just…. Like when I know something is right I just do it, I don’t go, ‘Oh I don’t know’. I get these gut feelings over stuff and I act on those feelings and finding Business Jump was one of those feelings.

Nat: I don’t want to sound up myself or anything but your whole story and just because I’m such a big believer in everything works out the way it’s meant to, but when you spell out your story like that and when you track back to how you were feeling about certain things when you were investigating certain different options and it just led you to my perfectly timed Facebook ad (!), and this is what it’s about. It’s not just a business in my mind, it’s creating a gateway so you can continue living the life that you want, doing something that you love. So essentially in my mind, you got to that point where you saw that this can be a solution and then you listened to those feelings and you acknowledged that you felt right. I just have so much excitement for what now lies in front of you because I believe that you are now aligned to doing and growing and being what…. The universe or your purpose… or whatever it is you were looking for, it feels like you’ve found it.

Dom: It does and it’s very funny, since I started, I’ve already met…. because Paris is such a huge part of me….and that was another reason, if I’d started working in another type of job, Paris would become further and further away and that for me is just No. It’s part of who I am so it needs to be incorporated into my life even if I’m living in Australia, and I’ve met already quite a few people, already since launching, I’ve met a couple of really lovely people who are either Australian and into the whole French thing like I am who have become vendors or actual French people. I met an amazing beautiful creator from Paris, we connected on Instagram and she probably is going to get on board but she really is just starting out like me but I’m sure that we can collaborate in some way and work together and we just connected immediately. She’s moved to Australia with her 2 year old and her husband who’s Australian, and they lived in Paris for basically the same amount of time I was living in Paris. Her husband was in Paris for 9 or 10 years, and they just moved back to Australia last year and so she doesn’t really know that many people in Sydney and she’s Parisian and we speak French together and it’s so wonderful and these are the kinds of people I’m going to be meeting because they’re the people who are the same as me. And that’s who I want to be working with and growing and collaborating and doing business with, likeminded people.

Nat: And that is the power of niching down. When you niche down you find people who are hard core invested in something. If yours was a little bit broader you’d still find people who were interested in it but when you niche down to your level, that’s when you find the people it’s really in their heart how much they love it and that’s what creates the connections and that loyal following of people because you love it so much and all your messaging is centred around that because you’ve niched down and your communication is so targeted that they instantly react to that, and it’s really powerful. And not everyone knows… some people start out a little bit broad and that’s ok, because as you go, you listen and you find your niche so it’s not like you need to know straight away, even though you did, but that’s the power of the niche, it creates such amazing connections like that. So, when we spoke and then when you were thinking about actually taking the jump, were you excited or scared or what was going through your mind? Was there fear there?

Dom: Oh I still have fear! Definitely excited because it’s something that feels possible. I’ve never worked in business, as I said my background is in education and translating, so business isn’t in me. I’ve never done one single thing in business before and luckily because I am a teacher, learning is a passion. I love to learn, I love to grow, I love to upskill, I love to be around people who know their stuff and learn from them, so it’s a part of my personality and make up and I think if you are a teacher you naturally have that in you anyway, but I’m starting a business with no business background. No business, no marketing, no business anything.

Nat: But you just hit the nail on the head there, it’s learning. It’s learning something new. It’s not like you need to sell a lung on the black market to know how to do it, you just learn, it’s a skill and I love that you acknowledge that.

Dom: And that I think is why it’s exciting because I’m learning something new, that already is very exciting for me. But yeah scary as well! Because at the moment it’s all me putting in money and giving which is fine because I know I have to do that because I’ve got to grow my audience and grow my traffic and everything about digital marketing and all this stuff but yeah as a single mum, that’s the biggest fear for me because everything rides on my shoulders and even though I’ve got great family support, at the end of the day it’s my son and I. And that’s extremely overwhelming and can actually, if I’m not careful, my mindset can go down another path and say, ‘What are you doing Dominque, you should just get a safe job where you’ve got a regular income because you’ve got your son and it’s only you and your son.’

And even though I know that might not be forever, but right now today, that’s the situation and that probably scares me the most. But because I’ve taken risks in the past and taken risks that have felt right, they’ve worked out, so I’m trusting that in myself, that this will also work out. So in those moments of complete anxiety and fear which I do get, I think it’s also normal in the business world and starting your own business, you just work through it so I think because I’ve had such huge….I mean I had my son on my own, I didn’t know how that was going to work out but I trusted that it would be ok, even though it would be difficult it would be ok. And now my son is 2.5 and I have no problems being a single mum anymore. The pressures of money and everything is all still there, but it’s the same for couples, but I trust that everything will work out because in the past when I do trust it always worked out. So for me in this business, when I have that anxiety and fear I just let it go through me and I don’t sit on it too much or overtake me and then just have that trust that everything will be fine.

Nat: I love that and you just answered my next question for me. It was going to be how do you deal with it all! I hundred bazillion percent absolutely agree. And I think that that fear and anxiety and overwhelm, it doesn’t…. like you don’t suddenly wake up one day and go, oh it’s gone, I’m going to go and do everything I plan to. I still feel it in my business but I’m a lot better at recalibrating it and continuing on anyway. And I think that each time you master it you grow a little bit and you’re more prepared to handle it the next time it pops up. But then sometimes the Universe really loves to slam you and to test you, like ‘Have you had enough yet because I’m not so sure now so let’s just see if you can handle this really stressful situation!!’ But it’s mindset.

Mindset is so instrumental in business and I always say to my clients and even myself in those time of overwhelm and stress or thinking what am I doing or what are my next steps or I’ve had a really shit day, it always comes back to strategy. So instead of trying to push through strategy in those situations I’ll go and watch something inspirational or listen to a thought leader on mindset. So I love that you’ve picked up on that, on mindset because it’s so instrumental in getting us through that fear and overwhelm. So… obviously we created your business and all of that and you’re a month into it now, so what would you say… oh actually one question first that I always love hearing the answer to – if you didn’t come on board with us where do you think you would be and do you think you would have done anything different?

Dom: To be honest, if I didn’t take the plunge into my own business with you guys I think I actually would have just kept looking for a full time job within education and gone down the safe path – but also not being able to be with my son. And that’s another reason why I wanted to have my own business, because my son is going to be the only one I’m going to have and I want to be there for him while he’s little and growing up. I don’t want to be chained to someone else’s schedule and those work hours your constricted in and miss out on his early years. For me that’s really important. I know it’s not for everyone but for me it’s a real driving factor of going into business. But obviously I need to work because I need to provide for my son so I would have been looking for a full time job and just working.

Nat: And so we’ve handed over for about a month now so tell me what the last 4 weeks has bene like and what has worked for you. I know we’ve had a conversation about Facebook and Instagram and I think there’s a really important lesson in there so do you want to fill me in on that?

Dom: Yeah, so I had been focussing in the last month on growing my audience the most because I already have some vendors on board that Business Jump helped me with that gave me a foundation and some people to work with who have some great products, and little boutiques and creators to collaborate with to help grow their business. But if I’m going to grow their business I have to grow my own business to have that audience otherwise there’s really no interest for them to be on my website! I do have a love/hate relationship with Instagram, I know it’s something I need to have, but I’m finding it very difficult to crack so it’s growing slowly. Facebook on the other hand has been really great for me so I’ve been working with one of the other Business Jump ladies Rebecca, who runs the Facebook adverts and her course has been fabulous. I’m actually still running the same ad that I started with and I’m still getting likes every day and I’m not even spending much money on it. In fact, I’m reducing my daily spend so for a very small investment of running these ads because I’ve got the right copy and the right image, I haven’t even changed that yet, I just keep relaunching the same ad, and it’s working. I’m getting new likes all the time, it’s all in the good stats, the relevance is high, the cost per click is low, everything is doing really well, so because that’s working well I’m just leaving it. I’ve just relaunched the ad again, this is the third time and I’m already up to nearly 1.5k likes on Facebook within a month. From that though, I mean you get likes that’s fine but it’s about the engagement, that’s what is important and in the first month, working a lot with Facebook, I’ve already had 3 leads, customers coming to me about products that they’ve seen on my page that they’re interested in, so then I just filter them to the appropriate boutiques who are already on my website. So I’m already generating some leads for my vendors which is fabulous because hopefully they can see that it is working and could be really great for them and their business.

Nat: And I love the story behind that because I know in the Facebook group when you were getting started, you posted something about Instagram not working the way you wanted but you were getting results on Facebook. And I said to you, focus then on Facebook, scale Facebook. Whereas a lot of people would dilute their time trying to get it all sorted, and I’m a big advocate of nailing one. But the funny thing is, Becky who runs the Facebook training, she posted exactly the same thing when she first started her business, Family Garden Life and I said exactly the same thing to her and it was almost like permission in a way. Oh ok good, I don’t have to focus on Instagram right now, I’ll save it for another day. Facebook is where I’m getting my results so instead of diluting my time trying to figure out Instagram I’m going to scale Facebook. And then she got such amazing results doing that, everyone else in the group saw that and said, ‘How do I do that?’ And that’s how her training started! So again, it’s literally just a story of doing something, seeing how it plays out and in her case, she was so good at Facebook ads that everyone wanted to jump on board so now she’s helping the majority of Business Jump clients grow their audience. Anyone can grow their business organically but paying for it is going to skyrocket your results so much faster.

Dom: It really does and it’s not that expensive especially if you do it right and I think that’s what I’ve learned from Rebecca, because I kind of played a little bit with ads, not proper ads but like boosting posts before I started her course and I felt like I was wasting money. It’s just a few little tricks that she’ll give you and then her group on the advertising Facebook group that she runs. We’re all really supportive too so you post your ad and everybody helps each other out so in a way it’s collaborative, which I love. But yeah I’ve got a really great image and copy that is obviously working so I’m still using it and getting really good results. And it’s converting into a lot of engagement and potential sales for my vendors so that for me just proves that there’s a lot of potential with Facebook.

Nat: Oh 100% and a lot of what it’s doing is just shortcutting you to where you want to go faster because you’re growing your audience at this stage. A lot of people would try to hard sell their listings on their directory not realising that they need to create their value first. The value isn’t the product initially, it’s the audience and if you don’t spend your time in that, then vendors don’t see your value. Obviously you’ve spent time growing your audience and that’s why you have people reaching out to you and coming to you and that’s what we want, instead of you having to be knocking on people’s doors. And look there is a little bit of that at the start but the end goal in a business with freedom is to set it up like a magnet and that’s with people coming to you, which is exactly what you’re doing and why you’re seeing these people reaching out to you now.

Dom: So it’s good and I’m actually really happy with how it’s all going. It actually feels longer than a month! It’s been a bit longer since I started working with you guys but since handover and going live it’s just been over a month and I just love it. I am addicted to it, I work every day and night, that’s all I want to do. But I think that’s great too because it shows that its…. That I’m working with my passion. My passion is all about Paris and France and I want to keep investing in that and doing that and meeting people who love that too so it actually doesn’t feel like work.

Nat: Yeah I was having this exact conversation with Angela Henderson on our podcast yesterday. We had an amazing chat for about 20 minutes just to catch up and stuff and I was like, Angela, this whole chat is something that I would have loved to have done on a podcast, we should have hit record! I think that part of the conversation was in the part before we started to record but it’s because I’m that type of person, my mind 24/7 is on business. My phone is always in my hand and I never shut off. And some people might think that’s shit, how can I do that, aren’t I meant to be living a life of freedom blah blah, and I am, I so am! I’m so living with my purpose and I’m so aligned and I love what I do so much that it’s actually not work. Work does not justify what it means. It’s just life and it’s living each day in contentment. I mean I love Mondays, I hate Fridays, I hate having to take time off over the weekend. And I’m not saying that everyone has to work to that level in their business but I’m saying it’s my choice. It’s my choice and your choice to work like that. But not everyone is designed like that and it’s totally fine. Some people might only want to spend half that time and that’s totally cool, it’s not a necessity but I do find there is a particular breed of women in business who just thrive on working and they don’t see it as working, they see it as living in their purpose and being fulfilled and loving what they do. And I love that, I didn’t realise that about you and I love that.

Dom: Yeah when I… it just goes to anything. When I latch on to anything in life that I’m passionate about, I give it my all. So why not work? This is why I’ve been so happy to have found you guys. I wouldn’t have even been able to get the website off the ground because I wouldn’t have known where to start, so you’ve given me that opportunity to get that off the ground. And it’s funny, you actually think you’re working on your own but you actually aren’t because of the way the Business Jump group is set up. I actually feel like I’m collaborating with people all the time. I know it’s by distance but I almost feel like you are all my colleagues, we’re just all around Australia and the world. And that’s nice and I think that’s why this has been possible. And to be honest I don’t think I could have done this on my own because I wouldn’t have known how to reach certain people, the right people, but you’ve given me that opportunity to start and now it’s just growing and that’s why it’s just so exciting.

Nat: Well I’m so excited for you because you’ve taken everything on board and you’ve made it your own and you’ve put these things into action and you’re starting to see results and gain traction and you’re 100% right about the group and that was a large part of why I implemented the Facebook group, because for a lot of us working from home can be lonely and I’m sort of an introvert and I like working alone but when I started socialising with more business owners, and I always knew that some people need that constant connection and to have a tribe of people behind them for support. It’s instrumental to our success so that was the main reason why I created it and also so I could continue to support them because for me, my fulfilment comes out of seeing clients like you that are making it happen. I want to do all I can to help them succeed because I don’t want to sell someone a business and say there you go, you work it out… I actually care a lot, and that whole purpose thing and fulfilment thing is seeing people succeed for me. So yeah I wanted to be able to piece everything together to give everyone the best possible chance of success and I honestly believe that having a tribe of likeminded women and mums in that group where you can reach out and say yay I had a win today or I had a shit day, and you’re going to have 30 people comment on it, going ‘That’s awesome!’ or ‘Me too!’

Dom: Exactly! And that’s something that I love about Business Jump. And we’re learning from each other too.

Nat: Well that’s right and you see what worked for other people and what didn’t work and like we were chatting about before we hit record was like your filter. So you said that you were very good at filtering things because it’s very easy to see what other people are doing and then think oh shit maybe I should be doing that. But you know, you watch and you take what works for you and then you move on. So, last question. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What is it that you want your online business to have created for you in 5 years’ time?

Dom: What I would love is that everything is all set up, I still would be always looking for designers and boutiques that I’m interested in, but more people would be coming to me rather than me going to them.  but because it’s all about Paris for me, I want to be able to live and travel between the two countries. I want my son to be able to still be in touch with his birth country. I want him to spend time in Paris but I can still work on my business. I want the freedom to say you know what? Louie, you’re half French and half Australian and we are going to have this amazing life between the two countries and be connected to that place which is also my soul country and my soul city and still be able to work on my business and grow it and bring the two together. Bring Sydney or Australia and Paris together and fuse them together.

Nat: I’m seriously trying not to bawl my eyes out right now! I’m seriously trying not to cry because I can so see that happening for you!

Dom: That is my dream because it was the hardest decision to leave Paris, it was really really tough. Even though I knew I had to and that’s why I think I had to come home… to meet you guys, I had to start this business to bring the two worlds together. Living in Paris I couldn’t have done that, but having them both is the dream. Having them both together and having my son know both countries inside and out and be in touch with both cultures is my dream.

Nat: This is just the magic of business and the magic of living in purpose and fulfilment. I’m just about to cry. That’s just everything. I can so see it happening for you and I so feel that you’re already on that track and I can’t wait to be with you on that journey and see all those things. I believe they’re already manifesting but when you’re actually doing it I want photos and I want updates and I can’t wait to follow you on that journey and see it happen!

Dom: Thanks Nat, that’s so lovely.

Nat: I’m so grateful and appreciative of you coming on and sharing your story. I loved talking with you so much and I’m so excited to continue the conversation in the Facebook group and online.

Dom: Me too! Thank you so much!