Melissa Van Kasteren of Lujo Home has been named as a finalist for the 2020 AusMumpreneur Awards. In both the Disabled Business Excellence Award SA and the Overcoming the Odds Award Categories.
The AusMumpreneur Awards presented by The Women’s Business School celebrate and recognize Australian Mum’s in business achieving outstanding success in areas such as business excellence, product development, customer service and digital innovation. The awards are designed to recognize the growing number of women who successfully balance motherhood and business. In a way that suits their life and family.
Illnesses can be challenging, but can lead to amazing things
For many years Melissa has lived with an invisible illness. Diagnosed with SLE Lupus, with symptoms as early as 21 years old. Serious illness is a tough journey, but she is glad of one thing through this challenge, it has led her to create Lujo Home, which officially launched in 2017. Myer Online was introduced a couple of years later.
Melissa had no idea that buying silk bedding would be the precipice that would change her life and lead her on the path it has. The silk duvet and pillowcases gave her relief. Something not easily done while living with a chronic illness. It was also beautiful to touch and look at, making her feel more relaxed.
“I fell in love with pure mulberry silk”
Mulberry silk wasn’t just wonderful to touch, it had beauty and health benefits too. She realized she needed to share this discovery with other people.
“I’ve always loved retail. I have worked in retail previously. But I was only ever able to work part-time (if at all) due to my illness. My wonderful husband worked away in FIFO to support us. Often for 4 weeks at a time and we only saw him for a week in between. The idea of Lujo Home came from wanting to build something for my family, with more family time together.
What inspired Melissa?
Our product range was inspired by what I personally loved and have made a big difference to my own life. My love of bright shiny objects and things like silk have helped me so much over the last few years. It has definitely played a big part in starting this business. I started Lujo Home with the things I loved. When you’re not feeling too well you must really love something to be able to promote it or sell it. There was a need for a local supplier with a specialist range in silk. I wanted to build a business with greater choice for our customers and even better customer service. Back when we started there wasn’t as many pure silk suppliers. Our focus has always been on quality and not corner-cutting”.
What does Melissa love about being a Mumpreneur?
Every single order I pack, I just get so excited. I love to see what people buy and I love hearing back comments and reviews. Often about how much they love it and how things are changing people’s lives in simple ways. I just get so excited by that. It really makes me feel good. Lujo Home has enabled me to be able to work full time. This is the first time in years. I have been able to build something for my family. It’s also lovely to have all the people involved in my business. A lot of money comes in, but a lot goes out to people as well and I love that.
Melissa is delighted to be named as a finalist and is proud of her achievements. Particularly being able to scale up and down through this turbulent year. Learning as she has gone. As she has had no formal training or managerial experience.
It’s also been a true blessing for her family. Melissa’s husband Jason has been able to scale back his time working away. Jason now only works away two out of three rather than four out of five. This has been amazing for family time and means a lot to the kids as well as Melissa.
There are many benefits to balancing business and motherhood as Melissa explains, “Lujo Home has enabled me to be able to work properly for the first time in years. To build something for my family. Being able to work from home around my family and my health challenges has been crucial to my success. I’ve been able to show my children to keep going no matter what obstacles you face. Aldo to follow their inspiration”.
What advice does Melissa have for people considering starting their own business?
It can be challenging to be a successful business woman whilst raising a family. Melissa gives this advice for others thinking about starting their own enterprise. ”For me stocking products I love has got me though the tough times. This may go against others advice but when you are unwell sometimes you need to keep yourself inspired. Makes getting through the tough times easier. I think scaling up slowly has also allowed me to learn and grown as I go. So even if it’s all new try to put your fears aside and give it a good go”.
Read more at www.ausmumpreneur.com. The winners of the 2021 AusMumpreneur Awards will be announced at an online event in September.