#WesternWomenWednesday, Jasmine Wallace, Buckaroo Boutique Australia
I have been drooling over this Instagram page for a while - finally something available in my home country that was stylish, classy, and not covered in bling - that also stocked some amazing international brands. Buckaroo Boutique is an award winning online business that is stretching the boundaries in western fashion in Australia. Here we chat with its founder, Jasmine Wallace, about her foray into fashion and making a business work whilst juggling family, rural life, social media competition and water troubles on a rural property in outback Australia.
Age. Name. Location.
Jaz Wallace, Late 30's , Biloela – Central Queensland, Australia.
Tell us a bit about yourself, the inception of Buckaroo Boutique, and your journey so far -
Prior to Buckaroo Boutique, I was a very new Mum (mom) with daughter Mackenzie, and worked fulltime as a Safety Systems Officer at a Coal Mine. After returning to work from maternity leave, my daughter was attending day-care on a fulltime basis and for the first 12 months back at work in a full time capacity my daughter was sick for what felt like 8 months of the year. It was at this stage I realised I wanted to restructure my world with a better work/life balance and to be a more present mother, wife and offsider to my husband with our extensive ‘Bred to Buck’ bull breeding program (Wallace Bucking Bulls) and growing cattle property.
It was at this time in my life, I was throwing a few ideas around in conversation with regards to Australian/American country-western fashion, with my Best friend and then colleague, Helen (Helly) who I had worked alongside for almost eight years in the mining industry. Helly and I both had our own fashion flare, lived very similar lifestyles, and have very similar ideals, integrity and work ethics. Through lots of ‘fashion forward chin wagging’ we both felt that the Australian country-western fashion was stale and lacked the modern eclectic flare so readily available overseas. Wholeheartedly believing we both had what it took to pioneer change in Australian country-western fashion, I asked Helly if she’d like to go into business with me and of course she said yes. However, at the same time of Buckaroo’s inception, Helen & her husband was in the very early stages of purchasing a new cattle property and like most new farming acquisitions at take-over, it required a lot of time, travelling back and forth between cattle properties and new commitment from Helen, which in turn limited the time and commitment required from Helen as a business partner to assist in building Buckaroo Boutique. With that said, three months into our new business, I felt Helen was indirectly becoming a silent partner so I offered to purchase her half share, for which she agreed. Also, I very nearly forgot to mention, amongst all of this, the company who owned the mine site we both worked at, was newly purchased by another company and with a major company restructure, it was with great delight, we both accepted redundancies. A monster relief to us, as we both had so much going on in our personal worlds.
From the get-go I built and managed Buckaroo Boutique Facebook and Instagram social media pages, sourced stock, and modelled our clothing. Already managing the social media platform for our own “Wallace Bucking Bulls”, I understood the commitment and importance of a consistent social media presence. Two-Three days away from the social media loop in the online fashion game, is business suicide, so it was only natural this part of the business fell to me. As an avid photographer, Helen looked after the initial stages of photography, however as I was receiving our stock, the realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks that in the current world of fast fashion, we had to get the clothing photographed, website loaded and advertised the moment it landed. It couldn’t sit and wait 1-2weeks for Helly & I to meet. The initial reluctant modelling of our clothing was out of necessity and as a small business not yet making a profit, we simply couldn’t afford to pay someone, so I pulled up my big girl panties, threw myself into it and without any formal photography training, I learnt how to use my camera’s self-timer and googled the shit out of “how to photograph using natural light”. None of Buckaroo’s photos are photo-shopped other than the requirement to slightly darken or lighten a pic. For optimal natural light, I have learnt which sheds on our farm to take photos in/around at certain times of the day.
Jumping forward, almost two years into my business, I am happy with its organic growth with both a domestic and international following and an extremely loyal customer base and also recently winning Boutique Hub - 2018 Australian Boutique of Year and 2018 Australian ONLINE Boutique of the Year. To date, I have seen the best and the worst of human behaviour. I have learnt a lot about myself; my capabilities, strengths and weaknesses but most of all I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy assisting women to feel wonderful about themselves. I am also super excited about the friendships and relationships which have been made on this amazing journey.
Tell us a bit about your life and passions outside of the business and how you keep that work/life balance?
Our daughter, Mackenzie, still attends day-care three days/week. These three days are my most active prep business days for Buckaroo Boutique, and on any one of those given days I style up/photograph clothing, prep pics/content, catalogue/upload accessories, follow up on orders, contact suppliers etc. My husband originates from Australian Rodeo royalty and is also a retired champion bull rider himself. One of his greatest passions, which I embrace and wholeheartedly support, is the breeding of bucking bulls and strengthening/building the genetic quality of buckers within Australia. So, outside of Buckaroo Boutique, my husband and I breed and raise ‘bred to buck’ bulls and cows, which we compete with on the ABBI Australia circuit and contract our bucking stock to PBR Australia along with a few other various Rodeo Associations. Naturally, we also dabble in horses. So when I’m not focusing on Buckaroo, I am working alongside my husband assisting with our cattle/horses, or we’re on the road heading to bull riding events. We are very blessed to live and breathe a true western lifestyle.
Tell us some rookie errors or blunders that you have found yourself in – what were the lessons you learned from them?
Rookie Errors; oh my goodness, where do I start (with head in my hands), Hahaha?! There have been many but one that comes to mind, that I still shake my head at, was collaborating with a Self-declared Australian Western Fashion Influencer who promised the world in photoshoots and quality photos; delivered 3-4 months later with bad quality pics when the stock I gave was already sold and only receiving pics of half the product I gave her. Lesson learnt: 1. Never feel guilty to say no, especially when your heart wants to give them the benefit of the doubt, and your business head says no. 2. I now get in contact with companies/businesses who an influencer has worked with, for feedback. 3. Ensure the Fashion Influencers style/look fits with Buckaroo Boutique.
In your opinion, what could be done better in Australian Business and by women in business to keep ahead of the game and keep up with US counterparts?
The discovery of the Boutique Hub has been a saving grace for both myself and Buckaroo Boutique. An Australian arm or a similar business model for Aussie boutique owners, small brands, designers, service providers and fashion influencers to come together to connect, collaborate, learn & grow would save so much pain for many new small business owners in Australia. In my two small years of retail business, I have witnessed quite a few new online Aussie country-western retail businesses start out in the online game, and from the outset I can see that they do not know how to price their garments and because their product is not turning over quick enough, they too regularly advertise sales; grossly undercutting other established businesses, incidentally creating price wars and cheapening good quality brands. Compared to America, Australia has a very small western culture and it’d make more sense not to compete with each other in the retail game, but to work with, and assist each other in growing our country-western fashion industry/community for longevity – I can only see that as a win win.
What are you listening to and reading right now that helps you keep motivated or connected, living rurally in Australia?
Right now I am listening to a podcast from AJ Alderson, Boutique Hub and reading Cowboys & Indians Magazine, August/September issue.
What is your favourite quote right now that is helping you to keep pushing forward in fashion or business?
Oh, I have many quotes on my vision board! This week’s quote:
If there’s even a slight chance of getting something that will make you happy, risk it. Life’s too short, and happiness too rare. - AR. LUCAS