Meet the woman who might just have the hardest job in the world – picking gifts for men!
While even brain surgeons cringe at the thought of looking for gifts for guys, Heather Winchcomb relishes it so much she found a way to make a career out of it.
Heather is the male-gifts expert behind www.giftsforblokes.com.au, an online emporium that turns out the ultimate present just when you’ve thought “No, he really does have everything!” From books, clocks and jewellery to electronic gadgets, kitchen tools and luggage – Heather is a one-woman show who has every kind of bloke covered.
Heather has had a diverse career path. Her background is in radio, print and TV advertising. She also worked as a manager of a small business for several years prior to a career change and “going back to school” in her mid 30s to complete a diploma of multimedia, after which she worked in a web studio. Not to mention she has also studied writing and editing and is a qualified Workplace trainer.
A few years ago, Heather got together with her girlfriends and, over a few drinks, they discussed the hassles of finding men’s gifts and fantasised about being able to buy them in one spot and not having to wander the shops aimlessly. Heather’s friends suggested she set up an online store for men, thinking it would be easy for her as she had trained and worked as a web designer.
Heather initially put the idea aside but when it started to niggle at her, she did some preliminary research and found there really wasn’t an online store selling exclusively men’s gifts. Heather had always wanted to go into business for herself and began to think this was an opportunity to use her skills and do something a bit different. Although it was a challenge to start something from nothing, the more work and planning she did, the more excited she got.
Working in the web industry, Heather knew she had to find a name that was catchy, search engine-friendly and told shoppers what the store was about just by the name alone. “Gifts for Blokes” was born!
Thinking outside the square is Heather’s first step when researching stock. This, along with excellent customer service and Heather’s expert SEO skills, has ensured the site’s success. “SEO is not just a thing you just do once, it’s ongoing. By applying good SEO techniques the Gifts for Blokes site has achieved number-one placement and first-page placements in the search engines for a large number of our most important keywords and key phrases,” says Heather.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Friendly, Bubbly and Motivated.
What is your life motto? Do or Do not – there is no try – stolen from Yoda.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I started pursuing this stage of my career about 6 years ago. Success is a funny thing as I always seem to be moving the goalposts and striving to achieve more, so success is a shifting and moving concept to me.
How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? Many hours, some weeks more than others, some days more or less than others, depending upon the goal I am aiming for each time.
Describe how difficult the business really is? It’s not so much difficult as a series of challenges which I move through and learn from.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? Don’t assume anything… Research and check things out before making decisions that cost not only money but lots of time.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Keep going!
In your mind, is formal training essential? As I had previously worked in different types of businesses where I trained formally to specialise in web design, SEO and marketing, I had a good grounding. It would really depend upon which areas of the business you will be handling yourself initially. If you need some formal training to do certain things, until then you can either outsource or employ specialist staff.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Yes, I do. I have worked with a business coach who helped me a lot with direction and areas of the business that I wasn’t certain about. I found him through an industry workshop and liked his approach toward the industry as it fitted in with my beliefs. So, to find someone, I would look at whatever industry body supports your business and attend a few networking/ seminars or workshops because you just never know who you may meet.
What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? I think the biggest and hardest thing to do is take the first step – stop procrastinating and just do it. Realise that you will make mistakes but accept them as a positive and learn from them. And keep going!
What kept you going when you felt like giving up? I don’t give up easily but during a couple of down times I sat down, looked at what the low points were and then decided to turn them into a challenge to overcome. I like nothing better than a challenge so it made me proactive, which in turn made me keep going. Also, having a mortgage is a wonderful incentive!
Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? I believe in making your own luck and keeping your eye out for “gaps” that you can fill and therefore you are always in the right place at the right time.