Femme Profiles / 21.05.15 / BY Bella Serventi

VIOLENT ORANGE: Meredith Casbier

As a high-level corporate strategist for some of Australia’s largest organisations, Meredith Casbier turned her love  for fitness and fashion into a fully fledged activewear brand – Violent Orange. Read on for her amazing life lessons and career runway, as she embarked on the ultimate sea change for a more fulfilling, creative and passionate life.

Femme Info: Website: www.violentorange.com Instagram handle: @violentorange
La Femme Mecca Femme Profile Meredith Casbier
WHAT DO YOU DO AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?

I recently launched my own line of transitional women’s activewear and lifestyle clothing, called Violent Orange, catering to the busy modern woman. It’s my baby that’s been in development for a while so I am truly passionate about it. I love the creative side of developing the garments and styles, but also the whole process of starting a business from nothing is so challenging and exciting. I’ve had to do absolutely everything and learn all aspects of the business so I love being on such a huge growth curve – daily. It just never stops. Plus I have a virtual team of people who I enlist for specific tasks, financial, social media/PR, legal, design and production and they are enthusiastic, passionate people I want to work with.

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

I come from a corporate background in marketing and business development, mainly for professional services firms. I learnt a lot during that time and worked really hard. The idea came about when I was retrenched from a very large organization, having gone through 5 restructures in 5 years, and I really wasn’t having a good time. Being retrenched was devastating, but it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my career goals. Even though I went back to corporate for a few years, I had my business brain bubbling in the background developing my idea and product. Then the time came when I had to make that leap of faith and leave the security of full-time employment, to work on VO. I didn’t want to die wondering!!

 WHAT IS YOUR CAREER AND EDUCATION BACKGROUND?

I started a Communication degree initially and then dropped out. I was married very young and at a later stage did a business degree externally. Career wise it has been quite a varied journey, working in advertising, tourism, accountancy firms, law firms, recruitment…. All mainly in the advertising/marketing/business development and strategic areas. I think I have a diverse set of skills, which certainly helps with what I’m doing now.

WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND WOMEN STUDY OR DO TO BEST EQUIP THEMSELVES TO GET INTO YOUR INDUSTRY?

I had no experience in the fashion industry so have been learning on the job – I really think understanding the technical aspects of your industry is important as a grounding. For me that included wrapping my head around design, fabric, production etc – all areas I’ve learnt on the go. But the most important piece of advice from my perspective, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to show you don’t know the answer, people are so willing to help and give advice – so long as you find the right people with the right knowledge. But remember to give back as well.

WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED AS GROWING BUSINESS?

Oh my goodness, where do I start!! I’m really in start-up phase so every day is still a learning curve. Overall I’ve had to learn a whole new industry. I have “persistence” as an essential part of my DNA and I’ve learnt to never to be afraid of asking questions and being honest about what I don’t know. I’m across all areas of my business, which for me was absolutely necessary, and even though that is not sustainable longer term, it was really important to me to make sure I understood every aspect of the operations. VO is my idea and my money has gone into bringing it to life, so I’ve been pretty tenacious about getting the knowledge. The challenges are still there, but I have to back myself and be brave.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?

This question really made me think and when I drill it down it’s actually having moved to Sydney after my first marriage and starting a new life where I didn’t know anyone. I was living on my own and out of suit case in a unit my parents owned in Manly. I had a new job, went back to study, and I was missing my children. My two children stayed in the country with their father and I travelled back each weekend to be with them. It was the hardest, loneliest time of my life but has resulted in a life I love and feel really blessed to have. It’s provided me with a lot of opportunities, some beautiful friends and my children are now here making a life for themselves. So that’s the umbrella achievement that allowed a lot of other achievements to take place that I’m proud of.

WHAT’S YOUR FITNESS ADVICE?

Exercise and maintain a healthy diet. No question about it. I’ve always exercised, always had a healthy diet and I really know my body and what makes me feel good, physically, mentally and emotionally and what doesn’t. I can’t honestly say I stick to it 100% but it really is the basis for everything. Use it or lose it on the exercise front and don’t push rubbish into your body.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU’VE LEARNT FROM A MISTAKE YOU’VE MADE IN THE PAST?

Mistakes are part of the game. Some of my mistakes have been costly and stressful, but I’ve learnt to reflect on what got me to that point and try to learn from it. Trust in my ability more – on a number of levels….and maintain a sense of humour!

HAS YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS CHANGED FOR YOU OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER?

This definition has definitely changed – for me now, success is not just about the salary. Doing what you love or are passionate about means you are happy to work hard and put in the hours. NOT loving your work is stressful and draining. Life is just too damn short to not be happy. Some organisations may look great from the outside, but if they have a toxic culture it’s insidious and damaging to your very being.

REFLECTING ON YOUR CAREER TO DATE, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF AT THE BEGINNING?

Plan a little better. Probably through circumstances, I fell into some jobs, but if I’d really taken the time to figure out what I wanted to do and mapped it out, I would have saved myself a lot of time and heartache!

HOW DO YOU MANAGE STRESS, ANXIETY AND WORK LIFE BALANCE?

I used to run – that gave me a great head space. I still definitely exercise; spin class, bush walks, pilates reformer, yoga. I also love reading. I really try to make Sundays a day with my husband and very cute dog, the rest of the week is a little crazy. Oh, and healthy food. Always.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND THE VIOLENT ORANGE BUSINESS?

My husband is planning a trek for us in Bhutan later in the year which should be an amazing new challenge. For VO, I have new styles in development and I’m currently working on developing the wholesale side of the business. I am building an infrastructure that allows me to work more on the business, and not so much in it.

WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF?

Persistent; Resourceful; Curious

LA FEMME MECCA MEREDITH CASBIER PROFILE

Credits

Author / Bella Serventi

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