Nicola Rivett is the founder and owner of Kids Eye Gear – a successful manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of children’s optical accessories since 2013. In addition to managing Kids Eye Gear, Nicola also works as a Senior Research Analyst for one of Australia’s largest media companies. She has more than 20 years’ experience conducting research and marketing projects for hundreds of clients in a vast range of industries. Nicola loves to combine her passion for children’s vision, eye health and eye safety with her expertise in research and marketing to create engaging and helpful content for parents of kids with eye conditions.
Kids Eye Gear was established in 2013 in Queensland, Australia. The company is focused on providing quality vision products, as well as providing support to families and educating about vision, eye health and eye safety for kids.
Here’s our chat with Nicola…
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
Kids Eye Gear was actually a bit of an accidental business. After struggling to find affordable and easily accessible eye patches for my son, who needed to patch due to a rare eye condition, I started importing patches to help my family and a few other families I knew of going through the same thing. Little did I know, or perhaps didn’t do enough research from the start, was that there was a much greater need than I anticipated for the products in Australia. It’s important to me to be able to share my experiences and provide a product that actually makes a difference to people’s lives. I just wouldn’t get any satisfaction from running a business that didn’t have a meaningful impact. Vision is such an important part of a child’s development, so trying to educate parents about vision, eye health and eye safety is really where my passion lies and keeps me going in the business.
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
Honestly, I actually resisted becoming an entrepreneur for a few years. My parents worked like dogs in their own businesses and I always swore I wouldn’t be like that. But now I understand why they did it. The fulfilment of creating something of your own and the flexibility of having your own business is hard to beat. I think it’s really only been the last year that I have shifted my mindset into thinking of myself as an entrepreneur. That was sparked after attending a women’s business retreat and realizing that what I had created was a real business that mattered to a lot of people. That what I had created was important.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Accept that there will be a lot of hard work, a lot of ups and downs, that you will constantly be learning and that you will go at your own pace. And all of that is okay. Find help if you need it but make sure the people you find actually know what they’re talking about. Connection is important for support and for learning so surround yourself with other fabulous business owners that share a similar mindset to you.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Openness to learning
- Positive mindset (I’m still working on this one)
- Business skills
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
I’m not sure I have a particular person. I’ve never been a fangirl type of person. I gain inspiration from many, many people but it’s usually one or two things about them that piques my interest.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
You don’t know what you don’t know.
No matter how much experience or knowledge you have, there is always more to learn, so be open to that.
What do you think your key to success has been?
Having passion and purpose. My business was created to fill a real need – not just a product but also an educational platform and a support resource for other parents going on a similar journey to what my family went on.
How have you personally measured your success?
I don’t like to set myself big financial goals because it’s not just about money for me. My greatest measure of success is an email or phone call from a parent who no longer needs our products because their child has achieved the vision outcome they needed to. Knowing that I’ve helped, even in a tiny way, to help a child and better their future is what it’s all about for me.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
I have this annoying need to know how things work, and I’m also a control freak, so outsourcing is a real challenge for me. But as my business grows, I’m learning that I need to let go of some things and find people who are better at them than I am.
How do you generate new ideas?
A fair bit of this comes from research. As a research nerd, I use different sources to identify gaps in the market or develop messaging that is going to resonate with my community. Interestingly enough, a lot of my ideas in my business have come from other interests I have in my life – for instance my work as a research analyst and my crafty hobbies. There’s often a fair bit of cross over if I look carefully enough.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Totally owning and creating something. It’s very satisfying knowing that I built this.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Marketing to Mums, owned by Katrina McCarter, is a business – and woman – I greatly admire. Katrina shares my passion for research and insight-led marketing decisions. I love what she has created and offers to marketers targeting mums.
Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
Honestly I have no idea. I’ve stopped trying to look that far into the future because it would mean accepting that in 10 years’ time I’ll be over 50! I feel like time is running out to achieve all the things I want to achieve and to live my best life, so I’m trying to just go with the flow. If my 20 year old self heard this, she would scoff and think I was crazy – but getting older gives you a different perspective on life.
Who are the women around you that allow you to thrive?
I made a leap of faith and joined a business mastermind earlier this year, so the relationships I’ve forged with those women have been amazing. I didn’t realise how much I really needed support from other people. Working alone can be lonely!