Originally from Toledo, Neri Sacristan moved to Melbourne with her partner, Manu, four years ago and currently resides in Port Melbourne with their cute puppy, Suny. Neri is the co-founder of vintage-inspired brand Ottway The Label, leading the charge in all things design, photography and digital marketing. In just one year, the business has gone from strength to strength, and is now supported by Australian celebrities like Lincoln Lewis, musicians like Kyle Lionheart and model Rhys Uhlich.
When she’s not working on the business, Neri is doing freelance digital marketing for boutiques like Brunswick Street favourite, Folkstore, and modelling and creating content for iconic Australian boho brands like Arnhem, Kivari, and more.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
One of the reasons we started the business in Australia was that the number of entrepreneurs and inspiring people that surround us on a daily basis. They made us realise that it was possible to bring our dreams to life. And that’s exactly what we did! Ottway The Label is a blend of our passion for vintage, appreciation for detail and of course, storytelling. It wasn’t until we met loads of other inspiring people here that we realised we could make a really unique and exciting brand out of our passions and interests!
At Ottway, we believe in unisex, seasonless and timeless clothing, leaving a story behind and moving away from fast fashion. While we do want to keep growing the brand, we’re not in a hurry, and we will continue to put out smaller collections, staying true to ethical and sustainable practices.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Honestly, I would do it all the same way. I really enjoyed what I studied and have found it super useful, and I love the people that I have met along the journey. So many good experiences!
I think what really helped was the fact that the various things I studied work in well together. I studied a four-year degree in Advertising and Marketing and another year of specialisation in Digital Marketing. That, coupled with my passion for fashion and daily practice of photography, have really helped get me to where I am now, with both Ottway and my modelling/content creation work.
What do you think was the biggest mistake you made in business?
Probably, making late or rushed decisions! I always like to have everything organised and give myself enough time to make an informed decision, but sometimes there’s not much time to think and plan…and as you can imagine, when you make a decision in a rush, most of the time it’s not the best one haha.
What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?
The best decision I made in business was launching our brand with unique and striking designs. It was a risky move, as we knew these designs wouldn’t be for everyone, but we were confident that they would capture people’s attention and luckily, the risk very much paid off!
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Yes, sure, probably many! Haha! But the main piece of advice would be to just start! Kick off your dream project and don’t give up during the first bad week…business is a roller coaster, and we have all gone through the lows. My other tip, which helped me a lot in staying motivated and inspired, was working from a co-working space. Before starting at a co-working space, I was working from home and after few months I started going a bit crazy, haha!
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
We get inspiration from vintage designs, travels and stories found in old books. We also really like a brand from USA, called Taylor Stitch.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
The best piece of advice I’ve been given is just to be confident in myself and if you want to do something, do it now, don’t leave it until it’s too late.
How have you personally measured your success?
I came to Australia four years ago with no English, no job and I was very far way from home. It was only a couple of months ago that I was just thinking about all the things that I have done and learnt in all this time. I’ve learnt English to a pretty good level, launched and sustained a business, and now it’s about growth. All the effort and hard work has been worth it!
How do you make the most of your day?
- I always write down what I have to do
- My diary is always with me
- I set goals for myself – daily, weekly and monthly
- I create a calendar to plan a few months ahead and try to work off that
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
A bit of both. I like learning and being on top of the details, but I also surround myself with experts in their fields.
Describe/outline your typical day?
The beauty of having your own business is that each day is completely different. Sometimes I go to work at my co-working space in Melbourne’s CBD, or the next day I might try out a nice new café. Regardless of what I do or where I work, I make sure there’s always time for a bit of exercise and walking my dog, Suny.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favourite aspect would definitely be the freedom of making the most out of my time and making my own decisions.