Member Profile: Jane Robertson, Founder of Millwoods

A chance for our community members to share more about themselves and their business with the world.

6 minute read
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Tell us about you
Firstly, I am a wife to my fab hubby Robbo, We have 3 kids who are 6, 8 & 10. We live on a farm about 40km from Wagga Wagga NSW.

Describe your biz in a sentence
Millwoods is shoe business that is all about combining style and comfort. Shoes that elevate without breaking your stride. Classic designs that elevate an outfit that you can wear all day.

Tell us how your business came to be
Millwoods started as I couldn’t find shoes for my son. So of course as a sane first time parent with #2 on the way, I started a shoe business. Something I knew absolutely nothing about. When were facing the decision to shut the business down or reinvent ourselves, I listened to what the parents kept asking for. It was what the kids were wearing, so I tested the market with a womens shoe and the rest is history. We now only do womens, and still get asked about our kids range on a weekly basis.

What’s something raw & unfiltered you’ve been through / never told anyone about your business or motherhood?
That I don’t always like being a mum. As much as I love my kids I struggle with the juggle and coming last. Writing that feels very taboo. I love them and miss them terribly when I am away but the day to day grind I really dislike at times. I suppose it is like anything, it has its moments. When I do find that I am not liking my mum duties, I stop and get them all to come and give me cuddles. We get the oxytocin flowing and I find it brings me back. This is why this year is the year of making the business fit more around how I want to live my life.  

Your daily motto?
This has been a family motto for generations and I wear it everyday on a signet ring, ‘In belief and hard work we trust’. I find that on the tough days this helps buoy my attitude and just do one thing to keep things moving forward if needed.

What are three things you could help other members with?
1 - Admin set up. I am a spreadsheet and organisational queen. Although I am not always great at it for myself, I find it really fulfilling and quite easy to set up systems for others.

2 – What hard work looks like. I feel that sometimes it is made to believe that is an arduous amount of hours in the office burning the midnight oil, but sometimes it is about stepping away and giving your brain some space and silence to be able to think.

3 - How to find a good contractor and setting up questions to ensure they are the right fit for you.

What projects are coming up next?
This is an interesting question as I feel after 7 years in business I should have a much more exciting answer, but it is now about building the business to suit me a touch more. To make the business fit around my life and how I want to live rather than it dictating every minute of my time. I think most business owners can relate that owning a business is all consuming, add being a mum, a wife (and at times a friend when I have a chance to make a phone call) you tend to let the business dictate how you live. 2024 is the year of regaining control of that and setting boundaries to allow my brain some time to switch off and focus on living & laughing with those who are important to me.

What has been one of your best business calls/decisions to date?
Just starting. One thing that I have always firmly believed in, is trusting my gut. From the initial inception of the business as one door closed, another opened. It has always been about why the door closed and finding what was flowing with ease and not causing grief. If it was hard, I moved in another direction. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard at times but I learned to trust and find the positive and balance that with a rational sense of what I feel could actually happen.

What is something about running your business that you wish you had been told sooner?
That it is the loneliest and most costly adventure of your life and it will test your mental strength everyday - but being able to live life on your own terms far outweighs the pressing workload that only you can do. I feel people think that owning a business brings you freedom and it does from being in an office 9-5 but that comes with so many more shackles. You need to be mentally strong when owning a business as initially you need to be everything and that can be overwhelming at times. Be able to talk to friends and your greater network so that you have people who can help when need it. You will get to a brick wall and being able to find a way around, under, over or through it comes with recognising what your abilities are and seeking out those who can help.

How would you describe your family life?
Chaotic at times but full of love. Whilst I said above that I don’t always like being a mum, I find that comes when the calendar is too full and there is too much pressure. We live 40km from town so whilst our kids come and go a few days a week on the school bus, sport and after school activities are planned within an inch of our lives. I do feel awful at times as I say no to a sport because it’s a home afternoon and I am not driving to town again but I also think it teaches the kids that they have to enjoy what they do so choose wisely.  
Robbo my husband works on our farm, is a stock agent and a pilot so our days never look quite the same. Being flexible and manipulating our schedule to fit everything in is a daily task in itself.  
The older the kids get the more I am trying to bring them home for 2 days/afternoons a week so they can be kids and enjoy the farm and where they live. I remember growing up that Sundays were a family day. A day when the shops would close and we spent the day either visiting other families or together at home. As a child I wanted to always be off doing something else, looking back I find myself longing for those lazy days and that it is something I want our children and family to focus on. I am very conscious about not over scheduling the kids and helping them see the joy of just being at home.  

What’s the last book you read that you’d recommend to a friend?
I have just finished reading Never Finished by David Goggins. I had previously read his first book, ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ and was keen to read this one. I found it a great book to just get out there and make life happen. The reminder that you are your own source of motivation, you set your own boundaries and limits was a refreshing reminder in a world of consumerism. It is easy to get swept up in what you think you should be doing or what is should look like and I just loved this book as a reminder to make life about how I want it to be and look.

What’s a service you can’t live without?
My fabulous house cleaners. It’s a job that neither my husband or I like to do. Without them we would most likely argue over who’s turn it is to clean the loo and for us, that is not a discussion we want to have. It also gives our family a fortnightly tidy up and reset. A chance to walk into a house that is clean, put away and calm for the first 15 minutes of our return.