Maxine Sherrin Spark Festival

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 28: Community spirit is never too far away, with Kate Wade of The Exchange Group

Kate Wade is general manager of The Exchange Group. They brilliantly renovated the clock tower in the main street of Dubbo and it’s a place we've been lucky enough to visit several times in the past couple of years.

It's a hive of activity and a place for creativity, connections and community building for the hundreds of clever business owning women in the local area. A space that really brings potential to business owning women in rural Australia.

Links

The Exchange

Credits

Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Kate Wade

Are you ready to join a movement of business owning women?  Join Mums & Co today.

Episode 28 Transcript

00:01:12:00 - 00:01:34:23
Lucy Kippist
In a recent Voice of Community survey here at Mum's & Co, we discovered that isolation can be one of the biggest reasons we seek networking opportunities as business women. Today's guest is part of an incredible team bringing networking opportunities and co-working to rural business owners in the Dubbo region of New South Wales.

00:01:36:05 - 00:01:58:21
Carrie Kwan
Kate Wade is general manager of The Exchange Group. They brilliantly renovated the clock tower in the main street of Dubbo and it’s a place we've been lucky enough to visit several times in the past couple of years.

It's a hive of activity and a place for creativity, connections and community building for the hundreds of clever business owning women in the local area. A space that really brings potential to business owning women in rural Australia. Kate, welcome to the Mumbition Podcast.

00:02:07:06 - 00:02:10:07
Kate Wade
Hi Carrie. Hi Lucy. Thank you so much for having me.

00:02:11:05 - 00:02:13:12
Carrie Kwan
We are thrilled to have you.

00:02:15:07 - 00:02:36:21
Lucy Kippist
Kate, our first question is always to invite a business woman to practice her pitch, which for you might mean you'll be one of our first guests to pitch twice. Like so many mums in our network, you're working full time raising a family and running your own business. So please can you give us your 30 second pitch about your day job and then the story of your own small business.

00:02:37:14 - 00:03:14:04
Kate Wade
Yeah, absolutely. So as you said, I am the manager of The Exchange in Dubbo in regional New South Wales. So The Exchange is a co-working and community space located in a beautiful heritage tower in the main street of town. Essentially are in an innovation hub. We provide co-working space, private offices, meeting rooms, community networking events, education programs, and it's through all of these that we've really created a collaborative environment where regional businesses have the resources to be successful in their business and really feel empowered.

I'm also a wife and mother of two and I'm studying. I'm also co-founder of my very own side hustle, One More Thread, an online collection of ethically made clothing and accessories consciously sourced from Mexico. And the story behind it, is my business partner just so happens to be one of my best friends from Dubbo who's lived in Mexico for the past ten years.

So she saw theses beautiful handmade products made mostly by indigenous women in the highlands of Mexico. And she sends them over to me and I sell via market and our online platform.

00:03:53:04 - 00:04:08:22
Lucy Kippist
Wow, that's a lot. How fascinating? What a brilliant combination of interweaving of your skills and also industry as well. So what are you studying at the moment?

00:04:09:04 - 00:04:32:14
Kate Wade
I'm studying for a diploma or an event management. I was really lucky to be the recipient of a scholarship through Destination New South Wales to study event management through a college in Melbourne. And I'm really loving it. We're doing a lot of corporate events here at The Exchange, so it's just really putting a foundation around I guess what I'm already doing in my day job.

00:04:33:13 - 00:04:57:21
Carrie Kwan
Now, I'm not sure if everyone can hear, but I just heard the clock tower ring. Yes, the beautiful Exchange which I have recently visited. Actually I kind of lovingly refer to the fact that Dubbo is the only place I've visited twice. In 2020 and in 2021.

And we've certainly heard the stories like you've just shared with your double pitch of women and incredible careers supporting the fam and being that sort of glue in the community. So I'm wondering in your experience, what's the essential quality enabling rural and regional women, a businesswoman, or any woman to bring this together every day?

00:05:26:07 - 00:05:51:17
Kate Wade
Yeah, it's a really interesting question because I think there's so many qualities, but to me the word that comes to mind straight away is resilience. And I think not only women out here working in many households but everywhere in the world, but many out here are really geographically isolated. So we've been in drought in ten years, which thank God that is over for now.

We had the really horrific mouse plague. We've had dust storms, we've had floods, bushfires, you name it. We have farmers and wives who are getting up at 4 a.m. and they're driving 6 hours to pick up machinery so their husbands can harvest crops on top of everything else. So I think women have a real roll up your sleeves and get shit done attitude.

Sorry. Am I allowed to say that? And I think being resilient during the hard times means that I think they just pick themselves up, dust themselves off and keep going because they don't really have a choice. So resilience is a huge one to me.

00:06:37:12 - 00:07:00:08
Carrie Kwan
I can say that that definitely shines through with so many. And whilst there is resilience, it’s always accompanied by an incredible humbleness. When I speak to the women in different sort of areas, they do just get on with it. So there's a very stoic nature of emotions about it.

00:07:00:08 - 00:07:13:23
Kate Wade
Exactly. Stoic, they don't complain, they don't whinge. They're very gracious. It's just part of life. And it just happens that that’s what you do.

00:07:16:17 - 00:07:38:16
Carrie Kwan
I also feel like we can further support that. One is the acknowledgment, but I think we like what you're doing when we say deeply caring. I think that there needs to be a bit more support and encouragement so that this is a paid job. And these are big jobs that these women are carrying and doing an amazing job at it.

But let's give them some more support. Let's upskill them more, let's network them more. Let's make things easier in that sort of process.

00:07:47:08 - 00:07:58:05
Kate Wade
And then places like The Exchange, are just as crucial to bring those people together and to connect them and just provide a an ear and a shoulder to listen and cry on when needed.

00:07:59:14 - 00:08:22:05
Carrie Kwan
So it's that moment where it's the catalyst to keep moving forward. And I think that that is really precious. It's hard to define. But in that moment, you've provided that safe space for them to be whatever they need to be and then find resources or a way forward to keep going.

So I love, love, love what you guys are doing. It's really neat. Let's shift to social media. So what's an insight into you as a businesswoman and mother that we might not see on social media? And I might see if I can put you on the spot and ask, why don't we see One More Thread on your LinkedIn and you don't actually mention the business on your Instagram.

00:08:53:16 - 00:09:00:24
Kate
Wow. This is such a great question. I think in my job as a business woman and in my work life, I am extremely organised. I'm really structured in the way that I operate. I can really quite easily coordinate a lot of different priorities at any one time. But I'm definitely not like that at home. I mean, I run a pretty tight ship and I love routine and my kids flourish with routine. I do love things organised. But my office is a mess. I leave everything to the last minute.

I often forget things that are on at school. Like my daughters are walking out the door this morning reminding me that she actually had swimming on today for school sports. So we had to race back in and get swimmers in towels and re-dress her and all those things, which I'm sure was in a newsletter somewhere.

But I dropped the ball on that one. I think social media puts a lot of pressure on people and as a self-confessed perfectionist and people pleaser, along with social media, it’s really exhausting. I've recently turned 40 and I realised that it's OK not to have all aspects of your life perfect. It's actually okay to drop the ball every now and then.

And not have all your ducks in a row. And I probably think that's why I don't say I’m a business owner on my Instagram and I don't mention One More Thread on my LinkedIn. I actually started One More Thread as a side hustle when I was on maternity leave with my second baby. I was in a job that I wasn't really passionate about, but I'd gone to working full time and I was probably a little bit bored and my girlfriend was in Mexico.

We had a few wines one night and we set up this business and it really filled the void for me at the time. But since I've come on board with The Exchange Group, those three and a half years ago, I feel like The Exchange has kind of taken my time. And I think that's the beauty of the side hustle, is that you can pocket it when it's not doing it for you.

And then pick it up when you're ready. And so I've already ordered some more stuff for summer and got photoshoots booked and things coming into later in the year. But I think I've realised I can't do it all. And so One More Thread, it's been neglected a little bit the last two years of COVID, but I'm really getting excited to pick it up again and get back into it towards the end of this year.

00:11:27:12 - 00:11:54:08
Carrie Kwan
I'm into being messy and not perfect and we are kindred souls. You do not want to see my current laundry situation with me dealing with mould, it's just chaos. Everything from the recent humidity and the floods that are causing a lot of mould in our house. So it is a beautiful spot to be in to embrace that imperfection.

00:12:01:19 - 00:12:22:16
Kate Wade
It's a real shame that it's taken to 40 to realise that and my girlfriend just said to me the other day, “It's OK to drop balls but you know when you are juggling you have glass balls and you have rubber boots. So we have to make sure we keep those glass balls in the air. But it's OK if we drop the rubber ones every now and then. It's like picking your battles.”.

00:12:23:06 - 00:12:50:18
Lucy Kippist
I love that analogy and I was laughing to myself when you were referring to the newsletter because I am also 100% guilty of missing things. And often I'll say to myself, why can't we just print it out? I know mostly the environment! But I feel like it was in front of me. I won't miss it. Thank you so much for your honesty because I love that discussion there about the side hustle and being able to put it down and pick it up.

I think we forget to talk about that a lot, that essentially that's what it can be and to just have a go anyway and just know that it doesn't have to be this full, full steam ahead all the time. And in fact, in order to keep it going, it's best that you have really good boundaries around that.

00:13:09:11 - 00:13:29:19
Kate Wade
I think that's why having a day job, I call it, it's really quite a privilege to have One More Thread as a side hustle because it's my passion project. And I'm not worrying about money coming in just to get a wage. And not everybody I know is in that situation. But for me and my family, it works really well.

00:13:33:01 - 00:14:07:11
Carrie Kwan
I think this is an example of a few things about women in business for me or mums in business, and it's actually that we are hugely entrepreneurial. But it's actually a risk mitigation strategy as well too. I don't know if anyone sees what you might call it the side hustle or multiple businesses, but you're actually creating multiple revenue streams for yourself and you're actually protecting that financial well-being that you have.

It's almost like diversification. If you're looking at a group of shares, and thinking, “Oh, I'm going to try this company” and “I tried that company”. You're actually kind of looking at different ways and giving it time to work with your family, your schedule, it's how you make a livelihood.

So I just wanted to call that out. You're actually multiple business owners as well. I think it is a really wonderful and very entrepreneurial.

00:14:59:01 - 00:15:11:06
Lucy Kippist
Isn’t there a statistic that 50% of women start a business in an area where they don't they haven't worked before in the. So it's interesting that your side hustle is fashion and it's different to what your day job is.

00:15:20:11 - 00:15:36:18
Kate Wade
Yeah, really different. And that goes with that I've always been interested in fashion and even more so that slow fashion movement. We're so much more conscious about sustainability these days. So it's definitely a passion of mine.

00:15:38:02 - 00:15:55:07
Lucy Kippist
So Kate, you've said that you have a fairly full plate there and, it varies in what you do in your day and in your week. But what have you done or are you doing regularly to protect your own wellbeing?

00:15:56:15 - 00:16:21:16
Kate Wade
Well, I think my health and wellbeing is so important to me. It's a major priority in my life. And I guess for me this question, it's not about what I had to stop doing, but what I've started doing in my life. I think you guys wouldn't be aware of this, but throughout my adult life I suffered with endometriosis.

I've had years of fertility issues. I've suffered from adrenal fatigue over the years. All of those things have resulted in burn out. I ended up having a full hysterectomy and went through surgical menopause at the ripe old age of 38, which wasn't fun. But I've had to put a lot of things in place around me so that my body can catch up with my mind and all of the things that I want to do.

I have some amazing practitioners that I see. I regularly see my natroupath who helps me with a lot of supplements and looking after myself. I have the most amazing holistic chiropractor and kenesiologist whose name is Garth, and he's an absolute god. He's recently relocated to Newcastle, but I still get over to see him as much as I can and even my husband and kids see him regularly as well.

Meditation and breathwork is huge for me. I try to practice every day just to be present in the moment and just give myself time to really switch off from everything. What else? My diet is a big one. My body doesn't tolerate certain things after that, so I now have intolerances to grain and dairy. I'm going to be really strict about what I'm putting into my body because I know that when I eat rubbish, I feel like rubbish and I can't function like that.

So I guess I've learned that if I push myself too hard and don't keep on top of these things and it doesn't end well for anyone. I'm sure most mums are like that. We've always put ourselves at the bottom of the list, but I now make my own health and wellbeing a priority because if I don't, then I can't be a good mom, I can't be a good wife, I can't be a good friend or a good manager.

00:18:13:01 - 00:18:30:24
Lucy Kippist
Thank you for sharing all that. Certainly a journey that you've been on and I love what you're saying there about the cliche about how you're the captain of the ship. You've got to keep afloat, otherwise the ship will sink. And that's inline with what you're saying.

00:18:31:05 - 00:18:50:01
Kate Wade
100%, it's the same. When you're on a plane, you've got to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else. And as much as we forget that, we put ourselves at the bottom of the list and we ignore our health and any ailments that we have because we're too busy looking after everybody else.

But we really need to put ourselves number one. Because if we do have some serious things going on in our life, then it does mean that we can't be that person that everybody else in the family needs.

00:19:01:03 - 00:19:25:21
Lucy Kippist
Absolutely. 100% percent. So moving just back to your work with The Exchange now, we understand that you've got another venue that you're in the process of establishing. Which is exciting and fantastic news for you guys. What do you see as the benefit of having multiple sites for your community?

00:19:26:12 - 00:19:51:20
Kate Wade
It's so exciting that The Exchange is growing. We've got a bit of an expansion pace on the horizon. We've recently taken up a second home in the north west of New South Wales in a town called Narrabri. Which is a beautiful little town, and it’s another gorgeous building that is very similar to Dubbo.

The Exchange, Narrabri has the same things. Co-working, private offices, meeting rooms and it's a really great spot for networking events and great opportunities for the local bush entrepreneurs in the north west. I think the benefit is for remote workers and travellers and people out here that are on the road a lot. The membership will cover both sites so they can just go between the two which is amazing.

And I think this is only the beginning for The Exchange. So there's more to come, but you'll have to stay tuned to us to find out what's next.

00:20:31:07 - 00:20:52:17
Lucy Kippist
And I guess that's something that us metropolitan business owners do differently in that sense of driving and you guys in those regions tend to do more of. That's just a part of life. As you mentioned before, with some women driving 6 hours in the morning to pick up something for their husbands. So their husbands get on with their day so that sense of having access to sites is so important.

00:21:03:24 - 00:21:29:07
Carrie Kwan
It's amazing to see the terrific wins over the past year or so. The seats for the Brave Program alongside the Women's Leadership Assembly are some of our favourites. So definitely if you're listening, check those out. And I just wanted to touch on how we build out our community, which you do in such an amazing way for The Exchange.

And as you know, we're really passionate about sharing our gratitude for the Co. The people in our lives, the businesses, the supporters or the champions, friends, clients, colleagues. Who are those around you that support you as your Co?

00:21:50:15 - 00:22:18:16
Kate Wade
There's a really great saying that says if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together and I really live by that. I have an amazing village around me. All the Co that come along for the ride that all support and inspire me. I would have to say my number one is definitely my husband. Behind the scenes he and I are a really great team and without his support and encouragement I couldn't juggle all the things and he's a really good cook which is amazing.

He's on my side so that's a huge help. We actually joke about the husbands and boyfriends of The Exchange. You know, all our partners, they all get involved and contribute and they are just as invested in The Exchange, succeeding as the rest of the team.

But I also have a really incredible village of close girlfriends. A few of us have kids at the same school. We share drop offs, pick ups, and Sunday morning sports. We call it communal parenting where we all help each other out. And I think the women that use the spaces at The Exchange that are in our network and our community. Our CEO, Jillian, our group manager, Alex, how lucky am I to be surrounded every day by these successful women that trust me and believe in me to do a good job here.

00:23:11:07 - 00:23:41:02
Lucy Kippist
That's just absolutely brilliant. And having visited The Exchange with Gary almost this time last year, just to see the sense of energy in that space that you've created. Not only is it just a beautiful space to be in, but there's definitely a dynamic and energy in there that I think speaks to the ambition and the and the trust that you guys all have there together.

It's a beautiful thing to witness. And Kate, thank you so much for joining us today. And thank you for your company. If you'd like to find out more about Kate and The Exchange in Dubbo, you can find both of them on Instagram at The Exchange and LinkedIn. And don't forget to follow us at Mums & Co too while you're there.