Inspirational Women: Shona van Beers (Heyday!)

As a self-employed business woman, I decided to surround myself with positive, motivated and inspiring people. So I started a monthly networking group called 'Wonderful Women: Minding Our Own Business'. To encourage and motivate us I interview inspirational and creative business women, and I have picked the brains of Bernie Dexter, Angelique Houtkamp, Michelle Ward, Maureen Jann, Hayley Southwood, Rebecca McWattie, Jess Purser, Tara Scott and Kat Williams.


This time I was able to interview Shona van Beers from Heyday, a vintage reproduction clothing brand. Shona wanted to make clothing that would look great but were more suitable for the rock and roll dancing she loved, compared to more delicate vintage originals. Shona is proof that you can make a living doing what you love.

ReeRee Rockette: Tell us about your business? When did you start it? What did you do before?

Shona van Beers: I started on a part time basis in 2004, after my Dad passed away.  Suddenly life seemed too short to not be happy and not have the guts to try to find out what would make me happy. I was just trying something. Before that I had many jobs, all of which could have become successful careers if that is what I wanted. I studied architecture; I managed commercial buildings; I organised events; I built intranets
ReeRee Rockette: Have you always wanted to work for yourself?

Shona van Beers: Yes, always, although I am not sure I really knew that consciously. Growing up, I was really inspired by a friend's mother who was a very good business woman. She was pretty much the only woman I knew who worked for a living and wasn't a school teacher or a nurse. She was strong and confident and sharp. I still measure myself against her.
ReeRee Rockette: How did you choose which type of business to run?

Shona van Beers: I thought about many career options, mostly they were out of the corporate environment which seemed toxic to me. This business came about organically. I had carted patterns and fabric around the world with me and they were always part of my life. A book a friend gave me helped - "What should you do with your life" by Po Bronson. It is about people struggling with who they want to be, most of them feeling like they are supposed to be something but not knowing what. One story about natural enthusiasm is called "Have you looked under the bed?" and is about how a guy designed a golf club and had such little faith in himself he stuck it under the bed and left it there. He made a living out of helping people play golf after he stopped listening to his brother who told him he was a loser.  Under my bed was dancing outfits. 

ReeRee Rockette: What motivates you?

Shona van Beers: Doing better. All. The. Time 


ReeRee Rockette: What moments with your business have you been most proud of?

Shona van Beers: Actually paying myself, which has only just happened and still only a little bit. It can take a long time if you are investing everything back into stock.
ReeRee Rockette: What challenges have you faced and over come?

Shona van Beers: We had a family business that manufactured clothing in New Zealand. When the NZ government opened its doors to free trade with China they lost 5 weeks work overnight. My business was tiny but we did all we could to save them by sending work their way. It wasn't enough and liquidators had to be called in. Then all of my half finished work was caught up in the liquidation process. I had to get tough fast. Liquidators are not anybody's friend


ReeRee Rockette: Do you have three tips for other women running their own businesses? 

Shona van Beers:
  1. Write lists, lots and lots of lists.
  2. Get help. Whether that is a cleaner or a nanny or using Tesco home delivery for your shopping. Time is precious.
  3. Stop pulling down other women. It is about time women were nicer to each other. Men handle it in a better way - business is business, not a cat fight.

ReeRee Rockette: Would you have done anything differently?

Shona Van Beers: Not really. All the jobs I had set me up for this in one way or another and I have lovely friends from those jobs. Even things that didn't work taught me a lesson. It might have been good to believe in myself earlier, but that is something I am still learning how to do!

ReeRee Rockette: Who inspires you?

Shona van Beers: No one really famous, I think I need my inspiration closer to home and realistic. I am lucky to have some great friends that are ahead of me in business size, Katie from What Katie Did, Lynsey from Miss L Fire, and some very clever nearly retired friends who have run many successful businesses.  These are the people I ring when I get stuck. I am always amazed at Dita, there is not one bad photo of her.