HER Biz: Olivia Carr, Shhh Silk

If you’re any kind of beauty lover, you’ll know there are certain products specifically designed to aid in getting a good night’s rest (a key to beauty from the inside out). But no matter how many beauty rituals you add, none will be as important as sleep. And sure, lavender scented room sprays and magnesium powders are a great supplement in bettering sleeping habits, but the best, and arguably most effective method, is adding silk into your bedtime routine. Enter Shhh Silk, a sleep, wellness and beauty brand focused on improving people’s lives through the power of sleep. Be it through the brand’s signature silk pillowcases or eye masks to sleepwear and bedding, if you’ve been looking to catch more ZZZ’s recently, this Australian-founded label is about to be your new obsession. As part of HER BLACK BOOK’s Festival of Her, a shopping event to support female-founded businesses, Shhh Silk founder Olivia Carr shares some insight into her business journey so far.

“It was on a trip with my two children in June 2015 to New York, when my beloved white silk pillowcase was accidentally removed by housekeeping. I went to reception to try to recover my pillowcase ,only to be told it was gone with the outsourced laundry service. I’d had that pillowcase since my twenties (recommended by my hairdresser to protect my fine hair). The idea was born after realising I could not easily replace this pillowcase, and there were none on the market globally in 2015 with a hidden zipper to keep my silk pillowcase on my pillow through the night. It was in this moment that Shhh Silk was born.”

“You need to be ready to face some of your inner fears in order to be brave and courageous. People talk about staying in your lane, my advice is to stay true to yourself and your vision, despite what others are doing.”

“There are many women I find inspiration from — the pinnacle would be Sara Blakely (the founder of Spanx), she underpins everything I believe in, particularly raising women up, community focused and rewarding her team. Julie Stevanja (the co-founder of Stylerunner and Her Black Book). Julie was the first female founder in Australia to offer me tangible advice on how to build Shhh Silk at a conference on the Gold Coast years ago. Also, Sandradee Makejev (Founder of St Frock), she's a true Australian female founder who has never stopped believing in herself and her vision. I am also incredibly inspired by the success of what the Kardashian/Jenner women have created and worked so damn hard for (daily).”

“To me this sums up never missing out on potential opportunities. I am a big believer that everything has a solution, especially in business. This advice was shared to me by a former colleague, Jenny Borg, who now works in our business.”

“We hit a roadblock in March 2020, when our business bank account was in debit -$907. It was the first time in the history of the brand we had no money coming in and no cash in the bank… The pandemic had just hit Australia and online shopping had initially come to a grinding halt. We had a few wholesale accounts that were due to be paid that month that would see Shhh Silk have about six weeks left to be able to pay our staff and keep our doors open. After that it would be all over if nothing changed. This was by far my BIGGEST business lesson to date. This was the day that changed our entire business model and operations. As a founder I had to dig deep and make some drastic changes immediately, whilst retaining all of my staff. I am now incredibly passionate about talking about cashflow and finance — two things that were my weaknesses going into business and that I knew nothing about seven years ago when I launched. In a lot of ways it feels as though I really started running my business in March 2020 not October 2015 when we originally launched. There is so much more to be done in Australia to educate, mentor and support female founders in regards to understanding business finance and cashflow, for me it started with being completely raw, open and honest and sharing my lack of cashflow in March 2020 and my need for support in understanding how to successfully run and build a profitable business.”

“Self-Belief. There were many people who didn’t think I could do it, or that Shhh Silk wouldn’t be a viable business. The only person who needs to believe you can do it is you. Did I have doubts? Of course. In fact, I still do weekly! However, deep down in my core, I know I can do almost anything I commit to and put the work and energy in to. It may take longer than I would have hoped, or be harder than I initially anticipated or cost more money than I had ever imagined, but slowly with daily repetition and focus, it all starts to come together. For me the single moment I am most proud of is launching Shhh Silk back in 2015 and giving it a go.”