Sisters Brittany, 22, Mackenzie, 20, and Dana, 18, are hands down nailing it when it comes to small business. The three sisters started their first venture five years ago when they were all still in school and have been finding and filling gaps in the business world ever since.
“CTK Boards started off when I was in year 12,” says co-founder and marketing manager Brittany Falco. “We just wanted a hobby for when we were on school holidays and it just took off.”
The sisters have been selling their sustainable, raw timber platter boards all over Australia ever since. Bulk orders to Byron Bay, Coolangatta, Brisbane and Mackay were sent last year and they don’t plan to slow down.
It’s not just the number of orders that have changed though, with the sisters streamlining their process as the business has grown.
“Every year we’re getting better and creating more of a systematic process,” says co-founder and CTK Boards artist, Mackenzie Falco. Mackenzie explains that the trio set up separate accounts for the business, streamlined their design and selling process, and even refined their marketing technique to suit social media as it grew.
After the success of CTK Boards – which is still running smoothly – the sisters saw another gap that the market wasn’t acceptably catering to and decided to test the niche. This resulted in the business taking off faster than they expected, selling over 100 ARLO t-shirts in the first two weeks of operation.
“Arlo means Accept, Respect, Live, Organically,” says Brittany as she talks about expanding the range if the success continues. “Obviously the CTK Boards we make are recycled timber, Australian made, they have organic food-safe paint and they’re sustainable, so we thought that the ARLO t-shirts could have the same message.”
In terms of business lessons along the way, both Mackenzie and Brittany say putting out posts on their personal social media really helped to boost their reach.
“It’s funny how you think people will judge you but we realised that if you push it, people will jump on board and help to support you,” says Mackenzie. They’ve also tried and tested several methods for getting their boards out to the public. From markets, to coffee shop drops, and finally settling on a viewing and delivery system that will go online this year.
On top of that, they say finding a niche market that wasn’t being effectively catered to helped them more than anything when it came to the ARLO t-shirts.
“Friends and people we network with around Townsville love that we’re doing something different,” says Britt.
“Having the ‘live organically’ part at the end of our ARLO tees has been such a big deal to a lot of people and they have bought the shirt purely because of those keywords. That’s why I think the messaging has to be really clear on what you’re doing if you have a business.”
Making the boards and ARLO t-shirts is a full family affair, with every member having a job. Yet it’s not the innovative family mindset that is so inspiring, it’s the intuitive ability to find and fill a gap not being serviced in the region. These sisters certainly prove that you’re never too young to start your own business.