The Great State

One of the reasons I love my work here with Wholehearted Studio, is because of all the wonderful people that I get to meet. Coffee shops, shoots, co-working spaces, events and chats on Instagram have resulted in some new friendships that I would never have made if I hadn’t started my business.

Ellen Newman was one of them! We met through mutual friends and I have watched on in awe as Ellen has built her beautiful brand, while doing an ace job of juggling motherhood at the same time. Stocked in beautiful stores all over Australia, The Great State [in my opinion] is well and truly on its way to becoming a household name.

Who are you and what do you do? 

Ellen, wife to Luke and mother to Hensley and Stirling. Also founder of The Great State, a fresh-faced skincare company. We create a wonder balm which we refer to as the Soothing Skin Balm which is good for just about any common skin complaint you could imagine.

Tell us about your brand, how you started and what made you follow your dream?

The Great State launched in July 2017 but there was a solid year of work put in before we actually launched. I was passionate about creating an incredibly useful product, and establishing a company that did great business with great people. Having previously established a product business in the hair industry, we had a great foundation of knowledge and contacts that we were able to draw upon once we had decided to do a skincare product. Luke took care of the design, packaging and logistics, and I did just about everything else. We work really well together and have complimenting strengths. For us, I feel like there is no alternative to being our own boss. This is just part of the way we do life; in our 10 years of marriage, we have launched 5 businesses.

The thing I love about your marketing is that it isn’t just a balm! What do you love most about what you do and why?

I love knowing that I am adding something of substance and usefulness to people’s lives. There is so much excess in our lives and I was stubborn about not wanting to add more stuff for the sake of it. Our balm was designed to replace many of the superfluous skin products that are crammed into our already overstuffed bathroom drawers. I also love working with our retail partners; there are some incredible business owners who have created wonderful retail experiences for their customers. These people inspire me every day.

Being a Mum and wife means you have lots of family commitments to keep as well. What is a typical day for you? Run us through your routine!

My younger son wakes me about 10 minutes before my alarm every day wanting his Weetbix so I get up, get him brekky then head to the gym. On the days Luke is working in our barbershop, I hang out with the kids and do all the typical stay-at-home mum stuff like laundry, swimming lessons, groceries, folding, picking up toys, etc. I have to allocate parts of the day where the boys know they have to play independently [or watch a couple of shows] so that I can pump out whatever work is urgent. When Luke gets home, it’s the dinner, bath, bed routine for the kids, then I get to work doing the admin and planning for The Great State.

What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I was recently sent a photo from Uganda of a tin of the balm sitting atop a bag of beans grown by the participants of the Love Mercy Cents for Seeds program which we support. I burst into tears. Philanthropy was always a driving force of establishing my business and to see the humble little tin of balm being part of making such life-changing impact was so overwhelming and definitely my proudest moment.

Having a business can be like a screaming baby that don’t let up. What have you found the hardest about being a business owner?

Juggling my roles as mum and business woman and managing the financial instability that is part and parcel of starting a business. There are also plenty of moments of self-doubt that require some stern words to myself or a phone call to Luke to get me out of my rut.

Now for my favourite interview question. Tell us, what does being wholehearted mean to you?

Being authentic and putting my heart and soul into what I do. Sometimes this is difficult because it puts me in a position of vulnerability, but for me, there’s no alternative.