Meet Linda Vydra. Linda is a serial entrepreneur and Founder of the Lydra Group. Her latest design business, Pins To Kill, specialises in allowing customers to design their own custom leggings online. This is her entrepreneurial story.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
I’ve always been very creatively inclined and I love the making process. The Lydra Group has evolved over the last 5 years, starting with handbags, then moving to include laser cutting, wedding invitations and digital fabric printing. My latest project has been to launch Pins To Kill, which is going to be my big focus for the next few years. Pins To Kill is an online platform where you can design your own leggings or choose from our range of funky prints. However, the vision for Pins To Kill goes further than that: we aim to inspire people to follow their dreams in whatever it is that they do. To do so, we’re collaborating with various ambassadors from around the world – ranging from rock climbers to dancers to singers – who wear our leggings whilst following and documenting their dreams.
How did you get your business started?
I completed a Certificate IV in Small Business Management program at another college, which is a training course that helps you to start your own business. But I started making and selling handbags a long time before that whilst I was at university at RMIT studying the RMIT Advanced Diploma of Advertising and then the RMIT Diploma of Applied Fashion Design and Technology. I would sew bags for my network of friends and family, and then I started selling them in stores. It was an exciting foray into starting my own business.
What lessons have you learned so far on your business journey?
I’ve learnt to be patient in everything I do, and to be prepared for things to take a little longer then I expect. My experience has been that business can be a rollercoaster and that it’s not always going to be an easy journey. You never know what is in store for you around the corner. It’s kept me on my toes with the Lydra Group, but it continues to be an interesting ride.
How important for you has it been to have a mentor?
It has been really beneficial for me to have a mentor. It’s helped me feel like I’m not alone and that I have someone to work through my business problems with.
What are your top three tips for starting a business?
1. It’s not an easy choice to start your own business. If you want a relaxed life with 9-5 hours, then I would suggest sticking with your full-time job. However, if you’re happy to work long hours to follow your dreams – and this doesn’t have to be forever if you can automate and streamline your business – then I would say ‘go for it’.
2. Surround yourself with a network of people so you don’t feel like you are alone and whom you can bounce ideas off.
3. Make sure you’re doing what you love, so that when you wake up in the morning you’re excited to jump out of bed and get straight into it. Without that drive, it’s going to be hard to stay motivated during the tough times.
Who started the Pins to Kill Label and why?
From a young age, I have been creative. I loved sewing, cutting, making and bringing things to life. I have also really enjoyed creating businesses. I’ve had over 10 casual jobs from having a stand out the front of my house selling lucky dip gifts, to dog walking, to a painting business, to baby sitting.
The first pair EVER.
The very first pair of leggings I made was when I was studying Fashion Design at RMIT in 2009 and I realised that we had a textile printer downstairs. Then it got me thinking that it would be really cool to make my own pair of leggings with photos on it. So I made out that I was “working on an assignment” and got the textile printer to help me in making a pair. I prepared the photos in Photoshop and put some filters on them. I was so intrigued by the process – first printing the artwork onto paper in reverse. We then put it under a heat press with the paper / lycra and magic! I found a pattern piece and got my sewing teacher to help me sew them. This got me so excited and from this point forward, I planned to launch a label where people can easily design their own leggings. I just didn’t know when or how.
My lover, partner in crime, knight in shinning armour (he goes by Josh all other times) helped me a lot with building P2K and coming up with the branding. The first thing he helped with was the name. I am terrible at coming up with names. I usually just pick the first one that comes to mind. We played around with a lot of ideas. I wanted something memorable. Something significant. Something strong. Something bold. From there Pins to Kill was born. For our international friends, we aren’t referring to Pins being put in your eyes. Pins is an Australian slang word from the 80s which is is referring to legs. Then the word “Kill.” Some people may associate it with violence and anger. However, we are referring to “Killing it” in everything you do. Your job. Life. Friendships. Just do the best that you can do! Don’t hold back. So now you know where the name came from. Hope you like it!
So why did I wait so long to start? Great things take time to brew. Get it right. Find your purpose. Clarify your vision. Proving people wrong maybe? In late 2014 my mentor recommended that I apply for Shark Tank. If you haven’t heard of the show, it’s basically entrepreneurs presenting their ideas to a panel of successful judges.
At that point I was currently running Lydra Group which is a collection of creative services include laser cutting, fabric printing, bespoke wedding invitations and some custom leggings here and there. It made me think and evaluate about what I wanted to be in the future and what I wanted my job to entail. At that point it was clear to me that I wanted to build a global brand where you could design your very own pair of leggings.
So I presented a very naked version of Pins to Kill. There was still quite a lot I hadn’t thought out. Having a brand is like having a baby (I’m guessing!). It grows with you. It develops. It is forever needing your attention. It has a real personality and a name!
I spent weeks preparing for Shark Tank and it was a great process to be involved in. The night before the presentation I was flown to Sydney. When I arrived they let me know I’d been moved from 11am to 6am presentation slot. This left my stomach in knots.
I presented to Janine Allis (Founder of Boost Juice), Naomi Simson (Red Balloons), Steve Baxter (Investor) , Andrew Banks (Recruitment industry), John McGrath (Relestate).
Feeling well prepared. I was really happy with how I presented. Then came the questions and interrogation. 40mins of standing up for your idea and proving why you believe it will succeed. I wasn’t granted any funding. I felt pretty down for 3 days and I wasn’t meant to take it personally but how can you not? After the 3rd day I decided to turn it into a positive and get my act into gear and start building the website.
Sometimes you need a negative experience to spin you into gear and get the ball rolling.
It took me a while to realise what the vision and story behind P2K was. I kept telling my partner, “I just want to sell custom leggings!” He told me that I needed more depth than that and a story! After going around in circles, I started to research what the great entrepreneurs of the world did and what their vision were. I researched the likes of Steve Jobs from Apple and Richard Branson from Virgin, Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook. I noticed they all had one common trait that made them successful. They all instilled their characteristics into the brand. For example Steve is a creative, perfectionist for detail. Richard is crazy, fun and adventurous.
What are my traits? I realised that I am fun, adventurous, random and I love travelling and exploring. The biggest mantra that I live by is that life is too short not to be doing exactly what you want. If you hate your job, quit. (I did!). If you aren’t happy, ask yourself what you can you do to make yourself happy. You are in control of your own destiny. This is when I realised in July 2015 when I was living in Italy for 4 months that I wanted to instill all these values into my brand.
Pins to Kill is all about Inspiring Dream Chasers. We work with amazing ambassadors from pro surfers, dancers, pole dancers, sky divers, rock climbers and mountaineers from around the world who are doing this. We share their story in doing what they believe in whilst wearing their pins. As soon as you put your pins on, it’s a challenge of exploring, doing and experiencing new things. We aim to build a community of amazing people following their dreams and sharing their story.