Lara Solomon

Lara Solomon, lives in Sydney, Australia close to the beach. She loves ocean swimming – it keeps her sane!  She has run a number of businesses over the years including mobile phone covers, beach towels, books, social media agency, online training and now pregnancy tests. She is originally from the UK, but has been living in Australia for over 20 years now and loves it.

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative. 

I am the eldest of four children. I grew up in the UK where my dad ran his own business, a retail store, and my Mum was an art teacher.  I always knew that I wanted to run my own business, however my first roles after finishing university were in marketing.  I started my first business in 2004 and just love the challenge, excitement, flexibility and satisfaction from running my own business.  I can’t say that any role models really stand out for me, I do enjoy reading other entrepreneurs’ stories, but I can’t say that I ever thought I want to be the next x.  With all my businesses they have been driven by passion, for an idea, activity or a product, so in some ways they don’t look like they connect, but the connection is me!  

Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it. 

For Hoopsy the turning point was going through IVF by doing two embryo transfers in Spain, it was that process that alerted me to the amount of pregnancy tests being used and the amount of plastic waste from them.

Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”

The idea was as I explained in Q3, it struck me because it just seemed so simple, and I did wonder why no one had previously thought of it.  I decided to go for it because the opportunity is huge and I am very passionate about plastics, particularly because I swim in the ocean daily and see so much floating about.

Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?

I want to rid the world of single use plastic from pregnancy tests, however this is a HUGE goal, so it is not going to happen overnight. I would hope that my product will inspire others to think, wow how simple I wonder if I can do the same with x or y.

Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?

My challenges with Hoopsy when I started were cash, to sustain the business and myself, and time.  I think that time is always a challenge in business because there are so many things that one wants to achieve, but not enough time to do them, so you need to delegate, but that isn’t always possible in terms of money or finding the right person.  In terms of coping with the cash challenge it was about talking to friends who have been through similar situations in their business, or just voicing it out loud to family, they would say why don’t you just x… usually something I hadn’t thought of because I was too in it.  Re time it has been about prioritizing and then outsourcing the things that are a massive time suck for me that I really don’t enjoy, even just having a bookkeeper for a few hours a week helps, because it stops me from having to remember to jump in and do x or y.

While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level? 

I started Hoopsy in September 2021, so right at the end of the pandemic, and I wouldn’t say that it really had anything to do with COVID, I had been looking for a new business idea for a while, and it was just a case of finding it then, as opposed to be stuck at home wanting to do something 😊

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention? 

I am passionate about small business and wrote a book in 2008 which was a diary of my first four years in business to help people understand that running a business does not mean that things always go to plan!

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?

The change I think we all need to be making is moving away from consumerism and instead focusing on what we can do to make the earth a better place, whether it is a more sustainable product or getting rid of pollutants.  I think that we all need to be thinking about this when coming up with business ideas.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life? 

My motto is probably “if it was easy everyone would do it” but a close second is “never give up” The overnight successes of a business come about through hard work and perseverance.

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?

I think that with any leadership role it is all about having the best person for the role.  Having said that women tend to be less confident than men when it comes to putting their hand up, and selling themselves, I do think that is something that most women need to work on.  We cannot expect to be given a role just because we are a woman, we still need to be seen as someone going places who can do an amazing job.

With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

Where to start there are so many things.  Here’s my top five in no particular order…

  1. Trust your instincts – in my first business no one thought it would be successful, some even said things like are these really going to sell? but within four years I was turning over $1m a year
  2. Ask – if I get stuck or don’t know enough about a topic, I reach out to my network of friends or business connections to find someone who can help me.  People love to help others, as long as you are just asking a clear question or 2 and not expecting them to do all the work!
  3. Network – running your own business can be lonely, especially if it is just you.  Get out to networking events and meet people, not all events are great, you will need to try a few until you find one you like.  Or join an accelerator program. There seem to be millions of them now and most are free. It is a great atmosphere and will motivate and inspire you to be with other entrepreneurs at a similar stage in their business.
  4. Scrimp – you can spend $00000s on starting a business, but you don’t have to, look for ways to do things more cheaply if you don’t have the budget to spend.  In my first business I had button badges made for consumers (my audience was teenage girls), but to get one they had to send in a stamped addressed envelope, so postage cost me nothing, we gave out 000s and only paid for the badges.  There are so many free tools out there like Canva and free versions of excel etc. I don’t think I need to have x to be legitimate!
  5. Have fun – you will be living and breathing your business in the first few years or longer with not much time for other things, so you need to enjoy it!