2017 Hall of Fame Inductee
Emily has had a lustrous and varied career in food service throughout the years. In 2005, she invested her life savings of $10,000 in a then rundown café in Sydney’s Rose Bay. Within one year, she had turned the business around and won Wentworth Courier Café of the Year, Sydney Eastern Suburbs. She sold it the following year for a six-figure profit. She was 23.
The next target of Emily’s sights was the wholesale food industry. In 2007, she used the proceeds from the café to establish Kingston Foods Australia with her silent partner David Morgan. The company sourced organic food items from around the country and took advantage of the record-high exchange rate to source foods from overseas. During her ownership of the company, Kingston Foods distributed through Coles, Woolworths and David Jones. Emily successfully sold the business in 2014.
Leveraging her experience in wholesale foods, Emily established The Hamper Emporium in 2010 as a subsidiary to Kingston Foods. She used her experience to source and package gourmet foods from France and Italy for premium hampers. Today, the Hamper Emporium is one of Australia’s leading corporate and personal hamper providers, selling thousands of gifts every year.
The SOL Group, a portfolio of gifting websites, was formed in 2014. The Group includes Gifts Australia, Everything But Flowers and Men’s Gift Store. Each gift available on these sites is warehoused and shipped from Emily’s 1,100 sqm warehouse in Sydney’s Regents Park. Emily leases another 2,000 sqm leading up to Christmas each year to accommodate the holiday boom.
During the Christmas season, the company sells a gift every 22 seconds. Last year, the SOL Group dispatched more than 100,000 orders.
Emily recently brought her sisters onto the SOL Group team. Her sister Libby is the head of marketing and takes on purchasing for the websites, and Amy is the Chief Operating Officer.
Emily has a passion for gourmet produce and sources all of the items for her hampers. This year, she sourced Kalamata olives grown on Kangaroo Island, chocolates made fresh in Sydney and all-natural chargrilled vegetable tapenades from Tasmania. Emily also makes regular trips overseas to research the latest trends, innovation, designs and technologies in packaging.
Emily attributes her incredible success to passion, drive and the ability to provide customers with great value and a seamless experience.
When she isn’t working, Emily spends time with her family in their farm on Kangaroo Island.
Strategies for Success
- Sleep, water, iron. If I’m lacking in any of these, everything comes to a grinding halt. Looking after yourself is such an important factor in your road to achieving what you want and enjoying yourself along the way. It is especially true when you have kids as energy, motivation and clarity can be taken away from you even more easily if you don’t stay in touch with these factors.
- Be interested — not interesting — and you will learn from others. You don’t need to search high and low for a mentor. Being open and ready to learn from people regardless of position can give you amazing insight.
- Plan ahead for the tough times. You can have a strong business on paper and not have any money in the bank; so during the tighter times, we focused heavily on our cash flow and involved all of the staff in planning how to overcome that. 65% of revenue is made during the Christmas period, so it takes a lot of forward planning to manage that.
- Trust your staff. Once you trust your employees they will reciprocate with hard work and honesty. And if they don’t, it is better to trust and be burnt than not trust at all.
- Delegate. You will find more freedom once you accept that something done 80% as good as you could do yourself is better than not being done at all.