Creative Conversations is our conversation series that works with our Rosé Friday IGTV and podcast. Get a snapshot of some of the amazing conversations we have here and you can jump over to our podcast or our IGTV channel for an extended chat to get to know guests even more.
Monica Yianakis | Bobux International
Who are you and what do you do?
Monica Yianakis, CEO at Bobux. We are a children’s footwear business that has just turned 31years old.
Our Purpose is to make the best shoes in the world for growing feet – foot health is critical for us and we work really closely with podiatrists and we balance this foot health with ensuring our shoes are also beautiful – so as a parent, you feel like you’re doing the best thing for your child!
Our Vision is ‘Growing our Children’s future together – one step at a time’ as we live for adventure and we believe the more good we put into the next generation and the world they live in, the better. Every run, hop, skip and jump helps!
We currently sell to over 40 markets and our biggest markets are Australia, UK, Italy & NZ.
How did the business come about?
We started in our founders house in Auckland (Chris & Colleen Bennett – who are still our owners now) as they were looking for some shoes that would stay on their daughter’s feet! They started selling what we now call our ‘soft sole’ shoes at Victoria Park Market here in Auckland, NZ. Over the last 30 years we have evolved to have more structured shoes and now cater for shoes up to size EU 33.
Best career advice you have ever received?
People, people, people. Someone early in my managerial career told me that if you build up the right team with great people – not only will you see better results but you’ll also enjoy it a whole lot more.
‘Make sure you always have more inputs than outputs’. I have been lucky to have several outstanding managers across my career and one said this to me. He said across your life make sure you’ve got more things putting energy into how you feel (whether that’s in work or out of work, like a walk on the beach, time with friends etc) than things that feel like they’re taking energy out of you. It’s always stuck with me so whilst I think ‘balance’ itself can never be achieved continuously because it’s always evolving, it’s something that I’m constantly checking back against.
Worst advice you have ever received?
Someone in HR once told me earlier in my career that based on my personality profile, I would never lead a company. They said I placed too much emphasis on balancing work and life so I would never make it. I remember being initially devastated that someone was saying to me, you will never do something – I grew up in an environment and in a country like NZ where we all believe (and rightly so) that we could all do anything if we want to.
I did decide that night (after a glass of Rose!) that I wasn’t going to let that dictate my future and I’m lucky enough to be here today with Bobux.
What is one thing we should invest in for our business?
People. I’ve been lucky to spend some time in my life managing a Retail Business and across our 25 stores, you could always tell the highest performing stores were the ones with the best managers and team in them. They were the ones having fun, having a great culture and performing the best. Great people are fundamental for business.
What is one thing you wish you had known when starting your business?
Whilst I definitely didn’t start Bobux, one thing I wish I had known before starting in the business world is that you need to be yourself. I think I had this perception that when you start leading teams and businesses, you need to be tough, ruthless and push hard. It was a big learning that that simply wasn’t me, sure there are times when you need to be tough but when I was trying to be this leader I thought you had to be, it just didn’t feel real or natural. I’ve actually realised that by being me (with the good parts and parts that need work) I can have the most impact.
What is your favourite part of your day to day?
Being in the office and hearing the buzz of the team. I’m a big advocate of flexible work and ensuring people can work where they want when they want, but I do also love it when I’m in the office and there’s a good crew of us and there is a buzz. There’s banter, laughter, discussions and debates. As an extrovert that’s where I get my energy and my enjoyment.
What was an unexpected joy of creating your business?
Whilst I definitely didn’t create Bobux – the unexpected joy for me was recently when I went over to Europe and spent time travelling around and visiting customers across the markets we are in. I didn’t realise just how proud I would be of Bobux – I got such a thrill that this amazing kiwi brand is representing NZ across the world. On the global landscape, NZ is small right, so even more amazing – we have a kiwi brand selling shoes to the Italians – the home of leather shoes!!
Leave us with some words of wisdom?
Again my favourite saying:
Make sure you have more inputs than outputs. Life is a marathon and if you don’t look after yourself and have more inputs than outputs then it’s not a long term plan.
Especially after the challenges of the last few years with COVID and the current economic challenges the world is facing, we need to be kind to ourselves, make sure we are putting inputs into our life – so make sure you schedule time to do whatever it is that makes you feel revitalised, re-energised and helps with your resilience.
3 words to live by for 2022
Appreciate Life & Explore (that’s four but I’m not counting the and!).
I think the last few years have taught me that life is short and we need to appreciate it. We also need to live it – so now that the world is opening back up again, let’s get out there and explore all the opportunities that are around us.
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