Let’s Start At The Very Beginning
Meet Casey Arnaud. Successful business woman and devoted mother of two. Casey Arnaud is a mover and a shaker. And sometimes a risk-taker. In 1994 Arnaud launched her own skincare company based on essential oils. She ran the very fruitful business for well over a decade, selling it three years ago to a large cosmetics house. Whilst the going was tough in the early years, the business was highly acclaimed and the products much sought after. “It was good to know that I could start something from nothing”, says Arnaud. But it was time to move on.
After the sale of her company, Arnaud decided to travel. Her adventures abroad, with eldest daughter Sequoia, ignited a passion in her and paved the way for Arnaud’s next business venture. “I thought about how I could capture the richness of travel and how I could deliver that to people who don’t have the time to travel or who are too scared to travel to the more obscure places”, she enthuses. In particular it was a trip to Laos that really clinched the deal for Arnaud.
Armed with a big bag of Laotian artefacts, Arnaud realised then and there that her dream could definitely become a reality. “I wanted to be able to offer unique pieces for children that weren’t mainstream”, she says. And in 2007 Little Gypsies was born.
Consuming For a Cause
Little Gypsies is a company with a conscience. The business aims to support communities in need and is committed to aligning itself with Fair Trade projects across the globe. Affiliated with the Cambodian charity, Green Gecko, Little Gypsies donates a portion of every sale to the cause which seeks to arm the street children of Siem Reap with the necessary skills, education and support to get them off the streets and on the path to a better, brighter future.
To support its commitment to those less fortunate, Little Gypsies is built around a strict code of practice. There are eight core values that signify the essence of what the company stands for and what it hopes to achieve. Each product picked for sale has to comply with at least one of these values in order to satisfy the Little Gypsies mission: Ethical, Charitable, Traditional, Educational, Collectable, Limited Edition, Fair Trade or Eco Friendly.
Whilst this is no easy exercise, Arnaud is determined to offer “items that are made with love, that tell a story, and are both socially and environmentally responsible”, she says. Essentially, Little Gypsies is about trying to restore the balance in a society that is so focussed on consumerism. It is about selling products with a purpose and about “giving back to the people who created those products”, says Arnaud.
Searching for products which best fit the Little Gypsies vision is a somewhat arduous task. Arnaud spends countless hours pouring over catalogues and searching for goods online. “A lot of the producers don’t have the money to present something nicely in a catalogue”, she says. So, more often than not, Arnaud relies on her skilled eye or finely honed instincts when it comes to selecting merchandise. She also calls upon the services of accredited Fair Trade suppliers who source items specifically for her. Consequently, the Little Gypsies website is teeming with inspirational wares, each with their own unique appeal.
From Bangladesh to Brazil and Mexico to Morocco, Little Gypsies represents a whole host of intriguing communities with something worthwhile to share. Even Australia gets a look in! But according to Arnaud the most beguiling country of all is Burma. “I loved the rawness of the country, I loved the traditions”, shares Arnaud. It was so rewarding seeing Buddhism in action and how the people looked after one another”, she recalls.
Arnaud’s dedication to the success of Little Gypsies and to her children, nine month old Gypsy and five year old Sequoia, is a constant juggling act. So how does Casey Arnaud manage to grow her business without compromising the quality time she spends with her daughters? Her approach to work is simple: “Give yourself little targets, one thing a day or one thing a week”, she insists. “Stick to set times when you will work and make a realistic timeline to get things done”, impresses Arnaud.
Arnaud is adamant that being able to leave the house, and separate herself from the office, is the key to her success. As is making the time for her own personal pursuits. Arnaud is an avid walker and yoga-devotee. She always feels refreshed and rejuvenated after a meander through Rozelle markets in Sydney’s inner west or after lunch in the park with daughter Gypsy.
It is fair to say that managing a family and a home-based business is no mean feat. And Arnaud seems to do both with vigour and resolve. For Arnaud, it is quite clear that both personally and professionally the ‘Little’ things make the biggest difference.
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