Global podium for style-aware shoppers

Motherhood and ambition brought out the best in Australian entrepreneur Renee Lodens whose unique go-to online local shopping guide Travelshopa serves three continents...and more is about to follow!

The Womenz team had an opportunity to interview Renée Lodens, Founder & Managing Director, Chief Operating Officer – Travelshopa and here’s what she shared with us
 

Can you please tell us something about you, your education etc.?

I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I attended the University of New South Wales and majored in Sociology and Modern Greek. After graduating in 1997 I moved to Athens Greece to teach English to children and adults.
 

How much experience do you have in the world of travel and online shopping? Tell us more about your initial days of career

In 2001, I returned to Sydney and immersed myself in business development and marketing roles across various industries, picking up different skills along the way that paved the way to one day be an entrepreneur. It was during this time, that I was advised to complete some further study. Soon enough I was enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration in Strategy and Marketing. It was during my Innovation and Entrepreneurship class that my inner entrepreneur was awakened and I thought... I‘d like to do that. I just needed to come up with my big idea.

Fast forward to 2010 I moved to Singapore. In the first 12 months of living in the tropics I travelled to 9 cities in Asia. It was then that the idea for Travelshopa came to me.



What made you to start Travelshopa? Please explain the story behind.

In all my travels I saw that there was no go-to guide on the best local shopping for style-conscious shoppers. Recognising that the world would benefit from such a guide, I started conversations (online and on social) about cool local brands, new stores, and shopping events in Singapore, and created shopping guides to help shoppers have unforgettable shopping experiences. My approach was personal, unique and informative, about a subject that nobody else was covering at a regional or global level. I launched Travelshopa in 2013 in Singapore and then slowly added destinations.


Just give short scenario of the local shopping scene in Australia? Why is it so important to shop local?

Australian fashion and independent retail have never looked so good. Having curated many of the best shopping cities in the world, I am confident that the Australian landscape is innovative, creative and world class. While Australian style and design is on the global radar, I think it is time we started making more noise about Australian talent.

We are seeing more local designers being picked up by international retailers and eTailers. Australian style is starting to influence design around the world. However, we are also living in a time when there are more international brands entering the Australian market than ever. Now is the time that consumers should be educated about how to support local in order to help the local economy, support local jobs, and strengthen each local community.

Your initial journey/struggle and motivation to scale this far?

My motivation is that I want to create a global platform that connects shoppers and brands. I want to support small businesses, and fellow entrepreneurs. And most of all I want shoppers to have better shopping experiences. 



As a woman did you face any hurdles in your journey so far?  If yes, how you faced & conquered them? How do you juggle being a mum and businesswoman? Any tips for others out there wanting to do the same?

Before children I had a career that I loved. Once I fell pregnant with my first child, I was faced with the return to my corporate career (which had a lot of travel and long office hours). This is a well-known scenario for many women in business. I knew that I wanted to be present as a mother, but I also wanted to keep my professional career going. One way to do that was to create my own business where I would be able to do all the things I love – run a business, be creative, work with small businesses as well as have the flexibility and freedom to be the mum I wanted to be.
 

During maternity leave I worked on the concept for Travelshopa and within a few months I had resigned and started the business. I have been working from home on and off, which has enabled me to be a mum and businesswoman. There are many challenges that come with that, but there will always be challenges when you want to be “on“ and present.

Motherhood has brought out the organizer in me. There is a daily need to think ahead, scenario plan and multi-task. To keep everything in order I set priorities, work to a schedule, and take some time out (almost) every day for myself.


What are the USP’s of Travelshopa?

To the best of my knowledge, Travelshopa is the only curated guide to the best local shopping around the world. We are a unique global network of style conscious shoppers, emerging designers and independent retailers as well as industry professionals across Asia, the Americas and Australia. We are here to connect shoppers with the best designers and retailers through detailed brand profiles, thorough guides, exclusive interviews, stylish shopping experiences and a unique online shop.




Your further growth plans for the year and coming years?

Growth is very important to us. We could grow very quickly but I want to maintain the personal approach, and continue to curate each destination. We will keep expanding our geographies, and striving for organic, meaningful and strategic growth.

 

Within the next few months our focus is the Australian market. I am excited at the opportunities to connect Australian designers and retailers with shoppers and buyers from near and far. We will replicate many of the strategic partnerships that have had great impact in the Asian market, but we are also looking at a number of localised opportunities specifically to support Australian brands wanting to expand globally.

We want to be at the forefront and therefore technology will remain to play an important part in the company.



What is your biggest achievement so far?

My children are definitely my biggest achievement to date. On the work front, I was taught from a young age that anything is possible, and to never ever give up. I think the fact that I came up with an idea, worked through it, and launched it is an achievement in itself. Now it all comes down to hard work in order for it to be the global platform I once dreamed about.
 

Any message to aspiring women in business / business owners out there who are struggling to prove themselves?

Don’t be afraid of being ambitious.

 

Renee, we at TheWomenz team express our earnest appreciation for sharing your unique story with us. We believe it will surely stimulate fellow women in every country and continent in the world.
 

Renee can be reached on Linkedin and Twitter

First Published: 15-Jun-2017- 17:38


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