Gemma and the SheShed team have been running and growing this amazing business for the past eight years! Gemma is an inspiring entrepreneur who has worked diligently to build her brand. As a result, the SheShed brand mission is a Space to Inspire. Whether its finding solace from family life, pursuing that dream entrepreneurial venture or indulging in a personal passion, She Shed gives busy women (and men) the physical and mental space to grow. It only takes a look at the She Shed inspirational gallery to feel the awe at the amazing spaces customers have created.
Her dedication and hard work are truly inspiring. But how did it all start, and what was the journey of starting this business from a moment of inspiration? In this blog we dive into all the big questions. How did she grow her business to be one of the most widely recognised and used kitset cabin companies across Australia and New Zealand? We sat down with her to learn all about this incredible journey now that she and the SheShed team are celebrating SheSheds 8th birthday in business.
The SheShed story started as a rather convenient accident. She was situated in a home show in Christchurch, New Zealand eight years ago, and was there to represent another business. To set up the booth to make it look more appealing to potential customers passing by, the company chose a poster for the background, featuring a cute potting shed. As more and more customers came up to the booth, they kept asking Gemma about the shed in the poster and queried if she sold them – and the whole time she thought to herself, “We should sell sheds like that.” The demand was already there from what she saw, and then the name just came to her – “SheShed.” Before she knew it, Gemma was back in her car in the parking lot and quickly registered her brand online and bought the domain – that was it. She knew what she was going to do.
When asked about what sets a SheShed apart from other kitset cabins in the market, Gemma simply says, “It’s the design, quality, customer journey and the brand. We also wanted the cabins to be easy to buy, which is why we handle the shipping with a flat rate and delivery straight to the customer's house.” Gemma’s goals with SheShed have always ensured that the cabins are sturdy and aesthetically beautiful. This is why she has chosen to go for the timber cabin design with the well-made French doors – she has never been interested in creating just any boring prefab cabin. She also ensures that she sources her quality products from Europe, so when a SheShed is used and maintained – it will last a very long time. This has made the SheShed so appealing – it is something special. While selling the SheShed Cabins, Gemma noticed that most of her customers were not initially looking to buy a shed for their backyard or garden. Most people who came across SheShed were inspired about how the cabins were set up; like an art studio, yoga room, home business, hair salon, bedroom or even a dream home office. They were inspired by the SheShed brand to create a place of their own – right at home. As a result, Gemma made it her mission to make this vision a reality for future SheShed owners.
"When I first came up with the idea of a SheShed, I looked everywhere in New Zealand (I lived there at the time) to find someone who could help me build this product. No one was interested. So, I initially went overseas and bought a container load of cabins in. But I was not too happy. There was a whole 20-foot container stacked full of pieces of timber, and we had to sort them into kitsets. So, to make it easy, one of our mottos, we created step by step instructions and videos on how to D.I.Y.”- Gemma J. SheShed Founder
By the time Gemma and her family moved to Australia, she started the design process all over again. This time she wanted more control over the products, and she wanted to increase her range too. This time she talked to a few companies in Europe for well over a year until she found the right fit. The first ever style she created with this company was the 19.4m2 Brook River Cabin and she really liked the look, feel and quality of the cabin – she was now onto something! Now SheShed Cabins come in thirteen different styles, and plans to keep on growing:
"Going forward in the future, we want to do more and more of the architectural designing of the cabins. We have some new products soon to be released – we are very excited to take a new range to market – very soon!"- Gemma J. SheShed Founder
When Gemma first started her business, she ran into a fair few challenges! For one, she was working her full-time job with her family’s business, so SheShed started on the side. It was also hard having a young child while running a business as she would often have to juggle customer queries and calls at the same time as having a chatterbox kid in the background – so the pressure was on! As her business expanded and the styles of the cabins she was offering were growing, Gemma almost took the decision to sell the business after five years as it was getting too hard for her to juggle her family life with SheShed. That is when her husband, Luke, joined the team. Now the team is co-lead by someone with an engineer’s mind and logistics know-how, as well as a sales and marketing team both in New Zealand and Australia. SheShed also has full-time warehouse managers in both countries too.
"If you are a woman looking to start your own business in a male-dominated field, all I say is to get some advice and do it. Sometimes if you have a passion and then you turn it into a business, you lose your passion for doing it. Be prepared for that. There are a lot of functions of the business that you need to know such as finance, marketing, sales, your product development, your competition, staff – you just need to be prepared for new obstacles as your company grows.”- Gemma J. SheShed Founder