Art of gift-giving made easy

Women influence 85% of all household buying choices, so who influences the people who buy for us?  

According to a recent Forbes review of consumer behaviour, women are the chief decision-makers, influencing 85% of all household buying choices. So what happens when it’s our turn to be bought for? 

The traditional fifth anniversary present of wood may work for some, and the slightly-less romantic tenth anniversary present of tin may work for others, but it’s not a fool-proof guide, and some of us can be particularly hard to buy for too. 

The gift of getting gift-giving right is something Sarah Urban wanted to give to others. Her childhood memories of the ‘wrong’ kind of gifts are the driving force behind her self-titled business, Sarah Urban, and now, she dedicates herself to helping others find meaningful gifts. Gift-giving is one of life’s greatest joys, and the concept behind Sarah Urban is simple, but the journey has been anything but simple for Sarah. Through her start-up experience, she’s learnt the importance of being agile in business and why being open to change is crucial… 

You ran Sarah Vintage before launching Sarah Urban. Why the change? 

Sarah Vintage was such an amazing time of my life, but I felt that I needed to grow the brand to be more current and not be quite so niche so I took stock of all the things I had done in my past and why I had done them. I came to the conclusion that I loved making people happy and thought about how I could develop that into a business. I married that with all the ideas I had along the way and came to Sarah Urban, which is really an extension of Sarah Vintage and all its brand attributes, values and personality and the same end goal of making women happy.

Why is it important to be open to change in business? 

I think it really is important to take an unemotional stocktake of your business, to work out what is working and what is not. This can be so hard because we are all so emotional about what we do, that’s why we do it. Change should be embraced; it’s not something to be scared of and it is really important to challenge ourselves, as I think it brings out the best in us. We do however have to be careful we don’t make changes as a knee jerk reaction and be very clear about what we want to achieve in this change. For me, change has brought a freshness to what I do both for the customer and myself, and it has given me the ability to develop new products whilst bringing in my love of food and vintage pieces.


What’s on your daily to-do list running Sarah Urban? 

My daily to-do list is insane, as there are so many moving parts to the business. It’s not just the products; it’s the marketing of a new brand, the technical back end, the networking, the social media, photos to be taken, blogs to write, the promotional events to organise… It’s really just a massive juggle and luckily I am building a fabulous team around me to help me not drop too many balls. It is key to write lists for yourself and your team (another daily job) so everyone knows what is expected of them and when tasks need to be done. I may over-ask most days but a girl can dream!

Is running Sarah Urban and having a family as easy as you make it look?

For me, the balance of work and home is so damn hard and to be honest, sometimes I feel like I am drowning trying to be everything to everybody. My kids are adults now but I still want to spend quality time with them and my crazy big family and all my friends. My partner is based in Torquay and has a big family too, so that just adds another layer. I am all about delegating now, not just relying on the old adage, ‘If you want something done ask a busy woman’. It’s been very liberating and quite honestly, I have found others can do things as well as if not better than me. It also frees up time to keep the ship on course, and working on the business not in it, and I am finding myself being able to spend more quality time with my loved ones. Really, this juggle journey has been great for the business. The only way Sarah Urban can grow is to be open to change and delegation, and the upside is that it frees me up for my family.

How has co-working helped with your personal and business growth?
One Roof has made the business more real. It’s taken it from the home office where distractions are all around, and it has made me make those to-do lists and to implement them. It’s also helped with making me more accountable to myself and my staff because we are at ‘the office’. Having like-minded people around you who are working hard to build their businesses too, is so inspiring and it’s a great place to toss around ideas, get support when times are hard, and it has the feeling that we are all in this together. One Roof co-working has also given me ‘business-free’ time at home, and feeling that when I get home, I can actually be a better mum and partner because work and family life are now separate. Having said that, I still take work home but now it doesn’t seem like such a burden because I’ve worked all day at the office.

What one superpower would you have and why?

Superhuman endurance, as I have so many plans and so much I want to achieve. I think this superpower would make my journey a whole lot easier. It was a toss up with time travel and time manipulation.

What would you go back and tell your 15-year-old self?

I don’t think there is anything I would want to go back and tell her; we all learn from our journey and I have both loved and hated mine, but all those experiences have made me who I am. Quite frankly, that 15 year old wouldn’t have listened either!

When was the last time you cried about something business-related?

My last true big business sob was when I closed my store SARAH in Sydney. It was a very emotional time brought about by a romance with someone who turned out to be not who he said he was and potentially dangerous. I had to protect not only myself but my kids and move. So many memories and so many dreams were interrupted, and I felt sad and angry, scared and violated, it was like my dreams went up in smoke. I am sure this has made an impact on my wanting Sarah Urban to make women happy, and its why I want to give back and help women who have been affected by domestic violence and unnecessary adversity.

What was the last ‘small win’ you celebrated?

Everyday I have small wins. Today it was nailing the packaging for my first set of recipe cards. They have been such a dream and now they are a reality and need packaging!

What is your idea of happiness and success?

Happiness for me is having everyone I love over for dinner and seeing them enjoy each other and celebrating life, and it’s even better when my 95 year old mother is there. Success is seeing my business coming together and making people happy with the gifts they receive.

You’re a gift-giver yourself and know the power of a good gift. What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received?

To be honest I haven’t had any really bad gifts. Everyone has always known how much value I put in a ‘good present’ so they tend to really think about it for me, and I drop so many hints they couldn’t possibly get it wrong. My mother on the other hand got plenty of dud gifts from dad, including a vacuum cleaner, because hey, mum loved being a domestic goddess. There was also a hair/beard trimmer so she could save him going to the barber, and clearly really helpful for the six women in the house, and there was a new lawn mower too…

How do you define the ‘perfect gift’? 

The perfect gift is something the giver has either thought hard about (or sought advice on) to find something that the person they are buying for will love. My most perfect gift was from my mother. I was working in rural New South Wales at the time and wasn’t going home for Christmas. She sent me a box of small gifts, one for everyday in December, little things that had meaning to me or that I could use for Christmas. It wasn’t the cost of the goods (some were things like mini playing cards she had lifted from a plane trip) but the fact she had put thought into each gift, had individually wrapped them and each had a handwritten note attached – it was really special. That was a very hard act to follow!

To learn more about Sarah Urban or to find the perfect gift, head to and spoil someone you love. 

This blog was written by the incredible and talented Claire Goldsworthy, Founder of The Fashion Advocate.

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