• FWX Mar qtr 2024  78.3
  • FWX yr-o-yr  3.66
  • FWX qtr-o-qtr  2
  • ASX 200 Boards years to equality  5.6
  • Underemployment years to equality  19.9
  • Superannuation years to equality  17.7
  • Gender pay gap years to equality  23.3
  • Employment years to equality  25.6
  • Unpaid work years to equality  45.5
  • Education years to equality  389

What it feels like to have a company worth $10 million

Ever wondered what it takes to grow a company from the ground or garage up, and into a $10 million entity?
February 16, 2022

Melissa Wilkinson is a powerhouse mum juggling her own $10 million business with two kids, a hubby and no early stage investor in sight.

But what we want to know is how did she do it? How did she build her company, Personalised Favours into what has become one of Australia’s leading personalised gift business.

Here’s our Q&A with Melissa.

When you first started out in business – what was your idea?

Personalised Favours began over 10 years ago. I was planning my wedding and looking for unique wedding favours for my guests but couldn’t find anything local I particularly liked. I decided to make my own and from there a small eBay business was born – selling unique, quality party favour gifts for couples to give out at their wedding.

How much money did you start off with when starting Personalised Favours?

Personalised Favours started off with hardly any money! I was working full time and started Personalised Favours as a side hustle, selling unique, quality party favour gifts for couples to give out at their wedding on an eBay store.

After a year, I dropped down to part-time in my corporate job, working three days a week and running Personalised Favours on the other days.

At this point in time, I had about $10,000 in savings and I visited a wedding trade show to buy a laser engraving machine to reduce some of the initial overheads due to outsourcing all the engraving. I was pretty dismayed when I got to the trade show and realised I was about $25,000 short. I then had a stroke of luck and won the major prize of the day at the trade show – a brand new laser engraving machine. This was the push I needed to go out on my own and leave my corporate job to focus on Personalised Favours full time.

Did you seek investors? How did you grow the company?

We’ve not had any investors to date. We found a real gap in the market that people wanted filled and this demand has continued to grow and grow.

In 2013, my brother-in-law, Matthew Mosse-Robinson, joined the company as CEO, bringing with him a financial background that I lacked.

We’ve also found digital advertising has helped us grow. We were early adopters to promote our products on Facebook and utilise Facebook advertising – we’ve now got over 100,000 followers on our Facebook page. Google Shopping Ads have also helped new customers discover us and our products.

What does it feel like to have a company worth $10 million?

To be honest, I actually don’t think about it a lot! As a business owner I feel like you always have your sights set on the next thing. I remember thinking when we first started the business our goal was to make $5 million. Once we reached that I didn’t even think about it!

In saying that I feel incredibly proud and fulfilled that we have achieved so much with the business. It’s proof that leaving a well-paid corporate job to go out on my own was the right move, and that all the blood, sweat and tears haven’t been for nothing!

I’m extremely proud of our team in helping us to get here – it wouldn’t have been possible without them, and the fact that we did this on our own without investor help is even more satisfying.

The company’s growth allows me to have more flexibility which is amazing, I now work reduced hours so I can spend more time at home with my two young children. However I am still very hands on, there are some nights where I’ll be engraving until midnight to help out the team!

How hard has your journey been to get there?

We’ve certainly had a lot of bumpy roads! I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to keep the business alive beyond my small eBay store at first, as I had hardly any start-up capital and was running nearly every element on my own – the overhead costs were too much to manage and everything would go straight back into the business.

In the early days I used to go to the newsagency in the morning to pick up newspapers and collect boxes from Bunnings that they were going to throw out that I could use as cheap packaging for the products. We did everything we could to save money.

Growing rapidly then came with its own challenges – we outgrew our operations out of my home garage very quickly, and then outgrew our first warehouse quickly. We then had to make huge investments to buy more machines so we could keep up with the demand and employ more staff. Having not run a business before, this was all a big learning curve.

We’ve certainly had our share of failures along the way – probably the biggest to-date would have to be trying to set-up shop in the US. We opened a small office in Delaware, which was over before it even started! We hired just one employee to run the office and two weeks into the job, she quit. We weren’t able to find a replacement and ended up shutting it all down despite investing so much into it. We learnt a great lesson though – we don’t need to physically operate in other markets, overseas customers genuinely love Australian businesses and today 5% of our sales are from the US and 10-15% from New Zealand.

Do you pay yourself a wage?

Yes, I do. Since starting Personalised Favours there has been just six months where I haven’t paid myself a wage. This was in the beginning, I relied on my husband’s salary and I swore I would never do that again! I love my independence and I love having my own money – so I decided early on that this was something very important to me so started paying myself a wage, albeit a small one to begin with.

Matthew and I have been able to increase our wages over the years thanks to the company’s growth, however when we brought on our first employee we paid her almost double what we were paying ourselves.

What has having a business of your size taught you about women in business, leadership and equality?

There’s absolutely no reason why women can’t start their own business or take a chance on their careers. If you believe you have a good business idea, the world is your oyster. I think a lot of the time the fear is what holds women back (I know that’s what held me back!) but there should absolutely be more female-led businesses out there.

One thing I have observed about women in business is we are exceptional at multitasking. For myself, I am juggling a business that employs over 60 staff as well as a two and three-year-old, which I have to say is pretty amazing! All the staff we have on board (which is majority females) can multitask – they do everything from engraving, gift wrapping and boxing orders, to dispatching and are just amazing at being flexible in the workplace.

Our team ranges from a woman who is in her 50s to 14-year-old school students who are diving into their first job. We’ve found that we just look for the best people to do the job – it doesn’t matter their age or gender, it’s all about the individual.

As a woman I do think I place a large focus on mental health and wellbeing for my staff as I know, particularly for working mothers and fathers, the juggle can be overwhelming. We regularly shout our staff coffee and lunch, and organise prize giveaways to thank them for all their hard work – as really none of this would be possible without them.


Financy helps women become financially fearless and while we’re at it, we ensure that our members – individuals and organisations – are part of the solution to gender financial equality. Subscribe for FREE to our newsletter or dial things up a notch with a Financy Membership.

Related Articles


Leave us A Comment

February 16, 2022
Proudly Supported by

Get the full Insights

Enter your details below to instantly receive the latest Women’s Index report

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Fortnightly Fix

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.