A strong background in Advertising helped LENZO founder Elleni Pearce to launch her unique party planning business only a few short months ago.
Pearce, who hails from Adelaide, has spent the past 10 years living in Melbourne and Sydney, and says her new online company has been three years in the making.
We chat with the mother-of-two about her new adventure, her Adelaide roots and the women who inspire her.
Tell us about your new company, LENZO!
LENZO is the first and only online centralised destination for event inspiration, hire and trade, and is based on an advertising model. LENZO combines an inventory of event styling stock and services from both individual users (we call them personal traders) and established event-related companies (called business traders). Traders can list products for sale or hire – or even both. Let’s say you get married and buy 100 vintage vases. What do you do with them afterwards? Lenzo enables new revenue streams for its traders and it’s a great time saver for those planning a party.
What made you decide to take the leap and launch your own company?
As an event lover, I used to get a little carried away with all of the details – spending time and money on props and partyware that was only used once. When the party was over I was left with a heap of on-trend products still in perfectly good condition, so I ended up lending items to friends and family – and the idea was born.
I started working on the LENZO business plan about three years ago, whilst on maternity leave with my first daughter. I then went back to my advertising role, but LENZO was still in my head and deeply entrenched in my heart. I also saw massive potential in the growing ‘share economy’ and thought – well, I will never die wondering, and took the plunge!
Have you always enjoyed party planning?
Always! Even as a three or four year old I remember visiting Peter Van the Party Man in Adelaide – with every possible accessory on my wish-list (poor mum) and every little detail in my head. More than anything, I love watching people enjoy the party, and sharing those memories with friends and family.
What makes LENZO unique?
Our site enables personal event hire; the concept of on-selling party goods exists in the US, but at LENZO we give our audience the option to select both: to keep their items and continue to make an income or sell them. Currently, there is no centralised events platform for event transactions – if you want to hire a light box you need to go to individual suppliers. At LENZO we have a pool of inventory from multiple suppliers in the one place.
We also have an Events by You section where our community can upload their own parties (think photographers, stylists, your best friend – anyone can use it!) LENZO is 100 per cent integrated. You can literally tag products like you tag friends in Facebook, and this then links through to the product listing for purchase.
Tell us about your background. What were you doing before starting LENZO?
After school, I studied a Bachelor of Commerce with majors in Marketing and Management at the University of Adelaide. The day of my final exam I was on a flight to Melbourne to attend an interview for a postgrad course in Media Sales at Monash University. I completed the course and was employed by ACP Magazines (as it was known at the time, now Bauer Media). I spent 10 years working in the advertising department at ACP in both the Melbourne and Sydney offices. I predominantly worked across a group selling structure (multiple brands), across key accounts such as Johnson & Johnson, Target and Myer.
You’re currently living outside SA. How long have you been living interstate and what keeps you connected to Adelaide?
I left Adelaide in January 2004 to pursue the Media Sales course in Melbourne. We also had a three year stint in Sydney from 2007-2009, and then returned to Melbourne. I still call Adelaide home, and that’s because of the close friends and family I have there. Some of my greatest friends are still those from school, and I have an extremely close and supportive immediate and extended family. As Melbourne is such a short distance I make sure I am back regularly for visits (the one hour flight makes it easy!)
What do you see as some of South Australia’s strengths and challenges?
I think SA’s strengths are the comparatively affordable housing, the food and culture – I believe SA leads the way – and a generally enjoyable and easy pace. I think one of the greatest challenges is definitely young talent leaving after university to pursue careers interstate or overseas (especially in the finance, marketing and fashion sectors.)
Where do you see your company going over the next five years?
The five year goal is for someone to use LENZO when it comes to events in the same way as sites like Ebay, Gumtree or Etsy. “Why don’t you just LENZO it?”
What advice would you offer to other young people who are looking to start their own business?
Don’t start anything you are not passionate about! Passion is the key to success. If you love what you do, you will actually do it.
Who are some of your greatest mentors/ women you admire?
I have always been fascinated by Martha Stewart! My Aunty, Christine Locher (founder of Locher Human Resources), has always been a great mentor of mine. Oh, and I also must give a mention to my mum, who is the most giving and selfless person I know; she has dedicated everything to her family.
How do you balance home and family life with your work commitments?
This is something I am still trying to get better at. Having only started the business, it’s a difficult phase with limited resources and limitless hours! Having a husband and two little girls, it is a constant juggle, but I am trying to set certain days for work and others for pleasure (trying!) We are very lucky to have a great support network here in Melbourne.