Australian Business Development Manager & Technical Support / VOLA
As soon as you meet Laura Nardella, one thing is perfectly clear. Nothing, like NO THING stands in this girl’s way. Perfectly poised in black upon black, a hint of lipstick and a mega watt smile, Laura chats effortlessly about her career to date, as if she has been in the industry for over 50 years. The truth however, is that Laura, at only 24 years of age has worked and hustled her way to a senior management role at one of the world’s most reputable Danish tap ware brands in only four years. Did I mention that she is 24?
Laura’s origin story is totally unconventional, but inspirational to those girls that feel that they just don’t belong at high school A burning urge to “get out” of her home town of Werribee, saw her clever mind drift in class. Bored easily and hunting excitement, Laura decided to leave high school at the start of her VCE (much to her family’s disgust) and start a Fashion course. Seven years later Laura now travels the world, visiting clients, daydreaming in art galleries, face down in architecture mags and is even a qualified Pilates Instructor. So how did this girl, go from working part time in a chemist during high school to a job paying more than 100k a year without completing Year 12? Let’s dive into the interview.
Hi Laura, can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in Werribee, a small but now growing town in between Melbourne and Geelong in Victoria. For as long as I can remember I wanted out. I never really understood the small town way of life – so I suppose it made me a very determined person. I am the youngest of four children and grew up in a very close knit community of family and friends. My mum was a very stylist woman who always brought and read fashion and design magazines, and even worked in Interior Design as the manager of a boutique tile company. My sisters were very creative and passionately into fashion and music, so I guess I have always been influenced by style, form and function.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to a catholic high school called MacKillop Catholic Regional College in Werribee. I loved school. It was great fun. I was clever when I wanted to be, but I got bored easily and started dreaming about leaving. I am the type of person that makes a decision and sticks to that decision. So when I decided to drop out of high school there was no turning back in my mind.
What did your family say when you told them that you were thinking of dropping out?
My mum was very supportive as soon as I mentioned it. My brother had left early to commence an electrician apprenticeship so it was easier than I thought. My mum believed that school wasn’t for everyone.
Did you have a plan in mind before you stopped high school?
Not really, I just knew that this way of life wasn’t for me. My friendship group had extended to people that were finishing high school.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
I left high school at the start of Year 11, so the beginning of VCE and enrolled into the Melbourne School of Fashion. I think that from a young age I knew that I would be capable of doing whatever I set out to do. I knew that I could get far with my street smarts and life knowledge. In my current role as a sales representative I am essentially doing just that. Learning how to read businesses and people and working out what they need and want. I learnt that skill outside of the classroom.
Why did you choose Fashion?
I studied textiles in high school and won a competition. I was always into fashion and loved the creative side of it all. I enjoyed drawing
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the course and what did you get out of it?
I commenced a diploma of Fashion Design at the Melbourne School of Fashion and studied Interior Design at CATC. Being a creative, hands on person, I thought that these industries would be perfect for me. My only problem is that I’m impatient and wanted everything straight away. I left half way through my Fashion degree, yet managed to complete the interior design modules. I did learn drawing skills and interior /architect terminology – which essentially helps me kick arse when I’m in the boardroom in front of directors and some of Australia’s most influential architects.
Tell us about your career journey so far, what companies have you worked for?
I started my first part time job at exactly 15 and 9 months at a pharmacy. My role was essentially a casual employee but I did everything from taking prescriptions, to selling make-up and perfume to even dispensing methadone to patients who took it weekly. It was a great first time job and helped me learn how to save and interrupt with customers. From there I worked at Rubi Shoes as a Sales Assistant, I also loved this role as it enabled me to be a little more creative. I loved fashion so this was a fabulous next step in my career. From there I worked at a popular fashion boutique called Lacquer in Yarraville. At Lacquer I was the Assistant Buyer, Store Manager and also did some ad-hoc freelance styling. I also started my own Fashion label with a friend called Pay Day that was short lived but fun. When I was in my final course at CATC I started working at a furniture store called Dedece in Flinders Lane in Melbourne. And from there, well the rest is history.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
Whilst studying Interior design, I landed a job at Dedece, which is a Mecca for all things Interior in Australia. Initially I was hired as an administration co-ordinator, answering phones, liaising with the Sydney office, accepting couriers and deliveries, cleaning the showroom etc. I feel in love for one particular brand named VOLA. VOLA is a Danish tap ware range designed by Arne Jacobsen. I’ve always been a hands on/ technical person so for me pulling apart the fittings and reading up on the mechanics of the brand was what I would do in between answering phones for the company’s office in Melbourne.
One day the Brand Manager from Denmark came into the office to do product training with the senior designers and architects, he saw me working on the product and suggested that I come in on the product training session. I loved the product training. Hearing about the brand origins, the products, what type of people purchase this product and why it is unique. A year later I was appointed the sales representative for role for VOLA at Dedece, another year I was appointed the brands technical support for the brand in Australia and 2 years on… I am now the Australian Business Development Manager & Technical Support.
What does a Business Development Manager do?
In my current role as Business Development Manager, I complete a myriad of tasks including, new business development, sourcing new clients, I also manage customer orders and liaise with head office on a daily basis. I work from home, so aren’t in a “traditional” office type work space, this means that I conduct all of my own administration tasks as well as new business opportunities. An area of my job that I love is Product Training and Corporate Presentations to architecture firms and plumbing associations.
What does a day a typical business day look like?
I am up early either to go for a run or do a Pilates class, from there I am usually at my computer around 7.30am. I answer emails from Head Office to around 9am until the dealers are open and from there I am on the road. I usually meet with two clients each day, and this sometimes means that I am flying to Sydney, or Adelaide or Perth to do so. I always make sure that I have some time for scoping out new trends on blogs, Pinterest and websites or just reading new architecture and design magazines and books. My typical work day ends around 5.30pm, but I may have a client dinner or an opening or event to go to. Usually I like to squeeze in some type of exercise before bed, and then jump under the covers by around 9pm.
What is your yearly salary bracket?
Between $50,000 to $80,000
Between $80,000 to $120,000 ✔
Between $120,000 to $160,000
Who has been your hero or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I draw inspiration from so many genres and people. From Alexander McQueen and Rick Owens, to Heavy Metal music, and people that are generally eclectic by nature. My family inspire me daily and so does my mum and husband.
What’s your favourite thing to do when you are not working?
I’m really into fitness, running, boxing and pilates. I’m slightly ADHD so anything that can burn my body and brain out is the best for me.
What’s next for Laura Nardella?
It’s a really exciting time within my career at the moment. Being the age that I am, having a strong passion and commitment for me job and actually enjoying waking up in the morning to go to work is exciting. (I never thought that would happen) it is a great feeling. I create my work schedule each day, so I can start early and sometimes I finish late but it makes me happy.
What advice would you give girls who want to do your job or who are struggling to find what they want to do as a career?
As cliché as it sounds, find something you like doing and stick with it. If that doesn’t come straight away, that’s ok. It’s ok to have 4, 5 or more different careers, it’s all part of the learning process. I don’t believe that school is for everyone, but it is great for people who don’t know what they want to do. I landed my job because I had a passion and it constantly challenged me. Someone once told me that you have to fake it til you make it, and I strongly believe in that.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration:
- Favourite Blogs or Website: Instagram, Blog: Room on Fire
- Books: Anything to do with Art History, The Glassroom by Simon Mawer, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (I have a tattoo inspired by this book, it changed my life, must read)
- People: My work colleges, family, Leah Simmons for some serious fitness inspiration, Fever Ray