EXPRESSIONS AUSTRALIA founder Emma McNeilly took home the 2018 Business Excellence Award at The AusMumpreneur Awards in Melbourne recently.
Ms McNeilly started as a one-woman operation, working with a handful of schools and now, Expressions has grown into a national brand and trusted name in the fundraising industry.
“Expressions is Australia’s most loved tea towel fundraising company,” Ms McNeilly said. “We began in 1999 as a one-woman operation and have grown into a thriving business of working women who are proud to help raise funds for community organisations across Australia.”
To date Expressions has worked on more than 18,500 community fundraising projects, helping raise millions of dollars for schools and community groups in every corner of Australia. The products bring an easy, creative and sugar-free solution to vital school and community fundraising.
“We have close to three million tea towels, aprons and bags in kitchens and keepsake boxes in every corner of Australia and around the world,” Ms McNeilly said. “Over 1300 schools and childcare centres trust us each year with their precious artwork, ranging from large city schools to tiny remote communities.
“To accomplish this, I employ a team of five people to manage different aspects of the business, we have embraced the effective use of digital and online technologies which allows us to work together nationally between Sydney, Margaret River in WA, Tasmania and Burleigh Heads in South East Queensland.
“Expressions provides a win for everyone involved at every stage of the process. Funds raised, proud children, delighted clients and a healthy business. The tea towels are celebratory and inclusive, and the business has a genuine feel good factor.
“The sentimentality of children being surrounded by their friends and favourite teachers creates a warm and fuzzy for all, they have become a tradition for so many of our clients,” she said.
“We really focus on customer service, and I understand from first-hand experience how precious volunteers’ hours are. Fundraising plays a vital role for grass roots communities, so we strive to ensure our projects are easy to run, everything is supplied, and in turn everybody loves them.
“We have thousands of glowing testimonials. A testament to our service is a near perfect Net Promoter score. Half of our annual workload is repeat bookings and hundreds of coordinators and organisations have worked with us over many years.
“Our practical products make a lasting memento and the designs encompass a real sense of community, so they sell well for our clients.”
AusMumpreneur Network co-founder. Peace Mitchell said, “We are delighted that Emma has won this award, she has created an outstanding business and is an inspirational role model and ambassador for mums in business everywhere.”
Emma McNeilly has worked in fundraising for over 20 years and has served as a volunteer on many committees for 15 years. She has a rich understanding of the very important and far reaching world of vital community fundraising from both sides of the fence.
Ms McNeilly is now taking that wealth of experience and has formed a niche communications agency - Progeny Communications - which brings brands together with Australia's most powerful consumer: mums.
“Mothers are making the purchasing decisions for most of Australia's households and we are connecting with them, where they are – right at the heart of grassroots communities,” Ms McNeilly said.
Emma McNeilly’s tips for SMEs
- Put the customer at the forefront of all your business decisions, put yourself in their shoes and plan from there.
- Document all your procedures so it’s easy to train, then hire people that are better at something than you are and let them do their job.
- It’s okay to ask for help – the key to balance (for me) was learning to let go and embracing the art of delegation.
- In the business or at home, outsource if you can, hire a cleaner, engage a bookkeeper, whatever works. There’s lots of talented people out there, so when and if you can, share the load.