Successful Thinking: Myles Gray founder Janelle Palibrk


Janelle Palibrk, founder of Myles Gray, says, “Success to me is an ecosystem, and I am responsible for keeping it alive.”
Janelle Palibrk - Founder of Myles Gray
Janelle Palibrk – Founder of Myles Gray | Image source: Supplied

Janelle Palibrk, founder of Myles Gray, tells Forbes Australia’s Successful Thinking column that her definition of success has changed a lot over the years.

“It was different before I became a mother, and different after I lost my dad, I think because we are always evolving and our ethos as humans is changing constantly. I used to view success as a metric, but now I view it as a feeling.”

– Janelle Palibrk, founder of Myles Gray

What is something in your formative years that gave you the entrepreneurial spirit that has crafted your career so far?

Growing up watching my father work seven days a week, 12-hour days in the racing industry was something that absolutely shaped my entrepreneurial spirit. He had this tenacious attitude and everyday no matter how hard the circumstances were, he would get up and do his job incredibly well. He would openly talk to me about the struggles he faced at work and when I thought he couldn’t go on, he got back up and was rewarded with a positive outcome. His determination and grit in every facet of life has shaped my underdog spirit and my ability to always rise when I fall. And for an entrepreneur, the ability to rise after your most difficult adversaries and setbacks, is what defines you. 

When thinking about your next idea, where do you go to seek guidance and clarity of thought?

As a working mother of two, I find very little opportunity for clarity of thought. I am a spiritual person and after experiencing the loss of my dad [in 2019], I look for him everywhere. I find in the moments I am struggling the most, he is nowhere to be found and I used to feel frustrated, but I’ve come to realise it is his way of reminding me that I am one of the best in my field and I really need to trust myself more. I seek half-yearly spiritual guidance from one of my friends, David The Medium and it truly helps quiet my mind for the few days following, so I always block out that time for strategy and ideation. It seems cliche, but I use our products every day and when I need clarity, I go directly to our Esprit Clair | The Candle of Clarity, it removes doubt from my mind and allows me to think clearly. 

What is something you do that sets you up for success each day/week?

If you could follow me around for a day, you’d probably be exhausted. Setting myself up for success on a Sunday is the only way I know how to survive. I have individual calendars on my phone that link to all my devices so no matter what device I am on, I generally know what is happening. Between our 11 team members, personal commitments, travelling, meetings, work and my two children, it is so important that I go through each calendar on a Sunday night. My husband, Nathan, transitioned into our business 1.5 years ago and it’s made the juggle a lot easier as we’ve been able to share school pick up and drop off. I ensure each night before bed I look over my calendar (I have everything in it, from staff shifts to personal appointments) and I plan my week out from there.

How do relationships in life or in business help you to achieve success in your life and business?

The most important people in my life are my children and my husband. Ensuring our family bond is always strong is my main goal as a mother. When my kids are happy I feel a lot clearer and it allows me to work more effectively. I listen to them when they are unhappy with my work load and I really try to accommodate what they  are needing from me. I can’t explain how much clearer I am when they are happy and fulfilled. 

I am a very private person (despite what you might see on our mylesgrayau socials) so I keep a lot of my friendships private and enjoy time away with my girlfriends. I’ve been friends with them since I was 14 and cherish their guidance and support. They really lift me up and give me the most honest, yet kind, feedback. This helps so much with my thought process around the business. 

Working with my husband Nathan has had its highs and lows, we’ve been together for 14 years and have been through so much. He is my biggest supporter, harshest critic, and the person I lean on when I’ve had a rough day. Maintaining our professionalism at work is important, and keeping space outside of work for our relationship is what is key. 

Janelle Palibrk - Founder of Myles Gray
Janelle Palibrk – Founder of Myles Gray | Image source: Supplied

In terms of business relationships, I think being clear is kind, and being kind is important. I have strong boundaries in all areas of my life that I’ve implemented over the past two years and I am really proud of the growth there. It’s helped weed out one-sided relationships and allowed me to focus my energy on the people who matter most. I also believe in being punctual and this is translated to email etiquette, be punctual with your replies and transparent from the start.

What is one personal attribute that you feel people underestimate in you?

100% my grit and cutthroat decision making are personal attributes that people often underestimate. I come across as a very soft personality but on the inside I am a bulldog. I will fall down 90 times and get back up, it’s the key to my success. I grew up in a low socio-economic area and had to fight to be where I am today. I worked harder than everyone in my classes and my expectations of myself are high. I’ve developed a stronger sense of drive after losing my dad so I look at life differently, we are only here for such a short time that we need to make the most of it. I think people see me as a crystal-loving, soft feminine energy but I am generally only soft around my children, nieces and nephews. 

What would you see as your next growth stage or challenge in business or life?

Without giving too much away, our next growth stage is international markets. We’ve been travelling around the world over the past eight months to secure meetings with our ideal brands. This stage of growth for our business has been extremely challenging to juggle, from cash flow, to management of our Australia team. Each day since August 2021 has been filled with highs and lows which will be worth it, but anyone that has juggled scaling a business while introducing it into new markets, while also being completely self-funded will tell you, it’s a lot. 

How do you personally define success?

My definition of success has changed a lot over the years, it was different before I became a mother, and different after I lost my dad, I think because we are always evolving and our ethos as humans is changing constantly. I used to view success as a metric, but now I view it as a feeling. 

I am successful if I am happy and my life is balanced. I am successful when my children feel like I am there for them, when my team are happy and safe, and when our customers are feeling the energy we are helping them bring into their homes. 

Success to me is an ecosystem, and I am responsible for keeping it alive.

How has the company grown over time?

This is our fourth year in business. We are completely self-funded. We began our business with $500 and have since turned over $4.5 million in revenue. Last financial year we turned over $1.6 million in revenue.

We manufacture everything here in Melbourne and were just voted Australia’s Best Crystal Infused Candle Brand. We don’t import anything, we purchase from Australian businesses and support the local economy. Our packaging is made in Perth, our fragrance is hand-blended in house, our perfumer partner creates individual notes in Sydney. We use high-quality ingredients, and integrated processes to ensure our manufacturing is efficient but individual, no large machines, everything is completed by people. When working with products with energy, you want it completed by a person to ensure you clear the energy out at the end. 

We have 179 stockists around the world. Our biggest sales achievement was selling over $100,000 in Mystery Boxes in 20 minutes last year 2022 in December 

We have had successful partnerships with Decjuba, influencers Lauren Brant and Tahlia Skaines and work closely with the charity Bears of Hope bringing awareness to infant and child loss. 

We have an incredible 56.01% return customer rate and I find this is defining our success. I make it a part of my week to jump online and connect with our customers, to hear their stories and listen to them. Our community engagement is high and is one of the pillars in our business. Our customers feel seen and understood by us, and it allows them to form trust in our brand because we genuinely care about them.

This is an edited version of the conversation.

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