Young, smart, savvy and brave, Bethany James is bursting into homes around the country as the new face of interior design. She is unapologetic for her views about working mothers, she does not suffer fools and does not make excuses. With an eye for elegance and beauty, her unique approach to business is a refreshing game changer.
James Said is Bethany’s latest venture, a successful luxury furnishing and homewares experience in Perth, Sydney and now opening in Melbourne. The name itself hints to her no-nonsense attitude. But this is not the first time the entrepreneur has leaped into new business and reshaped an industry.
In her 20s she started Bethany Cosmetics, manufacturing and packaging products from her lounge room. From humble beginnings, her inspirational success story saw her brand stocked globally within a few years. “You need to be tenacious and true in business. I hear so many people talking about dreaming big, and sure that’s important. But you need to do a hell of a lot more than dream about it,” she said. “You need endurance. When I was little, I was a terrible short distance runner, but when it came to a long-distance cross-country race I’d be the first to finish every time. I see business as a mental cross-country race. It takes endurance, a few slips, a few side paths you didn’t think you’d stumble through, a few obstacles to avoid. Then those people with the stamina and the smarts to ride it out, find success.”
Bethany does not shy away from her entrepreneur status. But admits that starting out can seem overwhelming. “When I first started importing luxury furniture, I would literally put the baby to sleep and sit at my computer till 2am writing hundreds of emails introducing myself to potential clients. I had furniture arriving in Australia, and nowhere to store it. It was hugely risky, and I worked hard to pull it off.”
Bethany is a single mum, juggling an international business with her 10-year-old son Jaxon, who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome. Like many working parents, she has felt the pressure and guilt of spending time away from her family. “As a woman when I’m running a thriving business and I’m away from my boy, people are quick to whisper that it’s self-indulgent, almost a guilty pleasure. A man in his 40s working hard for his family is a great provider and has great integrity. There’s something seriously wrong with that. I believe as women, we need to stop stomping on each other and start supporting each other.”
James Said has become one of Australia’s most unique luxury retailers, but Bethany is most proud of her newest offering in Melbourne. “We sell a lifestyle of opulence in each of our designs. In James Said Melbourne we’ve created an enormous gallery space where everyone is welcome. I’m so passionate about our work that I want people to enjoy it. Immerse yourself in the beautifully designed rooms. Get some ideas, even take some photos, and recreate the looks in your own home with your own spin.”
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