WORDS: Sara Harte | IMAGES: Brittany Beetson Photographics
As Christmas approaches, a shipping container of the most “amazing, softest, fluffiest towels” is alighting. Luxury linens designed to give rural and regional women a gargantuan hug and a self-care break from the day-to-day grind.
It took a desire to boost the outback economy, collaborate with women in small business, and to deliver a much-loved product. This, and a small leap of faith, by business coach and accountant Sarah Henney. Sarah’s motives to launch Outback Linen Co are not entirely unselfish, though.
“We also lost a major retailer in town which, as a young mum with my first baby, I used to browse for ‘retail therapy’ nearly on a daily basis," says Sarah.
Sarah and her husband run a family business which includes beef cattle farming on two properties; one three hours north and the other three hours south from Longreach. Sarah’s husband is also often away working on a farm as a fencing contractor. Usually it is just Sarah and her kids during the week.
“The kids are at day care whilst I work with my business coaching clients, or the kids are helping me in the shed with packing orders. Life is interesting – sometimes we are out mustering cattle and other times we are in town, living the town life.”
Outback Linen Co brings together women in business from across the country. It is a true collaboration – from Sarah’s client who is a pattern designer on a farm in Rolleston, Queensland; to her ‘marketing guru’ in Goondiwindi, Queensland; her virtual assistant in Tasmania; the product photographer in rural Victoria and NSW; and a local model from Longreach, Queensland, just to name a few.
Accounting skills, Sarah already excelled at, but what she found really enjoyable was marketing her new product.
“After launching an online course during 2022 I learnt the marketing aspect; paid ads, organic marketing and email marketing. It was so much easier the second time around – and fun.”
The elusive work/life balance is always in flux.
“I swing between, ‘I am so grateful I can work from home and have created two businesses that allows me to be present with my kids.’ to ‘Am I doing too much whilst not being present with kids?'."
One of the biggest learnings for Sarah this year has been to take care of herself first.
“Go for the walk, do the meditation, invest in yourself. I have also outsourced a lot so that I am ‘doing less’ which allows me to ‘be more’. I have a virtual assistant which has been a Godsend for my business; I can text her on the go and the things are just done quicker. My business is more profitable because of this investment.”
Sarah’s linen products are considered the highest quality in the world and stocked in retailers where women can’t wait to buy them. She celebrates that “now we (rural and regional women) can buy them whilst supporting women in business.”
Sarah is passionate about giving back to community. Her long-term vision when Outback Linen Co makes a profit – “yes it has been a huge investment to get up and running” – is to support community groups and projects financially through the business.
“Projects which align to our values, encouraging women to start a business, or events which promote our mental health and wellbeing are definitely where I see Outback Linen Co as a supporter.
“Running a business which aligns to my purpose in life, brings joy to me and my customers – it doesn’t feel like work, I jump out of bed excited for my day and get to travel to new places – that to me, is success.”
With a nod to the unique and stunning colour palette of rural Australia, Outback Linen Co is deeply passionate about bringing luxurious, high quality and low impact textiles back to the bush.