Client Story: White Forest Design

Client Story: White Forest Design

Designer Mandy Primett’s business journey actually involves two success stories. In October 2008, she set up a design practice called Abeo Design. Abeo (meaning ‘change’ in Latin) ultimately employed eight staff and was awarded numerous local and national awards for excellence in design, as well as receiving an international lighting award.

In 2016, Abeo merged with an architectural practice, after having successfully broken the $1M turnover milestone.

However, Mandy found that being a director of a company with more than 40 employees took her away from her passion for design, so in 2018, she set up a bespoke interior design firm called White Forest Design, focusing on people and designing residential, hospitality and landscape spaces.

Since starting White Forest Design, Mandy has gone from being a sole trader to employing two other staff members, and their workload is increasing.

Challenges during the business journey

Oreon Senior Manager Peter Featherston says, “Mandy took on the challenge of leaving an established and ‘safe’ environment within a large firm to fulfill her passion for design. There were some trading restrictions when she first left, so starting again wasn’t easy.

“Plus, in the early days, she needed to establish a new client base and adjust to a reduced income,” he notes. “However, she’s persisted and is now starting to enjoy some much-deserved success.”

Keys to success

Mandy explains, “You need passion to be a great designer, and I’m passionate about many things. Design is about people, and I’m a people-pleaser by nature.

“Design is also about problem solving, and I adore persevering and solving problems,” she adds. “Failure is never an option for me.”

When asked about advice for other business owners, Mandy says, “Believe in yourself and get the right support team around you, because you can’t do it all (and still expect to sleep)!”

Oreon’s role in the business journey

Mandy has been an Oreon client for about four years. Early on, Peter and the team assisted Mandy in her transition out of the architecture firm, and then in establishing her new business.

Oreon has provided tax advice and assisted with tax planning, as well as helping Mandy access grants during COVID, but their most important help has been in setting up the new business structure and transitioning the accounting over to Xero as the firm’s volume of financial transactions increased.

“From an accounting perspective, I think it was critical to help get the business structure right from the start,” says Peter. “I felt that operating as a sole trader wasn’t the best choice and so we helped her move the business into a trust, which gives her better flexibility. We did this early on so that it was a relatively easy transition, as it would have become more difficult in the future.”

Oreon Accountant Chanel Saleh has assisted Peter in training Mandy to use Xero accounting software to manage her own bookkeeping and payroll. Chanel has remained a point of contact for all Xero-related issues and has helped with regular BAS lodgements.

“From a personal perspective, we’ve made an effort to be available to meet or talk with Mandy whenever she needs,” adds Peter. “I think this has had a positive impact on helping get her business running and strengthening our relationship so she knows she can rely on us to help whenever she needs.”

Mandy agrees.

“Oreon’s guidance has allowed me to spend more time in my business doing what I love,” she says. “They’ve always been there at the end of the phone or on email and always supported me.”

Future of the business

With the ongoing growth of the business, Mandy may need to move out of her home office (which she and her employees currently use as their base) and rent office space in the future. In addition, this year the White Forest Team is taking their passion for the environment (“The green stuff”, as Mandy calls it) and starting workshops with a focus on “treading lightly”, believing that a life beautifully designed can be luxurious without costing the earth.

“I’m also looking forward to doing more alpine design and striving to work smarter, not harder,” Mandy says.

To learn more about Mandy and White Forest, visit the White Forest website.