A couple of months after launching Cultiver, a bedlinen company, the Sydney Morning Herald included the online retailer in a Saturday edition of the newspaper and the response was huge. That was in 2012 and the Sydney-based business almost sold out of its product line over that weekend. “When we launched it felt like an untapped market in the online world, for a more boutique offering,” creative director Nicolle Sullivan says. At the time she had just bought her first home and had a newborn - it seemed like a good decision to create an online business that offered good-quality linen at a more competitive price point. Since then Nicolle says she’s made her way through many huge unknowns one step at a time. “Getting some childcare and help around the house so that I could work other than times when the girls were asleep, as well hiring for the business, made it feel legit and really started us on a path to a sustainable operating model,” she says. Now the business is stocked in a range of retailers and has expanded into sleepwear and a broader selection of homewares.

[This is the last Daily Imprint interview for 2015. Thank you for your support this year. Subscribers will be notified first when the site returns next year with a new look and new features. All the best for holiday season. - Natalie Walton]

Which five words best describe you? Determined, optimistic, resourceful, sensitive, impatient.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My career has taken a couple of unplanned turns through opportunities that came up. I started working in marketing out of university and then left to travel in Europe, settling in London for a couple of years, where I started working in bank and ended up staying in financial markets roles for the next 10 years in London, Melbourne and Sydney. I didn’t go back to work after having my first daughter, and then decided to start Cultiver.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Be open minded and ready to follow new opportunities. And don’t be shy to ask for help.

What’s your proudest career achievement? Having created a business and brought it to this point, where it feels like a tangible enterprise, feels good.

What’s been your best decision? Taking the plunge with Cultiver. There were a lot of unknowns and looking back I can’t believe I was so brave, but it just shows that you don’t have to know every answer on day one. If you believe in your business there are people who can help you with every other part of bringing it to life. 

Who inspires you? I’m inspired by people building great brands, and a lot of working mums given I know the juggle that goes on behind the scenes. 

What are you passionate about? Apart from my family, in a commercial sense, I’m passionate about online retail, and the opportunity it presents for all kinds of businesses in an unlimited market. I get stupidly excited when I see all the packages in the back room of the post office and try to read the boxes to see what people are buying online.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? It would be fun to have a couple of martinis with Dorothy Parker.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to do another stint living overseas - I’m open minded as to where.
What are you reading? A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

images courtesy of cultiver; photography annette o'brien, styling alana langan; portrait chris warnes