Designing women

by - March 10, 2016

They're the wives of three of the Parramatta Eels’ most recognisable players. Just don’t call Erin Cayless, Lana Taylor and Bonnie Hindmarsh WAGs.

Lana Taylor, Erin Cayless and Bonnie Hindmarsh from Three Birds Renovations
After starting a boutique renovation business known as Three Birds Renovations together, these hard-working women are determined to make a name for themselves.

"We’re grateful for our husbands’ support but we haven’t used them to promote the business,” says Erin. “We watched them follow their dreams and we've been there for them but now it’s time for us to have a go. This is the next chapter for us.”

Since the 2014 launch of Three Birds Renovations, the trio has bought, renovated and sold three houses in Sydney’s northwest — while strictly adhering to a short turnaround rule for each of the properties.

While they’re not taking on any external client work at this stage, their project management and styling skills speak for themselves — the trio made $375,000 on their latest property after a renovation that cost approximately $160,000 and took them just seven weeks to complete.

It may not be long before this talented trio are tempted to use their skills to help other owners dramatically increase the value of their homes.

How did the three of you meet?

Bonnie: Erin and I have been close friends since we were teenagers and then we met Lana about 13 years ago when our husbands were playing at the same football club together. We’ve been close friends ever since.

What prompted you to try working together? What were each of you doing professionally before that?

Bonnie: I’d been trying to convince Erin that we should flip houses together and the idea of working together was a no-brainer because we had been job-sharing as event managers for years. Erin would run the operations of the event and I would manage all the creative and design elements — and that’s how it works at Three Birds, too. We each brought a different skill set to the table, which has proved invaluable in building this company. Lana used to work as a marketing director so we knew she would bring more traditional business and marketing experience to the team.

What do each of you contribute professionally to Three Birds?

Lana: Bonnie brings the creative vision to every project. She grew up with renovator parents so it’s in her blood. She’s never been trained in interior design, she just knows what she likes and what it takes to create a beautiful feeling in the homes we renovate. Erin is the operations guru. She’s a control freak and likes to be on top of every tiny detail, which makes her the perfect person to run each renovation and ensure tradies turn up when they’re supposed to (a challenge for every home renovator). With my previous experience in business, I try to bring big picture thinking to the company and marketing drive. Apparently I also provide comic relief on site.

How would you describe the Three Birds style?

Bonnie: Our trademark look is white, light and fresh. If we had to name it we’d call it modern coastal with a hint of Hamptons.

Are your interior styles similar or completely different?

Lana: Bonnie is our creative mastermind so her style is the one we follow. To be honest, I don’t even have a style — in fact I’ve now realised my home is positively out of date! Bonnie’s look is so fresh, light and dreamy that it’s been easy for Erin and me to fall in love with her style and make it our own.

Do you have a favourite project?

Erin: Our first house was probably our favourite project because the challenge was so huge. It was a hoarder’s house with rubbish stacked to the ceiling in most rooms. We couldn’t even see the floor, which was covered in soggy newspapers, and the backyard needed controlled burning just to find the boundary fences. The transformation was so great that the neighbours would drive past honking their horns and yelling out thanks from their car windows. It was a baptism by fire.

What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when renovating?

Erin: The biggest mistake people can make is not creating a detailed budget. Ideally you should document a clear scope of work for every single tradie and have them agree to the cost for that scope of work. This is the only way to ensure you come close to your budget. Unexpected things will crop up so you should always set aside at least another five per cent for contingencies.

What’s the ethos of the company?

Lana: Build the life you love. This isn’t a business, it’s a lifestyle. We will often make decisions based on this philosophy. For example, we were debating whether or not we would work on Saturdays (some of our tradies had wanted to). When one of us said ‘‘working on Saturdays and missing my kids’ sport is not building a life I love’’, it made the decision easy.

What’s next for Three Birds?

Bonnie: Our company purpose is to inspire and empower women to pursue their passion for renovating and, ultimately, build a life they love. We know there are many more ways we can do this. Buying and renovating houses will always be our heartland but we want to find ways to connect with our audience in new engaging ways, beyond just social media.

First published Home Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 2015

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