“My name is Milia, I’m from Brazil and I’ve lived in Melbourne since 2015. I’m a doula and a childbirth educator and I designed a doll that can be pregnant, give birth to a baby and breastfeed.

I moved with my husband who had an opportunity to work here. Our agreement would be that I work in something I loved, but the special part of being a doulas is that we rely on word-of-mouth, it’s not just about ability and knowledge. It was hard to start with the networking, I knew no-one here in Australia. But my biggest barrier to work was the language barrier. I knew some English before I came to Australia, but knowing that I didn’t need to be afraid of it was a challenge.

Sister School gave me more confidence. After the Sister School in 2019, I was feeling more powerful to continue to have my name as a business name – I wasn’t sure because my name is a bit tricky to say. They said, ‘But it’s your name, it’s your heritage, you should continue that.’ Afterwards, I started on my logo and my branding and I created my website and everything was flowing easier.

But what really changed it was networking. After I went to small business training at Sisterworks, they sent me to Stepping Stones and then to Global Sisters and it was amazing to learn how Australia worked, how I could approach people, how I could introduce myself. It’s so amazing to have questions answered by other women that have passed through the same challenge. 

At the beginning of this year, I did a post on Instagram after feeling really low. I was depressed, I was thinking maybe I should find another job. After that, one lady asked if she could advertise my work – it went huge and I think eight different countries shared my work and I was so happy that I couldn’t sleep for a week. I was thinking, ‘Oh my god it’s happening!’ I was so afraid it would never happen. A lot of people were interested, sharing my work and saying they loved my idea. I received orders from the UK, and the US and Hong Kong. And then came coronavirus, so everything is a bit cold now – but I’m still really excited and that’s success for me! 

Starting a business is really challenging but it’s so powerful to see that you can create income and have flexibility. Of course it’s much harder to earn your own income but it’s so fulfilling. 

Financial wellbeing depends so much on the way you look at life. When I was a kid, I saw my mum struggling to give us what she thought was important for a kid to have. I saw her working at home a lot, giving private classes and making food to sell and it was always a bit hard – then after they got divorced it was even harder. It was always like ‘ok, I’m not sure if we are going to pay the school this month’. I was always trying to save money as much as possible so I wouldn’t have that struggle again. 

To have my own independence makes me really happy, it was always my goal to never rely financially on someone. Being able to buy my own things without needing to ask for money from my husband does make such a difference – I don’t feel ok with asking for money.”