Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Danielle Wayne and Kylie Trabona, have been friends for over two decades, run multiple businesses between them and are the all-female leadership team behind Topargee. Get to know them a little better and learn more about their journey.
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
DW: I am originally from the UK and moved to Australia when I was 25. I was working for a big bank in London, had a great career and then one day my best friend told me she was heading over to Oz for a year on a working holiday. I decided to pack my bag and hop on a plane with her. For 6 weeks, we explored some amazing places, from Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns to the incredible Northern Territory, Darwin, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and everywhere in between.
It was a small glimpse into a country I decided I wanted to see more of. So, I headed back to the UK, gave my notice to my employer and headed back over to Australia for a year's working holiday. I spent a year cramming in as many spectacular places as I could, Tasmania, Perth all the way up to Broome across the Kimberley and back to Darwin; travelled to every spot up the East Coast. Then, like many other expats, I decided to stay!
I landed a great job in the recruitment industry for a global company and spent many years working hard to build my career in Australia. To balance the hard work, I travelled the world as often as I could. I have visited some incredible countries and achieved many things in my career, however after 13 years working for the one organisation it was time for something new.
In 2014 Kylie and I started Trayne Consulting, a HR & Recruitment company – this allowed us to not only reap the benefits of working hard but also to find a work-life balance. Together, with our 2 families, we have travelled extensively both around Australia and internationally, including Fiji, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to name a few.
KT: After graduating high school at 16, I travelled to Japan as an exchange student for 12 months. Living so far away from my family in a foreign country fuelled my passion for foreign language and travel.
When I returned to Australia I started a degree in International Finance, which combined my love of language and numbers. However, while at University, I had a role as a Japanese Translator/Concierge at a resort on the Gold Coast and they asked me to develop a cultural awareness training course to roll out Nationally to all front of house staff. Developing and delivering the training was something that I really enjoyed. This prompted me to change my degree from Finance to Human Resources which ultimately became the start of my career in HR.
As I worked my way up the Human Resource career path, I could never shake the travel bug so I took advantage of opportunities to work in the UK, Ireland and Bulgaria. In 2006, I became Head of Human Resources for a Company in London who acquired 21 businesses over an 18-month period. It was a huge role which required a great deal of consultation and transformation but was equally rewarding. During this time, I also fell pregnant with my first child, so my husband and I returned to Australia in 2008, where I continued to work as an Independent Contractor while I raised and expanded my family.
How did you meet?
DW: I met Kylie back in 1999 when I joined Kelly Services as an Office Manager. Kylie was already working there in Recruitment and was also the Training Rep.
KT: We have a very similar work ethic and always joked we should start a business together (even back then!). Lucky for us we forged a great friendship and the rest is history.
How did you come to be the co-owners of Topargee?
KT: While we love our recruitment business and are very proud of what it has become, we have always spoken about diversifying and utilising our skills in a different space.
DW: In 2018, we started looking at other business opportunities. We wanted to do something that aligned with what we were both passionate about - travel and sustainability.
KT: After many months of searching, we found Topargee. We decided it was exactly what we were looking for and the business presented a solid growth opportunity.
DW: In 2020, 3 weeks before COVID-19 hit we purchased Topargee. It has been a really interesting learning experience since then, with a few curveballs thrown in that we have had to navigate due to the pandemic!
How do you run a business together when you live in different states?
DW: We both are very aligned in our goals and work ethic so are very much on the same page when it comes to making business decisions. Whilst Kylie and I are very similar, we are also polar opposite in many ways. It works really well as we have complementary strengths.
KT: Regular communication is key! I probably talk to Danielle more than I do my husband on any normal day. We have been working together however in different states for over 8 years now so you could say we have become experts at it. It is always good to catch up in person though, as face to face collaboration definitely has its benefits.
What have been some of the challenges of running a new business during a global pandemic?
KT: We purchased the business in late February 2020, a few weeks before parts of Australia went into lockdown for the first time due to COVID. That in itself was a challenge as we were unsure what restricted travel would mean for us, especially as a business that was reliant on people travelling! It also meant that our international expansion plans were put on ice as there has been no travel overseas.
DW: It’s certainly been interesting, that’s for sure! There have been so many things happening over the last year and a half that have been out of our control. We’ve faced a lot of issues with manufacturing and logistics that we wouldn’t have had to deal with before the pandemic hit. But we’ve learned to face each challenge as it comes and really focus our energy on what we can control, rather than what we can’t.
KT: Yes, and it has also allowed us time to really understand the business, develop our vision and strategic plan, and rebrand. Definitely a silver lining!
Why is sustainability important to you?
DW: I think in some ways sustainability is important to everyone. I’m really concerned though that if we don’t all start doing our bit to save the planet, then future generations are going to struggle. There are so many simple things you can do that make such a difference.
KT: Every little thing we do counts. I want to leave behind a better world for future generations than the one I was born into. It’s really exciting that at Topargee we are able to offer products that help our community reduce their impact on the environment and save water.
When you’re not running multiple businesses, what do you do?
KT: I am a mother of two active girls, so I always joke that my other job is a taxi driver. I am generally driving one of them to a practice or rehearsal of some kind. If there is some reprieve in the schedule, then I love to catch up with family and friends or spend time planning our next travel adventure.
DW: Running multiple businesses, I don’t get as much free time as I’d like. When I can, I love catching up with friends, taking a walk down by the water, hiking at one of the beautiful spots in one of the many national parks on the Gold Coast, and I try to get to Pilates at least 3-4 times a week.
Life never seems to really stop!
What is your favourite way to travel?
DW: Well that really depends on where we are heading to and of course due to COVID-19, travel for us has been quite restricted. To be honest we love to mix it up depending on what sort of holiday/adventure we are planning.
At the beginning of September, we packed up the new 4x4 and headed to Wivenhoe Dam for a long weekend of camping and relaxing. We took all the new Topargee Adventure Range products and had so much fun trying them all out. I basically spent the whole weekend in the hammock reading my book!!
KT: Given that we are in the caravan and RV accessories business, I should really say my favourite way to travel is by caravan, but the truth is that I love to travel in a variety of ways. I believe that travelling is good for the soul so whether we are camping, caravanning, backpacking or sitting by the pool with a cocktail in hand, I am happy.
What adventure accessory do you not leave home without?
KT: Our LED Headlamp - it has so many uses and you never know when you need that extra bit of light.
DW: Before trying out the new Topargee Adventure Range I probably would have said my tent and air mattress but now, hands down it’s the hammock. You can spend all day in it relaxing, and it doubles as a bivy/swag so you can sleep in it hanging from the trees or peg it in the ground. It’s perfect!
Do you have any more questions for our team? We’d love to hear from you! You can contact us via the online form or email us at email@example.com.