Women With GRITT: CLO Studios Founder Chloe Tozer On The Family Business Dynamic, Honouring Your Creativity And Why A Hug Fixes Everything

“I think a big thing is being able to stay focused and staying true to why you started, who you are, where you’re going and all of the things that are important to you. Knowing where your motivation comes from will help when you’re in that teething phase of growth.”

Welcome to Women with GRITT: a series where we interview the resilient, hardworking women who have kicked in the glass ceiling and inspire us to do the same.

There’s a creative eye and then there’s Chloe Tozer’s creative eye. As the founder of interior design studio, CLO Studios, Tozer has a knack for curating a selection of products from all corners of the world that speak to an effortless, chic interior style. Starting out as a jewellery designer and organically growing her business into what is now an elevated edit of homewares, art, jewellery and soft furnishings, it is obvious that Tozer’s attention to detail has resonated with customers all over the country.

With her mum Trudy also at the helm of CLO Studios, Tozer also knows a thing or two about navigating the professional-meets-personal relationship dynamic and has done so with grace. Now with a team of over 20 people, the Noosa-native’s success comes down to a beaming kindness and careful consideration of the culture she is creating. Yes, we caught onto all of this over a Zoom call (!) as well. 

In this interview, Tozer opens up to Gritty Pretty about growing up learning the family business dynamic, how she honours her creativity, the importance of connecting with nature and why a hug will fix everything. 

Hi Chloe! Thank you so much for speaking to us today. Before we jump into all things interiors and CLO Studios, we would love to know a little more about where your passion came from. So, where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

I was very lucky to grow up in beautiful Noosa in Queensland, Australia and have lived by the beach my whole life. I think growing up surrounded by nature has definitely lent itself to how I am as an adult. Being in nature is my number one way to recharge and even as a businesswoman, I always find myself resorting to nature when I need to refresh and take a break. My parents also always owned hotels so mum and dad would often pull us out of school for a month because they valued travel so much. I am so grateful to them for that. Not only did having hard working parents inspire my own business but I also think being around different people of different cultures has really shaped my love and socialising and learning about people and what makes them and their experiences unique.

 

Sounds like an incredible childhood! Now, you studied a degree in Fine Arts and jewellery design when you were younger. How did this help you in your approach to starting your own business and your incredible creative eye?

Going to university, you obviously learn the practical elements of being a designer. I learnt the art of silversmithing and channelling my creativity but didn’t necessarily understand how I could translate this into something tangible that I could make money doing. Finding that link between the art world and the business world was incredibly important to me–and quite exciting.

It happened quite naturally for me. While I was at university there was a local art gallery in Brisbane who contacted me and wanted to stock my jewellery in their gallery shop. From there, CLO Studios actually started as a jewellery studio and then kind of evolved and developed into what it is today. At the end of the day, style and fashion and interiors all feed into each other and I think creating that cohesion across the board in CLO Studios has been one of the keys to our success.

 

Speaking of Clo Studios, you actually started the business with your mum. So, how did you go about setting boundaries and differentiating between your professional relationship and your mother-daughter relationship?

Our family has always worked together so it was a really natural progression to have Mum involved in CLO Studios. And while, of course, every family business has its challenges, Mum and I have always had an amazing ability to block our what happens at work and be really present when it is family time. We start and end every day with a hug. I actually welcome every member of my team with a hug each morning–it’s such a special way to welcome everyone into the space and start the day off right. 

Mum and I also have different strengths which makes our partnership really important. She is the most hardworking person I’ve ever met. She is incredible at sales and winning over any project but also has that eye for interiors that helped her so much when she was in hotels. So, I really value her in my team and consider myself very lucky to be able to spend every day with her.

It sounds like you’ve curated an incredible team! How did you go about scaling Clo Studios in a way that was viable financially but also in a way that made sense for the culture of the business? The line can be a tricky one to walk as a small business owner.

The growth of our business has been totally organic. So, you start off doing everything yourself–which can be a bit of a trick in a creative business because you end up in admin land–and then you have this opportunity to delegate and bring on people who have different skill sets than you do. My goal is always to see our team grow with the business and for me to be able to provide the team with opportunities for growth inside the business as well. I think a big thing is being able to stay focused and staying true to why you started, who you are, where you’re going and all of the things that are important to you. Knowing where your motivation comes from will help when you’re in that teething phase of growth. 

 

Such sage advice! And in terms of the more challenging aspects of your business journey that you perhaps weren’t expecting–how did you overcome these?

Fast growth is definitely a double edged sword. On the one hand you’re thrilled because you know what you’ve created is resonating with people. But on the other, there’s not enough time to get those core processes and procedures in place because by the time you get around to it, the business has evolved again. So, I think the biggest challenge for me was making the time to invest in the building of the business and not getting so caught up in the nitty gritty of the everyday. I also think as a small business owner, you forget to prioritise you-time. And as a creative person, I really need that time to reconnect and recharge to be my best at work and at home. Prioritising those creative breaks and getting into nature has certainly been challenging (hello, work guilt) but I always see such a difference when I do. 

 

And of course, we couldn’t let you go without raiding your beauty cupboard! So, what beauty products are you loving at the moment?

I start every morning with an ocean swim and then get into my skincare routine. I love Chanel skincare products–particularly the new No.1 range. It is beautiful. I use the Revitalising Serum-in-Mist and then go in with the Revitalising Serum and the Revitalising Cream. I also love organic Prickly Pear Oil which I buy when I go to Morocco. Noosa humidity is real so I keep my skin pretty natural during the day and might add a bold lip if I am feeling like a pop of colour.

 

Wonderful! Thank you so much for speaking to us, Chloe.

Hi Chloe! Thank you so much for speaking to us today. Before we jump into all things interiors and CLO Studios, we would love to know a little more about where your passion came from. So, where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

I was very lucky to grow up in beautiful Noosa in Queensland, Australia and have lived by the beach my whole life. I think growing up surrounded by nature has definitely lent itself to how I am as an adult. Being in nature is my number one way to recharge and even as a businesswoman, I always find myself resorting to nature when I need to refresh and take a break. My parents also always owned hotels so mum and dad would often pull us out of school for a month because they valued travel so much. I am so grateful to them for that. Not only did having hard working parents inspire my own business but I also think being around different people of different cultures has really shaped my love and socialising and learning about people and what makes them and their experiences unique.

 

Sounds like an incredible childhood! Now, you studied a degree in Fine Arts and jewellery design when you were younger. How did this help you in your approach to starting your own business and your incredible creative eye?

Going to university, you obviously learn the practical elements of being a designer. I learnt the art of silversmithing and channelling my creativity but didn’t necessarily understand how I could translate this into something tangible that I could make money doing. Finding that link between the art world and the business world was incredibly important to me–and quite exciting.

It happened quite naturally for me. While I was at university there was a local art gallery in Brisbane who contacted me and wanted to stock my jewellery in their gallery shop. From there, CLO Studios actually started as a jewellery studio and then kind of evolved and developed into what it is today. At the end of the day, style and fashion and interiors all feed into each other and I think creating that cohesion across the board in CLO Studios has been one of the keys to our success.

 

Speaking of Clo Studios, you actually started the business with your mum. So, how did you go about setting boundaries and differentiating between your professional relationship and your mother-daughter relationship?

Our family has always worked together so it was a really natural progression to have Mum involved in CLO Studios. And while, of course, every family business has its challenges, Mum and I have always had an amazing ability to block our what happens at work and be really present when it is family time. We start and end every day with a hug. I actually welcome every member of my team with a hug each morning–it’s such a special way to welcome everyone into the space and start the day off right. 

Mum and I also have different strengths which makes our partnership really important. She is the most hardworking person I’ve ever met. She is incredible at sales and winning over any project but also has that eye for interiors that helped her so much when she was in hotels. So, I really value her in my team and consider myself very lucky to be able to spend every day with her.

It sounds like you’ve curated an incredible team! How did you go about scaling Clo Studios in a way that was viable financially but also in a way that made sense for the culture of the business? The line can be a tricky one to walk as a small business owner.

The growth of our business has been totally organic. So, you start off doing everything yourself–which can be a bit of a trick in a creative business because you end up in admin land–and then you have this opportunity to delegate and bring on people who have different skill sets than you do. My goal is always to see our team grow with the business and for me to be able to provide the team with opportunities for growth inside the business as well. I think a big thing is being able to stay focused and staying true to why you started, who you are, where you’re going and all of the things that are important to you. Knowing where your motivation comes from will help when you’re in that teething phase of growth. 

 

Such sage advice! And in terms of the more challenging aspects of your business journey that you perhaps weren’t expecting–how did you overcome these?

Fast growth is definitely a double edged sword. On the one hand you’re thrilled because you know what you’ve created is resonating with people. But on the other, there’s not enough time to get those core processes and procedures in place because by the time you get around to it, the business has evolved again. So, I think the biggest challenge for me was making the time to invest in the building of the business and not getting so caught up in the nitty gritty of the everyday. I also think as a small business owner, you forget to prioritise you-time. And as a creative person, I really need that time to reconnect and recharge to be my best at work and at home. Prioritising those creative breaks and getting into nature has certainly been challenging (hello, work guilt) but I always see such a difference when I do. 

 

And of course, we couldn’t let you go without raiding your beauty cupboard! So, what beauty products are you loving at the moment?

I start every morning with an ocean swim and then get into my skincare routine. I love Chanel skincare products–particularly the new No.1 range. It is beautiful. I use the Revitalising Serum-in-Mist and then go in with the Revitalising Serum and the Revitalising Cream. I also love organic Prickly Pear Oil which I buy when I go to Morocco. Noosa humidity is real so I keep my skin pretty natural during the day and might add a bold lip if I am feeling like a pop of colour.

 

Wonderful! Thank you so much for speaking to us, Chloe.

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