Women + Finances: Emilya Colliver

Emilya’s extensive experience across art and culture has cemented her as a leader in the industry Australia-wide. She is involved in all kinds of projects - from placemaking, to grassroots projects such as exhibitions, pop up shows, art tours for Sydney Contemporary, and in her capacity as an MCA Young Ambassadors Committee Member.

Emilya is the founder and director of Art Pharmacy Consulting, as well as Culture Scouts and Art Pharmacy Online Gallery. She and her team offer art and culture consulting services to a wide range of clients across the private and public sector; both nationally and internationally.

Emilya was a finalist in the 2017 NSW Chamber Business leader award, the 2015 InStyle and Audi 'Women of Style’ award, as well as the 2014 NSW Business Chamber 'Young Entrepreneurs' award.

Q: Where do you get your financial advice from?

I have a financial advisor from Realise Business (Matt Lyne) and I have a very good accountant. As a creative, I find it can be very easy to ignore the finance side, when clearly it’s very important to know how the money flows no matter what type of business you’re running!

Q: What’s the biggest money mistake you’ve ever made?

Not buying more property when I was younger, and when it was cheap - those days are long gone! Also, on the business side of things not always having a contract when it involved money ...

Q: Do you have a strategy when it comes to finances?

My strategy is stay on top of it - pay invoices quickly, ask for owed invoices when they’re due. This means you’re never surprised by forgotten bills! Don’t be a bean counter - life is too short. The more people you have the bigger the company. Saving for a rainy day is always a good idea. Make sure to add an extra 10-20% contingency – you’ll need it!


Q: Do you ever speak to your friends about money, investments, purchases?

I’m quite frank with others about what I think a smart investment is, but at the same time it’s not the funnest subject! It’s not something I’ll set out to discuss with friends, but it does come up in conversation - it depends on the company. I feel Australians are very prudish about money!

Q: Looking back over your life, what are some of the most pivotal money moments (negative or positive) that you remember?

Dolomite savings account as kids at our local school (which is now at my daughter's school). I also bought my first apartment at 21 for very little so that was a good investment, and has set me up for life. I always pay off my credit card and I do not like debt. I would rather ride my bike than drive around in a flash car.

Q: Do you consider yourself clued up financially?

I know don’t spend more than you have! I have 91 year old Dutch grandmother who is very good with her money and has enforced this advice on me since I was young.

What would I like to know? Probably how to play the share market. You have to be dedicated – reading everyday and watching the charts. I just don’t have the time at the moment though.

Q: Do you remember any big financial lessons that you learnt at school / uni / in business?

Life is one big financial lesson! Because my business for a long time was a ‘kitchen table’ business - one that was done remotely - I really learned that there is an overemphasis on having a shopfront. People start paying rent for a physical space too early, and overstretch themselves financially before their business has even taken off! Also, particularly when you’re a consultant, charging for your time is crucial.

Q: If you have a financial question - who or where do you go to get your information?

I will call my accountant. I run two businesses, so I always have questions. I call my accountant at least once a day.


Q: Superannuation is notoriously dull. Do you feel like you’re on top of your future financial situation, or do you not consider it at all?

Yes I do consider super. I keep bumping into people (on planes or at dinners) where I have discussed super at length so this has made me consider super fund. However, as a start up, I haven’t been dedicated to adding to my super fund, until about the 4th year into the business. However, you do need to think about the future - I won’t always be young with this much energy.

Q: Financial literacy appears to be lacking amongst younger Australians. How do you think this can be improved and what do you see as the big issues?

It is so hard for many starting out, as Australia is a very expensive place to be living in. I think simply talking about finances is a good start.

Q: Would you call yourself financially responsible or irresponsible?

Responsible? I am the breadwinner (I have two young children) and a small team of staff. I have to be! I keep very on top of my outgoings and ingoings.

Q: What’s the best piece of financial advice that you can impart on our readers?

Don’t rack up credit card debt!


Q: Where are the gaps in your financial understanding?

Financial modelling.

Q: What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?

So many … all the clothes I have bought that I never worn.

Q: What’s the smartest financial decision you’ve ever made?

Spending money on university and travelling. Travelling can only enhance your life and expands your mind. After you see how most of the world lives you realise how lucky we are…

Q: If you run your own business, what are the toughest challenges you’ve come up against from a financial standpoint, and how do you work through them?

Cash flow & expectations on payment, payment times etc.

Parting words

Don’t be afraid to start small! I do love the Xero Accounting system, which has really helped my business and to keep me on top of my invoices.