7 Inspiring Mumpreneurs Share their Paths to Success
Business. Motherhood. Life. From ‘seed to shelf’ sustainability, to conquering the male-dominated world of beer brewing, to fighting allergies and the unthinkable life challenge of battling cancer.
These women have done it all. They’re more than mums.
Starting a business sounds a lot like raising kids. In fact, it’s no coincidence that many refer to their businesses as ‘their baby’. The determination required to do either is impressive; the unmitigated willpower to do both is just amazing. So, what can we learn from those women who are able to achieve both?
They have been driven by a constant need to create something that’s bigger, better and stronger — to constantly progress, improve and ultimately to become the best. But success, of course, doesn’t come without failing many times along the way.
“If you really want to do something you will find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse” – Jim Rohn
Long restless nights, persistent hard work, tears of joy, anger, fear and niggling self-doubt. The women featured here are not strangers to these experiences, as they walk the ‘road-less-traveled’ path of the entrepreneur.
“I managed to bribe a friend to let me use his office space” – Liz Atkinson
With Mother’s Day just gone, I wanted to speak to women and celebrate their achievements, not only as mums but also in their personal lives and in the business arena. There are so many other things outside a women’s maternal role that should be celebrated on a day-to-day basis.
I know first-hand through my current role at Yellow Octopus and from working for tech start-up Ourhome, how tough the small-business path to success can be.
Read on and you’ll discover some have faced challenges far greater, far more challenging than raising kids or starting a business.
“If I was to get the call up from the circus I would be their best asset as the clown because my juggling skills are second to none!” – Danielle Proctor
Below you will find interviews with seven of Australia’s hard-hitting mumpreneurs across a range of different industries and backgrounds. You’ll hear their stories about motherhood, their entrepreneurial journeys and how the two intersect. Peace Mitchell of the AusMumpreneur Network also shares her professional advice.
These interviews touch on their successes, their failures and their determination, as well as the hurdles and challenges along the way.
You’ll read stories that will inspire, lessons of experience and advice for any mums starting their entrepreneurial journey.
Meet the goal-kicking women:
Kelly Jamieson – Founder of Edible Blooms and mum to Jack (5) and Elizabeth (2)
Edible Blooms is just like a florist but you get to EAT your bouquet on arrival. Their hand-made gifts are created from fresh juicy fruit, gourmet chocolate, cookies and even champagne and beers to quench the thirst of special recipients.
In 2009, Edible Blooms took out the Telstra Small Business of the Year which she describes as a “huge honour” and in 2011 was recognised as the Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year.
Kelly also focuses on the broader community, having raised money for the Cancer Council, amongst others.
Vinita Baravkar – Founder of Bhumi and mum to Shyla (5)
Image via: guidetoorganics.com.au/
Bhumi means Mother Earth in Sanskrit and their mission is to help people create an organic sanctuary in their home by providing cotton products that are all Australian Certified Organic, have no toxic dyes, no toxic pesticides, no child labour and all fair trade.
Bhumi has a ‘no compromise’ approach to the environment and humanity with a supply chain that is ‘seed to shelf’.
In 2015, Bhumi won the Australian Certified Organic Online Retailer of the Year Award.
Danielle Proctor – Founder of Rocky Road House and mum to Lauren (15), Logan (13) and step mum to Denni (23)
The Rocky Road House manufacturers gluten, peanut and egg free confectionery with close to 400 stockists nationally. After only 18 months in operation, she has far surpassed her five-year business goals.
With interest from New Zealand, China and the United Kingdom, the future looks bright. Danielle’s business was a 2015 Finalist in the Food Magazine Awards and a 2014 Finalist in the AusMumpreneur Awards.
Danielle loves “making a difference to people with food allergies and seeing smiles on kids’ faces when that are enjoying [her] products.”
Liz Atkinson – Founder of Zest Possibilities and mum to Cruz (3) and 37 weeks pregnant with a little girl!
Image via: blog.pitchi.com/
Zest Possibilities is an International direct marketing and promotions company. They provide sales teams to large companies that want to put a spotlight on their brand and want to increase their market share and profitability.
Liz has raised $140 million for charity, stood on stage with U2 to promote for Amnesty International, and organised Kanye West’s after party!
Last year, with her husband, Liz launched Project Gen Z, a social enterprise that aims to connect global entrepreneurs with disadvantaged youth.
Danielle Allen – Co-Founder of Two-Birds Brewing and mum to Tobie John-TJ (12 weeks)
Two Birds Brewing is Australia’s first female owned and operating brewery. Based in Spotswood, Melbourne, Two Birds is owned and operated by Danielle and business partner and Brewer, Jayne Lewis. Danielle looks after the business side of the operation from their Sydney office.
After humble beginnings, Two Birds is now in its fifth year of business, hires nine full-time staff and their beers can now be found on tap and in many bottle shops, restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes around Australia. The brewery hosts a tasting room, tours and delicious food.
Louise Pannell, Co-Founder of Chorus and mum to Estee (3 1/2) and Clio (2)
Chorus is a women’s clothing label offering ‘Monthly Editions’-an outfit a month offered to the customer made to order and made in Melbourne. This highly unique way of approaching fashion aims to fight the fast fashion cycle and could be a real game-changer.
This innovative approach has been well received by both customers and press with The Fashion Journal highlighting that it minimises wasted stock whilst providing the customer with flexibility and a ‘totally luxurious’ experience.
Louise runs Chorus with best friend, Cassandra Wheat.
Taking the Plunge: Reflections on Starting Out…
Danielle Proctor on how some businesses spawn from necessity:
“The Rocky Road House was born out of a need to provide my daughter Lauren with an allergy free alternative to her favourite treat. From six months of age, Lauren had food allergies, by the age of 10 Lauren’s allergies had risen to 26 along with eczema to 70% of her body. Cooking was very challenging and food experimenting happened daily in our kitchen.”
Others simply happen; occurring by chance, explains Liz Atkinson:
“I started Zest after being approached by a client that needed an urgent campaign set up in just one month. I launched the campaign on my own which was an incredible challenge. I had no money, no resources, no office… No staff!”
And often they spawn from an overarching dream or vision as in Vinita Baravkar’s case:
” I spent many years overseas travelling and with my experience in international public health, I saw firsthand the disastrous health and environmental impacts of traditional cotton growing with farmer suicides, child labour, pesticide poisoning, birth defects, harmful dyes and toxic waterways.
After years in the field meeting with amazing NGOs, grassroots organisations and a growing movement of organic farmers, it was time for positive change and I combined my deep love for the Earth, humanity and sustainable design to create Bhumi Organic Cotton.”
But there are always challenges when starting a small business…
Hurdles starting out were plenty!-Kelly Jamieson
Louise realised that whilst you have to take the leap of faith to start out, it doesn’t get any easier.
“The hard bit has been really discovering and defining what we want the business to be, having the guts to do it differently to how it’s been done before and juggling that with our personal and family lives. A business no matter how small is 24/7 and it needs to be nurtured all the time.”
Kelly touches on how tough bootstrapping can be:
“We had to bootstrap our business growth which meant always putting the needs of a growing business ahead of our own lifestyle (we didn’t pay ourselves much in the first few years)… we were so busy wearing multiple hats to grow our business on a tight budget.”
And then, of course, there’s the dreaded finite resource of time, the enemy of small business (and parenting), say Liz and Vinita:
“Having a baby and running a business has been by far the toughest challenge I have faced to date. The first time around I really struggled with time management and felt constantly guilty for the first year. I felt I was either distracted from Cruz with problems to fix in the office or left feeling guilty and worrying about not being there to support my staff.”
“The biggest hurdle starting out was being able to juggle between being a present and dedicated Mum to my baby at the time as well as being present and dedicated to the business I am so fiercely passionate about.”
In 2012 Danielle Proctor faced one of life’s ultimate challenges: cancer.
“After launching The Rocky Road House in December 2012 and ready to introduce our retail products to the world… I was diagnosed with cancer. I had to put the business on hold whilst I underwent treatment. I then had to re-launch The Rocky Road House in December 2014 (two years later) when I was well enough.”
The determination Danielle showed in returning to her business and persevering with her dreams, all while caring for herself and her family, is truly inspiring. You rock Danielle!
Finding support: Enter the The AusMumpreneur Network (& Mumpreneur #7 )
As one half of the AusMumpreneur Network, Peace Mitchell knows a thing or two about being a mumpreneur, and the challenges that go with it. Peace started the online community with her sister Katy Garner and it now supports, elevates and inspires thousands of women to create their own businesses that work around their family life.
Peace says, “we had business ideas that we’d tried to get off the ground but our lack of support, connections and business know-how made it impossible for those businesses to work. We knew we weren’t the only women needing more support and that’s why we created a dedicated online community for mumpreneurs.”
The online community provides expert advice, information and support for mums starting out as entrepreneurs and also runs lunches, conferences, business programs and events to help women connect and pursue their goals and ambitions.
Peace and Katy realised, “there were talented, qualified intelligent women with big ideas and so much potential and that with just a little support we could help them to have successful and profitable businesses and create a lifestyle that works for them.”
The AusMumpreneurs Network also hosts the St George Banking Group AusMumpreneur Awards which celebrates and rewards outstanding achievers. The nationally recognised competition gets entrants from all over Australia and is supported by major corporate partners – St.George Bank, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA. They have also built their own women’s business school which launches in June.
Peace suggests the biggest hurdles when starting out are “support and education” and so they’ve been “determined to better provide this for women and have been talking to the government, partnering with banks and our new Business School is designed to really help women achieve success.”
The Mum-Entrepreneur Connection: what important skills learned from having kids can be applied to business?
“I think having children forces you to become an excellent delegator.”-Liz Atkinson
“Having kids has taught me to be more patient, forgiving of myself and to just embrace the lessons that they teach you, both about life and yourself. I think business is the same.
You have to be willing to take risks, and treat everything like a little experiment and just learn from it. Some are going to be big lessons and costly, but I think, as with kids, as long as you learn from it and don’t make the same mistake twice and keep moving forward then you are always going to be growing your business.” – Lousise Pannell
“Love, nurturing, dedication, responsibility, commitment, patience, understanding, focus, change, adapting, time management and prioritising are all key aspects of having and raising a child as well as key aspects of having and growing a business.”-Vinita Baravkar
“I definitely hope to be a good role model for my child. I want to be able to show him that hard work, dedication and passion pays off. I hope that he can see how my work brings me happiness and self-reward.”-Danielle Allen
7 Pieces of Advice Aspiring Mumpreneurs Can Apply in the Real World
“DON’T GIVE UP!”-Liz Atkinson
1. Celebrate Your Achievements
“Understand it will be hard, and the juggling might drive you crazy, and at times you’ll wonder why you bother and if it’s all worth it, especially if you are initially doing it for the love and not the money. Be realistic about what you are going to be able to achieve in limited time and set yourself achievable milestones that you can celebrate.
Learn from the lessons and try not to make the same mistake twice. Ensure you have a support network around you to help take care of the kids and to cheer you and your business on. Don’t spend all your spare time on your business, its ok to make time for you- you need a break.”-Louise Pannell
2. You Can’t Do it All
“Be kind to yourself and know that you might want to have it all but you cannot do it all, all of the time. Outsource where possible and ask for help if you need it, we mums are not supermums. Take time for yourself and find balance in all that you do.”-Danielle Proctor
3. Find A Mentor
“Be prepared! Be flexible and find a mentor that has been in the same situation before you. Learn from your mistakes and know it will be a challenge.”-Liz Atkinson
4. Plan, Plan, Plan
“Have a plan and keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when it gets difficult. It’s easy to read about other women in business and get intimidated by their achievements but they are just like you. The key to success in any field is the ability to get things done and mobilise the people around you with enthusiasm for your idea. If you can achieve this, you can do anything.”-Kelly Jamieson
5. Seek out support
“It is most definitely possible to be a mother and a business owner but support from your business partners (if you have them) and family is so important. Make sure you have a plan in place if you have children, or plan to have children at some point. Working for yourself or owning your own business gives you great flexibility but it also means there’s no real downtime and you can’t (and often don’t want to) switch off.
“Be prepared for the hard work, success as a mother and business owner is never going to be a walk in the park. Have a well thought out plan with options, as you never know how you’ll manage the situation.”-Danielle Allen
“Believe in your dream and take the plunge. There will be many moments of stress and worries but have faith in why you started. Don’t give up-things may take time but persist and surround yourself with your dreams and visions to keep you going.”-Vinita Baravkar
7. Do Your Homework…
“My number one advice is to do your homework before you start. Market Research is so important, it’s crucial that you don’t skip this step in your excitement to get your business going. Support is so important too, join the AusMumpreneur network or a local group of businesswomen because the road to a successful business is not always easy and there will be times when you’ll need to call on others for advice and support.”-Peace Mitchell
In closing, I’d like to give a shout out to my own mum who continues to be my rock and inspiration. You’re the best!
Header image credit: Matt Chase via Pinterst