Clutter-Free with Class - The Natural Parenting Magazine
I’m so pleased to share this article with you posted in this season’s issue of The Natural Parenting Magazine. It talks about the ups and downs of starting my business and how I operate around my family. I hope you enjoy it!
Click the link to go to the website and read more about Natural Parenting and discover other amazing products and services for parents - http://thenaturalparentmagazine.com/clutter-free-with-class/
For the full article, read on:
From their premade kits, so that nappy changes and mealtimes are organised and tidy, to their individual products which are sustainable, and come in Eco Packaging, Mama Organiser will help you be clutter-free with class.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I’d been working for myself in different fields for years before becoming a parent, but when my son was born, I just wanted to be at home with him, enjoying watching him grow and spending quality time with him. I was in no rush to get back to work and wasn’t sure if I even wanted to do what I was doing previously.
As my son approached 6 months old, the idea for Mama Organiser just kind of happened. I was at a stage where I felt like I needed a creative outlet. So, I just looked around at what was working really well for me as a new mum. I especially believe in sustainability and being responsible stewards of this great planet, as well as being practical and having fun at the same time. I thought that perhaps I could help other parents feel the same.
My husband and I, having lived in several tiny houses, had been forced to reduce our clutter quite a lot and be super organised to maximise on space. When we came to expand our family, I didn’t necessarily want to expand our stuff back up into a place where I felt overwhelmed and overrun again. It’s also very easy in this day and age to simply spend up big without considering whether one’s purchases are going to end up in landfill within a few months. It was important to me that I create long-lasting products that could be re-purposed as a child grows and that were fun and stylish for every kind of parent.
What you see in my store are the essential items that I use daily to live my mama life. Mama Organiser is about doing your best at parenting tasks with minimal fuss, minimal mess and minimal time so that you can do your best at just being mama or papa, spending quality time with your children.
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
After I’d designed my product line and sourced my suppliers, I first opened up a Shopify store with the help of a trusted web designer and set up some social media pages. To generate interest and an online presence, I launched with 5 days of giveaways leading up to the open day. The idea was to not put any pressure on myself, to just enjoy the business, operating around my family.
I partnered with an eco-packaging company to make the unboxing experience more pleasurable for my customers. My experience from when I received all my packages in the past from other parenting stores, was that very few were packaged sustainably, and very few were packaged in a way that made me feel special. I wanted the whole experience of unwrapping, even something as simple as a teething ring or a silicone dispensing spoon, to be one of delight.
I also signed up to take part in the Christchurch Baby Expo before I even opened the shop, as a way to be motivated to get started and of course, to create more brand awareness. Scary step! But I’m glad I did it, as it’s so easy when being a stay-at-home-mum to let time disappear on us, and this meant I had a goal to work towards to get everything ready.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
The most significant breakthrough was probably realising that not everyone has the same expectations as I do, so it’s okay just to take my time, be patient and stick to my vision of what I was trying to create. I trialled several suppliers and sometimes didn’t get the level of quality I wanted or the right look and feel of a product, so it was hard at times. When I thought about what was important to me – quality, simplicity, useful function, longevity and stylish – I knew that there would be occasions where the first fit wasn’t necessarily the right fit, but if I go with the flow, I’ll eventually find what I’m looking for.
Kind of like being a parent really, to relax and let the day unwind as organically as possible – you’ll generally be quite happy with the result. Sometimes our plans aren’t necessarily baby’s plans, but you’ll be better in sync when patience and care are in the mix.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
I truly believe that children will always feel loved if their parents spend enough quality time with them throughout their lives.
My husband and I are both small business owners, and so we’re all too familiar with the amount of work that goes into a new start-up but the payoffs of being our own bosses are huge. Owning my hours ultimately means that I get to work around the needs of my family and the daily tasks of being a full-time mother. I get to be a mum at the same time as being my creative self, producing something of value for other parents that are fun and in line with what’s important to me, as well as being in line with where I am in life right now as a parent. I just love that I own my life completely – that means total freedom to spend each day as I choose, with the people I care about most.
My family comes first, always. Sometimes that means I have to push work aside for the whole day, but that’s what I signed up for, that’s why working from home is so great. I can enjoy being my own boss and still be a full-on, full-time parent. I love that mid-sentence or half-way through gift wrapping, I can drop everything and just play with my son or watch him learn to pull himself up to standing.
I know now that balance doesn’t mean dividing equal time every day to each area of life. Instead, it’s being free to roll with life as it presents itself. If my family needs me, that’s where I am. If the business has a deadline or a period of intensity, that’s where I am. If I just allow space to open up and linger a while rather than immediately filling in each minute with a task or activity, then those spaces in between can be time to just enjoy the day, invite inspiration, play a little, have a cup of tea or take time out with my family and friends.
The Drive: What challenges have you overcome?
In this day where how busy we are and how much we’re achieving in life determines our worth, it’s easy to get caught up in your own kind of rat race, multi-tasking, ticking off lists and rushing around doing, doing, doing without taking time out to enjoy the ride. Coupled with the financial and productive ups and downs of owning a business and working around a growing baby it didn’t take long before I hit a brick wall and learned that running on empty was a completely stressful and unsustainable way to live. Busy-ness doesn’t equal worthiness.
Motherhood helped me realise that in order to have a flourishing business, a happy marriage and a family life that’s congruent with our goals, I had to bring patience into the running of my business, and I had to let go of the element of control a little, to surrender to however the day unfolds.
Stay-at-home parents are seriously the biggest superheroes in the world today. We do it all. It’s relentless, it’s hard, and if you’ve had a tough time with breastfeeding or post-natal depression or a stressful relationship with your spouse, or you’re a single parent, that just adds to the pressure. Sometimes all we need is a hug, a high five, a word of acknowledgement or a helping hand with something mundane like hanging out the washing, to feel that everything we do as parents is valuable.
I think to surrender to the flow of life, accepting that there will be ups and downs, and asking for and taking advantage of any help that’s offered along the way are all keys to my overcoming the big and the little challenges day by day.
For better or worse: What are the pros and cons of running your own business?
Immense pleasure every time I wrap an order and send it out, thinking about the smile on that person’s face as they unbox their goodies.
I’m able to drop it all at almost anytime to spend time with my family.
Freedom from strict day-to-day routines.
No rush-hour traffic! That’s the best!
More time to rest, be inspired, be creative, play.
From my mind into my hands – seeing my vision come to life made me so happy!
A definite period of intensity getting it all up and running. It meant a few very late nights for me!
Depending on the business (product or service), there’s a little or a lot of upfront cost involved, which can be scary if you’re on one income already.
Starting a business doesn’t mean it’s always busy and you’re always making sales from the get-go. Sometimes there are none all week or all month in the beginning, so being patient and not letting it get you down is essential.
As an online business, an online presence is the key to making sales. This means either investing in or taking care of social media yourself. I found that doing it myself meant I had to make time, not a lot but some nonetheless, on a very regular basis to share content with my potential customer base. Otherwise, my store would get lost in a sea of a million other websites. It’s not really a “con” so to speak, but something to be aware of if you’re wanting to do all the social media yourself and not give up creative control to someone else.
Hopes and dreams: What next?
I’m looking forward to watching my business grow with my family and me. I’m not really attached to how it looks in the long term, because I know if I keep it in line with my values and passions, then it will always fit in with my lifestyle as well as being valuable to others. We’d like to expand our family again too (which is the biggest hope and dream of all!) and because Mama Organiser was created to serve multiple children over many years, I’m really excited to see what new products or uses of current ones come out of having a larger family unit when living a clutter-free lifestyle.