As a new mum, Melbourne based Louise Moreland, 42, was searching for a new direction career wise when she thought of a fantastic small business idea one day while picking up the mail with her young daughter.
Q. What was your ‘light bulb moment’ to create your small business?
I thought I had an opportunity to create something special and also create a flexible working arrangement for our new family. I would sometimes be sitting on our front porch with my one year old and Honey, our pet Labrador, and watched as my daughter played with the letterbox. As months went on, I watched the thrill she got when something was in there, albeit the local takeaway pamphlet! I also have family in country Victoria, so they would often send her a little parcel of sticker or hair clips. She was so, so excited, I got to thinking that I would love for her to receive mail, ‘the old fashioned way’… and maybe other children all over Australia would too.
Q. What were you doing before you started your business?
I spent 10 years in the Events Industry, predominantly in the hire supplier side of things. I got to work on major events such as The Melbourne Cup, The Grand Final and The Grand Prix, assisting clients in styling their marquee or suite.
Q. How did you finance it?
With a little savings, I have financed the whole business to date and everything that comes in from the business goes straight back into growth of the business.
Gift kits encourage kids to play the old fashioned way
Q. What does your small business offer?
We create fun and engaging gift kits for children aged 0-3 years and 3-5 year of age. We want to encourage Play and the Love of Receiving Mail. Quality wooden toys, books and activities are included – along with a story and colouring in picture of Honey the Labrador. All our Honey & Co Club kits arrive in a custom printed canvas bag – a different colour or design each month. More to keep, less to throwaway, more to love. Our point of difference are these beautifully printed bags, they have been so well received by parents as a handy clutch, or storage bag, a much better option than a throwaway box for the goodies to arrive in. We are excited to say, we are the only gift subscription in Australia providing a mix of toys, books and occasionally craft activities and we are the affordable option.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your business so far?
Finding fantastic suppliers make all the difference, and that was a major challenge at the beginning. I ordered 500 of our canvas printed bags in the early days, only to find the print quality was not great and the sizing was completely wrong. The silver lining was that I could gift these to a friend’s charity, Little Care Packs that create toiletry bags for the homeless.
Q. How would you like small business owners to be supported in Australia?
I think having support bodies such as Kochie’s Business Builders are an immense help to small business. I am now a part of a few business support groups and these are great to bounce ideas off one another when you need that bit of advice or support. I wasn’t a part of these in my first year of business, and I can now see how these could have helped immensely.
Q. How do you create that life balance?
I’m still working on that one. The biggest thing I must say in regards to balance, is phone time/screen time. I do all my own social media and often peak times for my parent market is in the evenings. I found myself on the phone all night when I was bathing and getting dinner for my daughter. I didn’t notice, until she noticed. When a 3 year old tells you to ‘put the phone away’, you have an a’ha moment. So I now create as much balance as I can by scheduling a lot of my social media and try not to be on my phone when I am engaging with my daughter.
Honey the pet labrador has been there since the beginning
Q. What are your thoughts on cash flow and late payments?
The positive thing about my business model is that all subscriptions are processed on one day of the month. I can see in advance the quantity of subscriptions that have been placed and I can forward plan what quantities need to be placed with suppliers so there is little waste. The subscription model also helps with cash flow as I when it is coming in and how much it will be.
Watch this video (above) for great ideas for Amazon for your small business
Q. When was your moment of realisation that this is what you want to do in life?
The absolute satisfaction the first week of the month, seeing all our Honey & Co Club kits packaged, lined up and taken off to the postman. It sometimes feels like a mammoth task to get there, but the sense of achievement is wonderful. I also love the fact that I can imagine in a few day’s time, littlies from all over Australia will be checking their letterbox to find a surprise from us.
Q. What was one piece of advice given to you?
I remember someone saying to me ‘Do you know how much work is involved?’ – I guess I did know, but you never really understand until you’re in the thick of it. Starting out, you are every part of your business; marketer, researcher, social media manager, finance guru, website manager, buyer, administration assistant, copywriter, negotiator, photographer and more!