It was a chance conversation at their children’s kindergarten that led to mumpreneurs Cassie Sanghvi and Carly Pountney starting their skincare range, The Base Collective (TBC).
“We were both looking for a side project or creative outlet and after exploring a few ideas we decided that we should capitalise on Cassie’s background as a Pharmacist and a gap in the market we saw in natural and organic skincare products,” Carly tells Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB). “We started with a Hand Wash and Hand Milk set and from there branched out into Magnesium. The initial Magnesium range just took off so we ran with it and are still running with it really,” she smiles.
Carly says Cassie’s passion for using chemical-free products was the initial inspiration for their range.
“Cassie is passionate about genuine no nasties and struggled to find products she felt comfortable using on her family and that looked good – so we decided to create our own. It also helped that Cassie is a Pharmacist so could formulate our products to ensure they met our clean, green and safe standards straight from the start.”
There seems to have been a shift in public consciousness around organic products in recent years. More and more people are searching for a clean green alternative, regardless of whether it’s what they put in or what they put on their bodies. Carly hopes it’s a trend that will continue.
“Hopefully it isn’t just a moment and it means that natural becomes the norm. I think people, in general, are becoming more educated and aware of what they are exposing themselves and their families to, and that in turn is driving demand for a better quality of the product,” she says.
“Wellness and all that this encompasses has absolutely taken the world by storm,” adds Cassie.
“The internet and the rise of social media I think have positively impacted the way people view their health and wellbeing. Knowledge is ultimately power, and the everyday consumer is now demanding skincare and cosmetic manufacturers adopt clean, green, safe principles. I’m proud that TBC was an early adopter and that we have been a part of this growing movement. It’s definitely the way of the future.”
Whilst it was their children that initially brought these two mums together, both suggest it is also their journey as parents that is a real motivator for their business.
“I think once you have children, you have a different standard you expect from products you use on your family. I’d always leaned towards natural products but didn’t really understand the intricacies of what is on the labels until Cassie gave me a crash course when we first met. Once it became clear how hard it is to find genuinely no nasty products we felt that was a gap we could really work in and bring something new and fresh to the market,” says Carly.
Asked what advice they would give to other mum’s thinking about starting their own business, the pair suggests passion and commitment play a big role in success.
“I think everyone is different but in general my advice would be to go into it being really aware it will be a juggle and that it can get hard,” begins Carly. “Be realistic about what you can fit into your day. There are some days you won’t get as much as you want done and that is ok. But also know, you will the most effective and efficient person you can be! Mums just get stuff done. And you don’t know what you are capable of until you try.”
“Just do it!” adds Cassie. “You will absolutely make mistakes, but that is ultimately how you learn. Be clear on your goals – what do you want out of this? How big do you want this to be and have you planned how you are going to get there? Reach out to others, humans, in general, want to help others and you will be surprised what advice and help others can be.”
Part of the attraction for many people in starting their own business is that they can be their own boss and achieve better work-life balance – yet a recent study by CGU revealed 66 percent of Aussie small business owners are sacrificing work-life balance to further their business. Both Cassie and Carly agree in can be difficult to find the right balance.
“I’m working full time and co-managing TBC so it’s very full-on. It can be hard to make sure I am really present when I do get time with my family and to not get distracted by that one last email I have to send. My husband is also working on a startup company in the Facilities Management space so it really is chaotic at home. Luckily we managed to find an amazing Nanny who helps with the juggle and we make sure we carve out time where we can. It can be the little things like squeezing in a school pick up a week or attending the school assembly to watch our eldest present or dance that makes all the difference so I definitely do that as much as possible,” says Carly.
Cassie tells KBB running a business is’ absolutely rewarding’, but adds it can mean potentially you never tune out.
“My husband has always owned his own business so we are good at setting clear boundaries and it’s no different with TBC. My children are my primary focus, so TBC has to work around this. There are always the mother guilt moments or the thoughts of could I be driving TBC harder if I didn’t have the commitment of my children, but ultimately, I know that you only ever get this moment once with your family, one 3-year-old kinder concert, one opportunity to go on the Prep Excursion.
“You will absolutely make mistakes, but that is ultimately how you learn.
“At the same time, I think having something other than motherhood makes me personally a better person. I feel like I am a little bit more interesting, even if it’s just to myself for having a career, so in summary, it’s a constant juggling act! Someone once said to me ‘Cassie, women can have it all, just not at the same time’, and this is something that often pops into my head,” Cassie says.
Cassie and Carly’s products have proved extremely popular with consumers and the business has scaled rapidly over the past year.
“There are always lots of day to day struggles. How to fit everything in, being the biggest one in that category! But in terms of an overall, I don’t know that we have a major standout. We’ve had more than a few challenges like designing and printing a label that could only be hand applied as there wasn’t a machine in Australia that could apply them to the bottle shape we’d chosen. We definitely learnt a lesson there!” Cassie says.
She suggests one of the big benefits of having a co-founder is that you have someone to bounce ideas off.
“You always have someone else who is just as passionate and engaged in the business and can prop you up on the days it all feels a bit much. And who doesn’t mind when you text them at 10 pm with a random idea you’ve had for the next line!”
“More recently managing growth and the expectation that brings has been a big challenge,” adds Carly.” We’ve gone from placing small orders in the hundreds to placing orders in the tens of thousands and managing that is a big learning curve. We both know more about warehousing and pallets and barcoding than we ever dreamed we’d have to understand!”
To find out more about The Base Collective go to www.thebasecollective.com.au