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When founder of POP! Maternity Laura Eyles decided to head back into the workforce two years after having her son, she was faced with constant rejections. With previous experience in the tourism industry, she she just looking for a few days a week in a part-time role. It was a long and difficult process and she didn’t have any luck securing a role.
“I thought it would be fairly easy to find part time work. But this was the hardest process I ever went through because I got turned down interview after interview once the topic of ‘how old is your son’ was mentioned. After not being successful, I knew I (probably) wasn’t going to get work because I had a two-year-old and would probably want another child soon,” she says. so I thought it would be fairly easy to find part time work. I was wrong.”
That is when Laura and her husband came up with the clever idea of creating a business that would allow her to work from home. They launched POP! Maternity in October 2016 and focussed on providing colourful activewear instead of the usual black. “When I fell pregnant with our daughter and was going to personal training, I wanted to wear bright and fun activewear that was suited to my growing tummy. It had to be comfortable and make me feel fabulous,” she adds.
Of course, starting a small business can be a very daunting experience. Like many small business owners, Laura questioned if she had chosen the right products and if their fledgling company would be successful. She says, “ We had invested our own money into the business and had no idea if anyone would be interested in what we were going to sell.”
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Thankfully things have gone well. The business is still running with Laura working part-time however she is planning to eventually going to work full-time to help grow the company. “I am happy with the sales so far and how far I’ve come through this journey. However, there is so much left to do and learning to be done,” she adds. After investing their own money during the initial stages of POP Maternity, once they figured out the direction of the business, they secured a small business loan.
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Budgeting issues and cash flow has been the biggest challenge for the business so far. She says, “I don’t have a never-ending budget to dip into so I need to be cautious and smart about where I spend the money.”
Laura strongly believes that small business owners – particularly people with a family to provide for – should be supported more by state and national government. More tax concessions would be a relief and could allow for more innovation or further investment in businesses. “Women in business and mothers returning to work should be supported and encouraged,” she adds.
Even though there are many trials associated with running a small business, the benefits are endlessly rewarding. Laura adds, “I have the freedom to do what I want, when I want and how I want. The ideas I come up with are mine and all mine. The fascination with seeing it grow into what I imagine it to be. I have big plans but I just need to take small steps to get there.”
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