Tell us a little about your business?
My business is MooBear Designs. It is an extension of what my family does to help out our planet and the people who we share it with! We weren’t happy buying mass-produced clothing for our children because you never really know who is making them and what the working conditions are like where they are made. MooBear was my solution to the problem.
All five members of our family are involved in some part of our business. From T-shirts designs, photography and paper making for our business cards. If we can work from home then we should work together as a family and have fun during the process.
We now offer a range of children’s garments with are ethically made with absolutely no negative impact on the Earth. All our designs use recycled fabrics so each one is as unique as the original ones made for Moo and Bear. We like to say ‘Designed by children made by adults, not the other way around’. We are proud to offer the world kids clothing with a conscience.
Why did you want to run your own business?
Running my own business is the perfect excuse for me to stay home, play dress ups all day with my children and enjoy being silly with them. We often start the day with all 5 of us snuggled in bed, which is something we could never do when we worked for other people.
I didn’t originally start out wanting to run my own business as such. I wanted to spend time with my daughter, Moo and have fun while it was still her and I before I gave birth to her little brother Bear back in 2005. After I made Moo and her friends at school their own MooBear’s I thought maybe this was something I could really do. My husband and friends were encouraging and assured me I had a viable business idea. It wasn’t until I attended Bizness Babes in 2008 where I learnt how to bridge the gap between hobby and business that I was truly excited about starting my own business!
I now run MooBear Designs with my business partner, best friend and husband, Carlos. We wouldn’t have it any other way and you will not find either of us working a nine to five job for someone else ever again. I have so much freedom to be creative and our children are so happy to have us both at home with them. I am sure they will appreciate it when they are a little older and talk to friends about “when I was little…”
The most important thing about running my own business would have to be knowing that no matter what I am doing I can stop and be there for each of my 3 children… Oh and I can totally play what ever music I want in my studio because I don’t have to compete with work colleges over the stereo.
What have been the challenges?
Some of the challenges we faced were starting in a market we were completely new too. We also wanted to source the best garments for our designs which turned out to be more time consuming than we first expected but we wouldn’t settle for anything less than what we wanted.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was advertising expenses. We never expected advertising to be so expensive especially for some of the free magazines aimed at our target market.
Where would you like to see your business go in the next year?
A retail presence would be great. To walk into a store and see our designs on their shelves would be something. We will be stocking new garments and new designs throughout the year and are aligning ourselves with like-minded companies with the same ethical values as our own.
The next five years?
How about combining our ethical clothing company with a fair trade coffee label. I shall call it MooBear Café. I hear you laughing but it was one of those midnight thoughts and Carlos said… “Why not?!...” I got so excited about this random idea that I even have a logo ready to go.
What have you achieved since finishing the BiB course?
For our business we have achieved quite a lot. We were commissioned by our friends over at Enviro Central to create a range of very special children's T-shirts. Moo’s ‘Earth design’ was featured in Earth Hour’s ‘Vote Earth Project Lantern’ promotion last year.
We have done promotional work with some of the baby markets in Sydney making banners and aprons. Plus our baby body suits were featured in the green fashion magazine Peppermint which I personally read. I laughed the first time a friend said she’ll see MooBear in there one day. I am lucky it wasn’t a bet or I would have owed her a few fair trade coffees.
We are also celebrating MooBear’s 1st birthday, which is a huge achievement alone. I have also been able to launch MooBear’s little sister label Over It! How exciting is that?! Who would have thought I would have launched 2 labels in one year??!! Sometimes it’s like have a one year old and a newborn. I get all excited about having a new label and concentrate on it. Then I remember MooBear and get excited all over again!! It’s great.
What advice has helped you most?
Always have business cards and know your spiel!! Chrissy’s words ring in the back of my mind, which reminds me I need to print off more business cards this week. I also remember Vicki telling me not to undersell my product. There is no way you will find a MooBear Design for $15 like I use to sell them for. That’s just ludicrous now. Learning the value of my products is so important and has brought me a long way too.
What advice do you have to others setting up their own businesses?
Find out if you have a viable business idea first then I say go for it!! Do a course and learn the nitty gritty stuff. You need to be confident and understand your product or service. I think being a mum has made this easier because I am so passionate about providing the best for my children and it just flows over into our business.