KICK ASS BIZ MAMA #19 – BRONWYN HOWELL, RETROBUB

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Dear Ladies,

Today’s amazing business woman is so modest about her achievements, it makes me cry out in pain! For over 20 years she has been designing and producing a range of the cutest baby wear clothing, when most other people in the fashion industry have chosen to get someone else to do it for them, or have gone off-shore.

My hat goes off to you Bronwyn – it is so rare to find someone else ‘crazy’ enough to make all their own designs – you are massive inspiration to me. Thank you!

Collette

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Tell us about your business – when did you start it and what is it all about?

I started 20 years ago – can you believe it ! I make childrens wear with a focus on baby wear – under the label Retrobub.

What inspired you to start your business?

I was inspired after the birth of my daughter. I had a background in fashion design and was appaulled by how boring childrens wear, and babywear in particular, was. So I set out to produce a range of babywear that was fun and fashionable. I quickly found that people where looking for baby clothes that where cute enough to give as a gift to people expecting, but they didn’t know the gender of the baby, so I started with a range of gender-neutral babywear to fulfill this need.

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?

It wasn’t when I was just starting off, but a few years in, my accountant gave me a talking to about paying myself properly. It is very easy to not include every hour you work into your pricing, but in the end you are just exploiting yourself. If something is too expensive, then you have to find a way to make it cheaper (less detail, cheaper materials, made in a more time efficent way) – you can’t just make the price lower and rip yourself off. And if you can’t get the price down, then its not a profitable product and maybe you should scrap it and concentrate on an item you can make more profit on.

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What was the most difficult part about starting your business?

All the business stuff. I am a designer and creative and I find that side is my strength, but all the things that make up the other aspects of running a business are very difficult.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned about running your business?

To listen to customers, but to take their comments with a grain of salt. Customers and people are always giving you advice, but they do so very flippantly. I have learnt the hard way that customers that like your product just buy it, they don’t need to talk about it. But people who give you lots of advice, saying “you should make this…”, don’t actually share your vision, and are not the best people to listen too. Listen to your sales, and work on the things that are selling.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business? 

Time and weekends !! Always working weekends selling at markets has affected my social life, and people think I am crazy when I ask if they want to do something on a Monday which is my day off.

Also business can be good but it can be slow at times too and cash flow can be a real problem.

What is one thing you wish you had of known before you started your business?

How hard it is, but if i did I never would of started! As I said before, my strength is the design and creative aspects, and in hindsight, I would of tried to find a partner for the business that had strengths in the other areas of admistration.

AYLA-Maternity-Blog-Kick-Ass-Biz-Mama-Bronwyn Howell-Retrobub-Baby

What has been your biggest success so far?

I don’t think I have had any success (Collette’s note: Bronwyn is WAY too modest, go and check out the quality of her work every third Sunday of the month, at the Shirt & Skirt Market at the Abbotsford Convent)  – it is a work in process.

After a long day/night/week what do you do to unwind?

I like to spend time with friends and family, at the beach and dining out.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to see the online store to grow.

BUMP STYLE: 3 WINTER ESSENTIALS

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Dear Ladies,

It can be a pretty overwhelming thing, shopping for clothes when you are pregnant and when your body is growing in all sorts of weird ways. And if you don’t know what to look for, it can end up costing you a lot of money! But just to make it easy, we have narrowed it down to three easy, wear-with-anything pieces you can be sure will last with you over the winter months and beyond!

Collette

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  1. The Draped Cardigan – great for softening your curves, hiding those extra bits bits and keeping you warm! Choose cardigans that have cascade fronts or interesting details to steer peoples eyes away from your bump.

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  1. The Ruched Top – tuck it in or leave it out, this stretchy staple should allow you to keep growing, with its rushed sides. These little wrinkles across your body will also provide a flattering distraction that will help prevent the fully-inflated ‘basketball’ bump affect.

AYLA-Maternity-Summer-2015-Lookbook Navy Split Skirt.Vanilla Ruched Top.Navy Dr

  1. The Stretchy Legging – our top seller, with good reason! You can dress them up, down or just wear them to bed. They will replace every other pair of pants, shorts or skirt in your wardrobe, so make sure they have at least 10% stretch so they can grown with you. And look for natural fibres like our modal, bamboo or tencel.

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Bump Style: 4 Ways To Wear Your Leggings

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Dear Ladies,

I am so excited to finally share this post with you! It was such a fun photo shoot to do, with a very patient and very pregnant model Sam, and the help of my super-intern staff, photographer Simone Delponte and some amazing other Melbourne makers and designers. While they may not be your pre-pregnant pant of choice, leggings are definitely your best friend when it comes to dressing your bump.

Just make sure you buy a comfortable pair – like our soft-as-clouds Black Modal ones!

Collette

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Look One: casual lunch with friends, wearing AYLA Maternity Black Modal Leggings, Zapas Shoes, Truso Tote Bag, Uimi Lulu Shrug, Limedrop bangle & necklace.
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Look Two: brunch with friends wearing AYLA Maternity Black Modal Leggings, AYLA Maternity Floral Bamboo Singlet, Truso clutch, Post Sole Studio wedges, Limedrop necklace.
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Look Three: keeping warm in winter wearing AYLA Maternity Black Modal Leggings, AYLA Maternity Vanilla Bamboo Ruched Top, Post Sole Studio patent brogues, Uimi hat & shrug, Kitty Kat clutch, Kisah necklace.
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Look Four: date night wearing AYLA Maternity Black Modal Leggings, Uimi dress, Zapas shoes, Truso clutch, Kisah necklace.

Kick Ass Biz Mama #13 – Gabriella Kay-Domin, Olivia Blue Designs

AYLA Maternity Blog Kick Ass Biz Mama Gabriella Kay Domin Profile

Dear Ladies,

Check out these colours! When we were looking for some more amazing local makers to work with on our latest photoshoot, Gabriella’s handmade jewellery stood out so clearly. Not only does it make us happy wearing it, but we love that she used her daughter’s name for it.

How can you not love Lilac Raindrops?!

Collette

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AYLA Maternity Blog Kick Ass Biz Mama Gabriella Kay Domin Necklaces

Tell us about your business – when did you start it and what is it all about?

I started Olivia Blue Designs in mid-2015, making polymer clay jewellery and original paintings and prints. My jewellery and art is colourful and full of patterns, and is inspired by the Australian coastal landscape and my love of the ocean, along with interior and fashion design. I’m also a trained visual arts teacher, and while I love teaching, I want to share my love for colour and design with the wider public, and to create beautiful and affordable pieces of jewellery and art for the home.

What inspired you to start your business?

I’ve always wanted to have my own business, and making art and jewellery is my passion. I begun making jewellery a few years ago, giving necklaces to friends and family for presents, and was always being told I should start selling the necklaces and my art. However painting and making jewellery was put on hold after the birth of my first child, Olivia Leilani in 2014. It took well over a year to have the time to myself to begin making art and jewellery again, but finally was able to set up the business when Olivia was about 18 months old.

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?

Navigating social media has been key for getting Olivia Blue Designs started. Getting a website set up quickly as well as having a strong social media presence has been an integral part of my business running well, especially as I work from home and am not able to be physically present at markets at the moment.

AYLA Maternity Blog Kick Ass Biz Mama Gabriella Kay Domin Earrings Bowl

What was the most difficult part about starting your business?

Starting a business alongside being a new mother certainly isn’t easy! Creating handmade items is very satisfying but also time-consuming. So when working from home, time management with a toddler can be difficult – syncing sleep times with making beads doesn’t always work out as planned.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned about running your business?

It takes complete dedication, and can’t be ‘half-done’ – taking breaks from it isn’t easy, physically and mentally. Even just a long weekend away will still have me constantly thinking, designing and emailing. And while it is a creative business, there is so much more to running a business than just the actual creation of products, which can be very hard to do all by myself.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?

Every spare minute that my daughter will allow I tend to be working – during her nap times and in the evenings, as well as when she’s happy to occupy herself  for long enough periods of time (I guess the housework has suffered…oops!). I’m also 8 months pregnant now (due early April) so I guess i’ve sacrificed precious sleep and rest time as well!

AYLA Maternity Blog Kick Ass Biz Mama Gabriella Kay Domin Family Photo

What is one thing you wish you had of known before you started your business?

I wish I had started it earlier and that I had more marketing knowledge. Coming from a completely creative training background, business and marketing skills and knowledge has been self-taught and discovered along the way.

What has been your biggest success so far?

I love receiving custom orders – having someone see my work and allowing me to create something new for them is a privilege. It lets me be creative and experimental and often work with colours and designs I may not have used in my own collections.

After a long day/night/week what do you do to unwind?

If I can get into the ocean pool and do some laps or go for a walk on the beach, I’m a happy wife and mother! We’re lucky to live very close to the beach in Sydney so our afternoons and weekends are spent there, letting Olivia splash around and just taking it easy before baby number two arrives very soon.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I imagine to be making lots more jewellery but also working on larger artworks.  I’d love to expand the business and be stocked in various jewellery/clothing/homeware stores, as well as being open to collaborations with other Australian designers in fashion and homewares. In 5 years time my kids will be starting school, which should allow for much more time to be dedicated to my business.

AYLA Maternity Blog Kick Ass Biz Mama Gabriella Kay Domin Two Necklaces

A Pregnant Woman’s Guide To Safer Beauty Treatments – Nicole Groch

 

AYLA Maternity Blog Safe Baby Pose Black Modal Leggings Vanilla Ruched Bamboo Top

Dear Ladies,

Happy Valentine’s Day! A very appropriate day to be talking about loving yourself and your body.

It is definitely not easy becoming a mum – especially when you start to worry about all things that could potentially hurt you and your unborn child. But this is a great article resident beauty expert Nicole Groch wrote for her LivingSafe.com.au website about ways to pamper yourself safely.

Now go get the chocolate!

Collette

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A Pregnant Woman’s Guide To Safer Beauty Treatments…Yes You Still Can Pamper Yourself!

So you are pregnant and you still want to look your best, but you are worried about whether your normal beauty treatments and products are safe to undergo and use during your pregnancy.

Well the good news is that there are some things you can safely do, while other beauty treatments your currently use may need to be modified.

The best advice I can give you is to err on the side of caution, after all you are growing the most incredible miracle inside you, your own beautiful baby!

Nurturing and protecting your baby as it grows in your womb, should be a very powerful incentive to start adopting the health benefits of a more natural, organic rich and healthy lifestyle!

AYLA Maternity Blog Pamper Tips Nicole Groch Safe Beauty Treatments and Products For Use During Pregnancy

Safe Skincare & Cosmetics Use During Pregnancy

Go simple and basic with your skincare, hair care, cosmetics and personal care products – there is no need to spend a lot of money. (Collette says: check out Little Innocents, Bask Aromatherapy and BasiK Organics as a start)

  • Avoid any makeup or skincare product that contains Nano-particle Technology – these particles can be small enough to enter the bloodstream and are thought to cause lung damage, cell toxicity, damage DNA, and possibly even harm unborn children
  • Choose natural and organic skincare, hair care and cosmetics
  • Where possible, also choose unscented skin and hair care products, even those fragrances that use pure essential oils
  • If your natural products do contain essential oils, be sure to check what they are and whether they can be used safely during pregnancy
  • Avoid aluminum deodorants

 

Hair Colouring Safely While Pregnant

If you absolutely have to colour your hair while your pregnant, then opt to use safer, more natural based products:

  • Try 100% pure henna for something natural, and make sure you are in a very well ventilated area
  • If you are going to use synthetic hair dyes and bleaches, the safest way to do this is to choose foil highlights or low-lights which avoids the product being applied directly onto your scalp, minimizing the skin to product contact
  • Again, make absolutely sure you are in a well ventilated area when visiting a salon, or colouring at home

 

AYLA Maternity Blog Nicole Groch Profile Picture

Sign up to Nicole’s newsletter if you want to receive more free, natural health and safety advice, with lots of helpful articles, tips and information to help you live a healthier, safer, more holistic, natural, eco-friendlier and cruelty-free, ethical lifestyle.

Why We Use Modal, Tencel & Bamboo Fabrics (and what the hell are they?)

AYLA Maternity Website Summer 2015 Fabric Collage

Dear Ladies,

You might have noticed that I am pretty proud to be using fabrics that are mostly made in Melbourne – but apart from being happy to support other Australian businesses, it is also because I believe the fabrics they make are actually the best for pregnancy. Made from sustainably harvested trees, modal and tencel might not be familiar names to you yet, but they are definitely the best option when it comes to maternity wear.

Collette

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So you probably know bamboo

Yes, it is the stuff that features heavily in Chinese king fu movies – especially when they need to prove how limber their skills are, by deftly balancing on it. But just so you are sure, I will recap. Bamboo is a natural textile that is made from the pulp of bamboo grass. It is harvested naturally, without the use of pesticides, and once it is reduced down to a yarn, it is spun into fabric and used to make super light, cool-to-touch clothing. Goodbye hot flushes!

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As soft and light as a cloud – AYLA Maternity Vanilla (bamboo) Ruched Top

 

 

But what exactly is modal?

Modal is a type of rayon or pulped cellulose fibre (like bamboo) that is made instead from beech trees. The type of modal yarn that my fabric supplier in Melbourne sources is also sustainably harvested without the use of pesticides, and uses very little water because the trees are known to grow quickly, tall and straight. It’s fibre is malleable and soft, and works well over expanding pregnant bumps when combined with stretchy elastane. (And the weight of fabric we use means there are no fleshy parts showing through!)

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AYLA Maternity Black Modal Leggings – super soft & stretchy

And Mr Tencel?

Well this is what we make the majority of our clothing out of at the moment, because the tencel we use – all you Australians will love to hear – is actually made from the pulp of eucalyptus trees. Super durable and able to withstand long periods without water, the trees grow quickly, without harsh pesticides, because they are so hardy and resistant to disease.  But this doesn’t stop the fabric made from its yarn from being softer than silk, and cooler than linen. Oh, and did I mention it is also more absorbent than cotton? When it comes to pregnancy, it doesn’t get much better than this for keeping you comfortable, cool and sexy!

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AYLA Maternity Navy Split Skirt & Navy Cascade Cardigan – both made with a soft-drape, stretch tencel fabric

 

 

 

Kick Ass Biz Mama #10 – Theresa Winters, Braidiance

Dear Ladies,

Today’s Kick Ass Biz Mama is a lady with a capital L! For the past three or so years she has taken it up herself to teach a new generation of Melbourne’s most stylish how to braid. (And that includes Dad’s too!) So get yourself ready for the next season of Game of Thrones and sign-up to her mailing list pronto.

Collette

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AYLA Maternity Blog Kick Ass Biz Mama Theresa Winters Profile Picture

Tell us about your business – when did you start it and what is it all about?

Braidiance is a Melbourne-based business offering workshops, private parties, and hens’ nights focused on one thing: braiding. In 1 to 2 hours, I teach people who haven’t braided before, or haven’t done it in years. I strongly believe that everyone can learn how to braid!

I got my start in a roundabout way in 2012 at Confest, a hippy camping festival in New South Wales that stands for ‘conference’ + ‘festival’. Attendees can spend a long weekend going to dozens of classes on everything from yoga to joke-telling. The second time I went, I offered to teach a braiding workshop. We spent a couple of hours sitting under a marquee having a great time playing with one another’s hair.

What inspired you to start your business?

I went to a workshop at Laneway Learning (a place for adults to take fun classes, taught by community members). Halfway through, I realised that it wouldn’t be so hard to teach something on my own. But what did I know a little more about than other people? Braiding! My braiding classes quickly became the most popular class that LL has ever run. When I found out there was a waiting list of 200 people, I decided I should definitely start offering classes under my own steam.

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?

To start a mailing list. There’s nothing more powerful than being able to send information directly to people’s inboxes. I wish I’d thought of collecting emails at every workshop I taught before launching Braidiance. The more emails, the more potential future clients.

AYLA Maternity Blog Kick Ass Biz Mama Theresa Winters Braiding

What was the most difficult part about starting your business?

I had mental hurdles about how my website needed to look a certain way. But I settled for ‘good enough’ and designed a quick’n’easy one with a template. It’s more important to be up than it is to look 100% perfect.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned about running your business?

It’s pretty intense teaching a room of 30 women how to do half a dozen braids in less than 90 minutes! Because it’s a one-woman operation, if I teach too many workshops too close together I get burnt out. I try to make sure that I’m not over-extending myself.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?

No matter when I schedule a workshop, I seem to always miss out on an opportunity to cover an event for my other business, The Plus Ones (a media company/website that focuses on showcasing Melbourne’s best experiences). I just can’t go to everything that happens in Melbourne — though I do try!

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What is one thing you wish you had of known before you started your business?

To research prices — I made it up as I went along, and for a while ended up not charging as much for my work as I should have.

What has been your biggest success so far?

What makes me the proudest is when I was hired by the City of Darebin here in Melbourne to offer braiding at a special day for victims of domestic violence. Being able to teach a lifelong skill to women who’d been through so much, a skill that they can use on themselves and their children to make themselves feel better, was very gratifying.

After a long day/night/week what do you do to unwind?

Reading relaxes me. I’m quite addicted: I usually smash through 70-80 books a year. Reading both helps take my mind off worries and fills it with interesting new information and stories. I simply cannot go to sleep without first dipping into a good book.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I plan to continue teaching Braidiance workshops no matter where I am living, in addition to creating a few e-books that will no doubt turn me into a millionaire. The best part about Braidiance is that it’s a totally portable business. People all over the world want to learn how to do fun things with their hair.