Original article posted on Baby Luno's blog, sharing some of We Might Be Tiny's life behind the scenes.
Who am I?
I’m Eleanor – mama to almost 3-year-old Fredrik, wifey to Richard and soon-to-be-mama to a little girl (Goldie) who is only a few weeks away from being born. We live in the Dandenong ranges in Victoria with our two chihuahuas and goat.
I’m 38 and work in the digital industry as my day job – I manage a team of digital producers, web editors and user experience designers. I have worked in the industry for 19 years but made the decision while on maternity leave with Fredrik to launch my own little business for myself.
My business is We Might Be Tiny – cute, non-slip, BPA-free silicone placemats for children in bear, bunny and cat designs. I’m passionate about designing products that delight and inspire both the young, and young at heart.
When did We Might Be Tiny launch and how did it come about?
I launched We Might Be Tiny in November 2015, a month after I started studying for my MBA. For my first subject, marketing, I was tasked with writing a marketing strategy and I thought I’d take up the challenge and create one for a new business.
It was the most enjoyable assignment I’ve ever done (I know, can you believe someone enjoyed doing an assignment?). I knew that I wanted to launch my own business so that I could eventually step away from full-time work in an office. It’s so important to me that when it comes time to send Freddie to school I can still be involved in his activities and be there for school pick-up. Starting my own business seemed like the only way to solve that problem.
Everything said “now is the time!” – even though life was suddenly more complex with a toddler, studying, going back to work after a year off!! Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.
What is your inspiration behind We Might Be Tiny?
I really wanted to introduce baby and children’s products that complement the modern home, but that are also practical and functional. I was getting a bit frustrated at some of the (let’s admit it) hideous kids stuff you can buy and are expected to have in your house.
My design aesthetic is simple, minimalist but at the same time it’s gotta be cute.
What is the best part and toughest part of motherhood?
The best part of motherhood, of course, is your babies and watching them grow. I didn’t know how much I could love another human! I have never been overly maternal and that’s why I think I put off having kids until I was 35 but have now totally embraced it and love every second. It’s certainly helped me re-assess what’s important in life and means I spend less time on the things that don’t matter.
The toughest part of motherhood is the juggle. Working 4 days a week with a 3-hour commute each of those days, doing child care drop-offs/pick-ups, trying to run the business and still give 100% to my son. Thankfully my husband and I are pretty equal around the house – although I do most of the cooking and take care of the financial stuff, he usually cleans up, does the washing and takes care of the garden.
But I’m definitely still trying to get the balance right – it’s not easy.
What is the best part of having your own business?
I love being able to make decisions about the business by myself and give them a try. If it doesn’t work out, I can quickly pivot and try again. Each week I learn something new - whether it be testing a new EDM campaign, Google AdWords or registering a trademark! The learning curve has been massive, yet so enjoyable at the same time it doesn’t feel like work.
The other bonus has been taking my family to Scandinavia earlier this year. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, and so having distributors and retailers over there gave me that opportunity. We spent 5 weeks travelling through Denmark, Sweden and Norway while I visited my distributors, retailers and did general market research. It was tough with a toddler but so awesome.
What is the toughest part of having your own business?
On the flip side, the toughest part of having a business is also making every decision by yourself and having to back your own decisions. When you’re working for another company you’ve always got people to guide you or bounce ideas off. There’s so much I don’t know, so having to research and follow my gut is the way I’ve been operating until now.
My saviours have been the Facebook groups that I’m part of – other women entrepreneurs in the same boat all trying to build businesses. I’ve learned so much from them all and would not have made it this far into the business without them!
Have you come across any challenges so far?
Every week there is a new challenge! One of the most frustrating challenges so far is taming the copycats. Before I’d even launched my first product someone had already taken my design and copied it (with a few slight changes). It was only days after I’d invested my own money to start the first production run of 2000 placemats.
Someone on Instagram sent me a photo to let me know and I just burst into tears. I remember panic running through me and feeling like the dream was over before it even begun. This company had 15 times the following on Instagram and I was so sure I was going to be stuck with boxes of placemats and a massive dent in my finances.
However after the panic died down (and after some pep-talks from my sister and hubby) I pulled myself together and fought harder to build the brand. If anything the challenge was a really positive one – it forced me to get smart about how I was going to sell the placemats, and made the decision quickly that building my wholesale market was the way to do that. Best decision ever!! One thing I hadn’t counted on by building a wholesale business was the amount of support you get from all the retailers. They’ve been such a massive influence on the direction of the brand and so paramount in the success with our customers.
What does a usual day look like for you?
On a normal workday, I’m up at 6am trying to sneak around getting ready for work before Freddie wakes up. I have a 1.5 hour drive to work each way which can be quite exhausting. My husband & I chose to buy a property in the mountains on a 2 acre block, so as beautiful as that is - we spend a lot of time (and money...OMG the tolls are so expensive!) on travelling to the city each day.
My work day usually consists of back-to-back meetings but I always block out time in the day to enjoy lunch - I’ll usually pick up some Japanese or Vietnamese (the joys of working in the city). I try to leave the office between 4-4.30pm so I can try and beat the traffic home in time for childcare pick-up at 6pm.
Then it’s the night-time rush: I’m absolutely terrible at meal planning and literally think about dinner on my drive back home. I get home and scramble something together for the family, usually something easy like meat and three veg or leftover spag bol. Each time I think to myself “I must get more organised!” but alas - life happens.
Once hubby is home we usually eat dinner (often we eat before he gets home), give Freddie a bath, let him chase daddy up and down the halls for 10 minutes and then we all lay down and read books together. We are pretty terrible at sticking to “bed-time” for Freddie. It’s usually sometime between 7.30-8.30 but I’m afraid to say Freddie rules the roost a bit, demanding book after book as a way to delay sleep.
When Freddie has gone to sleep I jump onto my laptop and finally get to work on We Might Be Tiny – if I don’t accidentally fall asleep next to him!!
On a non-work day or weekend, life is good! I get up early (because what mama doesn’t?) and jump onto my laptop to pay invoices, make orders, set-up newsletters, write content, etc for We Might Be Tiny while entertaining Freddie, get his brekky, etc. It is definitely tough on these days trying to give enough attention to him while still getting work done. There are days, of course, when I don’t open my laptop – I have to remind myself of my “why”, the reason I started this business in the first place!
What can we expect in the future of We Might Be Tiny or where would you like to see We Might Be Tiny in 5 years time?
I would love to see We Might Be Tiny become known for beautifully-designed, high quality children’s products that parents equally love to have in their homes. I think we’re definitely on our way to achieving that especially with some of the exciting new products that will be launched in the next six months. I cannot wait to share them with you!