Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mogul Mums: the new trend in NZ business

Is there something about having kids that turns mothers into instant moguls? It seems every new mum I meet has acquired more than just baby-weight. A suprising number are spear-heading their own businesses or at the very least, are mulling over business ideas during sleepless nights. I guess with parenthood you are entering a completely different sphere of requirements and the old noggin inevitably starts thinking up genius ways to meet all your new needs. Also quite possible is that the change to being a stay-at-home mum provides the time and opportunity to pursue interests and unleash dormant creativity that had previously taken a back seat to full-time work.

When I decided to back up my passive observations with some actual research (aka a Google search), I discovered I'm not the first person to notice the mums-in-business trend. Actual mums in business have realised they're in plentiful company and are already starting their own support groups. One website for general parenting interests has a whole page dedicated to 'mumpreneurs'. While not a huge fan of their clumsy nickname for themselves, I was impressed with the number of detailed profiles and interviews with successful businesswomen, like Petone mum Martha Craig who progressed from screenprinting baby clothes for craft fairs to establishing the Babylicious website for covetable designer baby goods.

One of Martha Craig's original screenprinted baby tshirts, now featured along with other luxury baby goods on her website

Also rather genius is the Blooming Beautiful company, owned by mum-of-two Andrea Neill, which sells secondhand maternity wear. Neill came across the company 3 years ago while pregnant and searching for clothes for herself. The business allows her to work from home and she reckons its important that her kids see her working.

Of course there are always the ones who take it too far, like the excrutiatingly over-achieving American import Debbie Mayo-Smith, whose business is, cringe, motivational speaking. One of her top tips? Multi-task. Her profile tells us "When Debbie goes to sports on the weekend, she's the only one walking around the field, getting exercise, and listening to motivational tapes. 3 things at once". Yeah, I'm sure Junior really feels the love with the shred of attention his soccer-playing is getting.

The catch-22 with mogul mums is that as your business becomes more successful, it will inevitably take up more of your time, making you prone to the parental guilt that plagues mothers who work away from home. However, there are ways to combine parenting and the running of your business. Crafty Khandallah mum Bev Aynsley found she had a ready-made model for her headband business, with her 3 year old daughter Mila happy to work for free. Another business mum told of how her young son likes sticking the address labels on customers' orders - a reminder that kids can find novelty in the most tedious of tasks.

Mila Aynsley models a '3bears' headband for her mum Bev's advertisement on the popular craft website

Whatever the pitfalls of being a 'mumpreneur' may be, I'm confident that creative minds like theirs will figure out ways to overcome them. Regardless of child-status, starting our own businesses is an inherently Kiwi thing. My research into the secretly industrious lives of mogul mums encourages me that our future generations of entrepreneurs couldn't be in better hands.

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