Savvy business mums are doin' it for themselves in regional Australia

Rebecca Stern, of Mustard Made.
Rebecca Stern, of Mustard Made.

This article is sponsored by Facebook.

Mum’s the word in regional Oz, where hardworking women are turning creative passion projects into thriving small businesses with huge commercial reach.

Here are five savvy women who are both busy mums and successful business owners, who you can support this Christmas, as part of Facebook’s first Annual Gift Guide.

It’s easy to assume the last thing on the mind of a brand new mum is starting a small business. 

But Rebecca Stern, founder of Mustard Made, says nursing her youngest born for the first year of his life proved the ideal opportunity to get her creative juices flowing.

“I spent the first year of his life with my laptop at my side while breastfeeding and I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Rebecca says.

“I was able to take that year slowly to work on the brand and we launched just after his first birthday. I was able to design my business around being a mum so from the very beginning I built in the things that could make it work for me.”

Rebecca sells funky, brightly-coloured lockers, a retro-throwback to a time of high school crushes and braces. The nostalgic project is her second successful creative venture and arrived on the interior design scene with a bang – in part thanks to a strong digital presence across her website, Facebook page and Instagram. 

“Instagram is our happy place!” she says.

“Stories has become a really big focus and allows us to show the behind the scenes angle and personality behind Mustard Made. Locally, this has led to finding stockists and a few events in the ‘real world’. It’s always nice when we get to take the social interaction off the screen and go face-to-face.”

Rather than over-complicate her everyday life as a mum, Rebecca says her creative project enhanced her everyday life as a person.

 Mustard Made’s The Shorty Locker in Blush, $199.00

Mustard Made’s The Shorty Locker in Blush, $199.00

“For me, being a mum and running a small business has given me the a sense of independence and achievement that I think is easy to lose when you have a newborn baby,” she says.

Motherhood and small business can be a balancing act, she says, but she’s grateful for a loving network around her who step in to help when the balance is teetering one way or another. 

“I try my hardest to either be in mum mode or work mode and not both,” she says.

“I have asked a lot of favours from friends and family – they say it takes a village to raise a family but when you are also launching an international brand it is even more true!”

Jordana Edwards also felt the pull of a passion project after raising her three beloved children. But she knew she didn’t want to return to the workforce by taking a run-of-the-mill job that wasn’t going to fulfill her. 

Jordana Edwards, of Clean Tea.

Jordana Edwards, of Clean Tea.

“I wanted to start a business that combined my love for tea and my journey to improve my health,” she says.

Clean Tea was born. The small business is actually a collaboration between a mum-and-daughter duo –daughter Jordana worked closely with her mother Amanda, a naturopath and medical herbalist, to originally create three organic tea blends. 

Starting small as a humble market stall in 2013, Jordana says she experienced a ‘viral’ moment on Facebook that launched her passion project into a thirsty market. 

A ‘boosted’ Facebook post led to a 2000 percent increase in sales that year, and Jordana’s three-tea collection has since grown to 52 teas and over 90 product lines including bath bombs, tea bath salts and tea ware.

Clean Tea’s Sample Box (5 Teas), $19.90

Clean Tea’s Sample Box (5 Teas), $19.90

Business has been booming ever since for Jordana, who is grateful every day for the opportunity social media has provided for her to turn her passion project into a thriving enterprise. 

“We decided to run a flash 24-hour Black Friday sale using Facebook and Instagram ads, which resulted in three weeks worth of sales on one day,” she says.

“We even crashed our website twice from the traffic. It was awesome!”

Nanna Woo is also a family affair, run by Hanna Woolley with the help of sister Gabby Daly. Hanna founded her creative project in 2011 which has since grown to become a bespoke collection of homewares and jewellery created from bio-resin.

Hanna says her strong social media presence allowed her to base her business from home – important for her as a mum – while not compromising on the widespread promotion of her creative venture. 

“Social platforms begin conversations with people in the community. It starts a conversation we may not have had otherwise which can lead to topics that have nothing to do with my business but importantly, form personal connections,” she says.

Nanna Woo Handmade’s jewellery, $50.00 – $80.00

Nanna Woo Handmade’s jewellery, $50.00 – $80.00

Living in a rural landscape on the magical east coast of Tasmania, Hanna takes inspiration from her surrounds in running a consciously sustainable small business with minimal environmental impact. 

“We source ethical and sustainable materials and choose earth-friendly practises,” she says. 

“Tasmanian lichen, moss and Australian wildflowers are lovingly and thoughtfully harvested with our children and captured in bio-resin, making up a sweet, bespoke range packed full of nature.”

Priya Raj says she was also determined to create an earth-friendly creative venture. She arrived in Australia in her 20s from India and was excited to channel her passion for design into setting up a new home.

But she felt uninspired by the mass-produced products available and concerned about the conditions that factory workers worked within. So Priya decided to channel her love of hand-printed textiles into her own ethically sustainable collection, which now includes bed linen, table linen and rugs.

Peacocks and Paisleys is a joyful expression of colorful design with an ever-expanding customer base customer base stretching as far as United States, Canada, UK, Asia and Europe.

She says her creative project’s reach has been made far greater by the use of Facebook and Instagram, which she uses to “increase brand awareness, collaborate with other small businesses and share new products and behind the scenes footage”.

“It is very important for us to share the process and tell the story of our products,” she says.

Peacocks and Paisleys’ Polka Dot Palm Tree Quilt Cover, $200.40

Peacocks and Paisleys’ Polka Dot Palm Tree Quilt Cover, $200.40

“Facebook and Instagram let us do that by videos and photos of our textiles being printed and our rugs being made.”

She also seeks inspiration from her social media community in creating new lines for Peacocks and Paisleys, which she says opens up a great communication channel that’s beneficial for both parties.

“Recently we posted on Instagram stories and our followers got to have a say as to what new rugs designs were included in our new collections,” she says. 

Melissa Westcott says Facebook and Instagram have also helped her establish a rapport with a wide-reaching community – “it’s great way for us to start connection with our customers,” she says.

Melissa is the founder of Big on Shoes, which specialises in larger and unique fitting shoes to inspire women of all shoe-shapes and sizes to embrace their tootsies. 

“I recognised the potential business opportunity in this niche market after struggling to find shoes for myself that were both fashionable and functional,” Melissa says.

Big On Shoes has grown over the past 10 years from a simple online store to two retail outlets in Mackay and Moranbah.

Melissa says she’s grateful her strong online presence helped establish her shop fronts, but also says the reach Facebook offered her also created a supportive and inclusive community of women who might otherwise feel embarrassed or ashamed of their shoe size. 

“Facebook Live was a great way for us to start connection with our customers. We started with some videos so that our online customers who could not visit our stores could feel more apart of our business and get to know us better and it grew to more sales online,” she says.

Browse all these fabulous, female-founded goodies and more on Facebook’s first Annual Gift Guide, bursting with present ideas this Christmas. 

This article is sponsored by Facebook.