As I look to embark on setting up a new business this year, I thought for my blog, I would seek inspiration from other mums and woman who have already done this and most importantly, succeeded!
Hopefully hearing their story can not only inspire my procrastinating little body to be given a kick up the behind, but perhaps motivate my readers to also step outside your comfort zone and take that leap of faith!
So to a lovely lady, Jacinta from Two Little Ducklings, who was one of my first Insta buddies and over the past 2 years we have forged a wonderful bond of all things handmade and beautiful on our creative journey.
Since she started her business over 2 years ago and leaving her corporate graphic design job behind, she has created an exceptional Australian brand that at it’s heart has a love of design and it’s soul has the desire to provide children and parents with beautifully designed, educational and quality toys and gifts.
Pregnant with her second child, who is due in a couple of weeks, she took time out to answer a handful of questions ( like she did 2 years ago here) as we looked back on her journey since she started Two Little Ducklings.
As you are celebrating 2 years in business with Two Little Ducklings, in this time you have built up an incredible brand, awesome catalogue of logo design, and your prints, cards and products are now featured across an amazing array of gorgeous boutiques and online stores, looking back and reflecting on this time, how do you feel about how it all started and the journey so far?
I feel very proud of how I have built my business from scratch, starting out as a small handmade business and growing it to have stockists all around Australia and some in New Zealand and now Singapore. It’s not always easy, in fact some days it is very hard, but I don’t think I have ever been happier, being able to create designs that people love and want to have in their homes is pretty amazing.
Some days can really get you down and then you will see a comment on social media or get an email from a customer and your spirits are lifted up to the sky. I get so excited when I see a customer or stockist order come through, it’s one of those pat yourself on the back moments where you realise you are living the dream.
Last year saw you diversify your range and include the utterly fabulous and hugely popular “Letters to my child” pack and “Milestone flip books“, was it your own experiences as a mother which lead you to develop these products? Or you saw a gap in the market?
Whenever I create a product it has to be something that I would use either as a mother or just a person giving a gift. With the Letters to Your Child, the idea was born from doing what I have done every year since my little girl was born, I had written Lexi a letter on each of her birthdays, and when she was two one of my friends from my Mother’s Group had mentioned I should ask her a few interview questions each year, as a cute memento of that moment in time. So it all stemmed from there, I knew I wanted to do it from birth but you can’t obviously interview a baby, so come up with the idea of writing the wishes you have for your newborn baby.
With the milestone flip book, I had several stockists ask if I would be designing milestone cards, however I felt the market was flooded with different designs.
I always strive to create unique products that aren’t mass produced and I wanted something original that people could buy as an alternative to the cards, it took me many months of thinking and coming up with different ideas until I had the brain spark and came up with the idea of the flip book, my husband must think I’m crazy at times, I was in the shower when the idea came to me and I yelled out ‘I’ve got it, I’ve got it.
I quickly jumped out and drew up my idea, I love the fact that you can use it throughout your pregnancy and then use it for your baby and use it right up until you turn 99, it has many uses, some I probably haven’t even discovered yet.
Did you imagine how popular these 2 new products would become?
I really had no idea how popular they would be, you always hope that what you design will be well received, but I am truly astonished and overwhelmed by the response that I have had from them.
You have just launched your wall decal height chart which look utterly fab, how do you keep your energy up and inspiration going whilst being pregnant and running after your 4 year daughter?
In all honesty most of the time it doesn’t feel like work, but apart from the help I get from my husband the buck stops with me, so energy wise I just have to keep going if I want my business to succeed, some days you might not feel like doing a certain job, so I try to do something else, I don’t really ever stop, it certainly isn’t a 9-5 job.
I am very fortunate to have a daughter who loves to draw and plays really well on her own, she loves to help me out if she can, whether it be sorting cards when I do orders, or helping sticky tape the parcels together, she has been in daycare a couple of days a week for the last couple of years and she has just started four year old kindergarten.
As for the pregnancy, I feel very fortunate to have had two really great pregnancies, I’m only two weeks away from having this baby, but I’m feeling really great, it feels more like it is 20 weeks away, I am probably in for the shock of my life.
One of the exciting moments last year was to see you collaborate with the amazing Sophie Vine, tell me more about how this came about?
This would have to be one of my prouder moments in my little businesses life, Sophie originally purchased my flash card sets through my website, I recognised her name and was so excited to see that she supports small business.
She then contacted me to let me know of her idea of opening her own online store where she would sell things that she has designed in collaboration with small Australian designers.
She was honestly amazing to work with, she explained what she wanted with the two flash card packets and posters and let me develop the designs from there. They have such a different feel from my own designs and I love that people have embraced my take on the boho style.
What would you say to a stay at home mum (SAHM) who is starting out on her journey as a small business owner, what should she be prepared for and what has been the hardest challenge to overcome as a small business mumpreneur starting out?
This is a tough one, no matter what you do there is going to be challenges, and I guess each business will face a different kind of challenge.
I would say really think about the business you want to create and do your research. See what is already out there and try to make your business have a different focal point. Be original and create something that is different to what else is out there. If you follow the masses, then you are always going to be following the crowd and one step behind. I don’t think that is any way to start out.
Be prepared to come to stop signs, but see how you can get around whatever is stopping you.
One of my hardest challenges is dealing with people who want to copy my business plan and create similar products, a few weeks ago, a lovely customer wrote to me to let me know that she thought someone had copied one of my products.
In this instance I’ve had to seek legal advice because this product has directly copied my wording – word for word, sentence for sentence, it’s hard to not get upset when things like this happen.
I’ve seen many flash cards pop up since I started doing them, and a lot of them are too close for comfort, but I didn’t create flash cards so I don’t have ownership over the concept, I was a little crushed to see someone copying my animal sounds as I hadn’t seen this done before, so it’s a little annoying that someone thought it was a good idea to do the same thing.
In the end you have to rise above and keep creating new things, stay ahead of the pack and don’t worry too much about what people are doing behind you. I don’t think anyone can succeed if they aren’t original.
Also I think it’s important to remember that everyone started out with zero followers on social media, it takes time to build up your audience, don’t expect it to happen overnight.
Do you miss the corporate world and would you ever wish to return?
This is an easy one, I don’t miss it one bit! I couldn’t think of anything worse than returning to the corporate world, as easy as it would be to return to my old job, I rarely had the satisfaction that I get now from what I do, I wasn’t ever acknowledged for the work I did and got to create, it always came under the company name, from the awards I won to designing a postage stamp for Australia Post everything went under the studio I worked for, it’s a hard part to accept, I am really passionate about design and love the fact that everything that comes out of Two Little Ducklings is created by me.
Your second child is due in the next few weeks and you are keeping its sex a surprise, how hard have you found it not to go nuts with decorating their nursery with so many gorgeous Australian handmade pieces?
It has completely killed me, I am dying to know the sex, I didn’t care one bit with Lexi, I was happy with a girl or a boy, I feel the same this time around, as long as they are healthy then that is absolutely perfect, however the daily inspiration from places like Instagram make it hard to not buy things, I have bought a few things along the way, trying to keep it as neutral as possible, but I’ve had to put a ban on myself because I know I will want to change everything when the baby comes along.
My phone is full of screen shots of things I like though, so I will be at the ready when the baby is born.
In the meantime I have redone Lexi’s room, she was still sleeping in her toddler bed, which is the babies cot, so we got her a big girl bed and added a few new things, we’ve also been making a little play area which can keep her occupied when I’m busy with the baby.
You have always been an avid supporter of small Australian businesses and handmade design in particular. Do you see Australian small businesses at the forefront of the kids décor industry? Why do you think this is?
I think there are some amazingly talented people in Australia and I don’t see a reason to look anywhere else, I figure if you support them, there is every chance the fortune will be returned.
I’m also very lucky to have standout stockists who stock some amazing items, so why not shop with the people that keep you in business.
As for being at the forefront of design, I definitely think there are creative people that are designing and making some incredible things here in Australia, and a lot are work at home mums and dads, partners working together, to give their families more opportunity in life.
I don’t think we are better than any other country, but I definitely think that there is no need to look further than our own backyards.
Where do you see Two Little Ducklings in 5 years’ time? And I will remind you of what you wrote 2 years ago, do you still have these dreams?
“At the moment my focus for this year is to get some stockists. At the end of last year, I met the lovely Lisa from Room 99 and she stocked some of my Christmas tag range, I had great feedback that they flew out the door, so I’m really hoping other shops take a chance with me and my little business. As for five years, I would love to have my own little shop, where I can stock my own products along with other work at home mums with beautiful handmade products. Doing everything by hand, can be very time consuming, but you can see the love that goes into the products.”
Well that is so interesting to read, you interviewed me right at the beginning of my business, where I was trying to take it from hobby to a profitable business. When I first started out everything I did was made by me, from cutting the flash cards to cutting each individual corner, I couldn’t keep that up for long, as my business grew, I think I would have arthritis by now if I continued at the pace my business was growing.
All of my printing and production is outsourced now, but it is all done here locally in Melbourne, I do however pack every single product, flash cards are all checked for quality control, each label is ironed onto the bag by me (or if I’m lucky enough to have my mum visiting), my letter boxes are all put together mostly by my husband, so it is still a very hands on business.
I would still very much love to have my own shop one day, although I see the difficulties of this now, owning a store isn’t an easy job, it takes a very clever person to curate the products and choose wisely, it’s also long hours and not one you can easily leave for the day, I still have a lot of freedom in my business. So for now I would love to see my business grow a little bigger, how much bigger I’m not sure, I’m always happy to take on new stockists, I don’t know if there is a cap on quantity, I always like to offer postcode exclusivity so that no store has to compete directly with each other, online stores are little harder to navigate, but I think they all have their own little audience and loyal customer as well.
With a new baby coming into our lives, everything is a little up in the air, business won’t stop and I’m sure it is going to be a challenge to balance both out, for now I will keep my dreams small and one day I might be able to take on the world.
Wow, what an amazing and inspiring journey Jacinta has taken to build and establish her small business and brand. There are so many helpful tips and advice for any one thinking of taking the plunge and starting out.
The key advice I think is to always be original, stay innovative and most importantly be yourself. Brands that are still here many years are built on trail blazing originality, respect, and trust. This is exactly what Two Little Ducklings has done and continues to do!
Photo: Sophie Vine @vinesofthewild