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!
Today I am so excited and honoured to bring you the first in my “Pay it Forward” 2015 initiative and to let you know more about the divine kids linen and decor range from Cream Empire!
I have been following Cream Empire for quite a while now on my Instagram account and I adored Carolina’s monochrome bedding as soon as I laid eyes on it. It is so refreshing, so modern yet utterly classic. I would love to buy each and every piece as each design is so appealing and it is easy to mix and match with other kids linen and decor.
Born and raised in Melbourne, arguably Australia’s fashion capital, you can see that the city and its style has certainly influenced Carolina’s designs. I read recently that Melbourne woman only wear black, I am not sure that is exactly true, but black and white at least is definitely Carolina’s colour of choice.
Having only been in business less than a year, with a science degree already under her belt and fluent in Spanish, Carolina is one clever, talented and brainy mama with an eye for design and a head for business. Cream Empire has gone from strength to strength in such a short space of time and Carolina has branched out to designing and making cushions, pillowcases and cot/stroller blankets on top of her cot sheets & duvet/quilt covers. All of which are made from 100% cotton.
You can choose from custom designs like batman, clouds, hot air balloons, grid, icecreams and stripes for cot bedding or even bassinets and then mix and match it with fun pillowcases that Carolina has designed herself like Wonderwoman and Batman. She has created so many gorgeous designs in a timeless style that they can go with more Cream Empire decor, or other children’s bed linen you may already own. It is fantastically versatile and it won’t date especially if you need it for baby no 2 or 3!
With her signature style in monochrome, Carolina has recently added pops of colour, but her heart lies with black and white and in particular designing and creating cushions.
I am so thrilled to have been able to get to know a little more about Carolina, her brand, and her motivation to start this business.
Meet the Maker: Carolina Leyton and baby Javier
1. You design and create some seriously gorgeous nursery linen which all began because you couldn’t find linen for your own son’s nursery. How did you go about sourcing your own fabric in Australia and creating your own designs from scratch? Is your background in design or textiles? Have you always loved to sew?
When I first started my brand cream empire, I used fabrics from fabrics stores but I found this to be very limiting as I could never find exactly what I was looking for. I decided after much research and many bumps in the road that I had to start designing my own fabrics. I’ve always had a passion for designing and graphic design. Before cream empire was made I wanted to start a prints and wedding invitation brand as I had so much fun designing and making our wedding invites. This idea didn’t flourish as I was too busy in my ‘real’ job at that time as a research scientist and finishing my masters in science. When my little man was born and I was home, I thought this was the time to start off my dream of a small business.
To help me designing, I have completed an art and graphic design short course and will continue to take up new courses in this area as I love learning new things. I’m even considering going back to uni… Ahhh!!
Since a little girl I loved making things, my grandma taught me how to sew and knit. I never thought that this skill would help be in the future.
It was such a challenge finding fabrics to print on in Australia that I had to source fabric overseas. After endless emails with fabric wholesalers I found a printing company that could do what I was looking for. In June 2014 I launched my own designed products and launched my new and improved range.
2. What is the process around the design for your fabrics? Where do you find inspiration for the each new design?
My inspiration for each design comes from my love of fashion, beautiful things and my everyday life. Of course my little man is a huge part of my inspiration as well.
3. As a mother of a young baby, it seems a crazy idea to start up a new business whilst looking after a new born but so many mothers do it and make a huge success out of it, like yourself. How do you find the work/life balance of taking care of your son and starting up a new business? And all those sleepless nights? Would you have ever imagined doing this before having kids?
It’s hard, it’s very challenging but I would not have it any other way. When my son was younger it was easier to sew in between his naps but now it harder as he is a toddler and sleeps less. Due to this, I had to hire a helping hand as I was finding it very difficult to balance the workload. Now it’s perfect and feeling like this is what I am meant to be doing.
4. Being a handmade local business based in Melbourne and a one woman show, how hard did you find it to ask for help recently? Do you think as woman and mother’s we don’t ask for enough help?
We definitely do not ask for help. This is such a terrible thing. So many mothers out there including myself always think we can do it all, but really we can’t. It’s such a hard thing to ask for that extra helping hand, I don’t know why but it must be in our genes. To able to recognize that we need help is such a big step.
5. As a new business you started out creating monochrome designs and you have now added colourful prints like your cloud and gelato linen, what are your customer’s favourite? What are yours?
I think I will always be a monochrome style type of brand. I love black and white in home decor. My customer’s favs are definitely the grid. This would have to be my favourite as well.
6. You have created some gorgeous new designs recently including my beloved grid design, what plans are afoot for 2015 for Cream Empire? Where do you see the baby/kids linen industry heading as there are new players start up?
There are definitely many more competitors out there now than when I started. I find this to be very motivating for me. It’s fantastic that there are so any creative talented mummas out there!
For my brand, we have many more new things on the cards, I can’t wait to share what we have coming. We have our new A/W15 collection that will be launched soon. I’m so excited!
With new designs and plans to add single bed linen to her range soon (yes!), Cream Empire is an exciting, refreshing and modern brand that oozes quality and just the right amount of style for your children’s room. I am loving all her designs and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for this gorgeous kids linen company this year! Check them out here.
I am always in awe of the makers that I “meet” on Instagram. Each day I am continually blown away by these creative talents; their divine handiwork and unique handmade gorgeousness.
One lady I have been utterly blown away with over the past 8 months has been Nicole from Zilvi, a kid’s interior decor design company based in Queensland, Australia. Her business acumen, creative talent and sheer and utter determination and motivation to make her business a success, is stuff many people only dream about.
Nicole is a rare breed, she is so completely beautiful (both inside and out) and not only creates gorgeous interior products but she gives back as well; starting her “Help Mama out” campaign, where money raised from the individual product goes to the family in question she is helping.
Nicole designs and creates using wood, acrylic and fabric making unique, individual and never seen before designs. Zilvi quite literally blew Instagram out of the water. She only uses Instagram as her marketing tool and she is one of those Instagram success stories you hear about.
In 8 months she has gone from 0 to 30k+ followers and 10 weeks into starting Zilvi, she quit her daytime job as a Manager of an wedding and corporate events venue to concentrate on Zilvi, full time. That is a phenomenal achievement in this day and age and shows the power of social media. However, given the millions of accounts on Instagram selling their wares each and every day, it shows that her designs have found a niche and truly speak to her target audience, which are other design led parents.
In the past, I have looked at these amazing successful Instagram businesses and thought, “wow”, how lucky are they to be so successful and for it all to happen so quickly! However, many of these talented mothers have had high flying corporate roles pre-baby in design, styling or events and have found that after giving birth, that their former life and career no longer suits their new life as a mama. Motherhood gives them the push they need to pursue the creative talent in new found ventures.
I have to say I think Nicole might be one of the hardest working creative talents I have ever “met”. Constantly creating new designs, working until the wee hours of the morning and so professional in both presentation and delivery. Nicole is continually evolving and adapting to ensure she is at the forefront of the designs she has created. Launching a product range directed solely toward children, Nicole is expanding her brand in March and releasing three new collections, Nursery, Kids & Home. I am sure they will all be a huge success and I cannot wait to see them as whatever she touches turns to gold!
We have been building up an arsenal of Zilvi products in our household as I adore Nicole’s products and cannot get enough of her creations. Our first Zilvi design was a gift to the boys papa for Father’s Day last year which he adored. I have also sent her wooden name plaques as gifts for children’s birthdays and they make the perfect unique gift idea.
Above: Zilvi Dad flag “My Dad is a Superhero”.
Above: Zilvi “Fringe Dreamer “
Above: Boys room with feather garland and dad flag
Above: Zilvi “large feather garland”
In the meantime I have been lucky enough to track down Nicole who survives off only 5 hours of sleep each day to ask her more about her new life as a fabulous mumpreneur:
Meet the Maker : Nicole from Zilvi
You have had such phenomenal support from the IG community to the extent that you have taken the courageous step of quitting your day job and making Zilvi a full time job! How does that feel? Are you pinching yourself each day?
To be honest I haven’t had time to really take a moment and reflect on what I have achieved so far and to soak in the fact that I am finally living my dream of working for myself while being a Mum at home with Felix, it’s been increasingly busy from day one, which I am absolutely grateful for.
For most people it can take years to run a successful business but you have hit the ground running in a matter of weeks, why do you think people have taken to Zilvi so much?
When I first launched Zilvi, my products were unique within the small community of Instagram (as this is the only place I market my brand) as there wasn’t yet my style of work available. I shared with them my goal of one day making Zilvi my full time job, this resonated with so many Mums as they too shared this dream. I think while my followers not only enjoyed my products, they enjoyed sharing in my journey to reach my goal and within 10 weeks of launching, I was able to take a risk leaving a well-paying job to work on my brand full time. My journey has given many others hope that they too can achieve it, that it is possible, and that for me is just so rewarding in itself.
One of the things that struck me early on following you on Instagram, is that although you have become hugely successful, you also want to give back to the community and help make a difference to another family’s life. What inspired you to start “Help a Mama out with Zilvi”? Where do you see this going in the future?
After two incidents within 12 months of each other, one where I almost lost my life giving birth to Felix and another where I watched my employee almost lose his life through an accident involving fire; I quickly began appreciating just how precious life is. I felt incredibly grateful to be in good health and have all of the basic requirements to get by in life. Many don’t have their health or the basics, and so I wanted to give back while I am fully capable to do so and have no reason not to. And so came #helpamamaoutwithzilvi with my first project raising around $5500 for a young Father with brain cancer (#afeatherforbrad). I hope to launch my second project in the coming months and continue this regularly as an important part of Zilvi.
As a mother of a small baby, how do you manage taking care of Felix and balancing life as a mum alongside life as a “mumpreneur”?
We have a strict routine which has a healthy balance of work time and Mum time. My studio is baby proof so it is as much his space as my own. I never put my work before him. He is my priority, so if he is having an off day, we are out of the studio and my work simply has to wait. I do a lot of my work when he is in bed of a night time.
I am a big believer in dreams and it has taken me 19 years to realise my dream of becoming a writer (ahem ok well a blogger), did you ever imagine Zilvi would be your big dream, and how would you inspire others to take the plunge to realise their own dreams? Any tips from a talented mumpreneur on how to run a successful business?
I am still in disbelief. Every day seems surreal. I’m not sure it will ever sink in. I have received countless emails from Mums wanting to take the plunge or from those who have, and would like to grow their business, and each asks me to share what I have done. I can never really put into simple words what I have done. I haven’t followed a ‘plan’; however I do have experience in business and marketing so this may have been of benefit.
In regards to taking the plunge in the first place, the absolute most important point is to first have the support of your partner. So many of my friends who run insta businesses don’t have this as their partners work full time and don’t take the Mama’s idea seriously. This then adds pressure and stress to you as someone starting a new business and follows through to your relationship. So discuss this first with him and both have a solid understanding of the risk you are going to take. Tell him exactly what you want to do, where you see it heading and how you will fit it into your current life as a Mum, partner and now business owner.
The best advice I can give to anyone jumping into the world of Instagram with a small business is to be original. And be yourself. Create your own profile, don’t see someone who is successful and attempt to put their personality into your brand, you can’t maintain something that isn’t you. Provide your followers with unique products. Gain inspiration from others for current trends etc and be inspired to create your own original work.
Wise words from a Mama in the know and who is on a meteoric rapid rise in the kids interiors world! With this Mama’s work ethic, passion and dedication, I predict world domination soon…watch this space.
To see more of Zilvi’s beautiful creations and her three new collections, Nursery, Kids & Home, coming this month, check out her website here. Be warned, you will fall truly and utterly in love with each piece!
Disclosure: I have not received any gift or payment for this feature.
All photos have been reproduced with permission from Zilvi.
My very first kids fashion and design feature for this blog was about upcoming Australian talent that I had discovered. I wrote the post for Australia Day 2014 which is celebrated on 26th January every year.
I needed to have this post on my new blog as I love and adore these brands and so excited about how far they have all come in the last year. Luckily for me, this was one of the only post I ever had saved in MS Word. After losing my blog last September, now ALL my posts are backed up in Word.
I feel so proud to be Australian when I see how brilliantly these companies are doing, designing, creating and making on the shores of this country. It just goes to show that if we support small business, it can and will go far.
Read on to be blown away by 4 labels which were definitely my Australian “Kids labels to watch” out for in 2014. They have diversified, grown, developed and become even bigger a year on. They are truly blitzing the kids world at this time!! Huge CONGRATS and well done you inspiring Mumpreneurs!
Having been established for less than a year, KaPow Kids has found itself a loyal following amongst Australian parents looking for “kool threads for little people”.
KaPow Kids produces a range of clothing and accessories for 0-2 years which includes: gorgeous dribs (dribble bibs), headbands, onesies, tees, harems, leggings & the cutest little shorts. Focusing on bright graphic prints & bold designs like super hero masks, ice creams, bats, clouds, lightning, unicorns and more; this is one label for parents who don’t want their child looking like all the others in the playground! With an emphasis on FUN, these designs look amazing but with the added comfort and functionality required for babies and toddlers.
The label started in 2013 as hobby by comic book lover and architect, Andrea Goulding. Having loved fashion since she was a child, but following her childhood dream of becoming an architect, all that changed when she became a mum to one little superhero boy! Now her focus is on kids fashion and having received well deserved press from around Australia, this fabulous gem of a kids label is certainly one to watch this year.
Kapow Kids products are all unique, handmade & produced in limited editions in her Melbourne studio.
NB: – the onesies are not made in Australia but are customised in Australia.“Meet the Maker” session with Andrea Goulding aka “KaPow Kids”:
What is your favourite “KaPow Kids” product you love seeing being worn on little ones? When I see a photo of someone’s little one wearing a KaPow piece I get so excited! I love that mums and dads like to share their KaPow photos, makes it a lot of fun. My favourite KaPow design that I like seeing on kids would have to be the appliqued onesies and tees. These were the first things I made so they mean a lot to me.
Where do you see your company in 5 years’ time? My tiny business is growing every week. I get many emails about collaborations and requests from stockists to stock my range. At the moment I am making wholesale orders for several little Australian boutiques but in 5 years’ time I hope to be able to have stockists worldwide and have a few more people helping me with the business and production side so that I can focus more on designing.
How are you celebrating Australia day today? At the beach with my family
What was your favourite toy as a child? I hated dolls when I was a little girl. I was a bit of a tomboy. My favourite toy as a child would have to be a yellow singing teddy that my mum bought me. I still have it.
Ever since she was a little girl selling freshly picked flowers, baked cookies and self-designed & created magazines in her street, Sasha Deacon has always had a business head on her.
With 2 boys to style as her inspiration, this kids label started in 2013 and was developed to provide accessories that are stylish & fashion oriented yet super comfortable.
With the name of her company coming from the middle names of her two young boys, Sasha takes her inspiration to design from the adult fashion world alongside the kid’s street style so prevalent on social media networks like Instagram. However, not wanting to spend huge sums of cash on kitting out her gorgeous kids, Sasha looked to create her own label of cool and on trend accessories and the kids fashion world love it!
Garnering a large social media following, this is one label to look out for and snap it up fast before all those other savvy parents get in!
Beau Hudson is your “go to” place for beanies, bandini’s, bow ties, suspenders, cardigans and bando’s.
“Meet the Maker” session with Sasha Deacon aka “Beau Hudson”:
What is your favourite “Beau Hudson” product you love seeing being worn on little ones?
I would say our Bandit Beanies! They have been so popular, and when I see a customer post a photo of their child wearing our Beanies, I still have to pinch myself that it’s actually our product! In saying that, anytime I see any of our products on kids, I love it!
Where do you see your company in 5 years’ time?
We have massive plans for the future of Beau Hudson…the sky is the limit in our eyes! There will always be kids being born and parents who love fashion! We’d like to continue to expand our range with cool new products, and be recognised around the world. Our vision is to grow Beau Hudson to a level that we can one day pass down to our boys.
What do you enjoy most about living in Australia with a family?
I love the weather! In Queensland specifically our winters are mostly sunny and fresh so you can still be out enjoying the parks and even beaches in the winter! We have great theme parks and have year passes so can take the kids anytime! I still feel like a big kid going to them and love that they never get old for my boys!
What was your favourite toy as a child?
I so badly wanted a Baby Alive doll and finally got one on my 7th birthday!! I thought it was SO cool that you could give it a bottle and it would pee, and give it solid food and it would poop! I loved changing its nappy and making my dad be “grandpa” and babysit it! haha! It was the most like a real baby you could get when you were 7! If only the love for changing nappies carried on until now!
This Sydney based label was started in 2013 by Danielle Bailey after the birth of her son Ledger and her inability to find any cool and hip clothes for him that were affordable and most importantly “Made in Australia”.
Specialising in baby and toddler leggings, it was with a little help from her sister who lent her a sewing machine, some inspirational vintage fabrics and positive encouragement from her loving husband, that has enabled her business to grow and gain a loyal customer base.
In bold, bright patterns, stripes and animal print teamed with basics on top, she has certainly created a go to label for hip & wallet conscious parents. A far cry from her childhood dream of being an archaeologist!
Leggings are $18.00, shorts are $15.00, beanies are $12.00, Pockerchief tees and singlets are $10.00. NB:- the tees and singlets are not handmade “We don’t make the singlets, we just make them cool”.
“Meet the Maker” session with Danielle Bailey aka “Ledger’s Legs”:
What is your favourite “Ledger’s Legs” product you love seeing being worn on little ones?
I absolutely love seeing little girls in their Ledger’s legs because I found it really hard to find fabrics that I liked but weren’t overly “girly”, and also, I have a little boy, so girls are a little foreign to me! I also just introduced a new range of matching T-shirts and singlets and I love seeing little LL lovers in them!
Where do you see your company in 5 years’ time?
I see 1000’s of smiling Ledger’s Legs customers, a sewing room, designing my own prints, a couple part time mumma’s working with me to help get my hundreds of orders out (a week), and a little sibling chasing Ledger around the house… that is the dream.
What do you enjoy most about living in Australia with a family?
The weather here is amazing, the people are nice (most of the time), you can buy fresh produce straight from the grower and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I love that we are surrounded by water and I can walk down to the beach with my family and go for a swim on a hot summer’s day. I consider myself very lucky to live in such a beautiful and safe place, I wouldn’t live anywhere else 😉
What was your favourite toy as a child?
Humphrey B Bear went with me everywhere!
After deciding not to return to the corporate craziness of the design world with the birth of her first daughter, Jacinta Weir created this AHH-mazing stationery and educational toy company in 2012. which has
As is the case with many mums, Jacinta refocused her design aspirations and her passion for branding and illustrative logos after the birth of her beautiful daughter and created “Two Little Ducklings”.
“Two Little Ducklings” produces stunningly gorgeous personalised birthday invites, greetings card & birth announcement cards. She also creates custom orders for other events you may require. You can also buy custom name charts, ABC, 123 & colour wall charts.
The products which caught my eye amongst Two Little Ducklings fabulous range were the ABC flash cards. Starting at $8.00 these cards are a great way to start teaching your children all about animals, counting, colours, shapes & their ABC’s. However, my personal favourite is Jacinta’s new “Australian Animals” flash cards which launches today! Get in fast as these will surely fly off the shelves.
All handmade in Melbourne using FSC certified silk layered premium paper for all products. This is one kids company that is producing some visually beautiful pieces that are must for any nursery or play room!
“Meet the Maker” session with Jacinta Weir aka “Two Little Ducklings”:
As you have so many fabulous products, what is your favourite to work on?
By far my favourite things to work on are my Custom Name Charts. I developed these at the beginning of 2013, my cousin had a little girl and I wanted to make her something. There are so many lovely things for children’s rooms that display their name, but I wanted to go further than that, I wanted to educate along with having something beautiful to look at. I haven’t seen anyone else do anything similar to this, so I feel quite proud of these and they seem to get a great response when someone gives one as a present or orders one for their loved one.
Where do you see your company in 5 years’ time?
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.
How are you celebrating Australia day this year?
This year we are celebrating with friends down by the Yarra River. It is one of our friends little boys first birthday, they asked me to design a dinosaur themed invite, with a matching bunting and t-shirt for the little man to where on his big day. Triple J Hottest 100 will be the backdrop to what I can imagine will be a fantastic day. What more could you want: sunshine; great friends; and great music.
What was your favourite toy as a child?
My favourite toy by far was my two Cabbage Patch Dolls (Paul and Fabian), I have just handed them down to Lexi, they were my first babies, I would strap them into the car and pretend to take them for a drive. I absolutely loved them (and still do) although they are in desperate need of some new clothes.