Pay It Forward – Jack and Evelyn

I am rather excited about another fabulous chapter in my “Pay It Forward” series for 2015; this month I discover the wonderful world of “Jack and Evelyn”.

Jack and Evelyn was created last year due to a gap in the Australian market for classically designed baby and kids products.

poncho towel

Owner and “Mumpreneur” Melissa, is a driven, passionate and focused mama who once she has set her mind on something, goes out and does it.  In just under 5 months she went from having the initial idea for Jack and Evelyn, through to design of her first product and then on to production of the final product, ready for sale!

I think that is pretty phenomenal even in this fast paced, ultra modern world. Many people including myself, have the ideas but never actually make those ideas a reality or take many years to achieve them, so to make that dream a reality in under 5 months is HUGE! Melissa calls herself a ‘doer’ rather than a ‘thinker’ and she is certainly that. Coupled with working part time at Ford Motor Company, this is one switched on and motivated mama!

Table and chairs

Many small businesses are created from finding a gap in the market and Jack and Evelyn was no exception. Melissa, unable to find high quality hooded poncho towel for her kids and in search of beach and pool towels that were super soft, thick and classic in design, she decided to create her own after being unable to find anything on the market that fitted the criteria.

Not only that but did I mention that Jack and Evelyn was began on maternity leave when Melissa’s youngest child was 5 months old! Now that is one truly inspiring “mumpreneur”.  Now back at work, Melissa focuses on her part time job during the day and Jack and Evelyn at night, as she rightly says when she is meant to be sleeping!

Meet the Maker: Melissa from “Jack and Evelyn”

Melissa, Jack and Evelyn

Q1) Your personalised toy boxes, chairs and ponchos have been wonderfully received, what is your children’s favourite “Jack and Evelyn” and why?

My kids absolutely love the hooded poncho towels. At first Jack would run in the other direction when he saw them because I kept making him take photos in them! But he loved them during summer at the beach (Melbourne weather being very temperamental!) and we use them every week at swimming lessons, and even most nights at home.

J and E kids step

Q2) I  love your little step stools with their handles for kids to carry and hidden storage compartment, you definitely look at your products from not only a child’s perspective but a parent’s as well. What drives each new design and how many designs and redesigns do you go through before you get the perfect product?

For me it’s really much more about the practicalities of the product and how it works, rather than the look and feel. I am not a ‘designer’ with a particularly creative background. So our designs are really simple and classical and are all about making life a bit easier.

J and E smock bib

Q3) Social media is a big driver of business, advertising and publicity, but it can also be time consuming, how do you balance your everyday business with the demands of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest alongside raising 2 children?

I had actually avoided being on social media full stop until launching Jack & Evelyn, which is pretty amazing! But I have obviously caved in and now I can’t remember life without it. I have actually discovered so many great things on Instagram that I love, like yum boxes – genius! I actually don’t post too much on Instagram and Facebook, around 3 – 5 posts per week, so it’s not too time consuming from that perspective, but I do spend a lot of time looking at other peoples posts! Social media is definitely a great, low cost platform for small businesses and is our only form of advertising.

Toy box

Q4) With hindsight, is there anything you would do differently when establishing a new business, or rather do you have any wise words for other “mumpreneurs” out there who have an idea but need the push or motivation to make that idea happen?

I think that the number one thing you need to have is a passion for the business that you start because it is very hard to compartmentalise it from the rest of your life, you tend to work on it 7 days per week. Working from home as a mum sounds like it will provide you with more freedom, but I’m not sure that is the case in reality. In most small businesses you also need to be prepared to wear many “hats” – I am accounting, IT, marketing, graphic designer, web developer, logistics, purchasing and sales all rolled into one! The positive of this is that you do learn and enormous amount running your own small business.

baby bibs

Perfectly summed up and definitely something we don’t always realise when setting up a business on our own. You have to start small to get somewhere and most of the time that means little money for support staff in the beginning and doing everything for one self, day and night!

Although Melissa didn’t complete a business plan for Jack and Evelyn and just followed her heart in making it happen, one piece of advice for other “mumpreneurs” she does give is, to make a comprehensive business case for each individual product she has manufactured. As she says ” there are lots of hidden costs with bringing a product to market that can easily be missed.”

All of Jack and Evelyn products are designed in Australia and manufactured overseas due to prohibitive production costs. She is hopeful in the future, that she may be able to use Australian suppliers.

For more details on this fantastic Australian designed kids label, please check out “Jack and Evelyn” for products with a classic edge, that have been designed with love and a passion to provide parents with everyday pieces, that are both practical and beautiful.