• Week Forty One!

    I grew up by the beach in Brighton, and left school at 16 to do an apprenticeship in hairdressing. I moved to South Yarra, shared a flat with a girlfriend and finished my apprenticeship but knew it wasn’t for me.  So I did a wide range of administration jobs including working for an International fashion house, and I was lucky when I fell into a job with an advertising agency. I was blessed, I joined the agency in a general admin role and worked my way up through the agency into a senior Account Management role within six years. 

    Whilst I was working there, a neighbour of mine was doing Horticulture at Melbourne Uni. She didn’t have a computer, and I hated the way her assignments looked, so at night I helped to make her assignments look pretty. And I started to learn. I naturally understood plants.  I learnt the Latin behind them, and the natural sciences and biology all made sense to me to the point where I quit my job and went back to Uni for 10 years and did three science degrees.. I just loved it! I spent a decade at Uni with full scholarships – I don’t know what happened, I just found my people.  


    Looking back I really started my first businesses over 20 years ago when I was in Uni. One was called Hand Relief,  where I would get a group of kids together and we would work on direct mail outs for companies – this was before emails. I also started compiling study guides and selling them to students – it was so successful that it paid for my way through Uni. And my then partner and I set up a really successful Horticulture business turning over half a million dollars within three years, but we separated and I left that business to him.  I had decided to go back to Uni and do my PhD,  but then I met Willie’s father and life changed.

    Willie is now eight years old. When he came along he was very sick, he was born with renal reflux and it took ages to diagnose him. He cried non-stop for eight months, but by the time he got to 18 months or so he was fine.  But his illness took a toll on my relationship with his father and we split when Willie was two. I started a few businesses during that time whilst looking after Willie, and created some interesting projects that didn’t take off because I wasn’t passionate about them – except for Mum’s Grapevine.  

    It all started with my mothers’ group. Willie was eight months old, and sick, I didn’t go out much and when I did it was a nightmare. My mothers’ group was amazing, picking me up and taking me shopping to baby clothing sales. We’d look out for warehouse sales and it was a great activity for us and it was a breath of fresh air for me and helped me to start living again.  So I started to think that there must be other mothers’ groups doing the same thing, and that they would be looking out for warehouse sales too. So I went for it! Within six weeks Mum’s Grapevine was online.  

    Through my years as an Account Manager in the advertising agency I learnt a lot about marketing and copywriting. . I designed the first Mum’s Grapevine website in Word and a friend who lived nearby put it all together. I can’t believe how quickly it just grew. I went up to a pregnant woman and said to her ‘I’ll tell you what sales are on in your area, all I need is your email address and your postcode’. And that’s how I grew the database. I went to immunisation days and talked to all the mums, I went to Chadstone and approached everyone with a pram, I told everybody.  I hooked up early on with the Baby and Kids Market and it all really took off. I had around 14,000 on my database within six weeks. It’s funny, I’ve always had this ability to find a need, aggregate the information and then make it accessible to people, and make it look pretty. It was a good message and there was no one else doing it in the baby and kids sector. It was simple – you tell me where you live and I’ll tell you what’s on sale. It didn’t cost them anything.  Kid’s clothing is a commodity, you have to have it and the kids keep on growing. Why pay full price?  That was the message and that was the ethos. My first newsletter had 10 paid clients in it.  

    It was right in the boom  when online shopping first started, so our advertisers grew from being postcode based and local areas to being online businesses. They were flourishing.  I was teaching people how to put discount codes into their websites and showing them how they could track it and monitor and make sales exclusive to us. Websites look different now but this was right when it all took off. I knew what I was doing was a good thing for our readers. As it evolved I realised Mum’s Grapevine was helping all these women to launch and grow their online businesses. I was putting them in front of their target audience. I dissected their business and de-cluttered it and put the right message in front of their customers, telling people what the benefits were for shopping with them or why to buy this product over another.

    Mum’s Grapevine has evolved a lot over the last nine years. It started as an email service telling mums where to shop on sale, but the brands didn’t want to work with us because they were seen to be  competing with their retailers. So we were stuck in this retail zone -but the brands had products I wanted to tell our readers about. So in 2009 we started The Daily Buzz, which was a blog promoting new and exciting products.  In 2011 The Daily Buzz went absolutely ballistic. We had a fantastic editor at the time and she wrote some articles that found their way into Stumble Upon and we were getting millions of hits a minute, it went crazy!  We were aggregating the internet long before ‘Buzz Feed’. And that’s when it became a serious business. Mum’s Grapevine had a huge database with local, committed and loyal mums and The Daily Buzz had a huge volume of people coming to the site.


    In 2013 we decided to bring both Mum’s Grapevine and The Daily Buzz under one umbrella and build the Mum’s Grapevine brand which is where we are now. We’re working with all the big guys and the website is still clean and crisp for our readers. While we don’t see the huge spikes anymore we’re still growing year on year. We change and evolve, and I’ve tried all sorts of different staffing structures from lots of part-time to full time and now I have a really great core staff with an editor, a sub-editor, a researcher, writers, sales staff and me. We have an office in St Kilda so I can separate my work from my life at home with Willie. This is our future, this is what we do. Looking back, having a baby and starting a business on my own wasn’t a challenge, Willie was my inspiration. He loves what I do and understands it, and he is a part of everything I have created.

    If you’re really committed to what you want to do, go for it. We see so many people with business ideas, but you need to do it properly. You don’t need money to get started, I started Mum’s Grapevine with nothing and earned my first dollar with the first newsletter. You need the tenacity to be able to keep going though. It gets hard. Competitors come and go or you get some big bills or you’ve got staff or wages, you just have to keep going and roll with what comes. I found a need, and my service was of benefit to my clients. The success has been because the businesses that I am working with are benefiting from exposure to my readers. And if I am helping these businesses to grow, they stay with me. Having an entrepreneurial spirit combined with a work ethic, experience in design and marketing and a fearlessness of building relationships and selling your wares – that’s what will bring success.




    Mum’s Grapevine is an Australian website for busy mums looking to save time and money. From the moment they fall pregnant, until they're waving the kids off for their first day of school, Mum’s Grapevine is with them every step of the way; collating the best sales & exclusive offers, family-friendly events and helpful content with a focus on solution-based editorial to help navigate the curly world of motherhood.

    Deciding on your target market, and catering your product or service to suit a need or address a problem, is a vital part of your marketing and ultimately your business plan.  Business Mamas can help you to ensure that you are on track to reaching your business goals.

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au

  • Week Forty!

    I grew up in the country south-west of Perth on a wheat and sheep farm and went to boarding school in Perth from year 8 to year 12.  At the time I didn’t find boarding school fabulous – it wasn’t that I missed home, it was just being around other girls and having to get on with everyone.  And I did everything but be studious – I played every sport that could take me away from study, but I did what I had to do to get through.  I had no plans except possibly going home and doing farming.  I did know that I wanted to work for myself.   After school I phaffed around for five years and then went to Uni and did Agri Business which led me to working with large animals - cattle, sheep and pigs all around WA, working for the big pharmaceutical companies dealing with feed and growth.  

    I have four children, twin boys Oscar and Cooper who are 12, Rigby is eight and Kitty is seven.  When my twins came along I had just finished working in Native Title, transcribing for the Pastors and Graziers Association working with farmers and hearing their stories about Native Title.  My husband is an Engineer, and with his work we moved (when I was five months pregnant) to Arnhem Land which is where the twins were born (I was flown out to Royal Darwin to have them so their first time travelling was in a plane flying out to a remote community).  It was a massive experience.  You can only access the town by plane in the wet and it’s an eight hour drive in the dry.  We had twin babies so it was quite bonding for my husband and I.  There was no real complication in our lives.  He went to work early and got home early, there was no over time, and there was nothing to do apart from fish and camp.  So it was a really strongly knit community group.  I was lucky because I had good babies, but then again maybe I had good babies because our life wasn’t complicated?  I breastfed for 12 months and every single time was at home – you couldn’t say that if you lived in the city.   I didn’t work for about 10 years, I just stayed at home with the kids. I did get the study bug, and completed an interior design course as well as a few other courses including digital start up.

    All the kids were born in different states.  Rigby was born back in WA and then we moved to Brisbane which is where Kitty was born.  We were always on secondment with BHP and then Peter decided to resign and go out on his own, he was really ready to leave a big corporation I was ready to do my own thing too.  We moved to Perth and creating Nesbar was my first foray back into the working world.  I am a natural interior decorator and had set up a business doing private work, and then one day I found this location which had a mainstream toy shop operating in it, and it was up for sale.  It is a beautiful spot, ideal for our family, so I bought the lease and Nesbar was born.

    How did I set up a business with four young children?  I had a very helpful husband.  The kids are number one, the family is number one, so I just staffed-up.  I worked the hours that I could and got in staff for the rest of the time.  It’s brilliant – we live around the corner and now that the kids are older they can come to me after school.  When they were younger and  I was doing the consulting in other people’s homes, if I had a sick child I had to cancel the appointments and let people down.  Now if one of them is sick they just stay with me in the shop out the back.  There was definitely a juggle.  I had no experience in retail so the first three months was a huge, steep learning curve - getting to understand all the stock orders and I’m still learning what’s going to sell and what isn’t.  Nesbar is really about what I love.  It’s a mix of everything I love and I style the different areas.  I decide on how I want the shop to look  and I go out and source the pieces I need.  I really enjoy just being here.  The kids understand what I do and they love it too.  They’re very independent children.  They get themselves ready in the mornings and make their own lunches and help with dinner because I’m not there to do it for them.  

    Social media is my form of advertising.  People look at Facebook and Instagram and then go to our website and they call to enquire about pieces they like.  I’ve never been to a trade fair to order stock, I support local artists and suppliers where I can, and I shop online.  I don’t buy what I think people are looking for, I buy what I love.  I do order from a few wholesalers, but then the stock is just like every other store.  My ordering style gives the business its uniqueness.  I love Nesbar and what I have created, but it’s not our future.  I love the experience of setting things up.  If someone walked in the door and wanted to buy this little baby, I would sell it and move on to setting up something else.  It’s a sense of achievement for me.

    For any mums wanting to start up their own business, just go with the heart.  Don’t think about it too much.  Just do it!  My husband and I chatted a bit about it and we did some figures, which didn’t stack up, but we did it anyway because it felt right.  I do like the fact that I don’t have any partners, I don’t have to answer to anyone.  It would be great to have a partner so I could go on holidays and leave the business with someone who has the same passion as I do, but I like being able to call my own shots.  If you wait too long and you think about it too much, it won’t happen.  Just jump in and do it.

    The Nesbar shopping experience is warm and homely with products curated to make you feel at home - textiles, objects, plants, baskets, rugs, art, toys, clothing, accessories, homewares, furniture and books. Nesbar also has a great little Espresso Bar so you can sip on specialty Arabica coffee or a cold-pressed juice while you shop.  Located close to the beach in Swanbourne, Nesbar offers classic and unique pieces for the modern household.




    Start your business dream today!  Call Business Mamas to discuss how we can help you make your business a reality. 

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au

  • Week Thirty Nine!

    I went to school in Brisbane, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but I got into a Bachelor of Education doing secondary teaching.  I realised I wanted to get to the University of QLD so after I year I went to UQ and did a  BA with a double major in Psychology.  I remember when I was studying Psych we did a couple of Organisational Psychology units and I still know the moment when I had a really strong sense that that’s what I would be doing one day.  It’s about happiness really – creating happy workplaces.  How you can be more effective as an individual and as a team, how leadership affects the entire culture of the organisation.  In the early 2000’s major organisations had a real cultural shift towards organisational programs designed to increase performance and staff retention and just general happiness and productivity within the workplace.

    My early roles in the workforce were based in Melbourne in training and development and then I moved more into organisational development which is a part of HR.  I worked for a big consulting company – working with other companies in leadership development (retention strategies and leadership initiatives) and also career transition which was out-placement and how to restructure businesses when they needed to reduce staff.  I would also step in as a nurturer and a strategic planner working with those individuals to help them transition to the next thing.  I loved the versatility of being in different organisations.

    Johnny and I were married about 13 years ago, and we moved to Perth about 11 years ago – we were just yearning for sunshine and warmth.  I didn’t know Perth but Johnny’s family were all here and we were both able to transfer with our work.  Ava is eight years old and Charlie is six.  When Ava came along life changed!   I went on maternity leave and quickly worked out that I wasn’t go back to the same job at the end of it.  I didn’t breeze into motherhood – we had a really rough first six months with sleep deprivation as so many other mothers do.  I just didn’t know what I was doing and I felt completely out of control.  I had been this high achieving person and all of a sudden I didn’t know who I was, what I was doing and how I was going to get through it.  Ava was about six months old when we got over that initial shock phase and it became beautiful.  I walked a lot and thought a lot and got into a rhythm – and I realised I had changed.  I learnt a lot about myself and I realised that the corporate world wasn’t really healthy.  I had so much gratitude for all the experiences I’d had, but it was no longer me.

    I set up a little business called Resilience Consulting and I ended up coaching people.  Ava was just a baby when it started and I still had the business when Charlie was a baby.  It wasn’t traumatic having Charlie, he was an easier baby and I was a better mother.  The business wasn’t a hugely booming but it was something for me to keep growing and developing, and it was a nurturing way of working.  But I found it really hard to manage that style of business whilst having two young children, because the work was ad hoc. It was hard to have a routine.  One minute I’m sitting with my kids with vomit on me and in my tracky pants and within an hour I’d have to be in the city with my suit, high heels and red lippy on – and I remember the moment when I realised the contrast in life was unfathomable.  I started not enjoying it and it wasn’t what I wanted to be doing any more.  

    I had wound up Resilience Consulting and had started developing Losari which is a very creative endeavour and was going quite well – then just over a year ago I was asked to do some consulting work and it was a pretty full on gig.  I didn’t really want to do it but it was just a few weeks work so I decided to take up the opportunity and see where it led - and I had the most tremendous insight.  I was working in a little office with no windows, putting in huge days, getting blisters from high heels which I never wore anymore – and the work itself was stuff I would have just nailed  years ago.  I would have just blitzed it and been really confident.  I realised I wasn’t performing in the way I used to because that part of my life was done.  You have to want to be good at something to be good at it.  I walked away from the role because I knew Losari was for me.

    Losari started in 2013.  I’d developed the brand before I developed the product.  We bought our current home, and after renting for years I wanted to play with the interior in a way we could afford.  I had always painted so the house is filled with my paintings. I’d given some paintings away and sold some so I had that creative streak but I was drawn to interior decorating more than being an artist.  I started searching for certain pieces I wanted in our home and there were particular items I was looking for from Indonesia – so I went there and I realised I could create them myself.  Then I also decided I didn’t want to just bring things in and sell them in a shop, I wanted to create a brand.  I looked at the other successful brands and labels and I studied what they were doing right, and I understood I needed a look, a signature.   I found a gap in the market that matched what I love – a Bohemian look based around whites, neutrals and texture.  So I went on a massive buying trip with my best friend – she’s the map reader, the sensible one, the planner , she drove the motor bike while I was on the back floating around finding all these beautiful things.  And that became our first collection ‘Lightness of Being’ – with crochet, shells, tribal art, pendants, lace skulls and horns.  All from  Indonesia.

    My marketing was based around our signature.  I met a beautiful photographer who I work with to this day and will continue to do so – and the artistic direction side was what I really fell in love with.  I’m fundamentally an importer, and I think I have got that balance of a corporate side which helps with project managing and I also have the softer, more creative side which really is my mum and dad fused together.  I wanted to capture a sense of being an urban gypsy, a free spirit. Losari isn’t just a label for me, it’s like a canvas.  When I paint, I channel.  I feel a vibration and it manifests onto a canvas and it captures a moment or a feeling in the moment.  With Losari,  I want people to feel a soul moment when they put our treasures in their home.  We’re a small business with a small staff, with warehousing in Brisbane and with a few key teams we collaborate with in Indonesia and India.  The important thing is harmony.  I don’t want Losari to be corporate.  I’m trying to work with a virtual team with an energy that flows.

    Being a mum in business is hard, because it is all consuming.  I work more than full time, and I’m thinking about it constantly.  And as all mums in business would know, with phones and social media it’s really hard to turn off.  I personally, as a mum, need to be more present.  I remind myself that I only have a little time with these beautiful little spirits, Ava and Charlie, and I want to be present for them as they move through each new stage in their lives.  But I still need and value and want this beautiful label Losari – which is like an infant to me – and I want it to grow.  I love them all in different ways, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything different - which is a beautiful moment to reach in life.  It’s also important to realise that this too may change, at some point it may no longer serve me.  I have been lucky because Johnny has been flexible with his work which has been a Godsend.  We have our routine and we share making lunches and doing school pick up.  I often work early in the morning before anyone else in the house is up, and then my day is really 9am until 2.45pm when the kids get home.  I try and put work away and have afternoon with them, and be present.  

    I believe the first step to running your own business is clarity.  Know thyself. Spend time thinking, who am I?  What are my interests, where do my eyes light up, what is my passion, what am I good at?  My fundamental advice is to know what is important to you as a person.  Your  values.  How do you like to spend your day, what sort of people do you like to surround yourself with, and what type of culture or energy do you thrive on?  I think once you’ve got that, you can drop some of the shoulds, woulds, coulds and the indoctrination from parents or husbands or friends or the corporate world.  Be quiet, stop the world, and find that within yourself.  Then gather information.  Start being open.  Now that you have that beautiful insight, talk to people who are succeeding doing what you’d like to do.  And don’t be afraid to say,”I don’t know where I’m going, but this is the first step on my journey”.  Honour yourself.

    Losari brings you collections of treasures for the Home and Woman, inspired by the luxurious bohemian world. Shells, feathers, deliciously soft textiles, lacy crochet, tassels, natural weaves, whites - all designed with love for you to create more soul moments in your life. And to remind you of the big, beautiful, eclectic world that is ours.





    Kirsty understands the importance of finding out who you are and what you want before you can get to where you want to be.  This is the first step in the Business Mamas Diploma of Business – we’re here to help you find out what ‘having it all’ means to you!

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au


  • Week Thirty Eight!

    The truth is I might have been brain-washed by my parents to enter into the medical world  – not in a bad way though. My family arrived in Melbourne in 1979. We were boat people – refugees from Vietnam – so it was always instilled into us that we have to work hard, we have to study hard and we have to do well at school. Ever since I was young my mum always said ‘you’re going to be a doctor, you’re going to help people’ – it was something I could take with me anywhere around the world, despite war or harsh circumstances. I did toy with the idea of doing law, because I enjoy debating and I was fascinated by debating and politics. I got a scholarship to study law at the ANU in Canberra, but my mother who was a lawyer in Vietnam said ‘no way, you’re not doing that, you’ll be faced with ethical dilemmas that are not in your control. Do medicine instead.’  

    So I did medicine at Melbourne University and I combined it with Arts because Science was a bit limited for me and I wanted to explore my creative side as well. I always saw medicine as a profession rather than a passion. I was much better at Arts than Science – Arts came naturally to me but I really had to work hard at the Sciences. I guess the plastic surgery side of medicine allows me to be more creative, and it’s a different way of helping people. We don’t save lives, but we make such a big difference in their lives in terms of confidence and self-esteem and other aspects of their lives that is very empowering for people. They are often so grateful that they can be who they want to be.  

    I do surgery on skin cancers and hand traumas and clients are grateful, but they’re not like ‘you’ve changed my life.’ People think cosmetic surgery is about vanity, but people just want to feel the best that they can, and sometimes it takes something that one would think isn’t important to give someone that extra bit of self-esteem or even to be less conscious of that one particular thing. The thing that’s holding them back. You know, in little kids we change their ‘bat’ ears – there’s nothing wrong with their ears but parents don’t want their kids growing up being teased. Some people have areas of their body they are self conscious about, be it a mole or a scar, it can take away from the daily pleasures of life.  It is a confidence thing. Giving birth changes people’s bodies, ageing changes people’s bodies – when we like what we see in the mirror or in a photograph, we are more confident and able to enjoy ourselves.

    Studying medicine wasn’t easy. In reality, to be good at anything whether you want to be the best at your game in the accounting world or the acting world, in law or in medicine, it’s hard work. I am a bit driven naturally, so adequate was never enough. I’ve always wanted to push myself and see what the best is that I can do. I’ve always been obsessed. Sometimes my parents would say ‘it’s getting late, go to sleep’, but for me there was always more that I could do. That’s just me – whereas my sister is the complete opposite, enough is enough.  I think I was just born that way.  When it came to specialising, I had no idea which direction to take. I loved everything I did from orthopaedics to neurology, to renal surgery and general surgery, I enjoyed the practical and creative side. But I just  fell into the plastic surgery side. I did a job at the Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and I was really inspired by the amazing work they did with the kids.

    In 2005 I met my husband in Perth. I was here for a medical conference and I had previously met his sister at a Vietnamese Youth Conference in Sydney and she happened to be Perth at the same time – so I met him and six months later we were married. It was bizarre, such a whirlwind. I was very much at the beginning of my career and had no intention of being in a relationship or getting married, but it didn’t turn out that way! It was hard leaving Melbourne to move to Perth – but I moved here and did my plastic surgery training and it took four years to specialise, so it was more than a dozen years of study all up.  It was a long road, in particular the surgical training which was tough. The hours and the study didn’t bother me but it’s a very male dominated workplace - you get lots of support from the nursing staff but it is tough for a woman. It is a bit soul-destroying because you’re working so hard. I passed but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but doing an aesthetic surgery fellowship in Melbourne completely transformed my life, I was inspired.

    Ella is now nearly nine and Nathan is four (and I am pregnant with my third child!). When Ella came along I was in my first year of training, when I was 28. Some people thought I was jeopardising my career by starting a family, but I thought surely in today’s day and age it wouldn’t make a difference? It was hard. I had to prove I was as good as anyone else, and even harder to prove I didn’t need any extra consideration. I didn’t want to be one of those women the men all whinge about because I was a mum. I was lucky though because I had a lot of support from my in-laws and from my own parents who used to come and stay from Melbourne, and I had a nanny. Fiona Wood was one of my mentors when I was training, and her advice was to take time off because she wished she had taken more time. I felt under pressure to go back straight away so no-one thought I was slack or I wasn’t committed – so I took six months off training but after three months I did a burns fellowship with Fiona Wood for three months.  

    When I had Nathan I was already a consultant. In 2011 I joined a practice that had a surgery as well as a trauma component. I worked really hard – we’re talking 70 to 80 hour weeks.  When you’re a fresh consultant you want to take any opportunity, but I learnt that it was all about patient selection.  I did three years with that group and then I decided I wanted more independence and creativity, so I opened my own consultancy around three years ago. It’s interesting, I’m known as the female plastic surgeon so people think I only have female clients, but of course I work with both men and women.  I didn’t think plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery alone was enough to satisfy what people want – there’s a lot of non-surgical procedures that can help people achieve what they want, from learning how to wear make-up, to getting your eyebrows shaped and ensuring your skin looks healthy. So even though I do a lot of cosmetic surgery I also have a Medispa that offers all of the non-surgical procedures like laser therapy, skin-tightening and botox. People require a variety of solutions so we determine what is going to achieve the results they want, which often doesn’t require going under the knife. Having my own business has been fabulous and has really allowed me to explore creativity – building my own brand and creating my vision has been an exciting experience.  

    Being a mum and doing what I do has of course had its challenges. From an outsider looking in it may seem that women who are mothers and who are in the medical field are doing amazing things – but we all have help. That’s how we can do what we do. It’s a full time job being a mum and a full time job having a profession, so we all need help. The hardest thing is being organised so that you don’t miss the important events, the school assemblies, the concerts, the sports days. Having my own business has given me more freedom – if I need to do canteen duty I can arrange to have a client-free day.  On a Friday I work at Fiona Stanley which is my public hospital day, so that’s my least flexible time.  Having your own business comes with a lot more responsibilities but also with autonomy.

    I believe it’s important to do what you are passionate about. Do what you want to do. It does involve taking risks, but in life anything worth having is worth taking a leap of faith.  It takes courage.  That’s the hardest thing. The biggest thing that stopped my initially from opening my own business, was me.  I had found the location, I’d done all my research and I had the plans in place – I knew everything that I need to do – but I just couldn’t sign the lease. I was so worried it might fail.  Was I doing the right thing – I had to mortgage everything my husband and I owned? Then I was with my parents, and while my Mum is super cautious and believes in security, my Dad said,  ‘What are you doing? You just need the courage to do it. What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ – and it was a lightbulb moment.  I love what I do, and I’d love to continue to grow the business to a point where I don’t have to worry about paying the bills because we are still relatively new. We want growth and we are always coming up with new ideas so I can inspire my staff to be the best that they can be. So many opportunities have grown from what I do, and I love my media obligations and mentoring other women. Sharing what I have learnt is so important. We can teach and train and grow and pass it all on, so why not?

    Dr Anh’s Medispa aims to improve every aspect of your beauty.  Her team is highly professional, talented and trained in all aspects of cosmetic procedures and treatments. They provide patients with high quality surgical procedures, wellness treatments, Medispa treatments and beauty treatments.
    Dr Anh’s Cosmetic Surgery provides surgical procedures for your face, body and breasts.  With over a decade of experience in plastic surgery, Dr Anh prides herself on her approachable personality that allows her to converse with her patients freely and comfortably during their consultation. She strives for perfection when it comes to your treatments and procedures and will always ensure that you are happy with your end result.


    Turning your business vision into a reality is often one of the most rewarding experiences of one’s life.  Talk to Business Mamas today and learn all the steps you need to make your business dream come true.

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au

  • Week Thirty Seven!

    When I was little I grew up on a sheep station near Perth, on hundreds of acres, near Monkey Mia. It was a great place to grow up – we did School of the Air so we’d only work until lunch-time and then get to go out on the farm with my Dad.  I don’t know how my mum did it though – shopping was delivered every fortnight and the power was turned off at 8pm at night because it was a generator. I was one of three, and she used to teach my brother and I whilst she had a new born. Although she never worked as such, she did work from home but in a different way to me.

    I moved to Perth when I was nine. I grew up in Two Rocks. When I was seven I wanted to be a police officer, but when I left school I got a traineeship doing mechanical drafting, working for an engineer so I got my degree that way. I was there for a few years before joining AHG and getting into finance and that’s how I met my husband Cardin. I started working as an Account Manager for a fleet company and he was one of my clients. I moved to Geraldton with him and joined his company as the Fleet Manager.

    We’ve always had a family business, so when children came along they set me up at home so I could still be involved doing paperwork and quotes. I’m not one to sit down and watch daytime TV so it was perfect for me. Isabella is nine years old, Sofia is seven and Sam is four. When Isabella was born a creative side evolved in me and I started doing paintings, and then Sofia came along I started making gift cards. Maybe it was just that I had time to explore my creativity.

    After we had Isabella we moved back to Perth, in 2007, and spent three years here before moving back to Geraldton for three and a half years. We came back to Perth in 2014. I started Cinque Candles at the end of 2010 while I was in Geraldton with a friend who had two children, and I had three – hence where the five (cinque) came from. It now represents my husband and I and the kids. It really evolved because I was buying a lot of candles from a company in Perth as there wasn’t really anything in Geraldton that suited my tastes. So a friend suggested that we start making our own candles to fill the gap in the market. We didn’t do a course or anything, we just had a bit of a play making them and it all worked out. When we first started it was more of a vintage line using crystal glasses and bowls, sourcing them from vintage stores, but after a while it became hard to find pieces.

    When we first started we had a Facebook page and each month we would create an album with photos of the candles, and we would release the items for sale on a Friday at 7pm and those that commented ‘sold’ first would get their choice of candle. After a few months the girl I was working with was too busy to continue and she only wanted it as a hobby, so I took it over because I wanted to make it into a business. I wanted to sell to retailers. So Cinque Candles started when I had the two girls and I was pregnant with Sam. It wasn’t difficult to manage running the business - when you find something you love you find the time. I would work on it when the kids were at school or at night when they had gone to bed.  

    The new look developed in line with designs I would like to have in my own home. The business went crazy in the Christmas of 2014, when we had moved back to Perth – largely due to social media in Perth and meeting so many more people. Instagram and Facebook have worked really well for me, and I have a website so I sell online. While you make a lot more profit selling directly to the customer, it is important for me to have my candles in the right retail stores as well. People buy a candle from one of my stockists and give it to a friend, and then they come and find me on line. So having a retail presence is a great selling and branding tool. We have about 20 stockists mainly in Perth – a lot of them are florists who deliver candles as well as flowers. I have only ever done one market – I find I feel really anxious when I have to talk to people and sell my product. And I also believe the style of my candles is more suited to a retail store than a market environment. Ideally when Sam goes to school I’d love to have my own retail space, with a workshop where people can learn how to make candles themselves.

    We have a classic range with 12 different fragrances – the best selling ones are Brown Sugar & Fig, Champagne & Berries and Coconut & Lime. The look that we have now, with the black and white quotes, evolved last year. I collaborated with a girl in Perth and we developed a range of quotes for a limited season. I’m already working with another lady on the east coast with a new range of quotes with a different look. While I may change the font, we will maintain the black and white quotes because that is my signature. The glassware is black, white or clear, and the copper is a new addition. Each season we have a limited edition fragrance, and I collaborate with a different artist who creates beautiful artwork. While it is essentially me running the business, it is also a family business. Last year I had a huge order for 1000 candles for a designer for Fashion Week here in Perth  – and they were large candles using over 300kg of wax. There was all the labelling to do, and the packing, and the kids and Cardin helped me with all of the production which took about six weeks.

    For other mums wanting to start their own business, I would say just go for it!  Be prepared to work hard, all day every day for the first few years. It is a big of a juggle, and I feel like I never have enough time – but if you’re doing something that you love you just find the time to do it and fit it all in. I have an assistant who works a few hours a few days a week, and Cardin is a great help with the kids, doing the school run if I’m busy and taking care of lunches and dinner if I am under pressure. Cinque Candles is a family business, and it is definitely our future.

    Cinque Candle Co is a Perth based boutique brand of soy candles dedicated to delivering high quality luxury candles. Inspired by a love of homewares, styling, typography art work and an obsession to soy candles, Cinque Candle Co. specialises in creating custom personalised labelled candles for any event and loves collaborating with Australian designers to produce unique designs for your home.




    Becoming a mother can open up a whole new side to yourself that you haven’t had a chance to explore.  Learning who you really are and what you really love to do is a vital step on the road to having your own business.  Business Mamas can help you find out who you are and what you want, so you can create the right business path and fulfil your business dreams.

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au


  • Week Thirty Six!


    My family is originally from Finland and I grew up in Melbourne.  I do have an accent but it is a bit of a mix, perhaps my husband’s American accent rubbing off on me.  I did have a very Finnish upbringing and we spoke Finnish at home and I remember struggling a little with English when I started school.  At the end of school while I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to help people.  I always wanted to help people.  

    I’ve always been creative and enjoyed drawing and painting and playing classical guitar.  I started off making clothes and selling them at markets.  After travelling for a while I realised that I really wanted to be a Naturopath so I threw myself into my degree and had a wonderful career for 15 years.  I was based in Melbourne and then moved to Perth in 2005.  My husband Bobby and I met in America while I was travelling and we did the long distance thing for quite a while.  On the last trip we decided we needed to be together in one place and we knew we’d never be apart again.  He ended up getting a student visa and transferring his studies to Australia and the only option was Perth.  I had never been to Perth but I heard it had beautiful weather, so I moved to Perth!   Bobby fitted in so well – he evolved and adapted and I am so impressed with him.  He finished his degree in sociology but then decided to go into construction instead and set up his own carpentry business.  

    I moved my Naturopathy business which was a little hard because of the connections I lost, but I specialised in autism and neuro-immune disorders so I worked with a lot of kids.  It was so rewarding, and I loved it, but it was difficult when kids came along.  I had Jade who is now nine years old and Jacob who is seven, and with no family support from either parents I became very exhausted.  It was challenging. Life changed significantly – I didn’t really realise what motherhood was going to be like and I didn’t feel prepared.  I had to slow down.  

    The Naturopathy business had gone wild -  I had a year long wait list and I was very committed to it, working long hours.  I was burning myself out.  I really needed to take care of myself.  I needed to be setting an example for these people who were coming to me for advice, and I realised I needed to take care of me first.  So I stopped it.    Bobby was so supportive, he just wanted me to do what I love.  He wanted me to be happy. I stopped working and then gradually got back into it writing course material for a Naturopathic College, doing  modules on herbal medicine, homeopathy and business management.  I did enjoy the change and I love to write so it was the perfect opportunity to work from home and be with my child.

    In that space, of just taking care of myself, and doing some retreats and all kinds of nurturing things, I started to get a creative energy again – a spark.  I felt like doing something different – not that I was thinking about business, I just wondered what I should do because I had all this time and I like to be active. ‘Gypsylovinlight’ evolved less than three years ago.  The first step was that I joined Instagram.   I was obsessed by jewellery and style, it feels effortless to me.  So I started putting photos on Instagram just for fun and for my friends to see.  And then I just decided to tag  the company that sold what I was wearing, and suddenly there was  a repost and it spread and I got all these followers with people saying “more, more, we love it!”.  So I thought that was pretty cool and it all just grew from there.  Without me saying what I was going to do, I just started doing what I love to do.  And each step of the way it’s all been building based on what I love.  Some of it has been planned and I have developed some business strategies.  But it has all really just evolved organically to nearly 600,000 followers on Instagram.

    It all became a business in a crazy kind of way.  I caught up with a girlfriend for coffee and she asked if I was charging people for the work I was doing for them – but the thought hadn’t entered my head.  She said, “you know you’re pretty big now, you should be charging people for the time and energy and effort you put into your photos.”  It had been starting to get out of balance with the amount of time I was spending creating all the images, so I decided to set a rate whilst still maintaining my integrity – always promoting only the brands and the products I love.

    I don’t have to work with everybody, just with the people who are aligned with me and that are on the same wave length.  To this day I have never contacted anybody other than for travel related requirements.  Companies are contacting me asking me to promote them and asking me what I love and what I’d wear.  If I like the item I’ll tell them the rate and when I can slot it in – these are the pieces I love and this is what I’ll be happy to do.  Knowing yourself and being clear and professional in your communication really helps.  It is still quite unchartered territory.  Being true to myself is the main thing, which gives credibility to the companies and products I work with.  When I find that spark it works for everyone involved.

    So now I have a business that provides a great income for my family.  It is our future – for the foreseeable future at least.  I love blogging and I love styling, and introducing the shop has added another dimension.  I simply just decided that I wanted to have an online shop where I can bring together all my favourite jewellery designers into one little spot in my home.  So people can shop the whole look I am wearing.  They can buy the clothes through the retailers’  websites and they can buy the jewellery directly from my shop.  People respond to Instagram pretty quickly in terms of sales.

    The great thing about running the business now is that my kids aren’t so little anymore.  They're both at school full time now.  I only started the shop in April 2015, and I have only been blogging full time since 2014, so it’s still quite new.  I pick the kids up from school and if I need to keep working it’s fine because Bobby is home – he leaves for work at 5am and is usually home by 3pm.  It works well.  He’ll take the kids out and they ride bikes while I finish what I need to do before we all sit down for dinner. Everything has just fitted in with my lifestyle rather than my trying to squeeze something into shape. My business is an outlet for me, it’s a passion for me and it fills my life.  We try to make the kids part of what we do – we take them down to the beach when we shoot so they’re swimming in the ocean and running around in the sand.  I am often looking at them while Bobby’s photographing me.  Bobby and I are a team, he does our photography. At first we had no idea about his talent.   One day I was getting tired of using the tripod and the self-timer remote and it felt really hard to get the angles I wanted and the light I wanted, so I asked Bobby to try taking some photos.  And it was such a learning experience for us and brought us so much closer, because at first we were two people with two different ideas and we’re both strong people and independent.  So to come together you have to be really respectful of their creative process whilst still being true to your own creative process.  You have to find that connection in every shoot without losing yourself.  With me being the model and the stylist it is tricking because I am standing outside of myself looking at myself and critiquing the shape and the styling.  You are quite vulnerable when you have someone photograph you, it’s quite exposing.  And when it’s your husband it brings you closer.  He loves doing it and his passion for photography has grown considerably and he’s looking at lenses and wanting to do courses.  He’s naturally gifted.  We shoot together around three times a week – at least one day on the weekend.  We make a journey of it – the kids have their bags ready to go and we pack a picnic.  Even in winter Perth can be swimming weather, especially late morning when the sun comes out.  And if it’s a low wind day it’s perfect.

    You just have to do what you love at the end of the day.  I do think for women who have really young kids it can be challenging and it can be quite exhausting trying to find that space where you can do something for yourself.  I’ve been in that space.  But if you have a dream hold onto that dream, nurture yourself and give yourself permission to follow what you want.  Find support, find resources and seek out ways to make it happen.  Just understand that if you’re up all night breastfeeding it could be waring on the body and mind if you are also running a business. Don’t let go of your passions and your dreams, find the drive to follow them.  And find your tribe.  Find people to help you, and allow the help. People  do want to help but often we don’t let them in.  It’s difficult for mums to accept help.  It’s all part of self-love, because the more you do take care of yourself and nurture yourself, the more you will accept from others and the more open you will be.  And you’ll have the space and energy to follow your passion – otherwise you feel like you’re running on empty and your burning out to the point where you’ll crack and something will happen.  That’s where I was at.  I realised I couldn’t live like that anymore.  I wanted to follow my passion but I had to take care of myself and reach out.  It’s allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to share with those around you and let them know you’re struggling.  You have to get resourceful, share, and let people in.

    gypsylovinlight is a blog, a website, an online store, a much loved Facebook page and an Instagram success story with nearly 600,000  followers.  Helen inspires her world-wide following with fashion, jewellery, travel – and the light and love that emanates from her core.





    At Business Mamas, we understand the challenges, stresses and strains of being a mother in business. Let us help you, guide you and mentor you, and get you on your way to building or growing your business dream.

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au



  • Week Thirty Five!

    When I left school my dreams definitely were not what they are now. I didn’t really have any career goals, all I wanted to do was travel. I worked for a year when I left school to save money to travel and when I was 18 I moved to London and travelled around Europe for two years – lived life, partied and did all those things that a young traveller is supposed to do. I have always been up for a challenge so when I did come back to Perth I decided to go to Uni. Nursing had a great foundation and I wanted to give that a go so I did my mature age entry. I applied all over Australia for entry to Uni and did get in to each state but chose Melbourne, and so I lived in Melbourne for three years while I studied. I loved nursing and I still really appreciate nurses so much and the work they do, but my priorities changed when I had kids.

    I had known my husband Tom for years from before I went to London, and one year when I came home from Melbourne for Christmas we realised we belonged together, so I moved back to Perth and did some nursing for a while, and then we had Poppy who is now five years old and Charlie Willow is 18 months old.  Floristry had become a side hobby of mine which fulfilled my creative side. I had done an evening TAFE course to learn the basics, and everything just grew from there.  My business started off with me working from home as a side project doing weddings for friends and family, for around seven years or so. Then about two years ago we rebranded to become Poppy and Willow. I say ‘we’ because Tom and I are in the business together. He works full time elsewhere, but he is so important to me in the running of the business and he supports me with the kids and I wouldn’t be able to do it without him. He’s been fantastic.

    Poppy was about three and I was pregnant with Charlie Willow, and we started getting a really great response to what we were offering. I was working right up until Charlie Willow was born – she was five weeks early and I did a wedding the day before she was born, rushing off to the hospital when the wedding was finished!  I was brought up around a family business even though I never worked in it as such – but I love the idea of creating a family business and love the idea of the girls working in the business one day if they want to. Poppy and Willow is our future- we’ve made the decision that this is us now. People really love what we do so we want to embrace that.  We started off predominantly as wedding flowers and now we have branched out doing event styling design, creating custom-built backdrops and a lot of furniture hire. We are in the process of launching an online gift boutique, doing deliveries of flowers and gifts but funking it up a bit to make it more interesting. We try and do custom design wherever we can with our wedding clients – we do put a lot of our work on Instagram and Facebook, and when we get enquiries we send out our prices straight up so people are aware of the costing structure, and we send information about us and the way we do things. We are pretty particular with the look we want to achieve for our events which does require a minimum spend so we are always upfront with our brides and grooms and corporate clients.

    I love designing, I love meeting our brides and grooms and our corporate clients where possible so I can get to understand them as people and understand what they love. We really don’t like to copy other weddings, we want to incorporate the things that they love – be it architecture or textiles or texture – and build that into the event. Quite often people will bring in pictures of what they want and we’ll say ‘well that’s been done, why don’t we try something new and unique?’. Colours, themes and budgets do play a big part in weddings so I need to be realistic about those things.

    It was really hard starting up a business and raising two little girls. We weren’t as busy as we are now when the girls were really little, maybe doing a few weddings a month, but now we’re doing seven or eight weddings a month. We have a live in au pair who helps us, and also my parents and Tom’s mum are fantastic – we rely on our family so much. The major challenge is ‘mother guilt’.  I want to spend time with my girls but then I want to grow our business for them, and provide for them and send them to a good school and give them a really nourishing upbringing. Being torn between those two is hard.  I would love to have free weekends to take the girls out  but the weekends are our week.  We’ve stopped doing Sunday weddings so that is now our family day. We may have to pack down a wedding on a Sunday morning but we build that into a family day out. We’ve created our own world, our own lifestyle.  Getting the balance right is a hard one.

    Social media has been of so much benefit to my business and it has enabled my business to grow.  Social media has been a God send for us. Our business is so visual so Instagram is fantastic and Facebook is good but not all of our followers see our posts unless we pay for it. One of the keys to having a successful business is getting a good plan in place. What you want to achieve, what hours you want to work. I’ve only just starting giving myself time off because I was burning myself out.  It’s really important to look after yourself, because your children need you. Poppy and Willow Bloom Stylist is based in Perth. They are passionate about creating unique and intimate events that leave a lasting impression.




    The most successful media tool for most visual businesses is Instagram.  Business Mamas can help you learn how to create a social media platform and planner, so that you can make the most of these vital business tools.

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au

  • Week Thirty Four!

    I was a bit of a late bloomer.  I grew up in Burnie on the northwest coast of Tasmania, and I realised very late in year 12 that I hadn’t done any work for a couple of years and I had messed around too much and that if I wanted to do something with my life I’d have to focus.  So I went and saw all my teachers and asked if I could redo my assignments and they let me.  As a result I got through my HSC and got an entry score to get into Uni.  I knew I wanted to help people, but all my family are in the medical arena from Vets to Paramedics and I had done a bit of work experience with them but hated blood and wanted to pass out and realised that wasn’t my calling.  I was really the black sheep of the family so I ended up doing a marketing degree, but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.   I couldn’t find work in my field so I got a job in a pub working nights and eventually got a lucky break with an Advertising Agency in Hobart where I managed the master media account for the Government.  I was so stoked, it was like the best day of my life! The Brisbane office won the master media account so I was transferred to Queensland, and my partner came with me.

    I knew something was missing and I wanted to be more creative, so when a job in magazines came up I jumped at the chance.  I worked on Who and Time magazines, and I still remember the day I fell in love with magazines when I went to Sydney for work and walked into the office and saw the wall of the upcoming issued laid out.  I worked in ad sales but I got to see the creative process and the editorial process.  So I really had no direction in my career, I just kept trying things – but I still knew I wanted to be creative so I went back to study and got my graphic design certificate.  And I had always been writing, whether it was a tender document or a proposal, it was a talent I had but I never realised I could make money out of it.  That’s when I decided to work freelance, doing graphic design, writing and marketing strategy.  I guess that was my first business.

    I was with my husband for 10 years and I always saw myself as a career woman.   I was never sure if I wanted children, but my husband really wanted children so when I turned 30 I decided the time was right.  That’s when we had Jim.  I was actually working the morning I went into labour and my husband told me off saying that I couldn’t work while I was having contractions!  I tidied everything up with my clients so they knew I was having some time off – but being pregnant and having a baby just fitted in with what I was doing.  That was what was so great about having my own business, that I could fit it around my lifestyle.

    When my little man was four months old my husband and I separated – in a very heartbreaking way.   I went to see a therapist who told me it would take two years to recover from my divorce – it’s said that two of the majors changes in your life that can cause depression are losing a partner and moving house, and I was doing both at the same time.  So it was a very stressful period.  I wrote a blog about my divorce called 365 days - to get my feelings out and process them and find my way through it, but in my mind there was no way it was going to take two years.  I thought I could do it in 365 days.  My blog was about being a single mum and transitioning into single motherhood - and people started emailing me saying that there were no positive stories out there about becoming a single mother and thanking me for sharing my story and being so brave to share it.  So I looked around trying to find the single mothers doing great things, I knew they had to be out there.  I had moved back to Hobart with Jim, who’s now nearly three, and I started hunting for successful single mums and single mums who had overcome challenges and moved past the anger and the pain and rebuilt their lives.  And I had reached the end of the 365 days of my blog and I thought, now what am I going to do?  When I wrote the final day of the blog, it felt like there was still more to go, and I ended up blogging for another year after that and it is still an ongoing journey.  I wasn’t done and dusted.  

    With single motherhood there are always new skills to learn - new forms of communication and conflict management and managing on your own and becoming resilient.  So everything came together – I love magazines, I’ve got that experience, I can do all the graphic design myself, I can build the website myself, I can write it myself, I can edit it myself. So I jumped in and decided I would create a magazine for single mums.   It had been a really rough year and I’d sort of lost everything so at that point I had nothing else to lose.  I thought if it failed, it couldn’t be any worse that what I had experienced. I haven’t been able to find another magazine in the world for single mums.  I couldn’t believe it, and that really hit something in me as well.  I wondered if it was something about society or if being a single mum is just normal - why aren’t single mum mentors out there, is it because no one else had thought of it or because it’s not comfortable?

    I launched Lift Magazine one year ago - it’s a quarterly online magazine. I reach people via my blog, which I don’t write as much but it’s still there and I will eventually turn that into a book.  We reach around 20,000 women around the world with each issue, and one of the best parts of my job is that I get emails from women around the world who have found my magazine and it’s helping to make their journey easier.  It’s such an incredible feeling and it’s given me such a purpose. It’s not just a job or a business, it’s a massive part of my life.  We have regular contributors - Leanne Hall who is a re-partnered single mum. She’s Channel Ten’s mind and body expert and is on The Circle, she does a regular Q & A column in each issue.  We also have ‘The Happy Family Lawyer’ who is in Brisbane and concentrates on collaboration in family law and tries to help separated couples rebuild their family. And I have other contributors from around the world from psychologists to lawyers to boundary setting experts. On top of that I find single mums who are doing great things and I just listen to them and let them tell their stories.  So often after they tell their stories they say they had no idea just how good it would feel to get it all out.

    How do I manage being a single mum and a two year old son whilst having my own business? I don’t know, you just do it I guess?  Jim’s in day care four days a week which is when I do most of my work I get three days a week when it’s just him and me, and it’s made me become super organised. Being a creative person I really didn’t like organisation much – I liked to have things everywhere and I was a bit messy.  Having a child meant I couldn’t be like that anymore. You need to know what you’re having for dinner!  I’ve got to plan and provide food for my child which has made me a lot more organised – which is good for my business.

    Lift Magazine is growing. It’s still not quite enough to support us entirely, but we are working on increasing the advertising and on getting people to pay for the magazine. I do freelance writing and graphic design as well on the side.  I am building the magazine so that eventually it will take over, it is our future.  I have this big dream, with the business becoming Lift Empowered Publishing!  In April 2016 I am taking some of the mums from my single mums support group on a child-friendly healing trek in Nepal for 11 days.  So the kids are coming along with us and they’re riding donkeys, on our trek from Pokhara to Poon Hill in the Annapurnas. I’ve always loved trekking, it’s my happy place. And there are four us going with our children. I am planning on making a documentary about it, so I’ve been doing journal entries about the progress and we will be filming it along the way. When I get back in May my plan is to launch a printed version of the magazine and it’s going to be a ‘solo mums from around the world’ issue. I am getting in touch with single mums from around the world to see what single motherhood is like in various countries and what the systems and support are like. There will also be a companion journal with all the lessons I’ve learnt during my journey of becoming a single mum so people can start writing their own story. Everyone has a story.

    Lift is a quarterly e-magazine and community for single mums that provides a guiding glimmer of hope, helping you navigate the world of single motherhood; from the early days of working through separation or divorce, recovering from grief and loss, figuring out co-parenting or how to do it all on your own to rebuilding and redefining your new family now and even two or ten years from now. And it’s here to let you know you are most definitely not alone on your solo journey.



    Harnessing all of your life experiences is a great formula for starting your own business.  Business Mamas can help you get to the core of your skills and your strengths, and assist you in reaching your true potential.  


    Get 52 Weeks and Business Mamas Brilliant Bites delivered weekly to your inbox. 

    Click Here to Join Business Mamas Weekly Brilliant Bites

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au


  • Week Thirty Three!

    When I finished school I took a year off, and I had already decided that I wanted to study science, so I started my science degree in 2002 but I didn’t last long because there were so many people enrolled in the course that you would need to complete a PhD to have any chance of succeeding. So I took some more time off and worked in office admin and did a Business Admin certificate, before going back to Uni in 2004 to complete a Bachelor of Business which I did part time while working full time at the Dept of Treasury and Finance. I was actually pregnant with Sebastian when I graduated in 2008.

    Photography was something I had always loved to do, and I also loved bush-walking, so I had a lot of camera gear for landscape work. And because I was at home with a new baby I started taking photographs of Sebastian, who is now 6 and my daughter Nina is 4. I have continued working with the Dept of Treasury and Finance – I have been there for 11 years, working three days a week since I have had kids, in Gaming and Liquor Licensing and Policy. I still work there Monday to Wednesday from 9am to 5pm, while Sebastian goes to school and Nina spends time with grandparents. My husband also switched to working part time, so he finishes early on the days I work.

    I did take maternity leave for both Sebastian and Nina, and whilst on maternity leave with Nina my photographic business started to take off, with more and more people asking me to do work for them - so I decided to start charging them. And it all just grew from there. I realised that if I was doing something that was taking me away from family I needed to make sure I was charging people properly and that the arrangement was working for me. I registered my business name in 2012, and it all kept evolving and growing. My clientele is mainly families, I do family sessions with babies and newborns. However since I have had my studio in the CBD I have had a lot more commercial work – head shots, shooting events and award nights, and I suspect that is because I am much easier to access now. I am in the studio by appointment, often on a Thursday or Friday. I do have Nina with me on those days as she hasn’t started school yet, and she just plays in the other room while I work.  Most families prefer the weekends because they work during the week, and my husband is fantastic with the kids when I have to work – he’s been taking care of the kids while I work since Nina was nine months old. It’s been brilliant for their bond and for him to understand how it all works.

    I love having my own business because I can choose what I want to do – who I want to work with, what kind of shoots I want to do. I like being able to focus on what I love, and that I can work the hours that suit me – at night when they are in bed, or while they are at school or day care. Working part time, having a business and having two children has its challenges. Time is the big one. I squeeze a lot into the time that I have available, and I have to be really organised. I have lots of whiteboards with everything written on them that I have to do so when I sit down to work I’m not procrastinating or checking out Facebook. I focus on my work. I have been able to do what I do because of family support – I feel so grateful that I have them and my husband. You really have to want to achieve something and have goals in place to make it work. I really enjoy the balance of my life at the moment, and each facet of my life gives me pleasure. I enjoy my clients and I also enjoy my colleagues. I’m pretty happy cruising and seeing where things go, life just seems to fall into place.

    Katinka Smith loves photographing the beauty in all people and the tenderness of bonds between families, friends and lovers.  She wants your images to stand the test of time and be handed down to your children and generations to come.




    Time Management is such a vital skill to master, and even more so if you have a family to take care of.  Business Mamas helps you put priorities in place and plan your time effectively, so you can achieve a work life balance.

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au

  • Week Thirty Two!

    I was walking along a beautiful seafront walk close to where I grew up in Dublin and I remember having this vision, just a flash vision, of me somewhere foreign with a briefcase.  It was only a split second vision but it stayed with me for years and I didn’t know where it was going to take me.  I wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to be an architect.  I wasn’t clever enough to get into architecture and for some reason I was swayed away from journalism which was probably a pity.  I was also very interested in art, but my sister was studying Visual Communications at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin so I of course had to take a different direction and decided on a more academic approach to art so I studied Art History in the University College of Dublin.

    I was working part time, in the late 1990s, when folk finishes, shabby chic and mural painting were the in thing. I started off painting a fake sky in our family bathroom in Dublin which is still there, I painted a bird in my bedroom which is also still there, then  I painted a couple of puffins in a friend’s bathroom and it ended up being a nice little side business.  I realise now it was the start of my entrepreneurial spirit.  From there I did paint effects on furniture and worked with a girl in London studying under her, and just kept developing the art side.  And then I got an offer from the European Commission – which was like a posh apprenticeship for six months working somewhere in Europe which sounded so great and I imagined all of the glamorous places I could go to.  So I applied to work in a media centre doing journalism and I got posted – to Dublin!   It was like a cruel joke, to be posted to where I lived.  I originally said no, but in the end I did it go ahead with it as it was a paid position.  

    Art was always a part of my life and I dabbled in all sorts of areas – I worked for a while as an assistant stylist for an Irish Interiors magazine, and then as an assistant on an Irish interiors TV show.  I was 22 at this stage, and I knew I wanted to go away and work overseas (thinking back to my vision) so I went to France to teach English as a foreign language, which was a complete disaster, and then I went to Budapest.   These experiences put me in the right frame of mind to travel, and I decided to visit friends of mine in Australia.  I burnt my feet on my first day of Australia like a true Irish tourist!  I spent the first six weeks working really hard on my tan, eating fruit salad and drinking cocktails.  I was free and anonymous and it was amazing.  I got my first Australian job at a restaurant, which was where I met Vinnie - who was the head chef and partner in the business, and who is now my husband!    During my time in Sydney I studied at The White House – I got a half scholarship doing interior decoration – the fundamentals of design.  It was a two year course and I got some work experience with Signature Prints at the start of the Florence Broadhurst phenomenon, and I joined their team after I finished studying which was a lovely experience. From there I went to Mokum working with the Design Director, becoming the International Brand Manager, and I am so grateful for that opportunity.  Then I fell pregnant with Jack and then Charlie, and thought I could be a stay at home Mum - but I realised I needed to be doing something, that couldn’t sit still, so I started working with a family-oriented jewellery brand called Polli. 

    We moved to Hobart in 2009 when Jack was 2 and half and Charlie was nine months old.  Because neither of us have any family here we knew that one of us had to be the main breadwinner while one of us stayed with the boys – but I do have ambition so I had to find a way to look after the boys and still achieve my own goals.  I was keen to keep my writing going so I started a blog about boys and my experiences – and it was called The Brothers Trim.  That started my online life. That experience allowed me to learn about the online world and blogging and marketing and the back-end of making things work.  

    Jack is now eight and Charlie nearly seven, my husband is the Executive Sous Chef at MONA and I have two businesses!   I really like the boys being with me and seeing what I do so that when they grow up they will have an understanding of working life.  I am working in an industry which is really flexible and that doesn’t have set hours.  Once my businesses got up and running I had to make the decision to close that blog as it did take up a lot of time.   But it also created contacts and job opportunities, including writing for a while for Kids Style File and I am now also working as a curator, entertaining children for the kids program at MoMa which runs from January to Easter.

    A friend of mine is one of Australia’s top crafters and she had a range of fabulous bus roll scroll tea towels based on Australian suburbs, and I took on the Tasmanian designs and set up a business called ‘Dish Pig’ -  which is a range of tea towels celebrating Tasmania.  I design them and they are printed in Hobart and I sell them as a wholesaler and also as a retailer in local markets.  It’s a huge job to do it well – and my new social media business has gone from nought to six hundred so something will have to give.  

    ‘Digital Dandy’ developed by meeting fellow creators who liked what I did online and needed assistance. With both boys at school I was at a point where I really had to think about what kind of income I could bring into the house and I was naturally online all the time, so it made sense to work out a way to make it financially viable, turning advice into a business.  With all of the knowledge I had gained throughout my experiences I decided to take the leap and it has just gone crazy. I work with small businesses and medium to large businesses, managing their social media accounts, training them or starting right at the beginning getting them to understand the purposes of social media and drafting and creating a plan.  I have also recently started a series of social media workshops.  I did a few larger ones with 15 or so participants, but with the Tasmanian market which is smaller I have four people in the workshop and I get in touch with them personally to see what they are struggling with.  There is only one subject per workshop, because I am interested in adding value to the experience – with a half hour follow up and getting them involved in a Facebook group.

    I am absolutely loving it!  I’m collaborating and I’m meeting people from all walks of life in different businesses, so not only am I imparting my knowledge to them, they’re teaching me too. I love the art of storytelling, and I notice how many people are afraid to tell their story even though they are in business. I love nursing that and trying to pull out their story. Particularly individuals – when they are talking about their business they’re great, but when they are talking about themselves and what they’re good at, that’s more challenging. I do find that women are gravitating towards me, and it’s lovely.

    One thing that really helped me was that I joined a mumpreneurs group that would meet occasionally and I made some contacts there.  What you don’t do is start too early.  Have a really good plan and have it as seamless as you can get it, so you are starting with absolute confidence that you have your back end and your anchor set.  I wish I had more patience to do that, because I do like take the ball and run. I’ve learnt as I’ve got older how to just slow down and get things rock solid, and then you’ll have much more confidence to take that leap, whether it’s launching a new product or offering a new service, or even taking your business in a new direction.  Talk to people and take their opinions, and don’t worry about looking stupid.

    Social media is a huge part of business today.  People have to remember that social media is a communication connector.  It’s another form of communication, it’s another touch point, and it’s a fabulous way for you to talk to your audience.  It’s a way to get feedback and to get people’s opinions, and actually have a conversation with your client base which you can’t really do via any other medium unless you work in a shop and have direct contact with your customers.  Social media allows you a human connection where you can share the authenticity of your brand

    Digital Dandy is a social media marketing consultancy.  Jen Murnaghan is passionate about communications and works with solopreneurs, retailers and small business owners in Hobart to augment their authentic voice online.




    Harnessing all of your life experiences is a great formula for starting your own business.  Business Mamas can help you get to the core of your skills and your strengths, and assist you in reaching your true potential.  

    Get 52 Weeks and Business Mamas Brilliant Bites delivered weekly to your inbox. 

    Click Here to Join Business Mamas Weekly Brilliant Bites

    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au

  • Week Thirty One!

    Before moving to Australia I had studied to be an Art History Teacher and I have lived in a number of countries since my University degree doing a number of roles. Just before moving here I was doing a graduate study in Women’s Leadership at a Christian Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I started a blog about my travels and things that were of interest to me and things that I was studied – and I grew quite a following from Australia including two people from Tasmania. To be honest I had never heard of Tasmania before 2006! There was a fellow in Sydney who had been doing a random search for other bloggers who like a particular author and I was one of two bloggers that he found and he started sharing my blog. It’s amazing how fascinating life is, that my interest in an author led to my blog being followed by some Australians which led me to marrying a Tasmanian and moving here to live and start a family and a business. Some call it fate, as a Christian I feel that God has a hand in it all.  The workings of the world are bigger than you or I.

    I moved to Hobart in 2007 and when I first arrived my husband and I were resident staff at a residential college for uni students. My husband is now the Vice Principal of that school. Our first daughter Olivia was born in 2009, and as a young mum I decided to stay at home for as long as we could manage, and then Ella came along in 2010. I was really lucky to have an amazing network of support through my husband’s friends and family and our church community. Even though my own family and friends were oceans away, I didn’t miss out on support, help, advice and encouragement.

    It was when I began meeting other families, at the library or the playground or play groups, I realised how many of the mums were much like myself from overseas, interstate or even regional Tasmania, but without their own networks of support. And for many of them their parenting journey looked so different to mine and they were doing it all on their own. I thought it was an immense societal shame and that we had lost the village, lost the tribe. So I wondered what one person could do – and being quite savvy with social media through my blog and being an early adopter of Facebook, I decided to start a Facebook page. One month after starting the Hobart Mums Network page I was responsible for having connected 500 mums, and six months later there was 1000. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel so if there had have been something else available I would have hopped on board with that, but in doing my research I found there wasn’t anything, so the Facebook page really filled a void.

    That was in 2011, when Olivia was two and Ella was one. As people started to connect through the Facebook page, some online friendships became face-to-face friendships when people started to see they had similar ideas and shared parenting issues. Real friendships formed and a community was created. As a result we started monthly networking events, where we invited mumpreneurs to come along and talk about their businesses and the challenges and rewards – and that led to a group called Business Connect which is still going strong today and is now state-wide rather than just for Hobart.  We found that we came up with ideas and decided to turn them into a reality – for example one of the mums had always wanted to write a cookbook, so we got all these mums who were on maternity leave and had all these skills sets in administration, copywriting, photography and project management and pulled together to raise money for something worthwhile. And we did it. It took a year and we published the book called ‘Inspired Cooking’.

    My husband blames the American-ness in me for getting projects off the ground, because I have the confidence and so I just say ‘Yeah sure!  We can do it!’ and making it happen rather than putting the brakes on because it’s too big an idea.  Just make it work!  Some of the mums said they missed being in a choir, so we started a choir. And then one of the bigger projects we undertook was when we decided it would be great if there was a place in the CBD where families could come together and relax and connect with one another – so much more than just a place to change a nappy or heat up a bottle or plate of baby food. A place where there were good toys and books, where mums or dads could sit down and make a cup of tea and have an adult conversation with another parent. There was a swell of support – so three days later a local business in the CBD offered their basement space which had on-street access ideal for prams. She allowed us to transform the place into our vision, for free, because as a mum she knew how much she would have valued having such a space.  That is ‘The Haven’ which we started in 2012 – and we have since changed location to a space provided by the big cathedral in the city which is a gorgeous place that is open five days a week from 9.3am – 12.30pm.  I manage the space along with a co-ordinator and it is staffed by volunteers who believe in the idea, look forward to getting out of the house each week with a regular shift and want to make new friends and give back to the community.

    Hobart Mums Network became a business for me because of all the interest and the swell of support, and it got the attention of local government, state government and even our local Federal MP Andrew Wilke. It had grown to such an extent that it wasn’t sustainable for me to drive it on my own.  If I had died, everything would have died with me. The Facebook page now has nearly 6000 local mums who connect 24/7 about parenting issues, tips and tricks, so managing that as well as The Haven, I realised I needed something to ground me and to help make sure that what I had achieved was still going in 20 years time when my children might have their own families. That’s when Child Health Association Tasmania came into the picture. They are over 100 years old and they are a state-wide organisation made up of parents not health professionals as the names suggests. When the group started they were the ones who lobbied the government for a child health nurse to visit new mothers and their newborns in their own home to assess their development. Since then they have been known for advocating health and well-being.  They made sure that refrigerated milk was available in every school when there was a bad case of gastro going around in the 1930s and 1940s.  Bringing Hobart Mums Network in under their umbrella made sense – we had established the name and the credibility, we were trusted and were a name to be reckoned with. The Child Health Association of Tasmania needed the freshness that we offered.  We were so on target with what the 21st century mother needs, their desire to connect and understanding how they connect. They wanted our fresh website and membership facilities with online forms and payment to bring them up to date with today’s mothers. So we are now a part of the Child Health Association of Tasmania Network.

    Creating all of this whilst having Olivia and Ella worked quite well, because what I was doing was for other mums, so I was always in a child-friendly environment and they were always along for the ride.  In particular with The Haven, it was their home away from home.  And whenever I did presentations like at the Town Hall, I took them with me and  introduced them as my assistants and they sat down and with their books and textas.  They were a part of my business from the beginning.  My husband is always supportive so whenever I have to work on the weekends setting up displays at markets or festivals, he looks after the girls.  So fortunately the whole networking enterprise fitted in with my lifestyle, but also became a business for me and for my family.  I am now managing the southern region of Tasmania for the Child Heath Association, and we are rolling the concept out through the northern region with The Haven now open in Launceston.

    From next year both of my girls will be in school, so that does bring me to a crossroads where I really have to think about what I want to be when I grow up! Do I continue with Hobart Mums Network and try new ideas with it, or do I want to go back to teaching, or do I want to try and do both?  Is that even possible?  I guess my answer would be that it is, but if I did one well then the other would suffer and I don’t want that. Whatever direction I take I have raised up enough volunteers who believe in the movement I’ve started, and I know if I was to pass it on it will continue, and continue to evolve.

    If you want to get your own business off the ground, I would say do your research. Make sure there’s no one out there doing what you want to do and doing it well.  Once you’re sure there’s a need out there for what you want to provide – network!  Network your bottom off.  Your network will become your advisors – not just in your business but in your life. When things are down they will be your champions, when they are just getting started they will be your footmen, getting the word out there.  Networking is the key.

    Networking is a vital part of running your own business.  At Business Mamas we understand this, and provide the opportunity for networking with other students who are also mums, as well as working with a mentor, so you always have the support you need.


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    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au

  • Week Thirty!

    I started work at 16 years of age as a hairdresser, doing my apprenticeship at a cute little salon in Wagga Wagga where I lived. From there I opened my own salon, and I was approached by Wella in my mid 20s to become an educator, so I moved to the ACT, and then on to Sydney. I progressed along with them for about five years including doing some fashion work. It was exhausting – the travelling and the late nights – so I took a six month break and my partner and I decided to move to Melbourne. Luckily I had been approached by Schwarzkopf so I had a job to come to as an educator, and managing major accounts and looking after Mercedes Fashion Week which was so much fun. From there I worked with my husband, helping to launch Revlon Colour in Australia as their National Manager which meant lots of travel to Europe which was exciting and fun. Then life changed when I fell pregnant with my first daughter, Bella, and I left the hairdressing industry.

    Bella is now nearly six, and Giselle is three. When Bella was about 15 months old I worked part time in a retail store just to get out of the house for a while. We don’t really have family support here so Bella went to day care which she really loved or spent time with her Dad on weekends if I was working. I did that until I fell pregnant with Giselle, and when she was about six months old I had seen a blogger, and thought I could create a blog about children’s clothes -because I could never really find clothes for the girls that I liked. Whenever I took Bella out all my friends would tell me how cool she looked and ask where I got her clothes from, and being in Geelong there wasn’t much around. So I started Kids Fashion Blogger about three years ago. I sourced all the girl’s clothes online, and that was my aim – to show other mums where they could find great clothes for kids. I also wanted to share my style. It all started as a bit of fun really! It wasn't about the girls initially, it was about style and fashion.

    I started in March 2012 on Facebook, and then in July a friend of mine told me about Instagram. I didn’t know anything about it so he helped me set it all up, and explained about how to use the hashtags and the right words to use, and all of a sudden I had people emailing me wanting to send me clothes to dress the girls in. Instagram is the biggest advertising tool there is at the moment. It is huge! All of a sudden I started to gain all these followers, and I used to watch them and there were all these little labels out there and I realised there was a whole world that I didn’t know about. It was very cool. When I started to receive lots of emails from companies wanting to send me their threads to dress the girls in, I started to photograph the clothing I was sent, that I liked of course. And the more I put the girls in fashion labels, the more followers and likes I would get. A flat lay or an in store photo wouldn’t get nearly the same reaction. People obviously like to see clothes on people.

    So now Kids Fashion Blogger is a business. I am so lucky! Life did get very busy though. I found that every night after the girls went to sleep I would spend at least two hours responding to all my emails, and I can never say no to people so the workload kept creeping up. So much work goes in to what I do, and a lot of time and energy. I had started charging for some of my work because I realised that bloggers do charge and it’s probably one of the most popular ways for companies to advertise now. The Co Collective approached me a few months ago, and they now represent me and they handle the sales side of the business. I forward all the incoming emails to them, letting them know what I am interested in, what I love, and what may not work for us. They negotiate all the rates, and if we decide we would like to work with some of the larger companies, they approach them and hopefully work on collaborating. They are also really helping me to grow by involving me in so many experiences, like attending events, hosting events and doing photo shoots. They have a lot of great connections, and they have made a big difference to the business. 

    Kids Fashion Blogger is our future now. There are of course challenges trying to run a business and raise two young girls.  Time is the biggest challenge. I find that I am often time poor – there’s not enough hours in the day but you just make it work. Sometimes things get left behind like the housework, but we just juggle and work to well-planned calendar, prioritising things and trying to keep a healthy balance. It did get a lot easier when Bella went to school, and Giselle loves going to day care two days a week. So those two days that I have to myself are when I get a lot of things done. Life is so much busier, with so many opportunities.

    I think if you are following your heart, nothing stands in your way. If you have an idea, and it’s something that you love and that you really want to do, you’ve just got to believe in it and give it a go. It’s important not to listen to too many outside influences because in the beginning I found a lot of people came up with reasons why my idea wouldn’t work or why I wouldn’t be able to do it. I had no idea where it was going to go, but I love what it has become.

    Kids Fashion Blogger is the online destination for on trend girls’ fashion. It is a creatively curated blog complemented by social media channels that offer a beautiful, fun and sometimes quirky interpretation of current day children’s fashion, from everyday labels to aspirational luxury brands.





    Having the right social media platforms, and creating the right content, can turn your hobby into a business, or grow your current business to new heights. Business Mamas can help your work on the right social media for your business or business idea. Talk to Business Mamas today – we’ll give you the knowledge you need to make your business dream a reality.

    Get 52 Weeks and Business Mamas Brilliant Bites delivered weekly to your inbox. 

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    Copy: Melanie Quirk      Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios 

    To find out how you can get get your business started and become the next Business Mama head to  www.businessmamas.com.au