The Business of Babies

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Before I had my son, very few of my friends had babies. I rarely talked about babies and I found it frustrating when I met friends with babies for coffee dates only to find them distracted and talking in fragmented sentences (interrupted by the needs of their babies). My world was pretty much baby free.
Not so now.
Now I am sitting firmly on the ‘other side’ and my life has become ‘all baby’. Being a mama is now a major component of my identity. I talk about babies and baby things. I look at baby products and I now even run a home-based ‘baby business’ which, lo and behold, means that a lot of my new friends are also in the business of babies.
It’s ok that my life has become ‘all about babies’ but now with a new baby on the way, I have been forced to realise that it also needs to be ‘all about balance’.
When I was first pregnant I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I started drawing and I started inventing… and suddenly I found myself starting a bump and baby-related business. One new baby eighteen months ago + new baby products + new baby business + a new baby on the way all made my life (seemingly suddenly) ‘ALL baby’.
In my excitement at becoming a parent, I also got a bit too excited about parenting products. I launched into making a diverse range far too soon. I filled my studio with things for the new business and started sneaking things into the basement. Storage became an increasingly pointed issue in our household. (Babies bring enough accessories with them without a baby business filling the house with surplus stock as well). Something that was supposed to support and supplement our family life began to threaten to take it over…
Another major problem was the amount of time I needed to dedicate to the ‘other baby’. Some things I was making would take a long time to complete so that when I received an order, part of me would panic at trying to fulfil it on time around my real baby’s very real needs. Trying to run a business within nap times was not an easy task. We found that as a family our overall financial and emotional investment into the baby business was not giving back to us as much we would have liked it to.
Becoming a parent has been a steep learning curve. Growing a new business from scratch has been similarly steep. My original goal of starting a business so that I could support myself to stay at home with my son for his first year has evolved. Now, with another ‘tummy nugget’ on the way, keeping the ‘baby’ of a business afloat has become essential but some changes clearly needed to happen.
Baby Business (office) vs Baby business (home) was and is a tricky equilibrium – but thankfully we have found some solutions to make it more manageable.
At the start of this month I had to stop and take a deep breath. My home-based business turned one and it seemed a good time to reflect on what was working and what really wasn’t. My son turned one and a half and the third trimester of my second pregnancy was looming (and still is). The very real countdown to having a new little person in the house with us was beginning. So it was a good time to begin to change things.
Two very real problems had presented themselves. There was not enough time in the day to continue with the diverse range we had started with. Similarly, there was not enough space to store products when working work from home – especially if you still wanted your home environment to be ‘homely’ and not ‘officey’.
I had to prioritise and pare back my range. If I was too busy to snuggle up with my son and just enjoy his deliciousness without diluting the moment with mental lists of orders to complete, marketing pitches and accounting spread-sheets to fill in – then I was too busy.
Our new baby on the way has given us all a kick in the right direction.
What we needed to fix were the problems of time and space. I had begun to feel like I was employed in a sweatshop of my own creation. The ‘simple’ solution was to free up time and to free up space.
We had to clarify what we wanted the business to be. Thanks to my previous life as a teacher, I had kept good records and the paperwork helped us to make the right decisions. We are now sticking with the products that were popular from the get go, sell consistently, and are far less labour- intensive. The rest of the range has had to go for sanity’s sake – so that we can have more time as a family, and more space to be a family in.
We had forgotten our original goal within our very busy new lives as working parents – and that was for the home business to enable me to be at home with my babies.
Whilst we may be settling for a drop in turnover due to some of our changes with the ‘other baby’, there is also a much larger drop in time, space and money invested. For that we gain time, space and a bit more sanity for our family of real babies.

“Life is an exciting business – and most exciting when it is lived for others.” – Helen Keller
Check out the results and have your say at http://www.outie.co.nz

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