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Keeping it in the family

It’s been just over a month since we launched sorella & me organic maternity sleepwear with our online store.  It’s been a big and exciting lead up and now we are seeing our ‘baby’ develop and grow (she is growing up so fast and so many people love her as much as we do! See here and here!).

It’s probably no surprise to some people given how much goes into developing, running, and growing a small business, that I often end up dreaming at night about maternity sleepwear, sewing machines, and sometimes even pregnancy (shhh! don’t tell J1!!).  Those who grew up in a family with a small business or now have a business themselves will know that you eat, sleep and breathe your business – and this never seems to ease no matter what stage along you are.

Alisha has the double whammy of sorella & me as well as running her second business with her husband J2 (and let’s not forget she is also back teaching part-time. What a women!). At least she has a couple of future workers in the making with her two tots L & Z (albeit a few years away).

Having your children work in the family business seems to be a bit of an Australian tradition, don’t you think? My three sisters and I spent many afternoons after school or Saturdays working in our family’s businesses (yes, businesses – plural). Some call this child-labor, it’s hard not to argue, although we did usually get lunch thrown in.

We didn’t get ‘pocket money’ as kids, but we would get a small amount for the work that we spent helping mum and dad out. My personal career-highlight was being allowed to make my own arrangements while helping in Mum’s florist shop. I would then try and sell them to potential customers and would get 50% of the profit. My Dad was obviously wanting to develop my sales skills at an early age, and teaching me some lessons in profit margins. To increase my chances of a sale I would use my age for a sympathy vote i.e., “Posy $8. Made by Anna – just 8 years old”. It often worked.

Apart from floral arranging, some of those times working in my parents (numerous) businesses were less than ideal – especially when I was hitting my mid-teens and I had a better idea of my worth (McDonald’s were paying me $5.42 per hour to shovel fries – why was my dad only paying me a flat rate no matter how many hours I worked? Something seemed fishy here). Plus, it just started getting embarrassing.  Not only did I have to get dropped to school in my Dad’s hideous Ute, school friends would remember occasions where I would turn up to parties with paint plastered through my hair, or on spots on my body that I missed in the shower. My dad had a Linemarking business (that’s right, a real person actually marks those carparks at your local shopping centre).  It was perhaps one of the worst jobs I helped with. It required early mornings, toxic paint, and a lot of standing around holding rope.  Plus, I was once hit by a car while walking home from school so I didn’t fancy standing out on roads while he painted the line that ran up the middle of them. I knew what it was like to be hit, and it hurt. A lot.

In saying this, I’m actually thankful for the years of helping my parents. Much of this shaped who I am (or try to be) including being grateful, doing your best, and always valuing what you have. And of course I gained a lot of insight into business – I learnt that it can be hard, costly, stressful, and quite often requires the support of an entire family (plus any cousins who may be visiting and easily roped in to help at the time). But, as weird as it may sound, the benefits do outweigh these:

  • The reward of seeing something grow from just a small idea is incredible.
  • You can be your own boss! I always had trouble taking orders at my previous jobs when I thought I knew so much better about how something should be done. I really do make a terrible employee.
  • We have developed some wonderful new friendships as a result of sorella & me. We  love connecting with other businesses who also aim to make life easier for Mums. And then there are our gorgeous customers who are sharing one of the most special times in their lives with us. We love connecting with them especially via our Facebook page.

On that note, I thought I would leave you with my sorella & me highlight so far.  Some people would think it would be our first sale, the label launch, or our online store opening – but for me, the most poignant moment has been the collection photo shoot. It was the first time we saw the pieces ‘come together’ and we couldn’t believe how our visual of the label more than 2 years prior sitting around our family’s dinning table had transpired to the exact collection we were about to share with expectant and new Mums.

I am so relieved that we thought to capture this special moment via video and stills on the day – Keeping it in the family with the help of Carrie (IT & filmographer extraordinaire), Sophie (one of our stunning models), and the beautiful voice of one Olivia Robins. Through the combination of talent from these special ‘family members’ were were able to put together this behind the scenes video to share with you.

Enjoy! anna x

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUK4bT4sBho&w=560&h=315]

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