Back when I first had babies, many, many years ago, I went hunting for eco-friendly solutions for parenting problems. What I came up with was Ecobabe - a family-owned online store chocked to the brim with quality products with minimal impact upon the planet. I was pretty chuffed with this discovery - and frequented the online aisles perusing the goods.
Over the last few years I've been fortunate enough to get to know the brains behind Ecobabe, Sydney-based Jayne Hughes. An intelligent, quick-witted broad who's devoted to her family - and dedicated to her business, she's fast become an inspiration in small business.
Today I'm sharing an interview with Jayne, to give you an in on her daily life. Let's go!
PMM: How did Ecobabe start?
JH: I started ecobabe nearly 7 years ago when my big girl Olivia was 14 months old. I knew that I didn't want to go back to the sort of work I'd been doing before having children and I had this insane notion that I could start a business that would bring the same financial stability to our home as I could if I worked at a full time job outside of the home. I look back at those early business plans and wince, my bank manager must have laughed his head off when I left his office!
My first experience of internet shopping was the purchase of modern cloth nappies, I became quite obsessed about cloth nappies, natural fibres, chemical free products and eco-sensitive lifestyles and I discovered that there was a gap in the Australian online market and that I could be the eco-warrior to fill this gap.
How do you find working online VS working in an office? What are the pros and cons?
I love working online, although Facebook and blogs can become massive black holes that eat away at my valuable time, under the guise of 'research'. Fortunately I have to take my big girl to school each day so this gets me out of pjs and keeps me out of tracky dack mode and I'm generally dressed at my desk with a hot tea in hand by 9am like most busy worker bees. The big pro for me is the flexibility that working online and from home gives me. I am responsible for my time, I can work when and where I want, so if it's a stunning morning I will pop down to the beach for a walk after school drop off, or I can work remotely - my parents live in Far North Queensland, just over the Daintree River on an isolated beach so I will often pack up the kids and my iPad and head to Queensland for a couple of weeks where I work for a few hours in the morning while Mum looks after the girls and then I join them once my morning chores are complete.
The major con is that working from home, I get distracted by the domestic front, the kitchen and particularly the fridge... and laundry are unfortunately my greatest distractions. Unfortunately for my husband and family I don't touch housework on a working day :) I do see and talk to a lot of people during my workday so I don't experience the isolation that many work from homers can feel.
Working online can wind up being a 24 hour gig. How do you manage that while parenting two daughters?
In the early years of ecobabe I used to work at night and on the weekend because during the day I was very busy parenting 2 children. This worked well for me at the time. As my children have grown up, they're now aged 5 and 8yrs, I've clawed back most of my nights and weekends and try to keep ecobabe within business hours purely so that we can function as a family. My husband and I are massive nerds though, we both have an ipad and phone plugged in on each side of our bed and the first thing I do after morning bed snuggle cuddles with the 5yr old is check my site and check what orders have come in overnight. Because even though I've been sleeping I have customers who don't ever seem to sleep. There's a lot of midnight breastfeeding shopping that goes on out there!
What's the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is the wakeup cuddles I have with my 5 year old, every morning she comes thumping through the house to crawl into our big bed for cuddles. She's seriously the best snuggle cuddler on the planet.
Workwise, the best part of my day is the cup of tea after all orders are packed and the Australia Post courier has left each day. That's when I allow myself 10mins of personal time on Facebook or to read an awesome blog.
Retail is hard in Australia right now - how do you keep motivated?
I had some motivational issues mid this year when the market was really tough for me. I just couldn't see an end to the negativity in the market, so we went to Bali for a couple of weeks, forgot about everything on our plate and amazingly since we've been back things have improved - starting with my attitude. I am now very proud to be a business that has survived the GFC and have a very positive outlook for the future of ecobabe and online retail.
What do you do to treat yourself?
Where do I start? That lovely glass of wine at 6pm is a pretty good treat. I love a good girls weekend, that's my ultimate treat - sorry husbandos. My daily treat is good music and good candles or Nag Champa incense in my office. A good hot cup of tea is a regular treat. Yoga is another treat, the peace, the quiet, the listening to my body, to my breath, that is a delicious treat in itself. Another treat is a good book, I love reading a good book and always have a pile ready to go on my dressing table. I'm currently reading "Crossing to Safety" by Wallace Stegner, a good book gets me off the couch and in bed at a reasonable hour each night.
Any tips on how to manage the work-family juggle?
I'm not the right person to answer this question, my family will tell you that the only way to get me out of work mode is to get me out of the house, so we tend to get out of the city for a weekend away quite regularly. I think the best way to manage the work-family juggle is to give everything 100%, when it's work time - give it your 100% and when it's family time give it the 100% it deserves and when it's you time give it 100%, tune out all the other demands and give yourself 100% to what you're doing, we call this "setting yourself up for success" in our house which basically means remove all the distractions or obstacles before you do something and then you can do it properly. Children don't understand multi-tasking, they want you 100%, they don't want a parent absently answering their questions about life death and the universe while you're busy scrolling through FB on your phone :(
What's coming up next for Jayne Hughes?
2013 will be a year of big change, my youngest starts school and I will have 5 childless days each week. I have some big plans for ecobabe and I'm personally really enthused about retail and the 'eco-friendly' market, what was once a quite niche market is becoming more and more mainstream and there are great opportunities for me personally and for my business www.ecobabe.com.au out there now. Oh and I bought a 'luxury travel in Thailand' magazine in the newsagent this morning, I think a trip to Thailand is definitely coming up next winter.
Be sure to check out Ecobabe here. It's not only baby/parenting products, but a vast array of awesome things that can help you live a lighter life.
And hear more from Jayne on the Ecobabe Facebook page here.
This is the fifth interview in my Yo Mama! series. Interviews with creative working mamas. Look out for them weekly.