In 2012, mum-of-three Caroline Africh discovered a unique product overseas – and with it, a way to fill a major gap in the market. Just this July, she settled a $250k deal with Shark Tank HR tycoon Andrew Banks. We chatted to the entrepreneur and Things 4 Bubs founder about the highs and lows of business and motherhood, her road to success and her tips and tricks for mums hoping to follow her lead.
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
After I had my first son I was on maternity leave and looking for something to do. Going back to my old career was no longer an option (a project manager in London) so I thought I’d start a business. I had purchased a pair of interesting prewalking shoes from Japan and this gave me the idea of becoming an importer and distributor in Australia. Fast forward 5 years and we now supply three brands (Attipas, Baby Shusher and Petit Bamboo) to 600 accounts nationally including a network of dedicated consultants that work from home, all around Australia.
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
I knew timing was right when I felt confident to give it my all. Even as a young adult in my early twenties I had always dreamed of starting a business but didnt know how or what to do. I also lacked confidence in my younger days but once I hit my thirties I knew I had reached my prime.
How did you make your big break?
Business isn’t really one big break, it’s highs and lows and everything in between. I would say a few pinnacle moments include launching Things 4 Bubs Consultants in 2015, being included in the Oscar’s gift bags in 2017 (and going to Hollywood!) and most recently, receiving three offers on Shark Tank Australia and sealing a $250k deal with Andrew Banks.
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
I have a degree in IT and 10 years of work experience, however I think much of my training comes from life experience and a willingness to learn. I’ve always been a keen learner, I love to watch others succeed and analyze how. I also operate in a hugely flexible manner and I think this is critical in any business in regards to ‘riding the right waves’.
What are the biggest challenges of being a mum and a businesswoman?
Being a mum is hugely challenging in itself, especially with three kids in tow. Time is always of the essential so that makes being in business particularly hard. The key is to learn to delegate and train and support your staff so that key processes are being completed without your direct input.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
I still struggle to find a balance but scheduling time for yourself is important and necessary.
What is your biggest learning since starting your own business?
That success doesn’t come without immense hard work… and then some. Business is a hard slog, not for the faint hearted. It’s all too easy to give up when things get tough. Kudos to those that stuck through their tough years and are now flourishing.
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
I try and go to the gym, go for walks with my children and eat out. We love sushi train. On business trips I try and sneak in a few hours of shopping, if time permits. I love travelling and learning about new cultures.
What’s one thing other mums should do who are looking to start their own business?
Be realistic about what you want to achieve and don’t set your expectations too high. Most businesses don’t break even for two years. If you can fathom a 5-10 year journey and not a quick win, then go for it.
In collaboration with Things 4 Bubs, we are giving one lucky haven reader the chance to score a $100 voucher to spend online at www.things4bubs.com.au! Competition closes Friday August 31 and only the winner will be notified. Good luck!
This competition has now closed.