We love hearing (and sharing) stories of businesses who not only survived, but thrived during COVID, and Tribe of Asteria is one of them.
Sister duo Natalie Trantalis and Emilie Jordanou founded their business after struggling through months of Melbourne lockdown, in a bid to help other parents keep their kids’ creativity and imaginations running free despite being confined to their homes.
Starting with their Paint and Play Cubby – an easy-to-assemble, 100% recycled cardboard play station – Natalie and Emilie have now expanded their range to include 100% cotton and environmentally-friendly ‘rest nests’ (think beanbags, but chic).
We chatted to the sisters to find out what inspired Tribe of Asteria, their tips for small business owners, and what it was like embarking on a new venture during a global pandemic.
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
During the devastating year of 2020 (when, in Melbourne, we were locked in our homes for several months) we put our minds together to design products that would stimulate children at home and keep them busy using their imagination and creative play. That’s when our ‘Paint and Play Cubby’ was born. The prototype kept our kids busy for months and that’s when we knew other families would benefit in the same way.
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
For some time now, we’ve had a desire to start a small business from home that would allow us to build on our passion towards educating children in fun and wholesome ways. We knew the time was RIGHT NOW as children all over the country were stuck indoors, bored and with parents that probably felt defeated (like we did).
How did you make your big break?
We are still working towards making our big break! We are hoping that through our social media platforms, our business can blossom by connecting with like-minded parents who resonate with our message.
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
Emilie worked as a successful real estate agent for nearly a decade and ended her career when she decided to start a family and change her lifestyle. Natalie has been a busy mother of twins for the past four years, and worked in a corporate role as a team leader before that. Our lives have both drastically changed since we have become mothers and now our priority is to use our combined skills and create a business that allows us to be present while we raise our babies.
What are the biggest challenges of being mums and businesswomen?
Finding time where we are not interrupted is always a challenge but we both feel calm and reassured that our journey will unfold in the pace that it is meant to, so as long as we put energy into our business every day (no matter how small) then we are heading in the right direction.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
We have incorporated our children in our business which makes life a lot easier. They are always involved in what we are doing for the business and have helped us implement practicality into our designs. So far, to be honest, this journey hasn’t felt like work at all!
What is your biggest learning since starting your own business?
We have had several challenges and setbacks, mostly because of manufacturers. But we persisted. We would say our biggest learning thus far has been to ensure we communicate clearly about our expectations and not to compromise on the important things that are the foundation of our brand.
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
We spend most of our time with family and have such a supportive network of friends. We love cooking and entertaining and use any opportunity we can to learn from our children and fellow mamas about what products children and parents would appreciate and buy.
What’s one thing other mums/dads should do if they are looking to start their own business?
If you are in alignment with your goals, just have faith that it will work out the way it’s meant to and take the first step. We’re all learning and you will be surprised how many around you will offer their support and encouragement.
WIN // Want to give Tribe of Asteria’s Paint and Play Cubby (RRP $58) a go in your home? You’re in luck! We’ve got one to give away – simply enter your details below to go into the draw. Entries close Sunday March 28 at midnight, and only the winner will be notified. Good luck!
This competition has now closed.