Her Design Story | Interview with Carmen Darwin

Renae Carolan
Melbourne, Australia
Boss Mama at grubeze, product designer and developer.

by Carmen Darwin | HER DESIGN STORY

Tell us a bit about the business you are creating?
I’ve designed and developed the ultimate messy kids full body hazmat. Encourage baby led weaning and self-­feeding with grubeze coverall, waterproof onesies for eating. Better than a bib or smock, grubeze full body coverage offers the ultimate in children’s clothing protection -­ no more ruined clothes or multiple changes. Takes the mess and stress out of feeding little grubbers. Keeping their clothes dry and stain­-free.

What are your three core values in your working life right now?
Authenticity, Balance, Quality

What’s the hardest part of running a business from home?
Being a single mama and trying to do all things biz in three daycare days and at night.

What’s the most rewarding part of running a business from home?
The flexibility, being my own boss and pleasing myself.

What fears did you have about starting your business?
It’s a huge learning curve and while I have a background in PR, Comms and Marketing the rest of it is all brand new to me. The R&D, market research, prototypes and production side of things etc has been fabulous to learn and experience but the business admin side of things is my biggest fear. I’m super organised but I’m not a numbers person so I’m going to have to get my head around the financial side fast once the product starts selling.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running your home­ based business?
That you can only do what you can do in the time you have. While I aim to meet my self-­set deadlines I have to acknowledge that I’m only one person and I’m only human and that unforseeable stuff comes up from time to time that’s out of my control and I just have to accept it.

How do you find the right balance between being a partner, wife or mother and running your business?
Well I’m only finding balance between being a single mama and running the business. The best advice my business coach ever gave me was don’t be doing things in the home that you can be doing when your child is home (eg domestic duties, grocery shopping) even if it is quicker when they’re not there. Maximise your office (baby­-free) hours and stick to business related tasks. When my daughter is home the focus shifts back to her, although I will check and respond to social media while we snuggle and she watches Peppa Pig. Lol.

On a scale of 1­-10 how much does your business light you up?
I’m on a big 10 right now because I’m three days away from publicly announcing our launch and going live with the website. The high from the first sale is going to be the best feeling ever. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It means all my hard work and the idea I had two long years ago when I started this journey won’t have been for nothing.

What do you wish you had in your business that you are still seeking?
A number of clones of myself. Lol.

In moments of doubt, how do you overcome it and lift yourself back up?
I call my business coach, Genine Howard of Life Extraordinary and get a reality check. She’s been amazing and I can’t recommend having a coach or a business mentor enough.

Who is your support crew if you have one?
Again, my business coach, Genine Howard.
My parents who have believed in me and helped me achieve this dream. My father in particular who hooked me up with his consultant in China and accompanied me on a trip to Qingdao to tour fabric houses and garment production companies.
My sister, Julia who has been very encouraging and helped me with a few tasks that I needed to offload to get other stuff done and my social media sisterhood. The women I’ve met online through Facebook and Instagram groups and have sometimes gone on to meet in real life. We continue to have each other’s back.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Don’t waste time trying to do things yourself if you don’t have the skills or by going for the cheaper option if you need to outsource. Surround yourself with a capable and reliable team of people to do those things for you. For me those people have been my kidswear designer, consultant in China, graphic designer, web guru and shopify expert to date. I could not have done this without them, their skills, their reliability and their support.

How important is grit, determination and persistence to you in growing your business?
For me, the most important things to growing your business are passion, belief and confidence without those things what’s the point of grit, determination and persistence?

Which of your personal traits are you most proud of?
My authenticity, I’m raw, real and honest.

What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss?

Self­-discipline and not procrastinating.

What sacrifices have you made starting a business?
It has definitely been a challenge and I could have made it much easier on myself just enjoying not working and spending time with my daughter and living off Centrelink benefits until she started school but that’s not who I am.
When I had the idea for grubeze how could I ignore it? I saw it as a golden opportunity to create a job for myself ­- one that gave me the flexibility I wanted to raise my daughter on my terms. I hope she’s proud of what I have achieved.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
In the feedback and testimonials I receive from mamas who have trialled and used grubeze. The positive response to grubeze has been overwhelming and it feels great to know that an idea I had is making other mamas lives easier.

Who’s a woman you admire deeply?
I don’t know, no one in particular. I admire any woman who has the courage to seize opportunities and take full advantage of them. A woman who believes in herself and stands up for what she believes in. A woman who won’t be told ‘she can’t’ … A woman who can and does!


Read the full article at Carmen Darwin