by Island Parent Magazine
Source: Island Parent BIZ
Originally Published: Island Parent BIZ
Q. What need did you recognize within the parenting community that propelled you to open Momease?
A. After experiencing what it was like heading into baby stores to prepare for our first child as total parenting novices, we knew that a different sort of baby store experience could really be helpful in our community. The whole idea of connecting with new and expectant parents in a warm and friendly atmosphere was really appealing to us, as we knew it would create relationships and a feeling of support during what can be a very stressful time. We also wanted to combine this unique shopping experience with a focus on finding the right products for each individual family, rather than just offering a one-size-fits-all approach to baby gear and parenting products.
Q. What were the logistics involved in starting a new business while raising young kids? How did you juggle both?
A. We put a lot of long hours and hard work into preparing Momease Baby Boutique for opening day. (My husband) Adam’s background is in finance and banking so he got to work right away in that department, while I tackled the challenge of figuring out what to stock and where to get it. Before our Mattick’s Farm space was ready for inventory, we had boxes and boxes of unopened products delivered to our front door and piling up in our basement family room right to the ceiling. Adam and I used a local company to deliver all of our fixtures and you bet that we assembled those with our own two hands. We painted and merchandised, organized and hustled, but we did it as a team and with a ton of help from our family, too. Our eldest was four at the time, so he was pretty keen to help with furniture assembly and painting. Our youngest was just one year old, so I couldn’t be away from him for too long. Luckily our decision to open at Mattick’s Farm was partly due to what a fabulously family-friendly place it is: our kids would often come there with us or with family and enjoy the beautiful scenery and safe play spots in the surrounding area while we worked.
Q. How was opening your second store different than opening your first? And how was your family different (growing?) by then?
A. Opening our second location on Hillside Avenue was a very different experience from opening our Mattick’s Farm store. With our Hillside location we were literally able to design much of the space from the ground up. It allowed us to create a few unique spaces like our cozy “nursery nook” at the back of the shop. We were opening our Hillside store when our third son was one year old. We welcomed Torin to the family in January, 2015 and hit the ground running as a family of five. With Torin’s arrival came a lot of change for our family though; Torin was born with Down syndrome and we didn’t know we were expecting a special needs baby at the time. We have grown as parents and as a family by leaps and bounds since Torin’s birth, and thinking about his care and happiness has helped shape some pretty big family decisions in the last couple of years. Our experiences in parenting a special needs child have also allowed us to offer some further guidance to other families in the community dealing with situations similar to ours, and we’ve welcomed a few more specialized baby items to the store that we’ve discovered since Torin’s birth.
Q. Why did you close the Mattick’s Farm location?
A. After a successful first year at our Hillside Avenue location, we decided to merge the two shops into one and we closed our Mattick’s Farm location last month. This was a decision that Adam and I made to help attain more time together as a family and create less running around and stress in my day-to-day work. It has also allowed me to stop working weekends after four years, and I now have that time with Adam and the kids. Because we also operate an e-commerce website at momease.ca and ship baby products Canada-wide, we still basically have two stores. It’s surprising and wonderful how many Victoria-area orders we receive online, and I love that new parents can stay at home and have exactly what they need delivered to their door if they’re not able to make it into the shop in person.
Q. What have you learned about running a “family” business—running a business while raising a family—since you opened Momease in 2013?
A. It’s absolutely a work in progress and we’re always striving to maintain boundaries between home and work. We try to be responsive to customers through social media and our website, but we recognize that there are also times that we need to be “closed for business” and carve out some special time that’s just for our family. Whether this is unplugging from our phones for the evening or heading out to a local beach to do some exploring, we’re trying to place more importance and emphasis on work-free time with the kids.
Q. What have you learned about parenting as a result of helping and working with so many other parents?
A. I’ve learned that parenting is a lot less scary and tiring when you can chat about your woes with others! Just having a simple conversation on a tough day can help take the weight and worry off your shoulders and bring on a laugh when you talk about how tough it can really be. I know that when I’m sitting up at 3 a.m. and rocking a sick little one back to sleep, a vast number of other parents I’ve met are doing the very same thing right along with me. I know they’ll wake up tired the next day just like me and either get ready for work or skip a shower while they get prepped for another day at home or out and about with the kids. We’re all in this together and it’s so important to connect with others amidst the chaos.
Q. What advice do you have for other parents thinking of starting their own business?
A. Both from a business perspective—and from a parent’s—I would say that whatever it is you’re drawn to, make sure you are passionate about it. I’ve met so many fabulous entrepreneurs over the last few years and many of them have been parents starting new businesses. Some have continued and some have moved on, but there are definitely sacrifices that accompany starting and operating a business. Adam and I are an amazing team and we work well together, but we do work hard. We give every last bit of energy we have to the kids and to the business, and there’s not a whole lot left at the end of the day for ourselves. The connections we’ve made with the parents, grandparents, friends and family of new little people in our community make it all worth it.
Q. How are your children involved with the business? Do they visit the store(s) often? Test products? Or do you keep family and business fairly separate?
A. Our boys can often be seen visiting the store. They come by with product transfers and accompany us while we deliver website orders, or set up shop in the back while we tackle a computer glitch or a big delivery. Basically every product that we have in the store has been tested by our family or by friends, and we’ll often bring home fresh products to get a feeling for their design and function when something new arrives. We are focused on offering unique, innovative and functional products to our customers, and they have to pass our strict tests of excellence in order to make the cut. We believe there are so many amazing products out there for parents these days, but we try strive to curate only the best.
Q. What are your hopes and dreams for Momease?
A. We love that our customers trust us with helping them prepare for life with little ones. The support that we’ve received since opening our first store has been monumental, and we are so incredibly grateful for it. I still remember what it was like walking into a baby store for the first time as a dewey-eyed expectant parent, and how overwhelmed we felt heading into that momentous time in our lives. When we first opened our store it was really just Adam and I working in the business, and though we had the opportunity to connect with many new and expectant parents out there, we are now able to do this on a much larger scale with a bigger location, a full-service website, and a strong team of staff. This growth has also allowed us to step back a little bit from working in the store every single day, and we hope to continue to reclaim more family time going forwards. We have spent several years working full-tilt for the business, so we are thrilled to finally start seeing the business work for us a bit more. At the end of the day, Momease Baby Boutique is all about family and the deeper connections that surround the most special little people in our lives. In the future we look forward to watching our own family flourish alongside those of our wonderful customers.
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Island Parent Magazine
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