When I found myself lucky enough to be taking a year off for maternity leave, this turned into a catalyst for a career change and a bold step to starting my own business. 6 months into my leave and Tula Baba was born, a mum and baby boutique located in Manly, Sydney and a growing online retail destination.
My career began in advertising and marketing, where I spent over a decade in agencies and marketing roles across various industries. While motherhood can often be a time to take a step back from work, I couldn’t stop my creativity and ideas from flowing.
Being a first-time mum, I was so excited but also a little daunted about having a baby and all that comes with parenthood. Everyone I told I was pregnant offered me their list of baby must-haves. I had Excel sheets from family, friends and even colleagues and I used these recommendations to research and source all the pieces we would need for the arrival of our daughter. I discovered we needed stuff – a lot of it but found it difficult to get it all in one place, especially in Sydney and somewhere you could find it in person.
We gave birth to our little love, Evie in June 2020 amidst Covid and despite all the challenges this brought, the biggest silver lining was the mother’s group I found myself in – some of whom I am now lucky enough to call best friends. This incredible support network created another go-to for recommendations, advice and the ultimate sounding board navigating being new parents away from our support networks as predominantly expats in Australia. It further inspired me to create a go-to shoppable destination for mum and baby basics and essentials that was accessible to us and other families on the Northern beaches and beyond.
Putting the product mix together was the easy part, the aim was to create a space that contained my favourite brands but more importantly brands that resonated with fellow mums-to-be and new parents. Brands that are loved, high in quality and stylish in design - these were products and brands that I was looking for, using and could vouch for. Most have been tried and tested by me personally - I've done the research, the Google searching, the hits and the misses to curate my own collection or of helpful items for pregnancy, birth, postpartum and beyond.
I’ve always had a passion for beautiful things – so the aesthetic, style and design of the product mix was and always will be pivotal. Whether it’s a day-to-day item or a special gift, I want to bring you products that will help make life easier - that are practical and pretty.
Gifting is my love language and I love helping people pick out gifts for the new mums or mums-to-be in their lives. I am in my element when wrapping a hand selected gift or packing perfectly curated order knowing how happy the recipient is going to be. It’s such an exciting time and to be able to offer a beautiful experience online and in store is such a big part of our business. Whenever I see a new registry being created, I am honoured to be a part of someone’s adventure awaiting them and hope to add a bit of magic to their journey.
It hasn’t all been easy, retail brings its fair share of obstacles, especially with Covid thrown into the mix. We opened our retail doors a week before lockdown was announced and there has been a ripple effect on the economy, the retail industry, talent and logistics especially with international shipping.
As a business owner, while hours can be flexible, I am also switched onto the business 24/7 wearing many hats - HR, store manager, marketing, social media manager, finance, customer service – the list goes on. I had to teach myself e-commerce and the backend side of things which was all completely new. I am still trying to find that ultimate work life balance but am so grateful to be pursuing my passion while I do that.
Something I didn’t quite expect was how rewarding I would find the retail side of things, from the relationships I’ve built with suppliers and other businesses I’ve met along the way, to the chats I’ve had with customers in store comparing birth stories or shared experiences of potty training. There have been so many memorable experiences, from helping a granny who lives on the other side of the world pick out a perfect gift for her new grandson who she couldn’t meet because of border closures, to dropping off urgent postpartum items during lockdown to a mum in the trenches when leaving the house wasn’t an option. I met one mom in a pharmacy once looking for specific nipple shields that she couldn’t find on a Sunday and we went to my shop together and got them from our stock, our last pair.
I know there will be constant challenges and opportunities in the ever-evolving world of ecommerce and retail but for now I know I am exactly where I am meant to be and for that I am so grateful. I can see the shop evolving as I do as a mum navigating toddlerhood and welcoming baby number 2 and I can’t wait to see what Tula Baba grows up to be.