The drive: What challenges have you overcome?
I feel I have overcome many, many challenges! But the biggest would be around managing communication online between Australia and my manufacturers overseas, in terms of pushing out progress goals with “back and forth” sample approvals, etc. Earlier on, whilst living in Sri Lanka, we had arranged meetings with our manufacturers to build connections and discuss my ideas. We first arranged to meet our coconut supplier, a lovely family-operated business making coir fiber brushes and coconut bowls. I was excited to learn that the coconut bowls I required (with a natural hole) were waste products, which meant I would be reclaiming these shells from landfill or being incinerated. I had also arranged to visit our toy manufacturer, however the horrifying Easter Sunday terrorist attacks unfolded and caused an island-wide lockdown. It was a devastating time, to bear witness to such heartbreak due to these senseless, hateful acts on beloved communities. As new parents, it felt too risky to travel around the island, hence the world of online communication began. Around this time, I also engaged an excellent soundbox manufacturer in China.
Two years on, I have been in continuous communication with my team and have built solid, transparent and professional relationship-based connections. They have each been so receptive and patient while I moved through so many processes to make my sleep dolls ‘just right’ and I feel so happy with the outcomes. Most importantly, it is clear they are dedicated to their companies, which is very reassuring. When the global travel restrictions due to COVID are no longer an issue, I would love to travel to finally meet my team members in person.
For better or worse: What are the pros and cons of running your own business?
Running my own business is something completely new to me, so I am very excited for the opportunity to learn, grow within and be creative! I am slowly becoming more confident in being completely out of my comfort zone. I have made mistakes and at times felt like it would be impossible to manifest what was in my mind – but I have learnt to ‘expect the unexpected’ as I move along, especially following our launch. It’s a daunting milestone! It’s a big thing to pour so much heart and soul into a project and drop it on the line – but I feel so held and encouraged by a beautiful community already.
I suppose the pros would be about living a new passion, being creative, connecting with new people and seeing happiness because of something I made. The cons would be the steep learning curves and trying not to be overwhelmed by the risks. I think it will also be about finding a realistic balance between being heart driven and learning to be business minded.
Hopes and dreams: What next?
My hopes are to maintain a business that is authentic and true to my values, with a beautiful ethos that shines through on every level. I have chosen to only engage with manufacturing partners who uphold ethical standards of practice, those with mutual ideals for social and environmental responsibility, or those who nurture healthy workplace culture. I am very proud to say my chosen toy factory in Sri Lanka is an award-winning company in recognition of their ethical standards of practice! I also commit to using recyclable, reusable and compostable packaging and mailing products for the journey of the sleep doll to their new home. And with each sleep doll sold, I will donate $1 to my chosen tree planting charity. My major hope: by starting on a solid foundation of making a conscious effort to have positive impacts socially and environmentally, I can work towards becoming a B-Corp Certified Company. What a dream that would be!
In terms of my growth goals, I would love to create an income stream and livelihood project for an identified group of marginalised Sri Lankan women, making gift bags for my sleep dolls. This project will empower the participants by growing independence, building pride and offering a sense of achievement as an income earner in their family. These bags will add an extra special touch to my parcels and will be so handy to re-purpose in the home for travel, storing toys, used as a carry bag, etc. I would love to incorporate another coconut-based product for massage and gentle touch. I would also love to introduce two more animal characters to join Lion, Deer and Bear in their quest to become best friends with little ones all around the world!
To this day, it would have been impossible for me to achieve anything without my amazing family. One of my greatest hopes is that I make my family proud.