Having researched her options, Carla Canty thought she had car seats completely sorted when she had her kids. It turned out there was a lot she had missed and when her daughter outgrew her seat far before she expected, she researched further and realised she had made errors with the installation and use of their seats. Feeling disappointed and frustrated that she had potentially put her children at risk, she studied to become a Certified Restraint Technician and now helps other parents learn about what they need to know to keep their kids as safe as possible on the road. Here she talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the passion behind Safe n Snug, how she balances work and family, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I come from a family who are all into motorsports on various levels, so I’ve seen my fair share of accidents and have a lot of respect for road safety. When I had children, I was determined I’d done enough research to keep them safe on the road. It turned out (three years in) that our car seats, especially for off the charts big babies, were totally wrong!
I couldn’t believe that in our community filled with families and specialists on baby birthing, sleep, feeding, and products you’ll never need, that there weren’t any Certified Restraint Technicians. When I spoke to other mums in my coffee groups, they’d all had the same confusion when buying and using their seats.
Maya Angelou’s quote “when you know better, you do better” became my mantra and I decided to be the person in the community helping to educate people.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I completed my Certified Restraint Technician training and helped neighbourhood families and friends with their car seats while working in my corporate job. As word spread, I realised that there was a need for car seat installation education, but also for a more thorough and personalised retail experience when purchasing a seat. I started selling car seats but was storing them in my kitchen and didn’t have a proper space for people to come and learn about them!
We moved house and I set up a more tailored space in our new garage. I left my corporate job to focus on my business and my family. I’m still a local, small business but now I’ve got a dedicated car seat retail area, room for people to pull in out of the rain, space for kids to play, and am set up to help people remotely too.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
My biggest breakthrough was getting into education with pregnant parents. When you can reach pregnant parents and educate them on car seat safety, they are armed to buy, install, and use car seats properly from the start. I’ve linked up with some local antenatal groups and run some of my own community classes and it’s been fantastic watching parents gain confidence with their car seats even before bubs arrives.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
It’s a constant juggling act! Work and family are “always on”. I’m really lucky that I have a supportive wider family around and they can often help with my children while I have installation appointments. When they can’t, being a parent-centred business, sometimes my kids just have to come along too! They are pretty well educated on car seats themselves by now. My daughter is nearly five and is starting to help with buckling and unbuckling her little brother!