Having always been independent, organised and punctual, having two children 13 months apart tested Kristy Chiltern’s ability to stay in control of everything she needed to do. Rather than asking her husband to pack the nappy bag, and subsequently packing it herself as she knew exactly what to bring, she set out to create an easy, more sustainable system. This is when she designed her all-in-1 solution to organisation, returning to work and just leaving the house: H&N Label was born. Their practical, organised backpacks and bags with customisable labels make life easier for parents, as well as looking super stylish too! Here Kristy talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about her business journey so far.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I don’t know if I would call it “inspired”. There’s an old saying that we always get our “musts” in life and for me an easy sustainable system that anyone can follow was a MUST so I could get the help I needed to leave the house on time with two children 13 months apart.
I had always been independent, organised and on time, but with two babies I felt my world was tipped upside down and that I was doing everything for the kids alone.
In reality, it was just easier for me to do it myself then the alternative which was to “scream from the other room the instructions on how to pack the nappy bag to my husband” as we were running late yet again, and then I would end up packing it myself anyway.
I thought if I could just offload one job to my husband and he could do alone, it would lift a massive weight off me and we might be able to get out of the house on time. That’s when H&N was born (Harper & Nixon). My organised backpack design with customisable labels quickly made waves around our local daycare with daycare teachers saying, “We wish every child had one”. Our brand was born in 2019 and has been expanding into more practical bags ever since.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I didn’t have any experience in business but had a good friend who had manufactured her own product before, so she gave me a rough path to follow. I then did lots (and I mean lots!) of googling and watching many hours of YouTube on how to start a business and set up a website. I started with hand drawing my idea and getting a sample made overseas. I changed the design a few more times before having the bulk which was 100 backpacks made haha. I didn’t do any design testing or know how to price my product and kind of just winged it, which I would not recommend as it led to several problems and learning curves.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
My biggest breakthrough was when I leapt into self development and business podcasts, books and groups finding friends along the way in the same situation as me that I instantly bonded with. You can learn a lot from someone who has been where you are, even one step in front of you, and it could save you big time. I have learnt that not many people know what they are doing in business and we will never know it all, which is a good thing, because if you do then it means you aren’t growing. You want to be constantly evolving as a person and bringing your brand along for the ride making it one big fun journey.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
This is definitely something I still struggle with. I think anyone with a business wonders what they thought about before they had a business, because it just consumes you in a good way. I use to think if I didn’t respond to every customer straight away they would hate me and write bad stuff online which would ruin my business. I remember one Sunday night I received an email from a customer blowing up that they hadn’t got their order. I stopped hugging my 4-year-old daughter in the lounge who was upset to quickly investigate. This turned into 1.5 hours of investigating to find that the backpack was delivered and I was able to get the photo of the delivered item, which was left around the side of their house – with 5 other parcels in the photo. After I returned to my daughter, she was asleep on my husband and I vowed I would never interupt moments like that again to follow up on customer issues.