Kelly Northey | Bamboo Bubby
Tell us a bit about YOU and your background:
I am an accidental Mumpreneur – my background is in information and technology management, yet having my first baby changed my entire life! I was diagnosed with post-natally triggered Rheumatoid Arthritis and my baby with severe eczema at the same time. When he learned to roll and could no longer be wrapped or swaddled safely to protect his skin, we then resorted to baby one-suit outfits with hand-covers. However these also stop being made with this most useful feature at size 00-0.
In pain made worse distress and sleep deprivation from being kept awake night after night from incessant scratching and skin damage, I designed the first Bamboo Bubby sleeping bag and it worked! It gave us all a goodnight’s sleep and allowed much needed healing to occur.
I’ve since then been utilizing my IT skills to develop Bamboo Bubby into an online store with an active social media presence to provide a support group to other parents of eczema children.
What if your biggest indulgence?
Sleep – who can ever get enough??
What are your tips to achieving the ideal work/life balance?
I think having flexibility in both areas is the key. There’s times when work and life blur, often too much, there’s just no way to separate them, but as long as either side can be flexible enough to give when it needs and take back again when things are done and dusted, I find this works for me.
What (or who) has been your inspiration in life?
My parents have always been amazingly supportive of whatever path I have chosen to take in life and I am inspired to be the type of parent they have been, to give my little boy courage and resilience to take on whatever it will be that will make him happy in life.
What is your favourite book or inspiring quote and why?
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” – The Velveteen Rabbit (also my favourite book).
What has been one of your biggest achievements?
I am proud of the fact that I have started a business from a tiny idea in the middle of the night through to where it is now with overwhelming sales in both Australia and world-wide, from being a handmade product to something requiring mass production to keep up with demand and that is helping so many other parents and their babies at the same time.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a self confessed book-geek, so I read – anything and everything!
What difference has being in business for yourself made in your life?
Being in business for myself has given me a degree of flexibility allowing a better juggling act around all the other aspects of having children, a family, other work commitments and most importantly it has given me something positive to focus on through some rather tough times with my own health.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope that in 5 years time Bamboo Bubby can be providing me with a full time income so that I can have flexibility to be the type of involved parent I have always dreamed of being when my ‘baby’ is at the really important early school ages.
Tell us briefly about your business:
Bamboo Bubby is an online store selling the Bamboo Bubby Bag™, a baby sleeping bag designed especially for babies and toddlers with eczema to stop the damage caused by scratching and enable the whole family to get a goodnight’s sleep.
What was the inspiration behind the business?
My baby was diagnosed with severe eczema at the same time he learned to roll and could no longer be wrapped or swaddled safely to protect his skin. We then resorted to baby one-suit outfits with hand-covers, but these also stop being made with this most useful feature at size 00-0.
Distraught and sleep deprived from being kept awake night after night from incessant scratching and skin damage, I designed the first Bamboo Bubby sleeping bag and it worked!
What is your role?
At the moment I do everything, from website design and maintenance to order fulfilment, advertising and the always dreaded accounts! But I hope to soon be able to employ an assistant to relieve a lot of these tasks to enable me to focus more on product development and broader marketing.
What is one challenge you faced during your business journey?
I think actually admitting that I need to be properly in business and investing in some tools to help this such as training and an improved e-commerce system.
Being matched with a mentor as part of this year’s SA Young Entrepreneur Scheme was also another daunting challenge, yet one I have found very beneficial and I am so grateful to the support I’ve received through this. Sometimes we need to be challenged to push ourselves towards success.
What has been your greatest success?
Being at the point where I felt confident enough in my initial research, testing and sales to make the leap towards mass production to ultimately help more eczema babies and their families.
What are your top tools/resources for business?
Facebook, 100% – there are so many wonderful business pages out there covering so many various topics, which provide communities of support. My favourites are the many work at home parent sites like MWWAH but also others who focus on helping small business such as Motivating Mum, Mogul Mom, Talk About Creative and graphic designers like Marie O’Neill Design.
What have you found to be the most effective way to promote your business?
Again Facebook has an amazing way of promoting products for you and for me has been the most successful, however being persistent and following up on every single publicity lead seems to be the key.
What piece of advice would you offer other business women?
Just do it, don’t think about it, just give it a go. You never know where it might lead!
What is next for you and your business?
It is currently all a-go at Bamboo Bubby, but now that the new e-commerce site is launched and working it is now time to focus on broadening into the wholesale arena, especially in overseas markets where there has been so much interest in the Bamboo Bubby Bag product.