Most businesses have an online presence nowadays, even if they have a bricks and mortar presence too, but the thing with social media is that everything can look so perfect, so curated, so glossy from the outside. I wanted to get behind the curtain, inside the minds and into the hearts of some of my favourite businesses and find out more about the people that run them. I figured if I was curious to know more, maybe you could be too?
Welcome to my new fortnightly series The Face Behind the Business. Come behind the scenes with me, behind the glossy image we see at the store front level and meet some some wonderful Kiwis doing wonderful things (and learn their secrets to success).
I stumbled upon The Baby Bag one Friday night on Instagram. And two days later at Hatch’d Boutique Fair, I met the beautiful Jessie Jarvie who was there launching her new business to the public (with her 7 week old baby in a front pack!). Talk about timing! I wanted to bring you Jess’ story because I think it’s a beautiful one and reading her answers to my questions literally made my heart soar.
Where did the idea for The Baby Bag come from?
Before my littlest boy arrived, I was working as a lawyer and Paul as an engineer. The needs of our biggest boy, George, were always changing. From puree to soft lumps to fork mashed… from newborn to infant to crawler to walker… we changed nappy brands when he started to leak every now and again. From rusks to cruskits and then to marmite crackers… from fragranced wipes to fragrance free for a period. Then there came teething. A gummy eye. Dry skin. Nappy rash. Little people are so dynamic. The supermarket trips were frequent. Paul would swing by after a long day at work to pick up some more wipes or another tin of formula. Sometimes they wouldn’t have what we were after so the nappy bag wouldn’t be stocked with the right stuff.
Then Frankie arrived and the nature of the problem changed. The idea of going anywhere with a really little baby can be quite scary. Paul is part Chinese and there is a wonderful Chinese practice of home confinement for one month after childbirth. This is literally called “sitting the month,” as new mothers are pretty much expected to just sit around in their pajamas for a month to recover from bringing new life into the world. And so they should. But alas, they need so many darn nappies! After the newborn days the supermarket continues to be hard with littlies. One falls asleep unexpectedly (and the last thing you want to do is wake a sleeping baby). Perhaps the other one decides he’s hungry just as you pull into the car park. Or maybe it’s raining and the thought of getting inside with one on your hip and one in the capsule is a bit overwhelming.
We found that even as a busy family we had quality groceries at our fingertips – we frequented weekend markets and we were able to utilize services like My Food Bag or smaller local food stores that proved to be quicker and easier. But the supermarket always beckoned for baby supplies. I was unloading my trolley at our local supermarket early one evening and Georgie was crying in his capsule. An older lady approached me and asked if she could rock the trolley to calm him down for me. We got talking and she explained to me how in her day, the local grocer used to deliver all of her household supplies…and now we’re here!
What are you most proud of with the launch of your new company?
With the two boys, we live a beautiful kind of chaos. We want to be there for them, we want to spend more time doing the important things and we want to enable other busy little families to do the same. That’s the part I’m most proud of. Allowing mums and dads to get to the playground before dark. Get home in time for the news. Read another bedtime story. Put their kids down and put their feet up. Spend more time doing the things that matter to them.
What’s been the most difficult part of your journey?
It’s the busy factor… we all experience it to some degree. There’s days when I’m winning if I achieve breakfast before dinnertime. But having the boys keeps things in perspective for me. If I have a bad day at work, as long as they are both happy and healthy, we can keep trucking.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
I love seeing what I call ‘ambulance orders’. These are orders of just one single product, and they arrive in my inbox at crazy hours of the day and night. I picture a desperately exhausted mum rocking a teething baby in her arms… all she wants is some Bonjela but the thought of getting dressed and getting up to the chemist is too much. Or perhaps it’s a mum having difficulty breastfeeding that’s in need of some formula quick smart. Or maybe a first time dad that’s trying to manage newborn twins and he can’t get his head around how to fit them both in a trolley. It might just be your average working parent that’s down to their last few nappies. It’s such a privilege helping families in any of these situations. Right throughout Georgie’s toddler years I continued to have moments of desperation where I would wish upon a star that a packet of nappies might just materialize on my front doorstep so I could head straight home from work and spend my time cuddling him silly. I hope I’ve answered someone else’s prayers.
Do you have plans to expand the range?
Absolutely. We have some great brands coming onboard over the next couple of months. We always want to have our finger on the pulse and stock variety. Our cornerstone philosophy is variety, because we know how different one little person can be from another. We want our customers to be able to find everything they need and want on our website – the wipes that won’t rash, the nappies that won’t leak, the food that’s eaten, the cream that heals. Once we stock something we want to work hard to make sure it stays in stock, so that parents know they can get their hands on what they need, when they need it.
We’d love to offer our service New Zealand wide in a few years from now. We’ll always keep our feet on the ground. Ordering. Delivering. Talking to customers. Understanding their needs. Observing the habits of new families. I tell my husband we’ll have to keep having babies to stay well informed…
What’s your mantra or the one piece of advice that has stuck with you through the process of starting your own business?
Work hard and be kind. Each is uniquely difficult but equally important.
Tell me a little about your family.
My husband and I met at school when I was 15. I stole his phone number from a girlfriend of mine and harassed him by text message until he agreed to take me out. He was my first love and I sing a song that only he can hear. My second love arrived two years ago (and I’ve just got my hands on the most insanely beautiful red tricycle for his second birthday next week!). He is a hoot. Gregarious and the perfect companion. My third love is just 10 little weeks big. He is still trying to master the sleep thing. It’s chaos. But they fill my heart and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How do you juggle being a Mama and running a business?
There are pajama days at home. Days when we just shut the rest of the world out and catch our breath. There’s no 9 to 5 either. There’s just awake and asleep… and sometimes the lines are blurry as to what’s when!
I’ve learnt to accept that things won’t be 100% perfect, 100% of the time and that’s okay. I’ve also learned to ask for help – and I simply couldn’t exist without the help of my mum.
Do you and your husband have any tips on how to make a successful business work with a young family?
Make absolutely certain to have down time – when work is put on the back burner and you talk about anything but. Even if it’s only an hour or two on a Saturday morning. Keep things in perspective. Family is what keeps your fire burning.
What’s your favourite family activity or outing?
Strangely, I love driving anywhere with the kids in the back. We all talk to each other and my husband and I can’t be distracted by phones or emails or visitors or cooking dinner. I have some of my best conversations with them all when we’re travelling in the car together. George points out things that we would never usually take the time to notice, like the colour of someone’s hair or a balloon that’s escaped into the sky. He sings to us and makes us laugh.
How do you get ‘me time’ and what do you enjoy doing to achieve that?
To be frank – there’s not a lot of that. I’m okay with it though. I would’ve been silly to think two under two and a new business would still allow me alone time. I shower every night before bed and that’s probably about the only alone time I get at the moment! But that will change one day.
What words of advice would you give to a Mama wanting to start her own business?
There’s a saying I read recently – “the worst thing you could do is tame the chaos in you. It’s like being told not to feel when you’re thrown in the fire.” Embrace the bedlam and make a difference.
Your go to meal?
(blushes) nachos. The proper kind… that have bubbled away long and slow on the stove top and are served with all the trimmings!
Your child/ren’s favourite food?
I wish I could tell you all sorts of exotic healthy things my toddler enjoys but it’s just not the case. At the moment it’s all about kumara, in any form, as long as it’s golden. He also eats so much porridge that I think it must run through his veins. So far my only achievements with him food wise are 1. he thinks raw dates are a total treat and 2. he thinks smoothies (even the green ones!) are ice creams. We move in very small steps… as long as we’re (generally) heading in the right direction, I’m okay with that!
Find The Baby Bag online via these channels:
But we are lucky enough to have a special 10% discount code to offer anyone that places an order this week! Visit The Baby Bag and use the code THEBUBBALINOBABYBAG to experience this amazing service for yourself at a discounted rate! (code is valid until the end of this week)