By Luke Voogt
Geelong’s newest ‘Mumprenuer’ Emma Rayson started a business with her sister to spend more time with her kids, rather than chase national accolades.
“We didn’t want to go back to full-time work,” the Newtown mother-of-two says.
Reading with her children and spending time with them was more important than returning to primary teaching, she says.
She and sister Alison Kenna, from Warrnambool, snared runner-up at this year’s Aus Mumpreneur Awards in the business retail category.
The ecstatic mums beat hundreds of nominees to make the finals and joined about 300 women at a Sydney ceremony during the last weekend of August.
“We got told on the night if you placed the first time you got nominated, that’s a huge feat in itself,” Emma says.
“We were in a room full of like-minded woman – but a step behind or front of us in their business journeys. It was so inspiring.”
The business savvy mums listened as previous winners and ‘mumprenuer’ guest speakers imparted their commercial wisdom over the weekend.
“Some of the things they said I thought ‘I can’t believe that we’re already doing that’,” Emma says.
“Other times you’d think ‘oh wow I never thought of that – that’s going to be our next step’.”
The first speaker Amy Taylor-Kabbaz, aka The Happy Mumma, stood out for Emma.
The former ABC journo turned mum blogger and author warned the mothers about the danger of burning out.
“(Some women in business will) push themselves that hard that they’re not doing what they set out to do in the first place,” Emma says.
“As mums, you expect in yourself that you can do everything. But nobody actually expects you to do everything.”
At one stage, Emma became a bit obsessed with her business, until she realised she didn’t need to email customers “every two minutes”.
“You don’t have to be online 24 hours a day. They won’t be jumping up and down if you don’t get straight back to them.”
Simple things like turning off phone notifications or creating an automated ‘rebound email’ for customers helped her put her kids first again.
“Which is why we started the business in the first place,” Emma says.
The sisters had the brainchild for Alma Custom Designs when Emma was searching for tram scroll as a special gift for her husband.
But when she discovered she would have to fork out between $1000 and $1500, she contacted her graphic designer sister. “I thought that was kind of ridiculous,” Emma says. “We did it for about a quarter of the price. Afterwards, I said to her ‘you should be selling these.’”
So Emma combined her people skills and marketing nous with Alison’s artistic talents.
They now specialise in height charts, prints, collages, gift cards and personalised candles – a surprise Father’s Day favourite.
“It’s all come from stuff that we’ve wanted to create or would display in our homes,” Emma says.