This week, we meet ANA Founding Member and owner of Tots n Toddlers, Naurelle Palmer.
Tell us about your background. What did you do in your past life, before children? Before cloth nappies!
I am an Early Childhood Educator by trade and have spent almost 10 years in the industry over many different fields. Although currently on maternity leave, I intend to return to the wonderful world of Early Childhood Education and Care sometime in the not-too-distant future. For the moment, though, I am loving being home with my babies and am keeping busy with Tots and Toddlers, my hubby’s business admin and general child- and house-related duties.
I am a bit of a “collector of useful items” (some would call me a hoarder), so I have a large collection of toys and equipment related to working with children. When I first went on maternity leave, I looked at my “store room” (yes, a whole bedroom of my house dedicated to my office and resources) and wondered what on earth I should do with it all (short of the unthinkable – throwing it out!), so I began a toy hire business. Unfortunately, I found it hard to build up a clientele, because of the fine line between charging enough to cover costs and competing with not-for-profit toy libraries that often charged a minuscule yearly fee with no ongoing costs for hire. I also became more and more impassioned with cloth nappies and Tots and Toddlers so, needless to say, this idea has been put on ice for a while.
Tell us about your journey into the cloth nappy industry.
While I was working in child care, and before I had my own children, I was already thinking of the future and what sort of parenting path I would take. One day, while browsing Facebook, I came across an album a friend of mine had posted. She was selling her modern cloth nappies as her daughter’s sensory processing problems were rendering them redundant. I instantly messaged her and we chatted about what they are, why she loved them, where she got them and places to get information about them and the different types of MCNs.
I blame her for my spiraling obsession into not only a love of cloth nappies but a desire to help families find solutions to problems and access a range of products that would help them in their parenting journey. In my home town and surrounding area it is nearly impossible to buy cloth nappies, let alone see, touch and learn about them. I aim to bring cloth nappies into the community so that knowledge and availability of them will grow.
How has the cloth nappy industry changed since you started your business?
For a start, I am now seeing them so much more, both out and about and in the online social networking world. Maybe it is because I have different connections these days, but I really hope it is because people are exploring them more as a healthier, cost-effective (and not to mention cute!), more convenient option for their children. There seem to be more and more nappy makers and sellers popping up and we have seen the loss of the Cloth Nappy Hunt. Pages on Facebook have been created to buy, sell, rate and discuss nappies, and I am proud to say that I have been involved in the rise and rise of the brand new, super fantastic nappy industry peak body, the Australian Nappy Association.
What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
There are many challenges involved in running a business. Some of them are stress-inducing (I mean, character-building) and some just make you push yourself to be better, stronger, wiser. Personally, I think the hardest thing is finding that critical work-home balance, especially when you have children, as they are only young for so long. It is really important to allocate time for your family and time for your business, if you want them both to thrive.
What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you started your business?
The different requirements involved with running a retail store as opposed to running a childcare business. There are many similarities, but there are also so many differences.
Who helps you run your business?
My mum and my mother in law are an immense help when it comes to helping out with my eldest child so that I can get things done a bit more efficiently. They have also been known to take parcels to the post office for me and help me out in various other ways. My husband always packs and unpacks tables, display boards, etc. for my market stalls and helps me set and pack them up.
What do you do to relax?
What is that, exactly? Is that like this sleep-thing I keep hearing about?! I am lucky enough to have a compulsory set of “sit-down” periods through the day, enforced by the fact that I am a breastfeeding Mummy. I love spending time playing with my children and reading books. Oddly enough, I wind down at night by checking out what is happening on Facebook and doing bits and pieces of computer work for the business. When we get the chance, I love to spend time with my family, fishing, playing at a park or visiting with friends and relatives.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Know yourself – who you are, what you believe in, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you work. It can make things so much easier if you have a background to draw from when making decisions and putting plans into actions. This goes for personal life as well as business.
What’s something you’d like your kids to remember about you?
I’d like them to remember that I was always there – to listen, to play, to help.
Tell us your favourite quote or saying.
Oh, boy! Um, “Hakuna Matata!” We all need a little less worry in our life – what a great philosophy to live by!
Is there anything else you think our readers would love to know about you or your business?
I am always looking for new products to add to our range that will help out with people’s parenting journey and adding them to my wishlist, so if there is something you are after that I don’t stock or you just think something totally rocks, feel free to let me know.