It’s been a while since I’ve published an interview as part of my “Women: Following their Dreams” series but we are back! My aim in doing this series is to, once a month, or there abouts, introduce you to many and varied women who all have one thing in common, they have been brave enough to follow their dreams. Maybe you might be inspired by one of their stories, maybe their story will strike a chord with you, maybe what they are doing is something that you would like to do too. Maybe you will find a new interest, talent, idea or realise that these woman are just like you and me and the only thing holding you back is you. So grab a cuppa and take a seat and see where this series might take us.
Today we are talking to Lauren Brown of founder of Lollaby who provides bespoke child care services in Melbourne and professional nanny training and development nationally. I wanted Lauren to share her story because she has taken an idea and used her strengths, skills, talents and entrepreneurial spirit to create a growing business in a tough market.
Quote sourced from here
Tell us a bit about yourself Lauren
I’m a professional nanny here in Melbourne where I market my service behind my brand, Lollaby. I have lived in Melbourne for just over a year and prior to this I lived (almost) all my life in Townsville. Prior to being a nanny I spent 6 years (collectively) in the childcare industry where I obtained a Diploma in Children services. I also spent 6 years in retail management working at Vodafone where I gained a wealth of knowledge in sales, marketing, how to run a business and people management. In a way Lollaby is a customised job I created in doing something I’m passionate about by applying the skill sets I learned in these two industries.
What led you to child care?
Growing up as the second eldest of five sisters and over 20 cousins I was always looking after the younger children of the clan. This came very naturally to me and it was no surprise that I ventured into childcare after finishing school. There is something incredibly fascinating about introducing the world to a child. I would come to work as a kindy teacher and listen to word spread that I had arrived. Soon there was waves of “Lauren!” hurling towards me as 20 of my best friends lined up to give me a hug. That’s a pretty special way to arrive to work.
One of Laurens happy friends!
What made you decide to make the leap from being a nanny to establishing your business?
They both kind of came hand in hand at the same time. I started to face a lot of frustration with the childcare industry and wanted to explore working for myself. I started to look into the nanny industry and realised there was huge potential to market a brand new niche service to working families. The idea soon evolved beyond the role of a nanny, to be more of a ‘professional stay at home wife’ and I market that hiring my service is like having “two of you”. Watching this idea catch on and seeing my clientele base grow, I knew I was on to something; and Lollaby was born.
How long have you had the business? Were you doing the same in Townsville or did you start it with your move to Melbourne?
I have been in business for just over two years after starting Lollaby in Townsville January 2014. I soon found that I had too much work and hired 3 nannies to help me service the local area. In December 2014 an opportunity to move to Melbourne popped up and I was faced with decision to drop everything I’d created in Townsville to try my hand in the big smoke. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made but the payoff has been well worth it! I decided to avoid hiring nannies as there were already so many agencies within Melbourne so instead I’ve spent my time creating a few new concepts for the industry. Melbourne has introduced so many opportunities to Lollaby and I will be launching two very exciting projects in 2016.
What services does Lollaby provide?
Premium nanny service – I currently spend my working week with 4 different families with the using me for 1 – 2 days each. The service is an all-inclusive childcare and home management service that helps take the work load off working families so they can spend more time as a family. I also use my Diploma to document a child’s development through a learning journey that I create specific to their interests and abilities (the same programming you see in childcare centres). This is the experience that I want to roll out on a bigger scale to the Melbourne community and hopefully Australia in the next couple of years.
Nanny Boss Workshop – I have launched a new one-day workshop to educate nannies on the different topics and skills you need to run as a sole-trader. The workshop introduces nannies to the online tools available to set up a small business and offers tips on how to market yourself effectively online. Lollaby also offers this information in private consultations for nannies who want more targeted advice specific to their circumstance.
Blog – I enjoy writing on nanny topics close to my heart in the Lollaby blog. I took a while to get in the habit of writing but now I am enjoying it immensely. I am noticing trends with my audience and these statistics are helping me write better content based on what my followers want to hear. I believe if you are truly passionate about something, people will want to read what you have to say.
You have been going for 2 years now what have you learned about running your own business?
I started writing an answer to this question five different times because of the vast wealth of knowledge I have taken on since running my own business. I find the most powerful knowledge comes when you learn from mistakes. A really hard lesson for me realising what a perfectionist I was. I was so scared to make a mistake that I calculated each move to perfection and it resulted in Lollaby moving forward at a very slow pace. I have since learned that allowing mistakes to happen teaches me important lessons and productivity has increased now that I’m not obsessing over the finer detail.
It is also a challenge to stay focussed. Some of my new projects involve a lot of time that I’m not paid for (blog writing, social media strategy, market research, etc.) and it can be hard to stay productive. I have to hold myself accountable and manage my time to meet deadlines and check off the to-do list. I asked around my entrepreneur circles and discovered some really handy tips and practices that push me to get work done.
The list really goes on but diving in head first and winging it was the best way to start. I always think of the saying “If you look back in a year’s time what is it you will wish you started today.”
What are your views on the child care industry in Australia?
The childcare option is a great solution for families who work regular job but as modern careers evolve, it doesn’t cater to the large market that need more flexible options when it comes to finding appropriate care. I became a nanny so I could take the skills I learned in the industry to adapt them to families based on their circumstances. I believe the Government is making the right steps to offer subsidised nannies in the Nanny Pilot Programme so that they can give more options to double income families that need extra support so they can go to work.
What are the next steps for you? For Lollaby?
While I will keep my current clients, I want to expand to a bigger team so that I can offer the Lollaby service to a wider community here in Melbourne. The Nanny Boss Workshop is going ahead again in May and from there I hope to roll them out monthly. As time goes on I hope to have a large enough team where I spend most of my time managing Lollaby and achieve that overall goal of working ON my business, rather than IN it.
I touched on it above but I have recently started a new joint project with my co-founder, Alyce Schlothauer. This new company is working towards a product will revolutionise the nanny experience here in Australia. It is going to be my biggest challenge to date and if all goes to plan it will change the way people think about the level of support they can hire in the home. This new experience is going to take me beyond just owning a small business. Together we will manage a company, pitch to investors and roll out a new product that hasn’t been seen yet in the nanny world. Unfortunately I have to remain pretty tight lipped about it but hopefully in the coming months I can release more information.
What do you do in your spare time?
It sounds crazy but my business is my hobby! I love to potter away at my laptop, researching new content, networking with like-minded professionals on social media and writing about things I love. While this sounds ideal I have learned the hard way about burning out and I now acknowledge the importance of stepping away from the keyboard. To take my mind of things I like to ride my bike, play board games, catch up with friends, read books and binge watch TV. I love watching TV! A great show with interesting characters really inspires and motivates me.
Is there a meal that you find most children enjoy? Where do you find inspiration for cooking for children?
Most kids love lunch! I like it because I usually get to spend time on the meal and add a bit of TLC. I like to cook in bulk and freeze portions so that when I arrive to work I can just go to the freezer and pull out a batch of bolognaise sauce or a piece of zucchini slice to defrost for lunch. Its hassle free, ensures nutrition and don’t have to stress about the missing ingredients that may have disappeared into the family’s cooking over the weekend. If I have to cook lunch that day I get the kids involved. I believe that being in the kitchen is a great way for kids to get interested in food.
I swear I’m not just saying this but BE&S is a huge resource for me to cook healthy and nutritious meals. I also cook a fair bit out of all the different cook books in each home. I often buy the ones I use for my own home. (I swear I didn’t make her say that either, but thank you Lauren!)
What are you currently reading?
Annabel Crabb – “The Wife Drought”. It’s an incredible read that highlights the shift we have seen in modern working life and the way that women and men have adapted their lives around it. Annabel argues the points around how working women juggle home and work life to have it all and ask the question – “who is the wife’s wife?” It’s been great for me to read as she highlights the desperate need for a solution in the home and know that I’m already creating that solution.
Anything else that you would like to leave us with?
I’m incredibly passionate about women returning to work and maintaining a career on the side of raising a family. While some people are fortunate to have the ability to stay at home many women must return to work for financial reasons. I believe that women striving for higher growth in her career and professional goals is not only extremely important for their self-esteem but also sets an example of strong work ethic for their children (especially daughters). I love that I can play the role of support to these working mum’s and help families balance their work and home life so that they really can have it all.
Thank you so much to Lauren for taking the time to share such interesting information about herself and her business. I hope that you have learnt something new today I know that I have. If you would like to find out more about Lollaby and Lauren you can on her:
If you haven’t already you can check out the other amazing women who have been part of this series:
Kim Spiteri: Self taught creative Land of Zonkt & Zonkt designs
Anything you would like to ask Lauren? What are your views on child care at the moment?