Sarah Hardie is the founder and 'chief dreamer' of Fabrik, an online company that sells beautiful children's clothes, homewares, dolls and more. She's also a mum to Jemima, 4, and Jonas, 18 months, with her third child due in March.
Tell us about your business ...
Fabrik specialises in babywear, girlswear and homewares which are sold through selected boutiques nationally, as well as through David Jones and in our online store. We use traditional techniques such as hand printing, hand dyeing and hand embroidery, as well as patchwork, to give a feminine vintage feel.
Why did you start your business?
After university I was at [Australian designer] Lee Mathews for seven years, until I had my daughter Jemima. It was during my maternity leave that the inspiration for Fabrik was born.
Has starting your own business lived up to expectations?
Having my own business has surpassed my expectations. I started out just making a few things for Jemima, I then showed one store, and it grew from there. There have definitely been hard times but seeing my range in David Jones, or a little girl running along the beach in one of my dresses, makes me realise how far the brand has come.
What have you enjoyed most about running your own business?
I most enjoy being able to run the business while being around when my family needs me. My favourite part is
developing new ranges each season, and I’m always desperate to rip open the boxes of new samples from the factory when they arrive.
What is the biggest challenge?
Being organised, problem-solving and time management, whether that’s being able to get back to a wholesale customer request quickly or give good service to my online customers.
How do you manage to juggle the running of your business with family?
I have a very supportive husband and both sets of grandparents are a great help. I also use family day care a couple of days a week, so I use that time to really concentrate on the business and be free to spend quality time with the kids on the other days. At the beginning of the year I do a basic plan for range releases and schedule productions, etc, and at the beginning of each month I plan out my blog posts, Facebook promotions and store updates. If I plan ahead I feel my week is more organised.
What's the hardest thing about being a working mother?
When I’m working I miss the kids and when I’m with the kids I often think about my list of things I need to do to
keep things moving along with the business.
Do you manage to fit in some 'me time'?
I think it’s important to have some ‘me’ time, and I find it really energises me. I like to read a magazine, book or my favourite blogs, or relax by watching a movie or having friends over and cooking for them.
Have you ever thought about giving it up?
In the first year it was really hard. I had problems with my manufacturers, and had to do most tasks myself to save money. Now my processes have evolved so I can make better use of my time.
Do you have a favourite networking opportunity or event?
I have a lovely bunch of close friends who all work in creative fields. I really enjoy catching up with them (while all our kids run around), as we talk about what we are all working on and ask for feedback or ideas.
Do you have any advice for someone starting their own business?
Being able to do something you love for a job is a real joy, and all the hard work is definitely worth it, but expect to put a lot of time, effort and money in before you see any rewards. Having a good handle on your finances is essential. Most of all, make your business a fun place to be.
Meet other mums in business in the Essential Baby forum.