Mum in business: Tracey Montford

Tracey Montford, owner of maternity/nursing brand Cake Lingerie.
Tracey Montford, owner of maternity/nursing brand Cake Lingerie. 

Tracey Montford is the woman behind Cake Lingerie, a maternity/nursing lingerie brand that's sold around the world. She's mum to six-year-old Ethan and one-year-old Carter.

Tell us about your business ...
Cake Lingerie is an international designer brand, specialising in the creation of sophisticated maternity and nursing lingerie. Cake delivers beautiful lingerie that intertwines sensual comfort and a secure fit with style and polish.

Why did you start your business?
The business was started after I realised there was a gap in the market. I was pregnant with my first son over six years ago, and after many unsuccessful shopping trips, I discovered there was very little choice in the maternity lingerie market. Everything I came across was beige, black or white and was extremely unflattering to wear. Manufactures/designers were failing to realise that pregnant women need bras that fit and are comfortable and fashionable.

Has starting your own business lived up to expectations?
Initially, my plans for the business were small. But women around the world have loved the designs and product, which takes the brand from strength to strength, and we’re now stocked reputable boutiques, department stores and specialty stores in over 45 countries. The business has exceeded my every expectation.

What have you enjoyed most about running your own business?
The flexibility in my work hours would have to be the best thing. I’ve been blessed with an amazing team around me who share in my dream while we reset and create new dreams/goals together.

What’s the biggest challenge?
Designing for a worldwide market, as each region has its own style preference. The US and Canada are huge on basics, Europe and UK love sexy, lace styles, and the Australian/NZ market prefers fashion styles that take the middle ground.

Initially, my plans for the business were small ... it has exceeded my every expectation

Every collection has to be carefully considered, with design tweaks to satisfy these sometimes competing needs. I’ve developed a very distinctive style for Cake Lingerie, which is generally loved around the world.

Do you have any children? What are their names/ages?
I have two boys: Ethan is aged 6½, and Carter has just turned one.

How do you manage to juggle the running of your business with family?
I’m lucky that my business partner is also my life partner. We somehow manage to balance the business and family life between us. We try to set aside a day per week to spend time as a family. The rest of the week is crazy with work and every day routines.

Time spent together as a family is precious and we make sure that every moment counts.

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What’s the hardest thing about being a working mother?
Being tired all the time. I returned to work three days after I had Carter. He would come into work with me. My body hasn’t really had time to recover … sleep, what’s that!

What's your ‘me’ time? And do you manage to fit some in?
'Me time' is precious and very rare these days, but it’s so important to re-charge. Going to the hair salon, a walk ... It feels like heaven, and I look forward to it.

Have you ever thought about giving it up?
During really busy and challenging periods the thought has crossed my mind, as it would in these tricky business times. However, we’ve come too far and invested in many more ways than financially. 2012 promises to be a fantastic year.

Do you have a favourite networking opportunity or event?
Trade shows are always a fantastic source of information – they provide an incredible opportunity to meet with like-minded people.

Do you have any advice for someone starting their own business?
Research your market, and ensure there’s a gap you can expose and exploit. Be original, come up with your own concepts, and have a very clear position. And work hard, stay focused and don’t let doubters bring you down.

Join other mums in business in the Essential Baby forums.