How to start a business on maternity leave

When Emily fell pregnant, she was worried it was the end of her career. So, she used her mat leave to start her business...and has never looked back.

We all know that maternity leave isn’t a holiday! And while some (read: all!) of us are flat-chat taking care of our new little bundles of joy, many of us also use this time to reflect on our career journeys to date, and ask ‘what’s next?’

One mum we spoke to not only managed to reflect on her career and decide what would come next,  but she also managed to do something about it! Incredibly, Emily Diane Seliscar managed to concoct, and build, some solid foundations for her hat business Small Road while on maternity leave.  

Three steps to launching a business on maternity leave

  1. Think of an idea and validate it
  2. Source, up skill and outsource - after all what new mum has time to do it all!
  3. Do a little everyday

Here’s how she did it

Come up with an idea, and try and validate it 

Emily says that for her, the first step was coming up with an idea that represented a ‘gap in the market.’ 

For her, this process looked like: 

‘The desire to start [Small Road] came out of my own desire for a stylish snapback hat for my son, but from searching online I couldn’t find what I was looking for.’

Emily, however, didn’t simply go a hunch - she made sure she validated her idea: 

‘I then played around with Google Trends [to see if this was something people wanted]. I also researched different brands on Instagram. I saw that my hunch was correct - nothing already existed that fit my criteria, and what I wanted to create seemed to fit with the way mums were dressing their children nowadays. I then purchased [a few hats] and decided how I wanted mine to be different.’ 

Source, up skill and outsource 

After Emily had validated her idea, the next step was to design her products and source a supplier! She then researched and compared different suppliers; making sure to select one that provided the type of quality material she was after. 

To make sure her hats were unique, though, Emily decided to design them herself: 

‘At first, it sure was challenging designing, as I had never done it before! But over time, it got easier.’ 

After designing her hats, Emily knew that she had to create a brand customers would love. For this step, she used a mix of capitalising on her current skills, up skilling, and outsourcing to achieve the outcome she desired: 

‘I’d had some experience in marketing and communications, so I used those skills [to create my brand]. Where I didn’t have certain skills, I had some great friends who I knew specialised in those areas who helped me. I also made sure I was constantly up skilling: I always listened to podcasts or webinars on business and marketing.’ 

Try to do something every day 

Emily says that above and beyond everything she achieved during her maternity leave, for any mum who wants to follow in her footsteps, she has just one piece of advice: 

‘You need to commit to mentally achieving the dream, regardless of your circumstances. If you really want to get something started, this commitment is important. Life will always demand your energy in other areas, however, just try and move the business forward in some way every day.’ 

By doing so, Emily says that your lens on things will change: 

‘When you’ve made the commitment to do something every day,  the way you see things changes. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, you’ll instead feel more resourceful and flexible, and feel like you’re achieving something.’ 


So mums - if you had just 5 minutes today to move your business forward, what would you do? 


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