Lucy Kippist (01:48.696)
Anyone who's ever tried to go anywhere with a toddler and a baby in tow and still have use of their hands will want to listen closely to today's episode with Mums & Co-member Laura Campbell.
Just under 18 months ago, Laura launched a product into the market called the Hip Surfer. It's a strap-free hip seat, a baby carrier, bum bag and toddler tool belt all in one. And it's been ergonomically designed to absorb the full weight of your child without pain or strain. So going hands-free has never been more compelling as a parent. Laura sat down with Carrie and I to share some insights into her product creating journey and some of her tips for the realities of this exciting but sometimes challenging business journey.
Carrie Kwan (02:52.638)
Laura, hello. It is so great to hear you and see you on Mums in Co. I know that you're a great friend of Mums in Co. For those who don't know about the brilliant product that you've created, can you tell us a little bit more about Hacker Lily and the Hip Surfer?
Absolutely and thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited and been looking forward to this for quite a while. So yeah, the name's a bit funny, isn't it? Hacker Lily. So the first part actually stands for Hacking Everyday Parent Life. And Lily is supposed to be representative of like style, of growth, of beauty and transformation. And that's what I really wanted to bring together in the brand Hacker Lily.
And you know how you imagine it being like really hard when you become a parent, sleepless nights, breastfeeding, the exhaustion from doing all the things to keep your baby alive. Like even anticipate teething and terrible twos. But no one ever tells you how hard it will be on your body, all the bending, twisting, hip hopping and contorting. Like you feel pain and strain in your back, your shoulders, your neck, your arms, wrists, even your fingers from gripping. And there's also a myriad of like repetitive strain injuries as a parent. It's really backbreaking stuff and I just believe that parents, grandparents and caregivers shouldn't have to suffer through all those beautiful, memorable and bonding moments with their child. So that's why I came up with Hacker Lily and we're on a mission to lighten the load of parenting. We create high quality, innovative and stylish mum hat products that bring greater ease, comfort and convenience to active families. But as we said before, it's actually only been in market for about three and a bit months now, so we're still very new to market but have hundreds of happy customers across the world. We've had some customers in Australia, the US and also the UK.
Carrie Kwan (04:45.81)
Seriously, I wish this product was around when I had my first baby, my second baby. I know my sister-in-law has RSI from all the lifting and bending over with nappy chains, etc. It is really, really exciting that there's such an innovative product on the market. I know that you're currently a mum of two and they're both under five. So we could say that you're still kind of in the trenches. And I would love to hear what does a typical day look like for you?
Yeah, so, oh gosh, it's really hard to actually talk about one day because every day is different, but I might just paint a little picture of the week because we're getting a really good system happening from like Monday to Sunday. So my daughter's four years old and my son is two and we've got them going to childcare on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So that's really the day where I get a lot of stuff done and I can start as early as 7.30 in the morning and go through to five the hardest roadblocks that I'll find. I want to clear out early in those days. And then on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays I bring the kids with me to my gym. So I purposefully wanted to find a gym that had a creche and where I could go and sit in the cafe, do an hour of work and then go and do an hour of exercise. So that exercise is written into my week each week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and we also take them in on Saturday morning sometimes as well and maybe or something like that. So yeah, so Monday, Wednesday, Fridays I find I'll sit in the cafe, I look out over beautiful Greenland here on the Gold Coast and once I've set my agenda for the day on Monday, I know the two or three things I need to achieve each day. And then an afternoon will look like creating social posts. I'm starting to learn Facebook and Instagram meta advertising right now. So I'll go into my clarity sheet. I'll see how my marketing's performing. I'm creating some new samples and products at the moment. So I may be speaking to the manufacturer and doing lots of back and forth. So every day is really different, but I make sure I try and get one or two things done each day that will really like drive the needle in my business.
Lucy Kippist (07:11.672)
Now Laura, we know that you're at a really exciting point in the business at the moment, but I wanna take you back just a little bit to the beginning, which really wasn't that long ago in the scheme of things. But as you were beginning the journey to Hackerly Lee, what were some of the things that could have prevented the whole business from taking off in the way that it has?
I came up with the idea of Hacker Lily while I was on maternity leave, like so many other mothers out there, I was high on oxytocin. For my first born child, I actually completed Netflix, you know, watched the whole Friends series and things like that. And that was fantastic for my first daughter. When I had Lincoln, I just had this feeling inside that I wanted to learn, I wanted to develop while I'm sitting on that couch breastfeeding, I could be learning something educational on the TV thinking about all the things you need to do when all you need to do is just start with that first thing and then take it from there. So the first thing is almost just getting out of your own way, taking that first step.
And another thing is focusing too much on perfection, because if you focus on perfection, nothing's ever gonna get done. So I think I've really changed the way in which I work and I operate. Just take that first messy step, adapt it, learn it, get it out into the market. And that's really helped me as well, just to get rid of, you can't be the perfect parent all the time, you can't be perfect at work all the time. So just being kinder to yourself. And then the third thing is community.
I've really found that anytime I'm feeling doubt within myself, um, I'm becoming my bottleneck. Like, what should I call this brand or product? Where should I market it? How do you, um, what colors and styles should it be? So every time I found a block where I'm not moving anywhere for a day or two, I'll go and ask, my business communities for some feedback or my actual community that I'm building on Instagram. And I started my Instagram community as soon as I came up with the idea of the hip server. And I didn't launch until a year and a half later. So I really had people in my camp who could give me real feedback.
Lucy Kippist (09:22.328)
Yeah, and I suspect that the community element, because you're an incredible community builder yourself and in your own right, and we've watched that journey too with the rise of the hipster and hacklily, but I'm wondering, how much does that play into how you've boosted the visibility for the business? Because it's kind of exploded in the last six months or so. Could you maybe share three of the ways that have really helped that push towards the market?
Yeah, absolutely. I think it really, well, let's start with community again, because I think this is where and that's when I came into the universe of Mums & Co. So when I was first coming up with the idea of the Hip Surfer, I'd never created a brand before, I'd never created social channels before. I'd done communication for other brands, but when it is your own, it's so hard to do. So by joining Mums & Co, I immediately built relationships with you. And, you know, when I was sharing posts on my Instagram feed and we built those real personal relationships, you would share them. So I think when you lean into business groups, everyone wants to help each other. It can be really hard out there but there's this incredible small business community where they really well if you ask someone can you like my posts can you share my posts and everyone will rally together for that so I think that's a really great thing there always join business communities and when you're doing that make sure you're not just asking questions and taking make sure you bring value because if you help other people by answering their questions if they're stuck on it in a little bit of a spot you're there getting visibility and being known as the wider group of business people and also customers. I also finished the prototype of the hip surfer in September last year in August last year, but I knew I wouldn't be launching until this year and I decided, do you know what, I'm just going to go and enter some awards based on the quality of the product. So I entered the Shecom Awards, not having any mass produced products yet, knowing I wouldn't launch for five months and I managed to win the baby accessory of the year award before even launching. And this was so great getting the product in front of, oh, he was, he was the ARE media,
Bunting, so many other big brands, it's great to get that recognition from journalists and to be able to use those awards when I finally launched and then the press, the media, the PR, Channel 7, Channel 9, Win News, Nine Honey, they were so open to taking my story when we launched because we had that piece of credibility. So I think that really helps with visibility.
In addition to that, how can you harness the power of brand ambassadors? So I've been building a community for a year and a half. I had about 2000 followers when I launched and I invited a few of those. Some of them had 28,000, 60,000 followers and they were so happy to receive a hip surfer for free and to create content for free for me, because they just believed in the mission that we were doing and they were experiencing pain, strain. They were relating to the challenge that we were solving.
Carrie Kwan (12:35.35)
So clever Laura and I love that you actually had been working on this for almost 18 months before you actually launched right? You know you just kind of put things out there you start building and you start sort of creating that community even before your product actually was available to purchase or to buy. So that's definitely something that's worthwhile noting and certainly from you know the the care that you've taken into building your product, which is what I wanted to jump into because this is a product, it is actually involving children as well. So I'm kind of thinking, what has having a product-based business brought in terms of your challenges, in terms of potentially risk mitigation? What are some of your key learnings so far?
Yeah, whoo, how long have you got? Look, there's so many and it's so true because it is within the baby and the parenting industry. There's so much tighter regulations, not just in Australia, but it was so important for me. I didn't want this just to be an Australian brand. I wanted it to be international. So it needed to have international compliance and safety standards. So firstly, it was about finding the right manufacturer, how you find them, who they're working with, the quality of the products they make, make sure you really qualify it. And I'm so proud of the manufacturer I chose. Also really small business with a really small MOQ that minimum order quantity and they believed in my vision it was really unique and they work with internationally renowned brands including Disney, Toys R Us so I knew I was in really safe hands. So that was one way of risk mitigation really checking my supplier. Also ensuring I've got international global safety standards there's something called SGS Worldwide they checked the quality of all of the materials making sure that they're not made from any nasty chemicals so it's assurance but a really important one is actually before all this starts is the commercial modeling. This all takes cost the production, the safety testing, the shipping across to Australia, is making sure through my commercial modelling that the recommended retail price would be the right price so that I could also wholesale it because to be successful you want to sell on e-commerce but also have the ability where you need to take up to 50 to 60 percent off sometimes to be able to sell it through wholesale or through retailers. So I think it's like growth risk mitigation as well as all the compliance side.
Carrie Kwan (15:22.569)
So insightful and you know taking those different steps as your business grows but thinking of it from when it actually is in the very beginning. So love that modelling tip. And now you're a natural networker. We absolutely you know feel like we know what you've been doing even though we haven't actually had a conversation for a few months because you know, we've got LinkedIn and you've got an impressive number of connections there. Now, do you have a top tip when it comes to making those new connections and making sure that they become a meaningful part of your business journey?
Yeah. Oh, it's really hard to break it down to three to one, but I might give you three small ones that all sorts of build up if that's all right. I'll keep it short. So the number one thing I've found that makes the biggest difference in forming real relationships is just being vulnerable, being open, being really clear about these are the challenges that I'm facing, this is my journey, these are my wins. And I think when you can relate to people and not just have a shiny veneer on the outside all the time, you can really let them into your world. And so when you do need support in, hey, do you mind sharing this? Or can you introduce me to so and so? They feel like they really know you as a person, not as someone who wants a transaction or something that's, you know, of that nature. So I think it is being vulnerable and that's what I'm really trying to lead into a little more. The other one is adding value. So you'll always see me commenting on other people's posts, sharing their posts on LinkedIn, on Instagram. I've just started on Instagram. It's all about small business. It's so expensive to purchase Facebook ads and LinkedIn ads. But if all of us as businesses shared five businesses or two businesses each week, imagine the impact that can have.
If you can bring value to someone else, then they're gonna bring it back to you and that can help to build your network as well. And it's just taking a genuine interest in people, which comes naturally to me, asking them questions about their family. You're on Zoom all the time. Like I know some people's cats and dogs names and things like that. Like I know what time the postie comes and it's just having those, that genuine interest to learn about their life, I think is so important to building the network.
Lucy Kippist (17:35.9)
Such a lovely answer. Now Laura, at the beginning of the interview, you talked about how busy life can get for you, having children the age that you do and trying to fit in all that you're doing. So at Mums & Co, as you know, we talk about harmony as a triangle of our ambition, livelihood and wellbeing. How would you describe the shape of a good life for you?
So as a person I'm extremely erratic, adventurous, like nothing is it there's not usually a lot of sort of systems or a beautiful circle in place but I like to think of it as like the seasons of the year where there's times where it might be summer, you're totally on, you've got all the energy, you can put lots of time into your business, you're firing on all cylinders, you're getting all the hell things done.
But then there's times like winter where you just need to have some downtime. You need to take a rest. You need to read a book and you can't always be operating at peak performance. It's almost like.
I used to be really tough on myself thinking, you know, you're a hundred meter runner, you've got to be running a hundred meters every single day. But in order to have a good life, you really do need to have the ups and the downs. And I think for me, that's what I'm learning about. You can't be an amazing parent all the time. You may be one day and the other day you may not. So it's just understanding that you're not perfect. There are ups and downs in work, in career, in health, in family. And I think that's just how I'm approaching it now. It's not what you get done in any one day even out across the week or the year.
Lucy Kippist (19:06.12)
I like that, the seasonal approach to harmony. I love it. And who among your fabulous network of women running businesses and maybe women who have children and running businesses, would you like to say hello to today?
Okay, I've got four and I'll bang these out. So one is definitely Emma Lovell, what an incredible woman that I'm so lucky to have here on the Gold Coast. So we were connected and introduced through Mums & Co. She's absolutely phenomenal, meaning great supporter and she purchased Ehip Surfer, one of my very, very first customers and a fantastic contributor there. I've also found two incredible e-commerce ladies where it's great to have obviously online five minutes down the street for me when I can go and grab a vino and talk about work and talk about challenges has really changed my life. So I met Lydia who's the founder of Partum Panties and Lisa who's the founder of InShapeMummy we all go to the same gym so I want to say a big shout out to them go and give them a follow and another one is Kelly Wilkes she's the head of the Women in Tech for Australia and she's been a fantastic supporter and champion for me in Haka Lily but also in the other corporate side of my life. Since I'm landing back here from London about two years ago so a big shout out to Kelly.
Lucy Kippist (20:27.228)
So good Laura, thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition today. And if you'd like to hear more about Laura or the Hip Surfer, you'll find her on a Mums & Co membership directory. We hope today's story has inspired you and we'd love to help support your own business journey in 2023. At Mums & Co, we help women in business grow. Our three tiers of membership provide strategic advice, access to deep networks and opportunities to be more visible. Head over to mumsandco.com.au.
For more details or book a one-to-one call with me, that's Lucy today. And if you've enjoyed this podcast, please make sure to like and review as it helps other women in business find us so we can support them too.