Your name: Rebekah De Melo Franco
Name of company: teddyhair.com.au
Number of employees: 1 (and a bunch of very cute teddy bears with hair!)
About: Babies and toddlers love to play with hair. It’s a comfort for them, a soothing habit and a fun task. Unlike a doll, Teddy hair is soft and cuddly and the perfect snuggle up friend all day and night. Each bear is delicately hand-made so they each have their own unique personality and although the hair is synthetic, it feels incredibly real. Teddy Hair is the perfect bear for those who want to give a gift that will be instantly loved but cherished forever.
Website: www.teddyhair.com.au

What inspired you to start your own business?

As a baby, my son was obsessed with playing with hair. Mine, his own, anyone’s really! Playing with hair would calm him and soothe him to sleep. To save me from being his comfort toy 24/7 and to save his own hair from being pulled out by his little fingers, I created ‘Teddy Hair – the first bear with hair’.  Unlike a doll, he could snuggle it at sleep times and always feel secure. Everywhere we went parents wanted to know where Teddy Hair came from – since playing with hair is incredibly common I soon found out! So I went into Teddy Hair production and the response has been amazing!

Why did you decide to be a Mumpreneur/WAHM?

The feedback I was getting about Teddy Hair from other parents and carers who had children who also loved to play with hair was inspiring. They were desperate for a sensory aid of this nature and it filled my heart with joy to know I was helping others as much as Teddy Hair had helped my son and I.

What do you enjoy most about working for yourself and/or working from home?

The flexibility to be there when my son needs me and to manage my own time. It takes a lot of hard work, perspiration, frustration and discipline to work for yourself, and it’s a huge risk, but it’s incredibly rewarding when your work is appreciated and can make a difference to the lives of others.

What, if anything, do you miss about office life?

I miss the company of others and the general office banter. I’ve worked with some fantastic people throughout my life and the laughs we used to share whilst getting the job done is something I really miss.

How much time do you spend on your business?

More than I should! My poor son is always tugging at me whilst I’m on the phone, tapping away at the computer or packaging up parcels to be sent. To get any small business off the ground you have to work this hard but you do forfeit valuable time with your kids and if things need to be done into the night or on the weekends then that’s when you need to do them.

How do you achieve a work/life balance working from home and/or running your own business

I’m still working on this one! Admittedly since my business is still in it’s infancy it’s as time consuming as having a newborn (and as exhausting!) but I do ensure I turn technologies off and get outside with my son as much as possible because we both need it, his creativity is infectious and his happiness and laughter is the most important thing in the world to me!

What challenges/issues do you face running your own business?

There are never enough hours in the day for what I need to get done. I tend to work very late into the night (particularly as I’m dealing with overseas clients) and exhaustion can creep up on me. Thank goodness for coffee and amazing friends and family who help in so many ways!

What tips/advice would you give to mums out there wishing to start their own business?

Get to know your customers. Listen to what they really need and ideally offer something that is a bit unique and different. Then jump in wholeheartedly! If you just dip your toe in, it’s unlikely you’ll actually swim.

Where is your favourite place to go with your baby or toddler?

My son has more energy than a champion racehorse so anywhere we can run really! We love to head to the playground or beach. Steele Park in Marrickville has a fantastic waterplay area, which has fast become a summer favourite of ours.

What advice would you give your ‘toddler’ self?

Dream big, have a plan but don’t panic if life takes you on a different path, there’s always something incredible to see and learn. And always remember, you’re never too old for slip ‘n slides!

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