Julia Christie has inspired a brand new Series on Inspiring Mompreneurs: Mom Inventors.
Julia Christie is a former primary school teacher and mother of two. She lives on the gorgeous Gold Coast of Australia. She has been working from home for the past 3 years to make her idea turn from a dream into a plan! The Nail Snail has been an incredible learning curve and she has amazed herself with the things she has learned.
Once Julia and I started discussing The Nail Snail, her incredible invention, we couldn’t stop talking. Her interview was the longest I’ve done to date (nearly 2 hours) and I was captivated the whole way through. No doubt you will be too. Read on…
Meet Julia Christie, the Brilliant Mum who Invented the Nail Snail Baby Nail Trimmer
Julia, I’m very excited about your upcoming launch.
I’m very excited!
I’m really impressed that you designed your own product and managed to manufacture it, created marketing materials and everything. How did you find the financing to get to this point?
That’s a really good question. So far it’s just been the incredibly hard work of my supportive husband.
And I run an eBay business as well selling second-hand clothes and vintage online.
And we’ve saved every single Dollar, investing it into our company. So far we’ve probably invested about 23 or 24,000 Australian Dollars (AUD) into the business. (At current exchange rates this converts to 17,495 USD, 14,230 GBP, 16,610 EURO, 240,590 ZAR – In South Africa that’s nearly a quarter of a Million Rand!)
We did our budgeting and our finance a couple of days ago, and it’s been the exact same as our mortgage. We are paying the same amount to run our business as we pay on our mortgage, so it’s almost like having 2 mortgages.
So you’ve actually put some of it on credit then, and you’re paying it off?
Even though I’ve had offers of investors from family, colleagues of husband, people who’ve heard of my idea. So far we’ve said no to any investment, just because we’ve got to make sure we can run the business ourselves and not have to rely on everybody. And that way it’s more motivation for me. It’s my family’s money rather than other people’s money. It’s just a way to keep true to myself.
Would you like to share any highs or lows in your career as a Mompreneur?
I guess the high is that I get to spend time with my kids while I’m working. I guess that is the high and that’s the low as well. It’s both the same because my children are awesome, and they’re funny, and they’re great to be around.
On the flip side, they’re also demanding and they require a lot of time and it’s hard to concentrate when you have a 3-year-old and 1 year old vying for your attention as well. I will often be working at my computer with my 1-year-old climbing along my back and my 3-year-old will be running trucks over my feet.
So I’ll be trying to write an important email to my manufacturer, while I’m sitting with people literally people climbing on me.
But what’s great, I don’t have to report to anyone else. I can call the shots. I can do the work I want, when I want, well not when I want, but I just mean that they don’t need to be in daycare.
My son now goes to Daycare 2 days a week, and my daughter just goes 1 day a week. She just started, as of last week.
So I have to shuffle things like phone calls, or really important things like a marketing plan, when I’m writing emails to my Accountant. I need to make sure that set aside those days when I can be uninterrupted and can just focus on doing those things.
I work from the moment I open my eyes, and until I close them at night.
First thing in the morning (and my husband is amazing), he’ll take the kids out of the bedroom and play with them in the lounge so I can do some work. I’ll use that half an hour, I’m still lying in bed, having a lovely lie in, and I’ll be on my phone on Instagram and on Facebook doing the Social media side of things.
Because Social Media takes so much time doesn’t it?
It does. Absolutely.
It takes time, everything takes time, with an online business.
Yes, I’m so reliant on this, especially right now. Right now I’m at a real tipping point, a turning point. I’ve done the iceberg, I’ve done the underwater work. I’ve done the logo design and setting up an Accounting system, I’ve been in research and development. I’ve done all that background work that makes me NO money, it only costs money.
And I’m at the point now where I’ve got a product. It’s beautiful. It works well, it looks great, the packaging is done. The manufacturing plant is sitting there waiting for me to go “Yes, I need 5,000 or I need 10,000”. They’re just waiting to go.
I just need now to get the word out there and tell people and to find the people that need my product. So that’s where the Kickstarter comes in because I could either spend another 20,000 Dollars and have this huge shipment of Nail Snails sitting in my garage, and then I’d have to try sell them one on one to my friends, online, and to Chemists, and things like that.
Or I could us Kickstarter as a platform to get pre-orders of Nail Snails. So I spread the word through the Social media, online, blogging, things like that to get people from all over the world come to my Kickstarter, pre-order my Nail Snails. And then I go to my manufacturer, and say, “right, I’ve got an order now for 30,000 Nail Snails. Let’s go!” And they turn on the machines and away we go.
So that’s where I’m at. It’s been a lot of hard work up until this point, but I’m really excited about GO LIVE, PUSH THAT BUTTON… I need everyone to know about it. I’m also terrified.
Kickstarter sounds incredible. How does Kickstarter actually work? Do they organise all your sales for you, or do you sell on Amazon and eBay as well? How does it work?
Kickstarter is amazing. It’s a Crowd-funding platform. There are many Crowd-funding platforms, there’s Indiegogo. I know that Kickstarter was the original and it’s one of the biggest. And exactly the one that works with products. Indiegogo is very creative, they work with music and video or film production, things like that. I chose Kickstarter because they have a really great reputation for really innovative, cutting edge products. And that’s what I believe the Nail Snail is. It’s a really innovative, revolutionary concept – never been done before. I mean nail clippers and nail scissors have been around for about 150 years and there’s been no real change. So to come up with something that turns baby nail care completely on its head, completely revolutionises it and changes it into something so different.
And that’s what I believe the Nail Snail is. It’s a really innovative, revolutionary concept – never been done before. I mean nail clippers and nail scissors have been around for about 150 years and there’s been no real change. So to come up with something that turns baby nail care completely on its head, completely revolutionises it and changes it into something so different.
I needed a platform that was in line with that. Yeah, Kickstarter manages all the sales for you. They take your pledges from your customers and hold that money until you reach your fundraising goal. And it’s an all or nothing.
So 10,000 Dollars is the minimum I would need to raise in order for my production to go ahead, to get the minimum order of Nail Snails from my manufacturer.
Is that Australian Dollars? Yes. (That would be about 7,290 USD, 5,929 GBP, 6,921 EURO, 100,246 ZAR at current exchange rates)
So does Kickstarter then get the products in the hands of your customers? Who distributes them?
So Kickstarter just manages the customers and the financial side, they do take a 5% fee. So it’s in their interests as well to make sure you’re successful.
If I don’t raise that 10,000 AUD in Pre-Sales then I don’t get to keep any of that money.
In that instance, does Kickstarter give each of your customers a full refund?
Yes, Kickstarter only holds the money until the end of the campaign and then if the target is not reached the customer will be refunded in full.
But the positive is: if I make 15,000 Dollars or 100,000 Dollars (fingers crossed) if I make above and beyond that, then I do get all that finance, and then that goes pretty much all into my business account and then goes to the order of the Nail Snails, it goes to the shipping costs, it goes to the costs of envelopes and stamps, return address labels, the business cards that go inside.
And then they get shipped to my house and I then ship them out.
But there’s been a change there too, because if it’s a manageable number and predominantly in Australia, then they come to my house for me to post them out. But I’ve also organised so that, for example, if I get an order for 5,000 from The States, or 3,000 from South Africa, or something like that, then I have warehouses lined up in each Continent. So drop shipping essentially.
So the drop shipping isn’t arranged by Kickstarter, that’s another deal with another crowd…
Yes, but that will only be set in place once the order numbers are substantial enough.
Yes, because I would imagine you’d get a lot of orders from USA, Canada, UK and Europe. You just find the right person in the right place… they could come from anywhere, it’s hard to know…
That’s absolutely what I’m hoping for. It’s such a Global Product… I mean, every parent I’ve spoken to, every single one, and I’ve spoken to hundreds and thousands over the last 3 years. Every single one has said, “I hate trimming my baby’s nails. It’s terrifying. I’ve cut them by mistake, I’ve drawn blood, babies screaming, I’m crying. It’s just a horribly traumatic experience.
Agreed. I went through all that myself. I would just avoid cutting my son’s nails for as long as possible.
Not one person has said, “aah, it’s easy, my child just sits there and it’s fine”. It’s just horrible.
And the best part, the absolute best part has been when I’ve handed a nail snail to a friend a working prototype, or final samples. The best part is when I’ve handed it to a friend and without a word on my part. I don’t explain how to use it, or what part does what. I’ve just handed them the Nail Snail and said, “this trims your baby’s nails”. And because it’s a very simple product, they have their child and they get it done.
I’ve had people say, and even strangers in the street, I’ve even approached people in playgrounds, and parents have said: “Wow, this is so fast. She’s not crying… it’s all done. This is amazing. Can I buy that one?” And I’m like; “No, this is a prototype and it’s worth about 2000 Dollars. So no, I’m afraid.”
My husband’s a Doctor, and he had a Christmas function with some other Doctors, Nurses and other Hospital Staff, and I had people come to me and say, “When are we getting a Nail Snail? When’s your Kickstarter Campaign going live? I want one”.
And I ask people for their email address so I can add them to my email list, or I’ll say, follow me on facebook or follow me on Instagram… You know, I really had tears in my eyes when I had the first stranger come up to me and say, “Hey, I’ve heard about the Nail Snail. Where can I get one?”
It works. It’s just not me who thinks so. Others think it’s fantastic as well. So if I can help parents with just that one problem, I will be so happy.
I love your enthusiasm and I can feel the excitement from over here.
So in your plan in selling them, are you going to have bulk orders coming in from shops all over the world? Or, are you just going to sell to individuals?
Well, through the Kickstarter campaign there is an avenue for wholesalers and distributors to purchase bulk packs, like 100 or 200. And then I’ve also got lined up in February, there’s a big Trade Show in Sydney, which will link me with big chain Chemists and stores like Target and K-mart, the big stores which I would love to sell in.
Yes, I would love to get them into Dischem here. It’s a big pharmacy chain in South Africa.
That would just be fantastic. I’ve had interest from quite a few Chemists on the Gold Coast of Australia, where I live. They’ve said, “Once you’ve got your working product in its packaging and you’ve got your display options, show us, please us let us know.”
I wanted to make sure before I did that, that I have my patent rock solid. I’ve got my Patent Pending. And it’s an Australian Innovation Patent. Because it’s Christmas, New Year, and now upcoming Chinese New Year (Chinese Spring Festival), that’s just slowed things down a bit. But because I applied for an Innovation Patent rather than a Standardised Patent; the Innovation patent, you apply for it, you get it. So I’m 95% certain that will go through.
Okay, perfect. Wow. So there’s still a bit of groundwork to do, you’re not ready to launch just yet. But you are looking at having Wholesalers. That’s really exciting.
Have you read the 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss?
No, I have not.
Aah, you absolutely have to read that book before you launch. I know you don’t have much time because there’s so much happening right now. But, Timothy Ferriss is like the Drop Shipping KING, and he’s written these amazing books. In The 4 Hour Work Week he explains how he got to the point where he automates everything.
He was also marketing a product, he had a nutritional supplement for the brain, gives you lots of energy, all that sort of thing (BrainQUICKEN). He said that the biggest problem with his product was that a lot of teaching had to be done. He’d get all these questions back from customers, and he said that Nutritional supplements are not really the way to go if you want to become automated and want to save time. Better to have a product like yours which you can just give to someone and you don’t have to say anything, or you stick one video up on your website or have You Tube videos which your customers can go to and see how to use it. But you know; you want to make it as automated as possible.
Well, yes, we’re doing a You Tube video, and a video is required with Kickstarter. What it is, how to use it, how you do your business, how you plan on using the funding, to make sure that companies are held accountable, the money they receive is then yes, put towards business costs and the product. And yes, the money is directed to where people will say it will go, which is incredibly important.
My videographer did a lot of filming and then he’s going to edit, and he’ll make 2 videos. One is for Kickstarter, with all the business information, and Kickstarter information, and one which will be How to Use Nail Snail, and How to Care for Your Baby’s Nails. So that will be video that goes up on my website and up on You Tube. And I can then send that out to websites, and Press Releases, and hope that that goes some way to… But I am currently working on a lot of marketing material, so posters and flyers and banners, and on top of that doing content for the Kickstarter Campaign.
It feels at times that I’m juggling 47 different balls (nervous laugh).
I know, it’s crazy… and the point that I wanted to make that was so clear from Timothy Ferriss’s book is that he realised after doing this for a number of years (and he was making a LOT of money selling his products), but he realised he was making he was making 80% of his money was coming from 20% of his clients, his wholesale clients and they were the least work. They would just buy the products and run with it. And the other 20% were taking ALL of his time, these were the individuals. They would come back with all these issues and questions. He saw that he was wasting his days working with individual customers.
So he streamlined his business and decided to only work with his Top Wholesalers and he cut off his customer base. He said, “If you want to buy 1 product, you can buy from my Wholesalers. If you want to buy directly from me, you need to buy a minimum of xx products (I forget the exact number).” That’s why it’s worth reading the book.
Because at the beginning, of course, you just want to sell as many as possible. I understand when you’re starting out, you’ll want ANYONE and EVERYONE to buy your products, I get that. But, over time, you’ll start to find that you’ve got a few really good wholesalers to work with, and once those are there you might also be able to let go of your individual orders, and then you’ll a whole lot more time, like he did – and a whole lot more money.
Yeah, that sounds great.
What has been the greatest challenge for you to overcome as a Mother?
Time Management. And just making sure my children are my priority, without me going, “Uh, I’ve got to go make lunch, aah, but I wanted to write this email.” I have to go, “No, the kids actually come first, the email comes second.”
I know, when you get excited about something, it gets so hard. You’re on this track, and everything’s happening, and then suddenly your kids want your attention. I know, I hear you.
I know, I know, that’s really important to remember. Does that make me sound like a bad mother?
No, not at all. That makes you sound absolutely normal.
Moms… want to breathe a sigh of relief? Release some Mom Guilt? Stunning article here: The Year In Parenting (The Daily Beast)
Is it sexist to say that as women are amazing at multi-tasking? Or do we just pretend that we’re amazing at multi- tasking?
No, we really are. I read an article the other day that said MOTHERS are more productive than any other person in the workplace. And that’s true; when you become a mother you learn how to take multi-tasking to a whole other level.
Women Working Part-Time are the Most Productive in the Workforce (The Sydney Morning Herald)
I agree 100% on that. A lot of my friends who don’t have kids say, “How on earth do you get everything done?” And I think, “oh, my friends, who don’t have kids must have so much spare time.” And I’ve realised that I now know how important time is. And that’s why I never waste it.
I don’t get stuck on You Tube watching 4 hours of funny You Tube videos. Or spend an hour on facebook connecting with friends and family. Not that that’s a waste of time, but… [you’ve got priorities]… Yeah, it becomes, “Ooh, I’ve got half an hour now, where my husband is in the pool with the kids.” As much as I’d love to be in the pool with them, I have to go, “No, I’ll take this half hour, I’ll use it wisely. I’ll make sure I’m doing this very important thing because it will help me in the long run.”
Absolutely. I hear you. And you’re a wonderful mother. Living your Passion is a very important thing for your kids to see.
And there’s also the side that I want this to financially be incredibly successful. That’s a driving force, I want to do really well financially. I want that if my husband only wants to work 2 or 3 days a week, fantastic. And then I can work 2 or 3 days a week, great!
And then the rest of that time we can be actively taking our kids to amazing places, spending time with them, playing in the pool. With the extra finances comes a whole lot more freedom to do family time together. Because the biggest restraint of our family time is my husband working those extra shifts to make sure that we’ve got $800 to go towards trademarking and patenting (for example). And then I’m making sure that, when my kids are having their nap, instead of me making them organic hand-blended snacks, I am writing a really important email, or getting other important things done, and then they can just have regular snacks. (We both laugh).
Totally, I hear you. That’s so true.
There was a talk by Arianna Huffington when she retired recently, where she said that you have to get to a point in every day, where’s there’s a cut-off time. At a certain time, you declare the end of your day and switch off from work, because when you are an entrepreneur there’s a tendency to want to work all the time, 24-7. So you have to in your mind, and in your actions, create that.
But she also says if you’re not so passionate about what you’re doing that you want to work all the time, then you’re in the wrong business. It was wonderful to hear her saying that, look what she’s accomplished.
Yes, I think it’s made me a better Mum because instead of being bored and resentful and annoyed: “I’ve given up my life for my kids”, this makes me motivated and happy and work hard and appreciative of my kids & makes me a more interesting person.
So I think that adds enormous value. And my kids are very proud of me. My son will go to Daycare, and say, “My Mommy’s been working on Nail Snail and she made a new picture.” He tells people that I’ve designed a new advertising banner. It’s really sweet, he’s really proud of me. And he’s only 3, but he knows his Mommy is working hard on the Nail Snail.
Has it been tricky balancing work and home life?
You’ve pretty much answered that in the previous question.
Yeah, I think so.
It has been tricky for you and I think it’s tricky for all of us. I find it even harder when I read these articles condemning distracted parents, and I realise, I am a distracted parent.
True. We all are. The thing is we want to work 24-7, and you are a mother 24-7, so there’s only 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day, so… So it’s just… And making sure you as a person are also maintained, for want of a better word, and your relationship with your husband or partner is maintained, and family and friends. You know, it’s finances as well. You know I still sell clothing on eBay, just to make sure that I’ve got those (and not that it makes a lot of money, goodness me, it’s just pocket money). It’s still enough to… I’m printing business cards at Vista Print that will cost me $50, that sort of thing. So that does help carry a bit of the burden as well.
It’s a big balancing act, isn’t it? Especially for you, at the moment – it’s going to take a good couple of years before you can recoup the money you’ve invested, but I can see you’re going to be successful. You definitely know that.
I feel that too. I feel that, if I didn’t believe I was going to be successful, I shouldn’t be doing it. And I do believe that it is an amazing product, and I do believe that I am capable of promoting it and selling it and running the business. I have amazed myself at some of the things I’ve learnt along the way and some of the things I’ve achieved. And I’m so in love with this product, it’s like a third child.
And I believe that parents need this and I believe that it will make life as a parent just that tiny bit better. I believe in the quality of the product, its fantastic quality. It’s made out of Medical Grade Stainless Steel, it’s made by a Manufacturer that makes medical grade products. And I think it’s just gorgeous and I think I’ll sell millions of them.
I do think you will as well.
I just need to get to that point.
So the next phase will be all about marketing and that’s where the Kickstarter Campaign comes in.
All things considered, do you feel it was a good decision to become an Entrepreneur? Absolutely.
If someone had come to me and said, “You will work for 3 years, every spare minute, it will cost you the same as your mortgage repayments, it will test you to your absolute limits, you will be terrified and frustrated, but it will be the best thing that you could have ever done from a business side and from a financial side, and it’s going to be amazing…” Would I still do it? Yeah, heck yeah!
My husband said to me a week ago, “You know what, if this doesn’t make any money and you don’t sell any at all, I will still be so happy (I’m going to tear up, it was so sweet), because it has made you so happy and you have achieved so much. I am so proud of you”.
And I was just like, “I love this man, I love this man so much.” You’ll have to go see pictures of us on our website. He’s just an amazing man and I love him. But to have him say that to me was so, sorry I’m really tearing up [So am I, and so will everyone who reads this], was so wonderful because it took the fear away but it also gave me tremendous amounts of motivation.
That was really special, that was really, really special.
He sounds like a keeper – putting it mildly.
Yeah, I married him 6 months after I met him. I said, “You’re not going anywhere”. (Both packed up laughing).
That’s great, he sounds like an absolutely divine guy (just like my hubby).
I always wished, when I used to take my son to the Baby Clinic for his weigh in’s and immunisations, I always wished that they would offer to cut his nails because that would have been such a joy. I could just know that was done.
And that is something that I’ve been looking into as well, is having The Nail Snail available to Doctors, Paediatricians and parents of premature babies as well, because babies are born with long nails and they scratch their beautiful faces. And you often see that babies have those little mittens on their hands and that’s to stop them scratching their faces. I was also hoping to get The Nail Snail in the Take Home Pack for new parents in hospitals, as an easy way to care for your tiny baby’s little fingers, they are so small.
And the beauty of The Nail Snail is, you can see exactly what you’re cutting, you can see exactly what you’re doing. With nail clippers, you have no idea, no way of gauging what you’re cutting, with the Nail Snail you can see exactly what you’re doing.
I’ve put The Nail Snail in my mouth for 20 minutes to see if it would cut my tongue or the inside of my mouth and discovered it was impossible.
I’ve given it to my daughter to play with (even though The Nail Snail is not a toy and I’ll say that), she took it and she was jamming me in my leg, she was rolling it around in her little hands, she was putting it in her mouth, she did all this, that and the other, and she didn’t injure herself at all, not once.
So it only does what you want, when you want.
Wow. That is stunning.
So, provided parents know it’s not a toy, at least they can rest assured if their child did happen to get hold of it, they’d be safe. Because they do want to play with these things. As soon as you start cutting their nails they just want to grab the clippers. Everything is a toy to them at that age.
Exactly. And the way I’ve designed it, you cannot choke on it. If something is 2.75 inches long then it’s impossible to choke on. So I’ve made it 2.76 inches long to be sure it’s not a choking hazard.
So if a child does get hold of it, they’re not going to hurt themselves.
Do you work from home? If so, what does your room or desk look like?
You know what, my desk is my laptop. It’s on the kitchen bench while the kids are having breakfast, it’s on the coffee table while they’re in the lounge playing with their blocks, it’s my phone when I’m doing social media. I do have a shelf on a cupboard in my hallway where I keep my Nail Snail stuff.
But it’s 90% on my laptop and it goes with me wherever I go. Even outside at the pool. My husband will be swimming with the kids and I’ll sit at the table near the pool, so I can watch them and be part of it. So it’s my laptop, I don’t have a desk.
I love that answer.
What daily rituals are important for you to maintain a work-life balance?
My 3 o’clock afternoon tea. I have a big giant mug of tea, you need two hands to hold the mug because it’s enormous. And I count down the minutes to 3 o’clock, because if it’s 2:45, nope, that’s too early.
And I have a choccy biccy. Okay, let’s be honest, most of the time it’s a piece of chocolate (with a laugh). It’s a chocolate something, a piece of chocolate cake or a chocolate biscuit, or two chocolate biscuits… and my kids know that Mommy’s having her quiet time, and they do their very, very best to just give me 5 minutes to sit down and have my cup of tea.
Are they allowed a chocolate biscuit at the same time?
They don’t get the big chocolate slice that I’d get but they also get a little chocolate treat. Because I earned that bad boy (laughing). So they do get a treat, I’ll give them some frozen grapes, just a little something so that they don’t feel left out and so they don’t bug me (both laughing).
And that’s it, that’s your only ritual?
Yeah, that’s it. My 3 o’clock cup of tea.
And I guess, once it’s dinner time, that’s it. I do keep to a bit of a schedule in that when 5:30 rolls around, it’s pack up time. We all tidy up the toys. 6 o’clock I start making their dinner. About 6:30, 7 o’clock, it’s bath-time, and then 7:30, this is very rough, it can go half an hour either way. 7:30, I’m hoping that they’re in bed, and then my husband and I sit down to have our dinner at about 7:30, 8 o’clock. And then once it’s our dinner time, and I’m not working anymore. And when it’s dinner time we might watch something on the Telly. After that it’s bed time because I like to be in bed by 9, 9:30 so that when I’m up at 7 o’clock the next morning I’m well rested and I’m good to go.
So yes, there is a time when I go, okay, it’s coming up for 5:30, it’s time to start packing up.
What advice would you give someone who’s just starting out as an entrepreneur?
Ooh, that’s a good question. Just starting out, as in they’ve just had the idea and they want to turn it into a business?
Yeah, any way you’d like to explain it…
No. 1, I would say, Number One: Get a great Accountant. Number One.
Because your finance side of things will either make you or break you. It will always cost more than you think it will because you don’t know how much it will cost you. You’re just finding out, you have no idea. Things like, “Oh, I need to get a barcode. Of course you need to get a barcode. I didn’t think of it, but now that I do, of course I need a barcode…” and then you go to google and type in, how to get a barcode, and you go to the website, which tells you how to get a barcode and they say, “that will be 800 Dollars, thanks!” And you go, “Woah”. And you can’t say, “No thanks, I don’t want a barcode.” But how would you know much a barcode costs unless you ever had to buy a barcode. So just things like that!
Like Trademarking applications, and getting a logo designed. It’s all going to cost you money, and you need an Accountant, a great Accountant. I work with a team called Wealthmed and they are phenomenal.
I keep a record of all my receipts, I do it electronically. So as soon as I pay for something, say a barcode, I fire out an email to Albert and say, “here’s my receipt for barcoding” and he’ll go, “That’s great, and he’ll put it into a system called Xero. And he can work out, this is my Marketing costs so far, my Logistics costs so far, this is the Intellectual Property Costing. And at any stage I can say, “Albert, can you email me a pie chart of how much I’ve spent and where it’s all gone so far”. And he’ll say, “Sure thing” and it’ll take him a day or two, and he’ll send back a pie chart saying $10,000 have gone to Business Consulting, $6,000 have gone to Industrial Design… etc.
He’s done my Tax Returns and said this is what you can and can’t claim as a business. When we go to purchase a new car, a certain percentage of that can be out of business costs. Things like computers, the internet, all these things. If I had to do that on my own, it wouldn’t happen or it would be incorrect. And I’m quite good at Math, but it would be overwhelming. That’s a whole other. That’s 50% of the workload would be Accounting and Accounts Management, so get a GOOD Accountant, number one.
They will also help you with your business set-up. Makes an enormous difference if you’ve got an Accountant you can trust who can make recommendations, watch your spending and keep track of everything for you.
This is of course, for an entrepreneur who’s taking an idea, creating a product and taking it to market, that’s what you are specialising in.
And that’s amazing because I’m just little old me, what do I know?
I can see how much you’ve learnt though because I haven’t had to do any of these things to get my business off the ground. Intellectual Property, Industrial Design… amazing.
It’s all been a huge learning curve, and fascinating. Even knowing the different colour codes for what colour you’re going to use for the plastics and rubber. Manufacturing processes, over-molding and sonic welding and saw grinding. I had no idea. But now I understand what they are and how they work, and how injection moulding is different to over-molding, and how 0.7a rubber is different to 0.9a rubber and that sort of thing. And each product is going to be different and I have a relatively simple product.
It’s small. It’s only made from 3 different materials. It doesn’t have any moving parts, it doesn’t have any batteries, it doesn’t have any screws, so it’s a very simple product. But it’s taken them a year, from “hey, can you make one of these?”, going through all those steps, to go, “here’s a working sample, this is what the customer will get”.
This is the thing, as an Entrepreneur, you have no idea about these things until somebody says, “Hey, have you considered this?” and you go, “huh, okay… all right, I’ll google that…”
And google is your saving grace because people have done it before. I’m not the first person to face any problem I’m facing. There will always be a blog, there will always be a website, there’ll always be google, there will always be someone you can call that will be able to help you.
So that’s another piece of advice I can offer: Ask. Ask questions. Contact people. Do your Research.
And if the person you call says I don’t know, I don’t think so – call again until you get the person who says yes, I can do what you want.
Any other advice you’d give a new entrepreneur?
There’s so much…
Hire people that know more about it than you do.
For example, Industrial Designers. Get a good industrial design team. My industrial design team is Form Zoo. And a Business Consultant is also always really helpful. And Graphic Designers. And Marketing Experts.
Don’t try do everything, because you just can’t. Even though you know your product better than anybody.
I find that even though I love marketing and I love the visual sort of getting the word out there and I’m passionate about the product, I still have trouble writing the press release or the marketing email or the advertisement. I’m still going through fiverr which I’m absolutely loving so far, to get experts that know how to do the marketing emails and the graphic design, the posters and banners, and things like that.
Because I want so say, “Buy Nail Snail, it’s great,” but it’s not a very good marketing strategy. (laughs)
Yeah, you need actual advertisers… and the logo? Did you have that designed by someone on fiverr as well?
Well, the logo was actually a separate thing which is another fantastic resource for entrepreneurs. It’s called Design Crowd. That’s beautiful. It’s unusual in that, you put your project out there. I’m looking for a logo. It is a baby product, it is a medical and healthcare product, it works with nails, trimming nails. It’s called a Nail Snail. Can I have a logo please?
And then lots of graphic designers and Artists and experts in their field will go, well here’s my idea. And I was very pro-active about mine. I wasn’t just going to sit back and let them come to me. I approached a whole lot of the designers, it’s all online. I contacted about 100 different designers.
I was overwhelmed with these logo options and there were two that really stand out, that were really clear. So they all pitched for their business and then I chose who the winner was. There was a 1st, 2nd and 3rd and the 1st Prize, I think it was 300 Dollars & the 2nd Prize was 100 Dollars. So, instead of going to one Graphic Designer and paying 500 Dollars, Approach 100 Graphic Designers and get 100 submissions for 500.
So there are all these resources.
You know what, there’s a bit of a family streak here. My Uncle is incredibly Engineering and he has invented a new caravan. My other uncle has been working on a hydroponic system and lighting system that grows indoor plants. My Mom invented, way, way before Huggies came up with the idea, she just didn’t patent it: pull-up nappies. She was never able to get it off the ground but they were called Nap-ease.
And my Mum said the difference now is the internet. You have access to people and communication all over the world, at the click of a button. And Social media and the fact that marketing can go viral and you’ve got Crowdfunding, you’ve got International manufacturers at your fingertips. And all this… she struggled. She took her big old phone into the bedroom, a big Bakelite corded phone, while I, as a 2-year-old was pounding on the door, screaming to come in and she’s desperately trying to get hold of manufacturers who could make prototypes of her nap-ease. And she said everything had to be typed up on a typewriter… (we both laughed).
It’s so different now… The internet is your friend, and use it, because it’s amazing.
There are amazing resources available for entrepreneurs and especially Mompreneurs.
Because we are an amazing force of intelligent, hardworking, passionate, educated women who want to get things done. And we have these brilliant ideas, and I think we’re an incredible resource, we make the world so much better.
We’re working hard, we’re multitasking… Often some of the most incredible women… Yes, they are at home, yes, they are on maternity leave, perhaps they don’t have the access to daycare so they become cut off from their own potential. And that to me, is… I hate that.
I have some amazing friends who have children, and they are amazing Mums, and they just want to do something worthwhile again. I’m a really hard worker but there are just no avenues for me.
And that’s part of my business model – once Nail Snail gets off the ground and Christie & Christie is a viable manufacturing company, I want to hire Stay at Home Mums and turn them into Work from Home Mums.
I want to have the Social Media Expert, I want to have even people that just have an hour a day, they can do some packaging.
I love that. Now you’re making me want to cry again. That is such a beautiful plan, I’ve got goosebumps. I’m just thinking about your greater vision. It’s not just about The Nail Snail. It’s not just about you making sales that you have a drive beyond all of that, it’s amazing.
I have a wonderful friend living in England and she’s an amazing writer. She’s been writing my press releases and Instagram posts and newspaper articles and advertising scripts because she’s an amazing writer. And I’ve got a wonderful friend…
So you’ve already started this, you’re already hiring people.
Well, let me put it this way. I don’t pay them in money. Because I sell second-hand clothing online, I pay them in beautiful clothes. And when I’m earning money, yes, absolutely I’ll be paying people. That’s what I want. I want to make money so that everybody can make money. That would be great!
And my other friend, Noelle, who lives in Brisbane, she came down at Easter and she’s an amazing web developer. She’s a work from home Mum. She just sat down and bang, bang, bang, she just made this amazing website as a frame that I then worked on… she spat out this amazing website in a few hours. And I said, “Noelle, I can’t pay you 1000 Dollars and I want to”. And she said, “Just give me 5 dresses and we’ll call it even”. And I was like, “All right! For 5 Dresses” So it’s a bit of a barter system at the moment.
And then my other friend Nina who is an amazing Events Organizer. She’s currently on maternity leave with her 1-year-old, and she’s going crazy because she can’t work as an Event Planner. Because she’s a Stay-at-Home and no-one wants to employ her as an Event Planner Part Time. So I’ve had her helping me with my Kickstarter campaign, and brainstorming for Kickstarter and making phone calls and writing emails.
I have another friend, Peta, who’s a Teacher, and she’s going, “okay, let me read over everything you’ve written and I’ll pick up any Grammar mistakes.” [Editing and proofreading].
So I’ve got this army of Moms all working together.
I love it! That is amazing.
Plus my Mum who is amazing with my kids. She’ll come and play with my kids and watch them for 2 hours while I’m working. So I’ve had this enormous support. I’m an absolute feminist in that I believe that women are amazing and can do amazing things. Just give us the opportunity and we can rock your socks off.
So I’ve been very lucky in that. And I’ve been so lucky in that my husband has been an incredible support. Financially, we’re fortunate in that we have a roof over our heads and food on the table, access to good daycare and we’re all healthy. We’re incredibly fortunate in that sense. He’ll go, “Oh, there’s an extra tooling cost, coming up, $3000 – I’ll do an extra 3 night shifts should cover it” – that kind of thing.
And even on my website, I’ve done a Founding Friends Page. It’s a list of some of the names of people that have gone out of their way to help me, without expecting any sort of financial payment or help in any way, they’ve just been really wonderful.
That’s so stunning. I absolutely love your story. You’re going to be interviewed by lots of people, you’ll be on podcasts, on the radio, TV… Especially once Nail Snail is launched and happening you’ll get loads of different interviews.
That will be great because I usually don’t get to talk too much.
Yes, it’s going to be really, really wonderful, because everybody will want to know how you did it! It’s divine. I love this.
I love Mompreneurs because they are just so diverse and especially this phase of becoming a Mompreneur, it’s such an interesting phase, because it’s pre-launch, there is so much excitement, you know what’s coming but you don’t know what’s coming, it’s just awesome and, you’ve learnt so much, as you say, in these 3 years. I just love it.
It is. It’s very, very exciting. And I never would have thought, 5 years ago that someone would say, “Hey, guess what, you’re going to have a great idea and you’re going to work your touché off to turn it into this amazing, viable, successful business. I think that all jokes aside, I’m really proud of myself.
You should be, you absolutely should be. In South Africa we have an Afrikaans saying: “Kyk hoe lyk ons nou.” And it means, “Look at how we look now.” (Look what we’ve accomplished). In a year’s time, in two years’ time, you are going to be astounded at what you’ve achieved.
- It’s a Great Product
- There’s a need for it
- It’s not flash in the pan
- It’s not a passing fad
- It’s needed, it’s absolutely needed
If I can just help parents out and I put one in the hand of every Mom and every Dad, and every Grandma and Grandpa… I’ve had my father, who’s a Grandfather cut my little one’s nails. My Nana cut my son’s nails.
And here’s a funny story for you. My Industrial Design team, who are this amazing group of 3 Aussie blokes. They’re young. Okay, Jeff’s married now, but at the time, when I showed them the Nail Snail they didn’t have kids. They were just 20-something-year-old guys. I said, “okay, here’s a pair of traditional clippers, I want you to cut my little one’s nails”. I think my son was about 6 months at the time. And they just flat out refused. They said, “No. No way.” I said, “well you kind of have to, please…” They just said, “no way”.
I said, “Okay, I’ll show you my concept because I had a working blade at that point. I said, “here, I’ll show, I’ll do it,” and I showed them how it’s done and said, here Andrew, you try it”. And he said, “I’m terrified”. I said, “of course you are and that’s okay, but just be brave, here you go”. And he was like, “Oh my, yeah, this works, this is incredible.”
And I figured if a 23-year-old single guy who doesn’t have kids can do it (and I know that sounds a little bit sexist and a little bit ageist), but… if he can do it and feel comfortable and confident doing it, then anyone can.
Is there anything you feel you gained by becoming an entrepreneur?
- It makes me a more interesting person at social functions.
- Confidence to go: I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.
People come to me and say, “Oh, so what do you do? And I say, “well, I’m a stay at home Mum” and they go, “uh, and then they turn to the next person”. But if I say, “I’m a work from home Mum and I invented a baby product,” they go, “Oh, really, brilliant. Tell me more.”
Confidence to go, I don’t know, but I’m going to find out. Okay, so I need to build a website but I don’t know how. So I google, “how to build a website” and for the next 2 months I build a website. Things like that, giving yourself the confidence to go, “at least I’ll have a try. At least I’ll try to work it out and if I can’t I’ll find someone who does know how”.
Do you feel you chose an easy path or a difficult one?
Difficult but I try to find the easiest way to do difficult things.
I believe in working smart, not hard and I don’t think there was ever choice involved. The path comes just up and you work your hardest to make it as easy as possible.
Which tools of the trade have been enormously helpful for you?
- Google and Websites
- Crowd-funding Tools
- Design Crowd
- VistaPrint – Business Cards, Banners, Flyers, Posters
- Form Zoo
All of these have saved me time and money.
Which people have been enormously helpful to you?
Friends and family. You’ll find them on my Founding Friends Page. I’m also just starting to connect with people online like Instagram and people like me, I’m meeting experts from all over the world that I would never have come into contact with before the internet.
Who is your target market? If I were to give you a referral, who would I be looking for?
- Expecting parents setting up their nursery
- Parents of newborns and children up to 5 or 6 years old
- Anyone with a friend who’s expecting a baby or who has little ones.
- The Nail Snail makes a great baby shower gift. And it’s unisex, if you don’t know the gender, it’s the perfect gift.
I’ve used the same one on my kids for 3 years and put it in my dishwasher about 100 times, and it still looks exactly the same as it did when I first got it. It’s Stainless Steel, so the whole thing can go in the dishwasher.
Is your market local or international?
One last fun question… Do you love snails?
Yes, I do! They are the ultimate work from home mum! They carry the house and get everything done!
Visit Julia’s Website: http://www.nail-snail.com
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