My business idea came to me when I was pregnant with my first son in 2012. I desperately wanted to buy him a baby box as I slept in one in Finland myself but there were none available in this part of the world. It would have been expensive to ship one over from Finland and in the end, I decided not to.
The thought of the Finnish Baby Box concept stayed with me and I was playing with the idea of starting my own business, however, I was not ready at that time as my role of being a first-time mum took all my energy and time.
When my second son was born in 2014, I thought about the box again and I realised that there was a company who sold these in both the US and Finland. I really wanted to promote the concept of providing an equal start in life as The Finnish Baby Box had done since the 1930s. The box is a cardboard box that is made big enough to accommodate a mattress for the baby to sleep in. The box also comes with baby necessities for the parents and the baby. With encouragement from my husband, I started to look into the baby box concept and August 2016, we were ready to launch.
I found the time leading up to the launch to be the most challenging time I had. When you are talking to suppliers who do not fully understand the concept and you do not have an example to show, it makes it difficult at times to discuss ideas with people. If the people you spoke to knew about the baby box concept and had read or heard about it, negotiating would be much easier.
Finding the supplier to produce the box was a journey in itself. We tried a few and some simply told us that it could not be done and refused to answer our phone calls! Despite this, we were determined to succeed and in the end, we found a great supplier who was willing to work with us and took our design as a challenge rather than a problem. We wanted our product to be as sustainable as possible and this required us to check many different products from mattress manufacturers to baby clothing companies to ensure that the products were aligned with our values. This exercise took a great deal of effort and time. In the end, we selected a number of trusted Australian brands to be our partners and to supply the products to go into the box.
Since successfully launching in August 2016, we have had highs and lows. I originally started this journey with my business partner Laura, who moved to Seattle in the US around the time of the start up. Living and working together in different time zones was a challenge and in the end, we decided that Laura would take a back seat in the business and I would be driving the business forward and managing the day-to-day activities on my own.
I have never been short of self belief during my journey as an entrepreneur. It feels at times like you are a chef in a busy kitchen and if you are missing an ingredient, you need to improvise. I have found that in business, when you are given a challenge to deliver a product and you don’t have all the items or resources to hand, you just have to make it work with what you have available.
Collaboration and comradeship have being a big part in making Tuutu what it is today. Without suppliers who believe in us and want to provide us with their products or other business women who were just cheering us on, I am not sure if I would be here today talking about my journey in business. There have been doors that have been closed and others that opened as a result of my perseverance. I have received lots of good advice and there are few key pieces that that I would pass on to anybody thinking about setting up their own start-up company.
Do your research
Don’t just think that because your family and friends think it is a good idea, it is a good idea. Make qualitative and quantitative research and analyse all this data in light of the product or service you offer.
Website, logo and branding
Spend money on these areas as they will serve you well and make a lasting impression on anyone who looks at your website.
Believe in yourself
Eliminate any doubt you have or people who are trying to pull you down. There is nothing worse than self-doubt, especially when those around you are talking you down as well.
My story is only at the beginning and I am so looking forward to whatever else I will experience during my business journey. I have not allowed anything to hold me back and I am enjoying writing and sharing my story with other business women in the hope that someone reading this will be inspired.