Boss Mama at Grubeze, Product Designer and Developer
Tell us a bit about the business that you are creating?
I’ve designed and developed the ultimate messy kids full body hazmat. Encourage baby led weaning and self-feeding with grubeze coverall, waterproof onesies for eating. Better than a bib or smock, grubeze full body coverage offers the ultimate in children’s clothing protection - no more ruined clothes or multiple changes. Takes the mess and stress out of feeding little grubbers. Keeping their clothes dry and stain-free.
What are your three core values in your working life right now?
Authenticity, Balance, Quality
What’s the hardest part of running a business from home?
Being a single mama and trying to do all things biz in 3 day care days and at night.
What’s the most rewarding part of running a business from home?
The flexibility, being my own boss and pleasing myself.
What fears did you have about starting your business?
It’s a huge learning curve and while I have a background in PR, Comms and Marketing the rest of it is all brand new to me. The R&D, market research, prototypes and production side of things etc has been fabulous to learn and experience but the business admin side of things is my biggest fear. I’m super organised but I’m not a numbers person so I’m going to have to get my head around the financial side fast once the product starts selling.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running your home based business?
That you can only do what you can do in the time you have. While I aim to meet my self-set deadlines I have to acknowledge that I’m only one person and I’m only human and that unforseeable stuff comes up from time to time that’s out of my control and I just have to accept it.
How do you find the right balance between being a partner, wife or mother and running your business?
Well I’m only finding balance between being a single mama and running the business. The best advice my business coach ever gave me was don’t be doing things in the home that you can be doing when your child is home (eg domestic duties, grocery shopping) even if it is quicker when they’re not there. Maximise your office (baby-free) hours and stick to business related tasks. When my daughter is home the focus shifts back to her, although I will check and respond to social media while we snuggle and she watches Peppa Pig.
On a scale of 1-10 how much does your business light you up?
I’m on a big 10 right now because I’m three days away from publicly announcing our launch and going live with the website. The high from the first sale is going to be the best feeling ever. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It means all my hard work and the idea I had two long years ago when I started this journey won’t have been for nothing.
What do you wish you had in your business that you are still seeking?
A number of clones of myself. Lol.
In moments of doubt, how do you overcome it and lift yourself back up?
I call my business coach, Genine Howard of Life Extraordinary and get a reality check. She’s been amazing and I can’t recommend having a coach or a business mentor enough.
Who is your support crew if you have one?
Again, my business coach, Genine Howard.
My parents who have believed in me and helped me achieve this dream. My father in particular who hooked me up with his consultant in China and accompanied me on a trip to Qingdao to tour fabric houses and garment production companies.
My sister, Julia who has been very encouraging and helped me with a few tasks that I needed to offload to get other stuff done and my social media sisterhood. The women I’ve met online through Facebook and Instagram groups and have sometimes gone on to meet in real life. We continue to have each other’s back.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Don’t waste time trying to do things yourself if you don’t have the skills or by going for the cheaper option if you need to outsource. Surround yourself with a capable and reliable team of people to do those things for you. For me those people have been my kidswear designer, consultant in China, graphic designer, web guru and shopify expert to date. I could not have done this without them, their skills, their reliability and their support.
What’s a brief summary of the pathway it took to get to where you are now?
KFC rookie (first job at 14), Retail, University (BA Comms), PR, COMMS & marketing specialist (Investments, Notforprofit, Government, Luxury Property, Magazines)…
Swiping Right Changed My Life
One swipe right on dating app, Tinder, set in motion a chain of events that would see Melburnian, Renae Carolan’s life change on an epic scale starting with the birth of her daughter and the 2017 launch of her new, musthave baby product – grubeze.
As the old saying goes, you play with fire and you might get burned. Renae found out how fitting Tinder’s flame logo was when she fell pregnant in 2014 to her Tinder date. While the romance didn’t last, Renae was overjoyed with her ‘Tinder surprise’ and quickly settled into the role of single mama to daughter, Avery.
While on maternity leave, Renae had her ‘lightbulb’ moment with an idea for a new baby product. “Avery was six months old and had started solids. I was so frustrated with how useless bibs and smocks were at actually keeping her clothes dry and clean. She would get stuff in her crotch, under her butt, down her back and all up her arms. I even found stuff in her ear once.”
Jokingly referred to as a baby ‘hazmat’, grubeze is a waterproof, boilersuit style, onesie designed to be worn over clothing to protect from food stains and liquid spills during feeding. “Baby led weaning and selffeeding is made easier with grubeze because it removes that stress associated with the mess. You can confidently encourage independent eating knowing at the end of the meal there’s not going to be ruined clothing or need for a change,” says Renae.
“I was so sick of changing Avery after each feed, soaking and washing clothes and being disappointed when clothes were ruined by stains. I was spending too much time in the laundry and too much money on laundry products. I thought there has to be something better than a bib out there and I began scouring the internet to find it,” said Renae.
Renae was amazed to find her Google searches came up with nothing that offered 100percentt full clothing coverage while feeding. “I wanted a product that would solve my problems and save me time and money. I couldn’t be the only parent out there who wanted something better than a bib, something that actually offered full protection and delivered on its promise. When I couldn’t find it that’s when I knew I was on to something and I thought well, ‘I’ll just make it myself’.”
Mamas who trialled grubeze reported more often than not their ‘little grubbers’ wore the same outfit all day and any clothing changes weren’t related to feeding. Also, grubeze became a feeding association for nonverbal ‘little grubbers’, handing it to mum to let them know they were hungry. How awesome is that?
Trial mama, Olivia Kaino, says grubeze is magical, it practically repels food. I didn’t even have to wash it after each use because the unique, custom print acts to camouflage food stains and you can just wipe it over. “No matter how hard my son tried to get dirty, grubeze had it all covered. I can’t wait to gift grubeze to all my mamatobe friends,” she said.
Grubeze is made from super soft, lightweight, waterproof polyurethane laminate (PUL). The fabric is breathable, releasing heat and water vapour ensuring little grubbers stay cool and comfy while wearing it. Designed to Australian kids wear standard sizing, grubeze is available in sizes 612, 1218 and 1824 months from April 30 2017.
Two years in the making, grubeze was conceptualised and designed by single mama from Melbourne, Australia, Renae Carolan, and further developed with Clara Chan, garment technician and designer with over 20 years’ experience in fashion and kids wear. Easy to use, grubeze comes in a handy carry bag and features a convenient long double zip to allow for mid meal bum changes and adjustable wrist and ankles to suit any little grubber’s proportions. Extremely durable, grubeze is also antimicrobial, fire-retardant and resists abrasion and stands up to repeated washing and tumble drying.
How important is grit, determination and persistence to you in growing your business?
For me, the most important things to growing your business are Passion, Belief and Confidence without those things what’s the point of grit, determination and persistence?
Which of your personal traits are you most proud of?
My authenticity, I’m raw, real and honest.
What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss?
Self-discipline and not procrastinating.
What sacrifices have you made starting a business?
It has definitely been a challenge and I could have made it much easier on myself just enjoying not working and spending time with my daughter and living off Centrelink benefits until she started school but that’s not who I am.
When I had the idea for grubeze how could I ignore it? I saw it as a golden opportunity to create a job for myself - one that gave me the flexibility I wanted to raise my daughter on my terms. I hope she’s proud of what I have achieved.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
In the feedback and testimonials I receive from mamas who have trialled and used grubeze. The positive response to grubeze has been overwhelming and it feels great to know that an idea I had is making other mamas lives easier.
Who’s a woman you admire deeply?
I don’t know, no one in particular. I admire any woman who has the courage to seize opportunities and take full advantage of them. A woman who believes in herself and stands up for what she believes in. A woman who won’t be told ‘she can’t’ … A woman who can and does!
What do you still want to achieve on a personal level?
I’m 40 and still single. It would be fantastic to find a partner to share my life with.
What do you find most frustrating about your home workspace?
It’s my lounge room/storage room/office and I have a tiny, shitty desk that’s falling apart. I don’t have enough space. I would love to have a dedicated office space at some time that looked like something straight out of an Instagram post. Lol.
What’s your favourite thing about your home workspace?
It has a door on it that keeps my two year old out. Lol
Name one thing you can’t live without each day.
A kiss from my baby and a can of Coke.
Find out more about Renae Carolan and her grubeze at www.grubeze.com.au