Self-Start Mums showcases mothers who have created their own self-employed business. I’m very happy to share my interview with Dong-Maria, Founder of BabyDonkie.
This series includes sponsored content.
Dong-Maria Interview for Self-Start Mums
1. Tell me about yourself?
My name is Dong-Maria. I am the eldest of three.
My parents fled Vietnam 40 years ago as refugees by boat. My mother was pregnant with me at the time. I didn’t know it then, but my future husband was also on the same boat, only three years old. We have been married 15 years, live in Sydney and together have four kids – Lincoln, Archer, Olivia and Ben.
2. Tell us about your self-employed business?
Launched in 2012, BabyDonkie, is a sweet online space dedicated to making shopping for beautiful, high quality organic children’s clothing, sustainably created eco toys and kids décor a simple pleasure.
At BabyDonkie, our philosophy is simple. We believe in purchasing beautiful things that have been made to last. Each designer has been chosen for on trend aesthetic, incredible quality and true value for money. These are pieces you’ll want to hand down to siblings or friends. And the eco-friendly values of all our brands means you can feel good about the purchases you make.
3. How did you transition to working for yourself?
I love shopping, looking for new labels (especially design-led pieces) while hunting down a good bargain. When I had my two boys, I found myself buying quite a bit online, both in Australia and overseas. I was also searching a lot for organic clothing that wasn’t boring.
When I was on maternity leave with our 2nd son, I wanted to give the business a real go, so I had a logo and website designed and developed and it just went from there. For the periods where I worked full time, I would work on the business in the evenings. For the two maternity leave periods, I worked on the business around the kids routines.
4. What was your previous career?
I have over 15 years experience in risk and audit. I have previously worked for Accounting Firms, Airlines, Banks and Property companies.
5. Describe a typical day in your working life?
I currently run BabyDonkie, around my full time job and the kids. A typical day would see me posting to Social Media and checking emails on my commute. In the evenings, once the kids are in bed, I would alternate between packing orders and working on sales and marketing, ordering products, updating the website etc.
6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?
10-15 hrs a week. I also have a VA that helps with my blogs and emails.
7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?
Yes, I contract out my risk/audit/compliance experience through my own Risk Management company. I’m currently working full time with a bank.
8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?
The two eldest boys are in school. The younger kids are in daycare and/or preschool.
My husband is very hands on and we share the household tasks as well as drop offs and pick ups. We have a fortnightly cleaner and an afterschool babysitter for 3 days a week. We do a weekly online grocery shop and batch cook on the weekends where possible. I also got right into the konmari method earlier this year. I’ve reorganised so many areas in the house and setting up a school uniform and bag station has really helped with the hectic mornings.
9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
The juggle and balance between work and mum life is hard. Building a brand also takes time and requires constant work.
10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
Given my career background, BabyDonkie has been my creative outlet. From the start I have been involved in every aspect of the business. From concept design for the brand and website, to sourcing products, packing orders and establishing a social media presence.
I really love connecting with my customers and other mums in business. I am also finding a real passion for anything e-commerce related be it Instagram, Pinterest, email marketing, Facebook ads, SEO.
11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?
My advice would be to give it a go and back yourself, plus the following:
- Find a need for your product/service and understand your target market
- Set yourself up with the best processes and systems you can afford at the time then improve/scale as you grow e.g. for the longest time I was handwriting addresses on satchels but when I finally bought a Dymo labeling machine I wish I’d bought it sooner!
- Invest in your learning and build a community around your business.
12. What’s next for you and your business?
A new website is planned for this year, which is exciting!
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I hope you’ve enjoyed my interview with Dong-Maria BabyDonkie!