I’m very happy to share my interview with Mandi Elias, Founder of First Class Baby Hire.
This series includes sponsored content.
Mandi Elias Interview for Self-Start Mums
1. Tell me about yourself?
I am Mandi Elias, 31 years old born and bred from Melbourne, Australia.
I am a mum to a gorgeous three-year-old we call Jazzy, wife, daughter and sister to a large Jewish family.
2. Tell us about your self-employed business?
When planning our first trip away with our baby, we didn’t want to take our brand new expensive pram and have it thrown into the cargo hold of the airplane in case it got damaged/lost. When looking at cabin-luggage approved travel stroller, I was shocked to see that it would cost $300-$600 for a stroller that would only be used once or twice a year. I had a look to see if anyone hired them out, and when I realised that no one in Melbourne did, I said ‘why not me then?’.
From just two travel strollers, we now carry over a dozen different pieces of travel equipment with multiple quantities of each one.
I wanted to help make traveling with babies, toddlers and young children affordable, convenient and easy so I based my business plan around this by offering complimentary delivery and collection, competitive pricing and excellent customer service with demonstrations available on my website as well as during the delivery service.
3. How did you transition to working for yourself?
I came up with the idea on a Friday night. I talked it over with my husband and parents over dinner, came up with the name of the business and by the Monday I had everything registered, engaged a website designer and started my business plan.
I figured that if I didn’t do it, someone else would come up with the same business (and sure enough some did months later) but I was going to be the one to succeed at it. I always wanted to run my own business; I studied marketing and management at a tertiary level so this was the next natural move in my career.
4. What was your previous career?
I was made redundant from my role as an event manager at a not-for-profit organisation while on maternity leave.
Prior to that, I worked in retail management for many years, working both in store and also within other departments like loss prevention, visual merchandising and area management.
5. Describe a typical day in your working life?
I drop my daughter off at kinder, travel to deliveries and collections (usually about 3-5 per day), prepare the equipment for the following day, pick my daughter up from kinder, come home and cook and eat dinner, put my daughter to bed then work on admin/marketing for an hour or two after she has gone down to sleep.
6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?
When I started the business I only had a handful of equipment so I’d usually only spend 2-4 hours a week working on and in the business. Now I work 20-25 hours a week depending on how many bookings I receive, but do spend a lot more time on social media marketing and networking with other mums in business.
It’s important to me to support others where I can and also learn from them.
7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?
I also run an online health and wellness business. I fell into this by accident, actually being a client initially but fell in love with the business model and the products that I decided to join too.
8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?
I’m lucky to have a great support network around me. With my daughter now in full time kinder, I have a bit more time on my hands but if I do get multiple bookings on either side of town, I sometimes ask a family member to help with one or two of them so I don’t have to rush back for kinder pick up and get overwhelmed.
9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?
The biggest obstacle I encountered was that there was no model from which to base my business off. I had to set the business up on a very limited budget. I then encountered two copycat businesses set up in opposition to me, using much of my website content and business model. I found out about these businesses through a Facebook ‘mummy-forum’ where the owners would comment on every post that I had also commented on. I had the choice to panic and fret over my new opposition or concentrate on how I can make my business grow and prosper bigger and better.
I made the decision to ensure that I was present on even more ‘mummy-forums’ and also had previous customers, friends and family members recommend the business without tagging my personal name, as it made the search function for the business name stronger and in turn also improved the SEO.
With my background in marketing and retail, I knew that I had to present my business as a niche in the baby-hire world. First Class Baby specialises in travel-specific equipment, which other hire services don’t. This was researched extensively when we were planning our first family holiday and couldn’t find any businesses that hired out travel strollers.
I streamlined the delivery process to make it convenient and affordable for parents. It is much easier to hire your equipment from your city of departure to avoid any issues when you get to your destination and find that the equipment is not clean, fit for use or damaged. However, recently I have serviced many customers arriving from interstate requiring compact equipment for use in their hotel rooms. First Class Baby offers free delivery and collection for all metro Melbourne areas, and the customers have the option to have a demonstration of the equipment upon delivery or can view the instructional video at any time via the business’s website. As a mother to a young baby, I knew that the last thing you want to do is run around as well as packing for yourselves, children and partners so this process offered accessibility and ease for all customers.
I’ve been enjoying seeing my business progress from month to month.
10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?
Being able to make decisions on my own without asking anyone for permission, and setting my own hours.
11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?
Make sure your business is different, you have support and make the most out of meeting other mumpreneurs.
12. What’s next for you and your business?
I’m hoping to be opening in other areas around Australia this year. It’s a lot to prepare but that’s the plan!
You can visit First Class Baby Hire here and follow here on Facebook and Instagram.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my interview with Mandi Elias of First Class Baby Hire!