Meet Judy Fraser from Bonnie and Kind
What’s your elevator pitch for your lady startup?
We craft the most luxurious, stylish, functional baby kits that allow modern mothers to organise and stow all the essentials they need for baby to toddler (and themselves!) in a compact leather kit, without compromising on their sense of style. Many women struggle with baby bags they don’t identify with as they transition into motherhood. We’re reinventing how modern mothers ‘do’ baby bags so they feel great and like their ‘old self’ when they are out and about.
What was the inspiration behind it?
I experienced the same struggle with dowdy, cumbersome baby bags when I had my first bub. I searched high and low for a baby bag that was aesthetically more ‘me’/my style because while I wanted functionality, I equally wanted to feel good and confident wearing my baby bag. I felt embarrassed about dragging half the house around in a clumsy baby bag.
After talking to friends who’ve had babies and mums in my mother’s group, I realised they also had the same experience as me with their baby bags. We all felt like we were settling for the best of a bad lot… and they didn’t make us feel good. Nor did we need ALL THAT STUFF when going out!
I didn’t find the transition into motherhood an easy one. I really struggled with my new identity. My days felt unfamiliar and such a dramatic change from working life. So for me, my baby bag, was an emotional choice – I wanted something that was fashionable, chic and resembled aesthetically what I would have chosen before. I wanted to feel empowered and confident wearing it. I didn’t want to feel like I was compromising my old sense of style just because I was now a mother. I looked, I Googled and unfortunately I didn’t find what I was looking for. So this drove me to come up with a better solution.
What was your background?
After I completed my Bachelor of Business and Journalism degree, I joined Unilever (a global consumer goods business) as a Graduate Representative… I soon joined the Marketing team where I worked on much-loved consumer brands such as Lipton, Bushells and Continental. I later took up a marketing opportunity to work with Lion – Australia’s largest beer brewer. I feel very fortunate that the experience helped with launching my own business and really understanding the consumer needs.
Did you dive right in or was it a side hustle?
I had my two children close together, 19 months apart to be exact (very much not planned!). I was on extended maternity leave which gave me the opportunity to think through what it was that I wanted to do with my career post-children. I’ve always had a passion to start my own business, but I never put enough time towards actually doing anything about the ideas I had.
As more of my friends had kids and found the same struggle with baby bags, I thought to myself, I think there is a problem here that I may be able to help solve. So I dove right into launching the business but it did take more than two years of designing, refining, crafting and building before launching.
How do you find juggling a small business and being a mum?
It really is a juggle. Like all working mums, whether you own your own business or not, it’s a constant tug and pull between getting work done, being there for your kids and keeping the household ticking over. I constantly feel like there is more to do on the work front and the home front and the ‘to do’ list is never ending. My mind is always running and never switches off. The juggle feels really overwhelming at times…
Tips? I set aside an hour every morning to knock off emails, my ‘to do’ list and priorities for the day. I always do this over a cup of coffee… It’s my hour of calm and power before the chaos of the day kicks in! The other tip is: remember to be kind to yourself. We’re all juggling so much. There are days where a few balls drop and it’s ok. We’re doing our best and it doesn’t help beating ourselves up.
How do you reset and recharge after feeling burnt-out or overwhelmed?
I tried meditation (badly!)… it’s a work in progress. I’ve found exercising really helps me reset and recharge. Endorphins – happy hormones – really work! I’m usually out of the house before everyone is up to go for a walk or run with a friend, or do a class at the gym. The early wake-ups are not easy but I always feel so good after I’ve moved my body and it really sets me up to tackle the day.
It’s also really easy to focus on issues that affect you negatively. Reframing and conscious positive thinking also really help to get through the tough periods. Ultimately, I’ve decided to build a business so it’s important to celebrate small wins and remember to enjoy the journey – otherwise why do it?
Proudest achievements so far?
I feel the most proud when customers tell me how much they love their kits because finally there is something they identify with and it helps them feel like ‘them’. It makes me so happy hearing women are not having to compromise on their style. I’m also really proud of strong partnerships we have with amazing baby stores, some of which I love and shopped for my babies. It’s surreal seeing Bonnie and Kind proudly on display and selling well!
What kind of challenges have you overcome?
Oh, there are so many… Manufacturing was a really big one. I was adamant that our product and quality had to be superior, luxurious and a ‘designer’ experience for women. I wanted to make the Bonnie and Kind woman feel special and seen. The kits are really complex to craft with the thoughtful pouches, pockets and the attention to detail elements. Nailing the craftmanship and being able to consistently deliver to the high standards was challenging. The whole process took years and many prototypes, because I didn’t want to cut any corners. I feel so chuffed when customers tell us they’re blown away by the quality of our kits and how they’re ‘even better in real life’. It makes all that hard work worthwhile.
Other challenges include access to limited capital, not having a proper place to work (hello dining table and the kitchen benchtop!), and the constant learning because when you start your own business you are ‘Mary from Accounts’ and ‘Louise from Logistics’ too, haha. Thank goodness for Google! I’d be so lost without it, especially in those beginning stages where everything was foreign and a learning curve.
Best piece of customer feedback?
I read every piece of customer feedback and constantly ask for it because I want to keep evolving and ensure we continue to meet the needs of the modern woman. Bonnie and Kind was created for women transitioning into motherhood but we’ve had more and more women tell us: ‘I use your kit as my every day crossbody bag because it fits everything I need and keeps all my things organised – and I don’t have kids or little ones anymore!’ It’s a real lightbulb moment that these women are loving and buying our kits!
What advice would you give others thinking of becoming ‘mumpreneurs’?
DO IT! You are the only one who can make it happen. You may succeed, you may fail, but you’ll only know if you give it a red-hot crack! You’ll also learn a lot about yourself and only grow from the experience.
The most surprising thing you’ve discovered?
How supportive and generous people are with wanting to help, give you their time and share their experience with you when you seek it. Without the amazing people I’ve met and crossed paths with along the way, Bonnie and Kind wouldn’t be what it is today.
Future goals for your lady startup?
I really hope Bonnie and Kind continues to support and uplift women throughout their motherhood journey all around the world. I want every mother to feel confident, empowered and proud, especially when they wear them. If I can change the way we do baby bags, that would be a dream come true.
Want to win a Bonnie and Kind kit? Buy a copy of Everly Issue 3 to find out how to enter.