Small Business

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At home with the kids, mumtrepreneurs are taking care of business

AFTER years of working for someone else, Tash White was content staying at home raising her two girls. But her entrepreneurial streak could not be contained.

''Something inside of me kicked in and I decided it was time to do something,'' she says. ''I fell across this and it's taken off unexpectedly.''

That ''something'' was selling stylish jewellery for women that doubles as teething toys for babies, and the business that started from nothing nine months ago now has 50 stockists, gets online orders from across the country and is a hit at baby fairs.

''It was all very new, especially having to talk to manufacturers and negotiate was really quite scary,'' Ms White says. ''But it's made me grow confidence-wise and I'm doing things now that I never thought I'd be able to do.''

The founder of MummaBubba Jewellery is one of thousands of Australian women combining stay-at-home motherhood with business ventures. Experts believe the so-called mumtrepreneur is no longer a fad, but a business force.

For Ms White, running a business meant learning everything from cash flow to silicon manufacture. But it also allows her to combine a career with bringing up daughters Indiana, 4, and Milla, 2, at home in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton.


''If I was going to work back in corporate or fashion, the girls would have to go back to full-time care, so I wouldn't see them from eight in the morning to six at night. But today we had a picnic in the backyard before I just said, 'Right, mum needs to do some work','' she says.

The Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry says at least 700,000 Australian small businesses are run by women. The Women's Network Australia says almost half that figure are run by women from home. Both groups say mumtrepreneurs form one of the country's fastest-growing sectors.

But Alli Price, who advises stay-at-home mothers in enterprises, says the sector is still considered an ''underground movement''.

''There are thousands of these women across Australia and a lot of people don't take it seriously, they just think they're mums making a few goods at home as a hobby,'' she says.

Ms Price, who juggles raising daughters Amelie, 5, and Freya, 2, with running Motivating Mum from her home in Melbourne's Caulfield South, cites high childcare costs as a reason why many mothers start businesses.

But she also believes staying at home to care for children provides women with ''an amazing opportunity'' to realise their ideas, backed by the internet and social media, which are powerful research and selling platforms.

''They're often able to use it as a chance to pursue their passion and there's not the risk … we're lucky in that respect,'' she says.

Lena Capel knew her business TipTopShop was a winner when she ran out of room for stock in her garage and was forced to move into a warehouse the watches, tools and sporting goods she sells.

Ms Capel, who established her business after experiencing frustration trying to buy a hard drive online, now employs five staff and is hopeful of next year posting a $3 million turnover.

The former hairdresser says had always been encouraged to start her own business by her family in her native Russia, and realised taking time away from work to raise sons Nicholas, 3,and Anthony, 18 months, was the ideal time to realise her dream.

"I always wanted to do it but I never had the courage. I was always working for someone but always admiring the self-employed," she says.

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