Tash White with her two daughters Indiana and Milla with jewellery that she's made from her at home business MummaBubba jewellery. Photo: Angela Wylie
After years of working for someone else, Melbourne mum 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 said.
That ''something'' was selling 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 [having to] negotiate was really quite scary. But it's made me grow confidence-wise and I'm doing things now that I never thought I'd be able to do,'' Ms White said.
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 new career with bringing up daughters Indiana, 4, and Milla, 2, at home in the 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 said.
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 mums 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. A lot of people don't appreciate the experience, skill and intelligence these women have and the massive influence they can have,'' she said.
''But I don't know of any government initiatives, like business grants, to help mums in business.''
Ms Price, who juggles raising daughters Amelie, 5, and Freya, 2, with running Motivating Mum from her Caulfield South home in Melbourne, 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 quite lucky in that respect,'' she said.
Lena Capel knew her business was a winner when she ran out of room for stock in her garage and was forced to move the watches, tools and sporting goods she sold into a warehouse.
Ms Capel launched TipTopShop about three years ago when she became frustrated at the delays in buying a hard drive from overseas. She now employs five staff and is expecting a $3 million turnover next year and during the day spends time with sons Nicholas, 3, and Anthony, 18 months, at home in Hampton, also in Melbourne.
''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 said.