The mother of 3 children aged 4 years and under who won the 2014 Aus Mumpreneur award
Caroline is a banker-cum-mumpreneur who is currently learning how to juggle work, life, a preschooler and a baby! On a daily basis, Caroline balances her time between running the business and being a full-time mum to Henry (4) and Oscar (1). She was recently awarded the prestigious Ausmumpreneur Retail Award (2014), as well as collecting the Peekaboo Design Award for Best Infant Shoes (2013)
1. We understand how you get your idea to start this distribution business. Where do you see your company in 5 years time?
I would love to see Attipas
as a household name, and the go-to brand for children’s pre walkers. It would also be great to see Attipas available in all major department stores and pharmacies.
2. What are your days like, as the business owner?
Hectic! I have 3 children aged 4 years and under, so life is very busy. The majority of my day involves multitasking between looking after two or three children (depending on the day of the week) and running the business. I rely heavily on technology (laptop/phone) and also outsourcing (I outsource all major functions including IT, order fulfilment/logistics, PR, legal, accounting and admin tasks).
3. What is your current focus on the business?
I am trying to grow the brand nationally. We have built up a huge online following over the past 3 years so the focus now is targeting those who would not readily purchase online. We participate in trade shows nationally, targeting parents of babies and toddlers, as well as expectant parents. We are also trying to build up our retail presence. Currently we stock in over 50 stores nationally but would love to see this figure grow to over 100 by the end of the next financial year.
4. How do you advertise your product/service?
Trade shows, Facebook, and email marketing. The great thing about Attipas is that they sell themselves! They really are talking point amongst mothers of babies and toddlers.
5. To what do you attribute your success?
Hard work and determination. I have always been a hardworking and determined people, and I don’t let anything get in my way. When people tell me I won’t make it, it drives me to prove them wrong! I love a challenge.
6. Will you suggest other new entrepreneur to use services of a professional accountant or attorney?
Yes, absolutely. Accounting and legal matters should be dealt with by experts. I have used both services over the past three years and would absolutely not be where I was had I not engaged the correct people at the correct time. Being an entrepreneur does not mean that you need to know everything. You just need to know how to leverage off those that do.
7. What is the most costly mistake that you have made during the business startup?
I utilised the services of a 3rd party logistics company when I first started without really doing my homework. The end result was extremely poor service, upset customers and damaged stock. Lesson learned: cheap is cheap. We now utilise a fantastic 3PL that is meeting agreed service levels, so all parties are happy.
8. How many employees do you have? What do you look for in an employee?
I don’t ‘hire’ staff as such, as my office is essentially my dining table. Plus my interns consist of Henry (4), Oscar (1), and Scarlett (1 month)! I have a virtual PA that I utilise daily, and other external contractors that I heavily rely on, including my IT contractor and bookkeeper. Down the track, my plan is to move to an external office space and hire staff as required.
9. Have you ever turned down a client?
Yes. I am often approached by people around the nation wanting to stock Attipas shoes. Many have bricks and mortar premises, but some do not. When people request to re-sell Attipas shoes I need to ensure they can appropriately represent the brand, supply the correct information and adhere to RRP’s, etc. I have had to turn several people down in the past due to the fact that I did not believe they would be able to adequately represent Attipas as a brand.
10. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Put your head down for the first year, work hard, and expect nothing in return. With time and dedication, the rewards will come. Success doesn’t happen overnight, for anyone.
11. Given that it is mother's utmost concern about product safety, how does Attipas Australia make sure that all shoes sold are safe for Australian children to wear? (e.g. country of origin, paint ingredient, certification, sharp edges etc.)
Attipas shoes are based on 7 years of research at the Seoul University in Korea. Studies show that Attipas shoes are superior to both regular soft and hard-sole pre walkers and mimic walking ‘barefoot'. Attipas shoes have been endorsed by Australian podiatrist and have won several awards both nationally and internationally for design, innovation, etc. Attipas also adheres to the ACCC’s Product Safety Guidelines.
12. How does Attipas Australia stay ahead of competition in terms of cost and pricing?
As we know, Australian dollar is on the fall and it will certainly hitting the bottom line of every businesses. We operate on a low-cost, high turnover model to ensure pricing is kept low for the customer. The falling AUD is definitely an area of concern but with that in mind, we would only factor in marginal price increases if the need called for it. Our RRP has not increased in over 2 years to date.
About Caroline Africh (Exclusive Distributor of Attipas Toddler Shoes Online)
Having spent the last 10 years building a career as a Project Manager in London, she decided to pursue passion over corporate after the birth of her first son Henry in 2011. Caroline introduced Attipas baby shoes into Australia in Sept 2012 and hasn’t looked back. Attipas functional infant shoes have been ergonomically designed to support first steps and thereafter, and are now available in sizes from birth to 4 years. Caroline also actively manages the Attipas Australia blog
and Facebook page