Meet Monique Hession, a creative entrepreneur, with an endless outlet for working to her strengths in Social Media Marketing & Strategy. In 2016 she made the decision to turn her corporate career in Business Accounting into an Internet Start-up business, enhancing the flow between work and family.
This career change brought her skills and experience in finance face-to-face with her natural strengths in communication, creativity and innovation. And… she hasn’t looked back.
Today, Snuggle Hunny Kids has over half million followers on Instagram and receives tons of orders. And this all happened in less than four years, Hession has grown her Start-up, Snuggle Hunny Kids, into Australia’s largest online retailer of baby swaddles. They specialize in unique and bespoke swaddles, bed linen and newborn accessories that are created with unique design and quality materials. They are the home to the Snuggle Swaddle – a stylish no zip sleep bag for babies to settle and sleep in. She employs 6 staff around the world and has gathered a host of artists and manufacturers who work with her to create the one-of-a-kind product range.
Working alongside some of Australia’s biggest Influencers, Hession has also developed a strong influential network, online customer base and social following. Her purpose? To bring beauty into the world of the modern Mum and her little one, and bring together a community of women who want to do the same.
And she’s winning. Fast approaching half a million engaged followers in her social media family, Monique has influenced the way we celebrate newborns in our digital age. Not only has she managed to build a tremendous following via online
And the best part of it all? Hession gets to share all of it; the ideas, the products, the day-to-day routine of home and work-hub with her young family and her newly found extended family – her very own Snuggle Hunny Kids community.
What inspired you to start Snuggle Hunny Kids? What was going through your mind on that day?
During pregnancy, with my firstborn son, I was completely uninspired by the baby products which were available! My mother and I bought some fabric and we put together swaddles and bedding for my little one to-be. I then realised that I was passionate about bringing beauty into the life of every mom and her baby through quality products that had a modern edge. There was a market for mothers like me, but no products to satisfy it, so I took a risk and created 6 items to sell online.
After longing for a career change and wanting to raise my children at home, I was fortunate to spend my maternity leave raising my son and starting a unique business. I didn’t realise the enormity of what lay in front of me, all I knew was that I was passionate about this space and took a risk to step out into it.
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
Each day is filled with new opportunities to challenge my abilities, skills and determination. It’s a thrill! I also get to evolve with my Brand, keeping everything in line with my passion and vision. I genuinely love the flexibility and opportunity to make decisions that has the Brand’s best interest at heart and guide our team in the way that I see it play out in my mind. As a mother it also allows me to raise my children and balance the juggle between work and being a mom. It allows me to follow my passion and be passionate about what we are doing in this space. I love my job.
What else motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
Passion, which was lacking in my role as a Senior Accountant for a Chartered Accountant Firm, where I worked for 13 years. There was no thrill or drive to exceed. I was bored and searching for that certain ‘spark’ in my career, well before I started Snuggle Hunny Kids, but I didn’t know where to find it. When this happened, out of the love I have for linen and swaddling, it became obvious that this is what I had been looking for the entire time.
Being a mompreneur, what are the cons and pros?
Being a Mom & entrepreneur means you cannot do it all. Your mind is constantly running, like a 24-hour clock that does not stop between the routine of mom life and running a business, neither of which can operate without you. I started my business so I could stay at home with my family and raise my children but quickly it grew into a humble but large online business and the hours with my children decreased as the focus shifted to managing the growth of a Brand that was growing faster than my babies.
I sacrificed my maternity leave and neglected my home to ensure that my business did not break during its growth periods. It is only now after 4 years that I built a team I can rely on and am able to put my time and focus back into my children and live a balanced life managing both ‘babies’ well. When I can’t be there for my kids when they need me, attend their important events and watch them grow, is not so much a ‘con’ of being a mompreneur, but it can definitely be a cost.
However, the pro is actually the flip side. If you build a healthy, proficient team around you and you allow yourself to be comfortable without being superwoman… the pro of being a mompreneur is that you will be able to move more freely with your children and their world, being available for special events, and right in those moments when they need you. Another
What sacrifices have you had to make during life as an entrepreneur?
- My home became a warehouse and overflowing storage facility
- My dining table was a work station by day (with 3 employees!) and our family dinner table at night
- I lost a lot of sleep working late, building the brand in what I wanted it to be and my weekends were spent at the computer
- It has been a love-story, not money-making venture. For the first 2 years, every cent made (and there wasn’t much, the first year I ran at a loss) went back into our business
- My maternity leave was spent ‘working’ during nap times, nights and weekends as I was also growing into being a mom of one, then two, amazing boys.
What is the most rewarding aspect of Snuggle Hunny Kids?
It‘s a thrill when you love what you do! Being able to enjoy my work and achieve my career dreams while also being there for my children is magic. When your customers want to be a part of your community and love your products so much they become a loyal fan of your brand is incredible. Not only do I get to impact a community of everyday mothers with beautiful products, they get to impact mine. The smallest piece of positive feedback about what we are doing in this space can be so rewarding.
What are the first steps to take when you want to grow a business? Did you focus on getting bigger or did you focus on your products first?
The first step is to be passionate. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, building a customer base who are passionate about what you are doing will almost impossible.
The second step is to start with a set of products you are happy with, create a company and learn about your market, your customer & their buyer behaviours. Don’t expect to know it all, a lot of it is teaching and adapting along the way.
The last obstacle as you step out, is much like the first, you need to believe in yourself, your product and the brand you’re creating. If you don’t believe in yourself, your brand and your product, your customers are not going to either. I never dreamt of being the market leader in our field, let alone have a team and warehouse. I focused on one step at a time, evolving our product and brand to where I wanted it to be.
What marketing strategy do you use for your businesses? Have you tried a strategy that did not work at all in the past, what strategy would you advise someone to leave behind?
We use several marketing strategies for our business, particularly social media and google shopping. Our brand is more than a product, it is about sharing the ups and downs of motherhood with our community. Social media allows us to have that connection with our customers and gives them an insight into who we are and they want to be a part of that. Traditional advertising and print magazine is something we have used before, but with minimal success. Our audience is online, so it makes sense to connect with them there.
Would you say social media is the number 1 source for getting sales?
100% yes! Platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow your business to reach your target customer in ways you never could before. The tools that are on offer means the customer can shop your products and convert to sales with only a few clicks of a button. They also get to see your entire range in the one place and an array of examples of how so many other ‘everyday moms’ use it.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
We have had some failures around working with overseas manufacturers and supplier quality not being up to scratch. I have learned that you need to educate yourself in this space and do your homework. Research a new supplier before proceeding with a working relationship. Receiving and approving a sample is not enough, they may not pay attention to the finer details, when it comes to the bulk order. Make sure there is clear communication, samples are received in a timely fashion and have your products tested by an external testing body, to ensure they meet global and/or local standards.