Please tell us a bit about the nature of your business...
b.box is an Australian company started by two mums back in 2007. We are known globally for our innovative, practical and quality products, especially our weighted straw sippy cup, travel bib and bowl + straw. Everything we do at b.box has a unique twist on an everyday essential, from diaper changing, where it all began, to toddler feeding. We're all about creating products that parents can trust and kids love to use. Products that deliver quality, value and a cool, modern design aesthetic. We have a dedicated, creative and passionate in house design team who are always looking at ways to disrupt the industry and empower toddlers and kids to be more independent and parents' lives that little bit easier and more funky. We love what we do and it shows in our products, people and partners. Our consumers are loyal and engaged and we ensure parents', kids, our retailers and global partners are involved at every stage of the design process. It's what makes our products sought after and relevant in a highly competitive global market.
What inspired you to start your business?
Like many successful career woman, we wanted it all. The ability to use our commercial smarts and creativity and have a young family. To enjoy being parents and also continue to develop our professional side. Monique Filer, my co-founder and I had very different yet complimentary skills sets. We wanted to create a business that enabled us challenge ourselves professionally, but gave us greater freedom than corporate life ever could. Specifically for b.box, we saw a gap in the market and decided to fill it. We knew we wanted to start a business and looked at, tried and discounted many different options before forging ahead with our first product - our diaper wallet. We backed ourselves and have never looked back.
What was the most challenging aspect of building your business in the beginning?
Our biggest challenge was a common one - cash flow - and understanding every aspect of the business life cycle.
We also realised very early on that having the product idea or even a product was step 1. Getting people to buy into our idea was a different ball game. A business is built on more than one product and we knew this from the outset, but were perhaps not prepared for the challenges this would face with key retail accounts. We started working on subsequent products really quickly and invested significantly in building our brand and gaining that market confidence and trust that we were not a one hit wonder. Stores need to know you've got what it takes to deliver on the shelf space they give you. Thankfully we have continued to deliver.
If you were to launch your business again, would you do anything differently?
Probably move out of our home office/garage set up sooner. :)
We'd also bring in more people earlier, rather than trying to do everything ourselves.
But to be honest, even the challenging times have turned into opportunities, so I'm not sure we would necessarily do things differently.
We would definitely be more confident and less aggressive in our pricing when negotiating with key accounts. It is hard to go back once the price is set.
What keeps you motivated?
I am really lucky that i have an amazing cheer squad and support. I also have a business partner that is more than a friend. It's family and we share the highs and lows. When one of us is feeling flat or blah, the other jumps in. We read each other well and are constantly focused on what's next.
We have an endless supply of ideas and vision for where we want to take the business. So the journey is what keeps me motivated.
And my kids. Being a strong female role model for my daughters. I want them to dream big and know it's achievable with hard work, determination and passion. I always tell my girls that if they can look in the mirror and like who's looking back, it's a good day.
How do you balance work and family life?
Some days are easier than others. Running a global business is a 24/7 job. It's like having another child. You need to nurture it and want to see it grow and develop. It needs to be fed. And it keeps you awake at night.
But family is everything. So we try and make sure we have dedicated family time each day. And no matter where i am around the world, my kids are always facetiming me and sending messages.
I also make sure I have time with my friends and with my husband. And somewhere in there I try and take some time out for me. Usually pilates...
What’s your proudest business moment?
The first time I saw someone I didn't know using one of our products. To know that someone had gone into a store and bought one of our ideas is always a buzz. Like a journalist seeing their byline for the first time. It never gets old.
I am also immensely proud of the team we have. b.box is a family and we are fortunate to have amazing people who are committed to seeing our company achieve its full potential. Being in a position to attract these incredibly talented people is rewarding.
What’s been your most successful form of marketing and/ or brand awareness?
Other mums. We speak directly to our target audience, through social media, influencers, B2C expos, etc. We are engaged and active with our customers and creative in how we communicate. We are relatable and always give back and I think that's what consumers have responded to. Our customers sell our products for us, referring friends to the brand.
Do you have any positive habits or routines that you feel have attributed to your success?
We are really agile and open as a company. We have a strong strategic vision but always have an eye on opportunities that arise. Both myself and Monique are involved across the business and do not have layers of red tape. We are really collaborative as a team and have regular team connection check points during the week. We call them scrums, but they help ensure everyone is on the same page and that any issues that arise are dealt with as they happen.
What's your favourite business app/ tool/ book/ podcast etc?
My favourite business tools are Dropbox, so I can access any file, anywhere. And my iPhone.
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs just starting out?
Do your market research. Listen to what it is telling you and then if it all adds up, back yourself. There will always be people who question, most with the best of intentions. The key is to listen, learn and then trust your gut. And be brave. It's not easy and you will stumble and even fail. But it's how you learn from those challenges that will lead to success. Failure is healthy if you turn it into an opportunity. Best piece of advice I ever received in business. Oh and don't spend money you don't have
If you want to get in touch or see more of Danielle and Monique's adventure, head over to her website or social media:
b.box for kids
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