Leanne Murner is the owner/designer behind 5 Little Bears. She is a multi-award winning entrepreneur for the following categories in our 2020 AusMumpreneur NSW-ACT Awards
- Silver winner – Product Design
- Silver winner – Making a Difference (Education)
Leanne is mum to 5 boys ranging in age from 3 to 9. She loves getting back to nature with their caravan adventures and gardening (whenever she can). Leanne is an Author and owner/designer behind 5 Little Bears. They hand make Australian themed timber educational resources in Newcastle NSW. Leanne has also written a series of children’s books that will all be published this year. The first series is based around Australian Native plants teaching kids about the plants and who need them. The second series will be about Australian Animals, their habitat and threats.
When did you start your business?
After attending the Ausmumpreneur awards in 2018, I came home bursting with inspiration and wanted to do something new, I was not enjoying what I was doing! With timber off cuts piling up from my other business I was excited to source sustainable use for them. I approached a preschool educator about making puzzles and sensory items. After extensive research, I found that there was an obvious void in the market for Australian themed educational resources. With focusing on teaching Australian kids about their own backyard and 5 Little Bears was born. The books come about at the end of 2019 after the devastating NSW bush fires. My children were asking questions and I didn’t really know the answers so I started to research our native plants and the benefit to fire. When I explained to my boys how plants and nature benefit from fire I seen they had so much interest in this and then books evolved from there. My boys are also the characters in the books.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
When I researched puzzles and games everything I found had African animals on them. When discussing the animals with my boys they all knew what an elephant and a tiger were but not a wombat or a Tasmanian devil so that’s when I decided to do Australian themed puzzles. I wanted to teach kids about our own back yard and the books have reflected that too. I am passionate about the need for children to be educated on Australian wildlife and the prevention of extinction especially after the loss we had in the fire devastation. If we do not educate the younger generation on this these animals may not be there for their children.
What are you most excited about in your business?
The overwhelming response and growth we have had in such a short amount of time, our products are one of a kind and we now provide in multiple languages so the whole world can enjoy these resources. We also do custom pieces and exclusive designs so we love to bring other people’s designs to life. I was terrible academically at school and did not have the confidence to even consider becoming an author but the personal growth I have achieved in such a short time proves if you put your mind to it you really can achieve anything.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
As a child at school, reading and writing were not my strong points and not having the confidence or family support to even consider doing anything like this. The encouragement and inspiration I have received from this community, I have overcome that negative mindset of ‘I can’t do that’ to ‘I can’. If I had not taken this path I would not be where I am today.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
If you have a thought or a dream and it gives you belly butterflies and a sense of giddiness go for it. If you can see it in your mind you can create it. But do you research on your product/service and target audience. But most of all believe in yourself and you will achieve your goals.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
At first I deleted the email…. twice, my negative mindset from my family (growing up as a child) made me think I was not capable or deserved to even enter something like this. In the back of my mind I was thinking well why can’t I. I had an anonymous nomination from someone who obviously believed that I could and the encouragement from my husband who also believes in me, I thought what the hell, I applied and was in. Attending my first awards I was nervous and didn’t think I deserved to be there with all these successful women. Well I was so wrong, I deserved to be here as much as every other woman did. The number of first timers that felt the same as me was just crazy! We were all new here to learn off each other. Sometimes you forget that everyone starts at the same place and feels the same feelings as you do when starting out in business. I left with so much confidence and this experience has taught me to value myself, have confidence, connect and dream big, magic does happen and has for me! If you don’t have any goals in life how do you achieve anything.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
The speakers and connections, I learnt so much about their journey’s. They had all been where I was and now look at where they are! I have been fortunate enough to now be working with 2 connections I made at the 2018 awards, Karen McDermott is my Publisher and Kat Fox is my Illustrator.
What surprised you most about the awards?
How supportive everyone was and genuinely interested to learn about you and your brand. I had always had the mindset of other people were threats (my negative childhood had such a massive impact on my thought process) moving past all that negativity it has open up my eyes to learning from other women, connecting and taking chances.
How did the awards help you in your business?
Learning that you need to set goals to move forward, take opportunities as they come in. They have been given to you and it is up to you to make something of them. I made so many mistakes with my last business and I was not doing it again. I had no goals, I didn’t know where I wanted to be in 1, 2 or 5 years, I was taking every day as it came, I had nothing to look forward to no goals, I hated what I was doing. I came home from these awards and said to my husband I want to do something different. I realized how much I hated what I was doing. I wanted to dream big and have goals! I have implemented this into my life since then and now look what I have achieved. These awards were life changing for me.
What advice would you give to others mums thinking about entering the awards?
It will be life changing, take the leap there will be no looking back.
What’s happening next in your business? Any big plans for the future?
We have just expanded into America, Canada, Taiwan and Singapore this year and looking into Europe next with the 5 Little Bears products. We have just secured a HUGE contract with an Australian company to roll out our entire range into early childhood very exciting times ahead! With the books, I am working on the next series about Australian animals and behind the scenes working on a new series of books teaching kids about diversity. Watch this space!
All images featured here are from 5 Little Bears.
SAVE THE DATE – 2021 AUSMUMPRENEUR AWARDS!
Nominations open Monday 3 May 2021.
AusMumpreneur Awards Nights 8-10 September 2021
Conference and Awards Presentation 14-16 September 2021.