This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Kim Oakhill, Helpful Love
2017 Gold winner of AusMumpreneur Social Impact category
Tell us about yourself and your business?
I’m Kim – a Mumma to 2 cheeky, strong willed little free spirits – Conway (5) and Dusty Mae (3), a hippie, boho marriage celebrant, and a heart centred-entrepreneur from Port Stephens, NSW.
I grew up on 25 acres in Port Macquarie, NSW and always had a passion for wanting to make a difference in the world.
After completing high school, I travelled to Finland as an exchange student to see the world, before settling back into adult life in Newcastle.
After working for several law firms and completing a law degree, I swapped the suits for a super hero outfit, and spent my pre-mumma days brightening the lives of seriously ill children with the Starlight Children’s Foundation, before venturing into the high-paced corporate world of commercial contracting and project management.
After becoming a mum, a passion was ignited within to create a legacy for my children to be proud of. I ventured down a new path of creative, soul fulfilling ventures and became a very successful modern marriage celebrant.
In February 2016, following the death of my friend’s little girl, I founded Helpful Love; a for profit for impact social enterprise which offers practical domestic services in lieu of flowers.
My mission is to grow the Helpful Love movement across Australia and once established and blossoming beautifully, successfully touching lives across the globe.
What was your inspiration for your business?
When my friend was grieving, everyone sent flowers. My friend’s husband suffered hayfever, so all the flowers went in the garage to wilt away and be thrown in the bin. I thought this was crazy, and wanted to do something to actually help the family, not just do something that would make me feel better but not actually have any impact on their grieving and healing. I thought about sending a cleaner, but I didn’t know if they needed that… I also didn’t want to offend them. So I looked everywhere for a one stop shop of practical, helpful providers, as I thought it would be helpful for the family to choose what they wanted help with… But I couldn’t find anything like it. So, Helpful Love was born.
Did you have any experience in running a business or in this industry before?
Short answer, no. But I had a little bit of experience with setting up a template website from my celebrant business, and fierce determination to make it happen. The world needed a service like Helpful Love – not only grieving families, but also new babies and divorces and solo parents due to deployments or FIFO… and no one else had thought to do it yet, so I thought I had better give it a shot!
I started by creating a really dodgy DIY, one page website with a key message – think practically during times of tragic loss. Then I contacted a whole heap of local domestic service providers, and asked if I could promote them on my [dodgy] website (for free with no strings) to give people different, practical alternatives to flowers.
After a few months, I realised that the directory isn’t really cutting it… we don’t always know what help the families will need, so they needed to somehow have choice. I then created the “Helpful Love Gift Voucher” and asked all the vendors on our website to accept the voucher, making it the most thoughtful, practical gift! My vision had come alive, and it was then time to spread the word about our amazing community and product which would change lives and truly help people during tough times.
What’s your point of difference that makes your business special or unique?
As it currently stands, the only other real option is to send flowers. No one else is doing what we’re doing, and while there are nice hampers or products or single services on the market, there aren’t any other helpful, practical alternatives that provide such an extensive range of options. The other thing that I am so proud of, is the fact that we are able to pass on 100% of the value to our clients, unlike crowdfunding platforms which take a percentage of the total funds. For example, if you spend $50, the recipient will receive a $50 Gift Voucher. Helpful Love receives a small commission from the vendor upon voucher redemption, so the family receives the full value gifted.
What have you learnt about yourself since becoming an entrepreneur?
I’ve learnt that anything is possible if you set your mind to it, and any problems truly can be overcome.
I’ve also learnt that there are so many people out there who can help you if you need some advice. Teamwork makes the dream work, and you just need to put yourself out there!
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges was experiencing a marriage break down. Ironically, looking back, I personally needed Helpful Love! I became a single mumma overnight, and had to return to corporate world to keep the house, as Helpful Love was not profitable. This experience made me so strong, courageous and creative with productivity, as I was spinning so many plates and juggling so many balls at the same time. [Thankfully, my life turned around and my marriage was repaired and is better than ever!] The corporate day job gave me financial security to pay bills and enabled me to outsource a bunch of tasks that I had previously undertaken on my own. I also had to be creative about how to delegate without any funds to pay staff, so I created a Brand Ambassador program and grew a team of beautiful stay at home Mummas who help to grow the community and expand the vision.
My biggest tip is to think outside the box, rest to recharge when you need to, and put one foot after the other. You got this.
What lessons have your business taught you about life?
I’ve learnt that sometimes, things don’t go to plan – but that it’s ok! It’s how you deal with those things when they happen. I think it’s really important to be receptive to change, and in fact, be ready for it! To be open to feedback, to listen to the advice and guidance of others, but to also stay true to yourself.
I’ve learnt that if we do the right things for the right reasons, in business and in our personal lives, then we are going to live richer, more fulfilling and rewarding lives, sleep well at night and have a warmth in our hearts that we are striving to be the best versions of ourselves.
If you could go back to when you were starting your business and give your younger self some advice what would you tell her?
I am a big picture, visionary type, and not really into the detail! I was in such a rush to get the vision out there, that I didn’t focus too much on the branding or design elements of the business.
While I don’t regret jumping right in (and in fact, always tell aspiring entrepreneurs to stop waiting for everything to be “perfect” and just put it out there already!), I would have invested more time in the branding and design element of my business, or brought on experts to assist me early on.
In order to take Helpful Love to that next level, it needs a consistent image and brand story, so I’m now having to backtrack and focus in on that element.
What’s next for your business?
There is so much excitement ahead!
From a personal perspective, I have quit my corporate job to spend more time with my family, and focusing on my celebrant business to support our family financially, and investing the rest of my time on growing Helpful Love. I am also completing the Women’s in Business School Accelerate Program and focusing on my professional development in this space.
From a business perspective, I have self-funded a significant investment to rebrand and brand new website (on a 0% interest credit card – manifesting that the debt will be repaid in future profits before the promotional period ends!) I am also looking to incorporate to become a proprietary limited company and also looking at expanding the Helpful Love Leadership Team with complimentary skill sets to add diversity to grow the business.
If you could change the world, and money was no object, what would you do?
I want a world for our children that is safe and peaceful, free from poverty, war, terrorism and abuse. I believe that in order to change the world, we need to start at home. I don’t have a magic wand, but I have love. If we spread love and kindness to ourselves and each other, we’ll be one step closer to changing our world.
To learn more about Kim and Helpful Love, please visit