This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Malou Villarreal, Baby Loves Sleep
2018 AusMumpreneur Product Innovation Award bronze winner
Tell us the story behind why you love what you do and why you’re so passionate about sharing your message?
Three years ago, I started my business with a single product. I now have five products that I designed and created, extending the range to cover babies from newborn through to toddlerhood (3+ years). I’m very passionate about what I do because Baby Loves Sleep is like an extension of my family and each new product is like a new baby born like a new member of my family.
I love that I am able to help other parents that are experiencing the same sleep issues I faced with a product that works where no other product in the market can. And importantly, that I have created a business that will allow me to spend more time with my family.
Tell us a story about a challenging time you faced, how you overcame it and what lesson/lessons/wisdom this experience has taught you about life and business.
Gosh, where do I start? Challenges and mistakes are a big part of running a business and this is the stuff that can make you or break you. I have had challenges ranging from what I call ‘living on the edge’ through to supplier/manufacturing issues through to dealing with copy cats. I’ll just pick one that was quite significant for me earlier 2018, which was around cash flow and not knowing where I was going to get the funds to pay for the balance of a production order that included products that was going to my distributor. I had only just taken out a loan of $30K to fund the patent applications outside of Australia and I needed to bridge the funding gap to pay the balance owing on my production order so that I could at least get my distributor’s order out to them. Luckily, I have a very good relationship with my supplier who when I had explained my situation was happy to support me in any way possible by extending my payment deadline to coincide with the payment I was expecting to receive from my distributor. OMG, this could have gone pear shaped in a big way and could have set me back in a major way. So, the lesson for me here is – relationships are key! In life we should seek out people who love and support us and I truly believe this goes for business as well. It’s so important to be surrounded by business people who understand and get you, this is especially true when partnering or collaborating with other businesses and absolutely important when choosing a supplier (or suppliers if you have more than one).
What are 3 pieces of advice you would give someone starting out in business?
1. Remember your WHY (why you started your business), this will be your driving force and reminder to keep going when times get a bit tough.
2. No man is an island. This is something I learned at school. We all need to be around people in order to survive, and the same goes when you’re in business. Surround yourself with likeminded people and people who have experience and can offer valuable advice.
Where do you find these people? Join networking groups, there are a multitude of these networking groups on Facebook alone. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.
3. Don’t get caught wandering aimlessly. Write down your business goals and have a plan for how you will achieve these. Make your goals realistic and connect it back to your WHY, then create actions that lead to achieving your goals.
(Image credit: Alex Anderson, Jam on your Collar)
What is your proudest business achievement? Why does this mean so much to you?
This is a hard one because this year alone, I have achieved so much with my business all while still working a corporate day job. I would have to say getting featured by a high-profile business newspaper in my motherland (Philippines) means a lot as it was totally unexpected and it puts me in front of a huge market (91.7 Million people). I don’t believe this would have happened if I had not won an Award at this year’s AusMumpreneur Awards.
Finally, what do you believe is the secret to success?
I don’t believe there is one secret to success in business. If this were the case, everyone in business would be successful. However, there are a few qualities that make a successful entrepreneur, it’s all about mindset and these include – a willingness to learn, a positive attitude and persistence – getting back up and keep going when you think you have failed – you have only failed if you don’t get back up. You can only truly measure success by the mistakes you have made and by using the learning from the mistakes to keep going and finding another way to reach your goal.
About our AusMumpreneur Ambassador
Malou Villarreal is mum of two very energetic boys plus her hubby. She is the creator of the patent-pending Sleepy Hugs sleep suit which led her to starting her business, Baby Loves Sleep. Malou created the Sleepy Hugs as a result of her second son’s struggles with sleep.
You could perhaps say that Malou’s Baby Loves Sleep business was a little accidental and in some way she owed it a lot to her second son. She did everything that you get told not to do just to get him to sleep like having him nap in her arms just so he could get a decent stretch of sleep or laying on the floor next to his cot holding his hand until he fell asleep and then crawling like a caterpillar or commando rolling out of his room just to get a bit of a break. Malou reckoned she spent a nice little fortune buying products which she hoped would help, only to feel disheartened when they didn’t really work. And this led to the creation of the Sleepy Hugs sleep suit.