Interview with Gemma Beriman, Founder of Moon Mama

Interview with Gemma Beriman, Founder of Moon MamaWhat did you do before launching your own business?

I began my career as a print journalist, working in newspapers for almost five years before heading back to university to become a high school English teacher. I’m really passionate about helping others to improve their language and literacy. I love seeing that light bulb moment when students ‘get’ something and reach the point where they can engage in spirited discussions.

I came up with the idea for my invention, the Take-Off Tote – an all-in-one diaper bag, feeding pillow and play mat – while on maternity leave with our first-born, Hudson, over this past year. The business name, Moon Mama, was inspired by his birth. I went into labour during a full moon, so it felt like a perfect fit.

The major catalyst for the invention came during an overseas holiday to Italy when Hudson was four months old. We had to lug around so much extra stuff for him and I thought ‘Surely there’s a product out there that combines these essential items?’ I wanted a product that I could take with me on the go, instead of juggling all the baby baggage. When we got home I began searching for an all-in-one diaper bag, feeding pillow and play mat. But there was none. So I created it!

It’s no bigger or heavier than an ordinary diaper bag, but it has a removable feeding pillow that also doubles as a tummy time pillow. I designed a toy bar to affix to the pillow and the play mat’s stored in a convenient base compartment of the bag. It’s really simple, but I think the best things in life are. It will retail at an introductory price of $89.95, so about $80 US. I want it to be affordable so moms like me can get out and about with their babies and feed in comfort. So many women feel the pressure of breastfeeding in public as there has been some public backlash about it, and its women felt empowered to breastfeed comfortably wherever they go. I hope the Take-Off Tote can encourage more moms to do that. Our products also great when bottle feeding too, for moms and dads.

How did you fund your business?

I’m actually in the process of fundraising $10,000 on Kickstarter to help take the pressure off during the first manufacturing phase. It’s an all-or-nothing concept, so if we don’t reach our goal by the January 25 deadline, we receive nothing. We’ll see how that goes! Otherwise it’s coming straight from our savings and close family and friends.

How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent is your home office?

Normally I’m a full-time high school teacher, but I’ve spent the past year on maternity leave with Hudson. That’s how I came up with the idea for my invention, the Take-Off Tote. I’ve spent almost a year working on the design and prototype of the TOT, at least 20 hours a week, to be conservative. I try to do it when Hudson is sleeping or when my husband, Jayden, is able to watch him.

How would you rate your success?

I’ve just launched the business after Christmas and the feedback has been phenomenal and very humbling. Women from around the globe have liked our Facebook fan page and shared our Kickstarter campaign. I love receiving messages from other mothers, praising the idea. That’s what it is all about for me. We’re receiving messages from potential retailers too, which is exciting.

What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?

To be honest, I really thought the crowdfunding idea would be a lot easier than it’s been. I have spent so many hours preparing for our Kickstarter campaign and given the global economic climate it’s really tough to get people to help out, even to pledge just $1! I have spent so much time sending out press releases to traditional media and mommy bloggers, making follow-up phone calls…It feels like I’m back working as a journalist again!! If every one of my Facebook fans would just pledge $10, I’d meet my Kickstarter funding goal. But it’s not that simple unfortunately. Crowdfunding’s also a very new concept here in Australia, so it takes some convincing.

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

You need to really back yourself. There are days when you have a lot of self-doubt. I still have those. You also need the backing of family and friends. My husband has been incredibly patient as my ‘sounding board’ and chief financial backer during this roller coaster journey. You can’t simply have a great idea. You need drive, motivation and enough confidence to put yourself out there. If you won’t back yourself, who will?

How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?

It’s tough. Our son is nearly one now, so I’m planning his party at the moment too. My husband has to gently remind me to turn the laptop off on a daily basis. Because the business has just launched and we’re doing the Kickstarter campaign, it’s very hectic. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Connect with Gemma Beriman, Founder of Moon Mama…

Website: www.moonmama.com.au

Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/moonmamahq

Kickstarter Campaign Page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/moonmama/take-off-tote-3-in-1-diaper-bag-feeding-pillow-and

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