Tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Rangoon, Burma. My family arrived in Australia 2 days before my 10th birthday. We settled in Canberra as this is where the majority of my mum’s family lived. My mum has 13 brothers and sisters spread across Australia, Burma and the US. Actually my grandmother, the one who gave birth to 14 children, just celebrated her 102nd birthday last week. I don’t know, maybe having lots of children is the trick to having a long life? Not for me though.
To tell you the truth I never thought I wanted children. I was always a career girl. Climbing the corporate ladder, or in my case public service career ladder. No time for kids. Then I found him. My other half. It was the weirdest thing. About 18 months into our relationship, one morning as I watched him sleep (in a totally non creepy way) I had this overwhelming desire to create a little human with him. A totally unique little being who was half me and half him. I know! Can I get any soppier? I guess that’s what true love can do.
From this point everything happened really quickly. We talked about it and decided to start trying for a baby. I was pregnant within 2 months. It was a complete shock. With my mature eggs and all. I was 38 at the time. I didn’t even have time to upgrade my private health insurance to be covered for pregnancy. I guess I should have known better. After all I have my grandmother’s genes.
How did you get started with your biz?
My life’s trajectory shifted when I became pregnant with Helaina. I just wasn’t fully aware of it until after she was born. When she was around six months I started putting together her nursery. I had no idea how much I would enjoy this process. The nursery turned out pretty good. It was featured on Apartment Therapy and Interiors Addict. I knew I had found my passion. I thought about going to CIT and becoming a kids interiors designer. But this wasn’t quite it either. What I really wanted to do was to physically design and create.
At this point Darko my cousin and Helaina’s Godfather came into the picture. He was also a creative. Actually he is a ‘super creative’. His creativity blows my mind. We started Lil Spaces together and spent a very exciting 16 months together.
But all good things sometimes come to an end and Darks left the business in December 2014. He had lost his passion for it. As sad as it was I totally respected his decision. Although he’s officially no longer part of Lil Spaces he still part of our lives. He has no choice. He is the Godfather.
What (or who) are your biggest influences?
1. My other half, Mitch, for showing me that with the right mind set, focus, YouTube and taking action, there is nothing I can’t do. 2. Helaina for teaching me to turn the normal things into novel experiences. Reminding me to always be curious and never stop wanting to understand the why.
Do you experience mum guilt and how do you tackle that?
OMG all the time! Especially because Helaina is an only child. When she says ‘Play with me, I want someone to play with me’ it really pulls at my heart strings and I usually give in.
How do I tackle this? I try and get her involved in mummy’s work. After all she was and still is my inspiration for starting it in the first place. When she likes helping me fluff the natural fibre for the cloud lights I make and put the stickers on the packages. She’d tell everyone how she helps mummy make clouds for babies. When she was a bit younger she used to point to the clouds in the sky and say how did your clouds get there? It was the cutest.
Now that she is 3 and a big girl, she is the official brand rep. She loves modelling for mummy for the product photos, even if it’s only for 5 minutes at a time. We have a lot of fun together. I pay her for the modelling. It’s a a practical way to teach her about money.
Helaina goes to day care two days per weeks so these are the days where I put my phone on silent and am head down bum up as to speak.
Give us your best kid distraction strategy:
YouTube kids or puzzle games on the iPad (of course don’t over do the screen time). In summer she loves being outside in her Dora pool ($20 from K-Mart) with her dolls, cups and containers. I sit close by and try and work from my iPad or iPhone.
If you could sum up your day in three words what would those words be?
Tuesdays and Wednesdays when H is at day care I’m focused, in-flow and achieving. Other days – I’m all over the place, but happy.
What does your workstation look like?
Okay, so the three of us are currently living in my mum’s garage which has been turned into a granny flat while our dream house is being built. Mitch and I share a plastic fold up table as our workstation. It is not a pretty site, hence no photo!
I also have another plastic fold-up table by a window where I do a lot of my product photos.
What are you most proud of achieving biz-wise?
My proudest moment was when we received the email from Etsy saying our cloud lights were a finalist in the Etsy Australia Design Awards. We didn’t win but it felt like we did.
I was blown away that the Senior Curator of the National Gallery of Victoria, Chief Editor of Inside Out Magazine, Chief Editor of Interiors Addict and Managing Director of Etsy Australia and Asia thought they were good enough to be selected as a finalist.
What are your big goals for the next 12 months?
In terms of the business side of things I would like to work on Brand awareness of Lil Spaces here in Australia. Believe it or not, the majority of my customers are from the US and Europe. A few from the Middle East too.
From the creative side I have just finished writing a children’s book. Just finished as in the first draft. I still have to work out how to publish it. I want to self publish. This book of course is inspired by Helaina and it complements the cloud lights. The story is about a little cloud who was afraid of the dark. That’s about as much as I can tell you at the moment.
Wish you had a beautiful Cloud Light for your little one’s nursery?
Well, we’ve teamed up with Shah to give away one of her amazing Cloud Lights to one lucky mum or mum-to-be! Get your entry in now: