“The Grace Files is a Sydney-based company that loves to be helpful. We like nothing better than creating products that nurture, help, comfort and inspire. We love memory making and the freedom that comes from being organised. We value health and happiness, children and family.”
These are the words of Janelle, the owner and founder of the beautiful business that is The Grace Files. We chatted recently about what inspired her to create these amazing products that assist with and encourage the keeping of both important information and precious memories…
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m married with two teenage boys (16 and 19), two cats and a dog (who have a large Insta following… go figure!! @classickobe) I’m also a total mad cat lady…!
I was a clinical nurse specialist (cardio-thoracic) prior to having children but when my boys were born my husband and I made the decision that I would stay at home with them because my he traveled so much with his work. When my youngest eventually went to school and I would have been free to go back to work, we ended up moving to New York for my husbands work. We spent four years there and I remained a stay at home mum due to visa restrictions.
When we came back to Sydney I was unable to go back to nursing as I had been out of it too long so my degree was redundant, unfortunately. I ended up studying interior design and loved all things design and colour but in the end, working on peoples’ homes didn’t bring me the satisfaction I thought it would. So… I started down the path of a long-held dream to create a range of journals. This way, I was able to embrace my love of design but to use it in a way that brought joy to me and eventually, to others.
How did you get started with your biz?
When my youngest son was about 3 years old I was watching an episode of Oprah where a young mum had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her daughter was only about 4 years old so she made videos and wrote in notebooks all the things she wanted her daughter to know after she passed away. She was writing to her daughter in something like a school exercise book and I remember thinking that it was so wrong that something so important as these words of love to her daughter were being written in something so ordinary. It was then and there that I knew I wanted to create a journal worthy of holding words as important as those and it would be called Love Letters to My Child.
The other two journals unfolded due to other life lessons along the way. The Life + Notes childhood health journal came about due to our years living overseas – I lost so many important health documents because we changed doctors; they did things differently, and in all honesty, it was an extremely stressful time of my life so my organisational skills were not up to par.
When we moved home to Sydney and the boys started school in Sydney I realised how much of their immunisation history I had misplaced – every time the school asked for their records I died a little inside and felt totally ashamed that I didn’t know when they had their last Hep B shot or their tetanus booster. I felt awful… and the concept for Life + Notes was born.
With this journal, no matter where you live, how stressed you are or how many times you move house or doctor, you as a parent can keep track of your child’s health information by writing it down as you need to. Nothing ever needs to be misplaced or lost… and when your child leaves home, they can receive the gift of all their important health information in one beautiful journal. Perfect!
Do you experience mum guilt and how do you tackle that?
Not really – my boys were in high school when I started working on this little business. I always made sure that the family life came first and the business came second – it is still that way. Family first… work next. So far it is working OK and as my youngest is about to start Year 12, I’m almost at a stage of life where I can put work first… well, in another year!
Give me your best kid distraction strategy:
Ha! Don’t even need to worry about this one – they distract themselves nicely with school, uni and computers!
What does your workstation look like?
Ohhhhh… sometimes really tidy and sometimes a bit chaotic! Depends how much work I have on… I prefer tidy – it’s so much easier to concentrate in an organised space.
If you could sum up your day in three words what would those words be?
Family. Work. Cats (I’m a total “mad cat lady”!)
Most embarrassing moment as a mum, or in your biz?
Probably not so much embarrassment, but rather the discomfort of having to learn so many different things. Coming from a nursing background in no way prepared me to run my own business and develop my own products.
Coming to terms with the fact I’m on a huge and constant learning curve has been a big challenge – and for a perfectionist like me, that can be an uncomfortable place to be. However, this journey has been one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done – life is never boring and the heartfelt feedback I get from people who buy the journals makes it all worthwhile.
What are you most proud of achieving biz wise?
The journals. I love them. I totally believe in the value of them and I can’t wait until they are a well known brand.
I’m also so happy that 10% of every journal sold goes towards a nominated charity. This year we have chosen the Chris O’Brien Life House Sarcoma Centre – it’s mostly teens who have sarcoma so it’s close to my heart with my boys falling into that age group.
The Grace Files also sponsors a Kenyan child named Grace via the So They Can charity. I love that we can do this… and as the company grows, the goal is to sponsor more children via this amazing charity.
What are your big goals for the next 12 months?
A new journal – top secret, but is one that I’ve wanted to do for ages! Watch this space!
Exclusive reader offer
Janelle is offering Nestling Collective readers two journals for $100.00 (a saving of $19.90)! Just use the code ‘JOURNAL50’ at checkout (valid to 30th November, 2017). You can shop, follow and stalk Janelle’s beautiful biz here: