Carrie Kwan is the co-founder of Mums & Co, a platform that equips business mums and aspiring business mums with the tools to achieve their ambitions. Mums & Co offers tailored support, benefits and advice to its members as well as a vibrant online community of more than 15,000 mum entrepreneurs around Australia. Previously Carrie founded the popular Daily Addict, an online early access guide to local events and experiences.
Tell us about yourself.
I am one of three girls raised by Malaysian-Chinese parents who immigrated to Australia. My parents definitely had an influence on me in terms of my work ethic. My father was an entrepreneur himself, in construction. After leaving school, I completed a business degree majoring in Marketing. I always got energy from people and hearing others’ stories. I began my career in corporate life and then moved into the digital space. I’m also a proud wife and mum of two young boys.
What did you do prior to establishing Mums & Co?
I began my career in corporate marketing and worked for various professional services firms. I then travelled extensively across Europe. On my return I decided to launch my own digital start-up, Daily Addict, giving subscribers early access to core urban experiences. This entailed writing stories about local happenings and curating pieces on small businesses. In total, we profiled more than 1000 businesses. The community grew quickly, with tens of thousands of subscribers.
In 2014 I became a mother to my first boy. Starting and running a business is daunting; starting one with babes in arms brings the difficulty to a whole new level. I also realised quickly that my capacity to attend meetings and especially night-time events, such as restaurant openings, had become limited and that my priorities needed to change. I am still involved in Daily Addict, but these days just in a broad advisory capacity.
What inspired you to set up Mums & Co?
As with any small business, it’s tough to succeed; it can be isolating and it can feel like a constant battle to get suppliers and partners to come to the party. Mums are also often working from home without access to training, professional support and insurance that we take for granted in larger corporate workplaces. While I was pregnant with my second son, I was approached by insurance company, IAG, to discuss a new venture – an evolving platform to support mum entrepreneurs. And from there, I came on board as founder and MD of Mums & Co.
There are more than 345,000 mum entrepreneurs across Australia. Everyone needs different types of support depending on where they are at in their entrepreneurial journey. I understood firsthand the particular challenge of being a mum running a small business. Mums & Co was created specifically to cater for the needs of mums in business, so everything we do is geared towards helping mums in business thrive.
Can you tell us more about the platform?
Mums & Co is the online village to help you grow your business. We do that through providing customised services for the business mother. We connect her with a likeminded community of more than 15,000 mum entrepreneurs who get her, who understand the challenges of the small business journey and want to help. We offer perks which make running a business cheaper. We provide access to curated business services, such as marketing, HR, legal and financial services and insurance. Additionally we provide a knowledge-sharing platform featuring content by experienced writers offering insights on how to navigate the small business journey. Finally we have a membership-based platform, which is open to all business mums and aspiring business mums. There are four tiers of membership, scaled as your business grows.
Do you have any inspiring stories from the Mums & Co community?
There are so many stories, and I’m constantly inspired by what these brave and remarkable women are doing! Many of the small businesses in our community are boldly trying to solve real problems, disrupting their categories or stepping into areas they have previously never worked in. There’s a strong spirit amongst the community of ‘having a go’ and taking control of what is important to oneself, and their family, which I really admire.
Best piece of advice you can offer mums wishing to transform their career?
I like to say to aspiring business mums that you shouldn’t have to choose between your career and your family, and to go for it! It can be challenging to establish a new business. You need to ensure you have done the right research and validated your idea and have the right business connections, resources and networks for both personal and professional support.
What kinds of books or podcasts do you enjoy?
I read quite widely mostly from fiction to classics and business. My favourite podcasts at the moment include those geared to start-ups such as How I Built This with Guy Raz, and Masters of Scale, as well as parenting podcast Kinderling.
As a mother yourself, what is the best piece of advice you have received?
Be kind to yourself. I think as mums we’re incredibly demanding of ourselves. It’s a huge job to raise little human beings, and it can be difficult to do so with a plethora of information around us. A lot is expected of us and sometimes we need to take a step back, and just be gentle and relax those heady expectations we have of ourselves. All of that said, I’m an ambitious mum, so I know this isn’t easy!
Favourite places in the Inner West?
I currently live outside the Inner West but I used to live in Balmain. Darling Street is one of my favourite spots in the area, and I still enjoy walking along, taking in the great cafes, shops and friendly vibe. We also hold Mums & Co coffee meet-ups monthly in Leichhardt and Dulwich Hill, which are great opportunities to meet other supportive business mums (think mother’s group, but for your business baby!). My husband and I also love to make an annual expedition to the French Film Festival held at Palace Norton Street.
Getting to know… Nicole Canale of Canale Tax and Accounting
Getting to know… Prue Burnstein of Paper Rock Scissors Art Studio
Getting to know… Bree Morris of Dream Doors
Getting to know… Heidi Rookyard of Suburban Paddock
Getting to know… Sasha Dumaresq of Mind Love Co. Coaching
Getting to know… Jennifer Harrison of My Kids Market NSW
Getting to know… Rose Smith of High School Jujitsu
Getting to know… Yvonne Hilsz of Yvonne Hilsz
Getting to know… Lara Scolari of Lara Scolari Gallery
Getting to know… Christina Newberry of Christina Newberry
Getting to know… Donna Lee Marcal of Dermatonics
Getting to know… Melissa Harrison of The Pedi People
Getting to know… Hannah Foster of Hannah Foster Travel Counsellors
Getting to know… Lorena Cristante Fazio of Nomad Nesting
Getting to know… Michaela Conomos of La Petite Travel Agency
Getting to know… Linda Anderson of Linda On The Go
Getting to know… Lyndal Gowland of Gowland Legal
Getting to know… Ritu Gupta of Platinum Dermatology Skin Specialists
Getting to know… Mary Vlahos of Strong Coach Mary
Getting to know… Kathleen Murphy of MamaCare Health Services
Getting to know… Vanouhi Nazarian of Kindershare
Getting to know… Jacquie McMullan of Rodan + Fields Independent Consultant
Getting to know… Karen Robertson of Pram Fitness
Getting to know… Kylie Ostle of Mum Society
Getting to know… Sarah Smart of Aromatherapy with Sarah
Getting to know… Sarah Willmott of Feel Better Box
Getting to know… Cynthia Levin of connect kids YOGA
Getting to know… MaryAnne Amies of Wise Up Marketing
Getting to know… Melanie Warman of Boobs On The Run
Getting to know… Traci Tritsaris-Fox of Cookie Queen Kitsch’n
Getting to know… Anni Payne of Milk & Honey Photography
Getting to know… Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich of Inner West Institute of Music
Getting to know… Maria Elena Siasat of Bikini Babe Tea
Getting to know… Michelle Cummings of UsForYou Australia
Getting to know… Roxanne McMurray of Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre
Getting to know… Allison Greenland of Leap Into Literacy
Getting to know… Judith Treanor of Temples & Markets
Getting to know… Global Sisters
Getting to know…Carmel Griffiths of Puggle Post
Getting to know…Anna Jonak and Florencia Pyke of Business School for Mums
Getting to know…Lisa Barbagallo of Dress Up Attack!
Getting to know…Nitu Gupta of Drummoyne Dental Surgery
Getting to know…Bek Lawrance of Paisley Park Leichhardt Campus
Getting to know…Maggie, Kelly & Jennifer of Health Space
Getting to know…Jennifer Long of Seven Hats Sydney
Getting to know…Anne-Sophie Chapoton of Waff Fitness
Getting to know…Sam Wood & Snezana Markoski
Getting to know…Rebecca Morgan of Sattout Accounting Services
Getting to know…Maya Broers of Fuelbox Australia
Getting to know…Kat Wieczorek-Ghisso of Paisley Park Early Learning Centre
Getting to know…Amelia Parkinson of The Wise Hippo
Getting to know…Georgie’s Face Painting & Babysitting
Getting to know…Alison Linn Osteopathy
Getting to know…Dr Justin Coulson
Getting to know…Supercharged Food
Getting to know…Little Nicholson Play Centre
Getting to know…Mummies Paying It Forward
Getting to know…deliciously yours
Getting to know…Lacteeze
Getting to know…Salon Tallow
Getting to know…Milkman Australia
Getting to know…Vintage Toy Box
Getting to know…Lah-Lah Big Live Band