10 Australian family & female-run businesses transforming the baby market

10 Australian family & female-run businesses transforming the baby market

It may seem like business basics 101, but where there are gaps, there’s a market.

And, as I stare down the final weeks before giving birth to my second baby, it’s become more evident to me than ever that there are currently hundreds of dynamic, Australian, female entrepreneurs capitalising successfully on wide gaps in the pregnancy, baby, and post-partum arena. From breast pumps to bassinets, swaddles to stretch mark oil, these savvy women have built thriving enterprises often informed by their own navigation of pregnancy and parenthood.

And because there’s never been a better time to shop local for Mother’s Day, here are some excellent businesses you should get behind:

iL Tutto:

Owner, designer & Melbourne mother of two, Leanne Boyd was surprised at how difficult it was to find high quality, stylish, comfortable, and affordable nursery furniture options when she had her first baby.

Together with her husband Bruce they launched iL Tutto, with the Tutti Bambini Collection brought to Australia soon after. Years on, the business offers a range of innovative and award-winning furniture including Co-Sleeper bassinets, chests, cots, chairs, bedding, and changers.

My pick? The CoZee Breeze Co-Sleeper. With my first baby, I struggled with middle of the night feeding transitions. Being able to seamlessly reach and soothe my next baby in the middle of the night will be a game-changer for my sleep and their comfort. It’s already my favourite piece of furniture in the house!

Baccani Prams:

With a toddler and an impending newborn, I knew that my single pram (now covered in two-year-old yoghurt) wasn’t going to cut it. And so I set out on the painful exercise of double pram research, only to find that most on the market were eye-wateringly expensive and less than practical for my hectic lifestyle.

In the nick of time, I stumbled upon Baccani, an Australian company operating out of Queensland with an impressive customer-base of more than 63,000. Offering a range of beautiful prams influenced by Italian design, their options are also practical and innovative with features including waterproof canopies, multiple configurations, puncture proof wheels and capsule compatibility.

My pick? The Baccani Lusso Double Pram. At under $1000 it’s a verifiable bargain compared to most double prams on the market. The bassinet has beautifully soft, breathable lining and is also free standing. It also has a GIANT shopping basket which is key for someone who leaves the house most days with 400 random items. My toddler is already obsessed with his seating arrangement. (Let’s hope he’s as obsessed with the newest member of the family!)

OiOi:

‘Why would you bother with a nappy bag, surely a standard tote would work fine?’ That’s what I foolishly told myself last pregnancy, but with several bottles spilt and seeped onto my clothing later, I re-evaluated my position.

And, if it’s nappy bags you’re in the market for, you really shouldn’t look further than OiOi.

The brand, which offers Australia’s highest rated nappy bags awarded by finder, was the brainchild of Lisa Bennetts, who, during her first pregnancy in 1997, was less than enthused about the “patchwork, dotty and character-emblazoned” ‘baby bags’ people kept advising her to buy.

When her daughter Isabella (who now runs OiOi) was born, Bennetts set to work designing a bag that was plain, stylish and would comfortably be worn by her husband. The Classic Messenger bag was the first in the range tailored for mothers like Lisa “with careers, having their first babies in their mid-30’s, and in search of bags that reflected their style, not their babies”.

24 years later, OiOi offers an extensive range of practical and beautiful nappy bags as well stroller organisers, pram liners and change mat clutches.

My pick? The nylon nappy backpack. It’s bloody comfortable, includes all the right compartments and is (crucially) water resistant.

Minbie:

For me, breastfeeding has never been a walk in the park.

My first baby had what seemed like an insatiable appetite and sitting up for hours on end with him at night, inevitably triggered a year-long battle with chronic insomnia.  

Buying a breast pump was a bit of a gamechanger. It meant that I could pump milk more quickly which my partner could then feed to our son. However, the pump I purchased wasn’t battery-powered, meaning I was continually plugged into a wall (not ideal for someone already feeling confined).

It was also incredibly loud, waking my whole household up when I pumped at night.

Enter Minbie. Founded by Julia Wilson, a mother and skilled designer, the Minbie brand first launched with its patented baby bottle teat—a total rethink of other products on the market. The Minbie teat perfectly matches the way newborns want and feed on the breast and revolutionised the process of mixed or total bottle feeding for new parents.

Once the brand was established, Wilson and her team (comprised principally of mums) launched an extensive range of new products including sterilisers, dummies, and pumps.

My pick? Minbie’s hospital-grade double breast pump. It’s the quietest breast pump in market, portable, gentle and offers a cool backlit display with nightlight so no one gets disrupted during crucial sleep.

Willow by the Sea:

It still staggers me how many creams, oils and concoctions are on the market for new babies, but when you’re dealing with that first confronting case of severe nappy rash you start to realise that the rationale is sound.

But still, genuine organic products are hard to come by, despite the sensitivity of new baby skin. It was this realisation that struck Corina Ryan when she was pregnant with her first child and browsing baby skincare lines. ‘Organic’ and ‘natural’ were common to product branding but when Ryan investigated further, she was shocked to see the extent of harmful chemicals many of them contained.

Soon after, and along with her husband Luke, Ryan launched Willow by the Sea; a now-extensive, organic skincare line offering a beautiful range of products including nappy balm, baby oil and gentle, baby bath tea. For new mums? Willow by the Sea offers a soothing range including nipple and belly balms.

My pick? The mango and shea butter nipple balm is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G for ever-changing pregnancy breasts.

Lovekins:

Another stunning range of natural-organic products with a uniquely Australian essence comes from the skincare brand, Lovekins, founded by Amanda Essery. Born and raised in Darwin, Essery was immersed in Indigenous culture from an early age and drawn to medicinal properties of our native floras.

When she had her first baby Ethan, Essery used only natural skincare and sourced her own botanicals before undertaking a course to formulate her own skincare line.

Since launch, Essery’s innate desire has centred around helping women and families, and this is mirrored in her ever-growing line which now includes eco-friendly period care, birth and post-partum care and pregnancy-safe skincare. Her hero products include native ingredients like Kakadu plum and Australian cotton.

My pick? Lovekins’ rejuvenating stretch mark oil and cream contains Kakadu plum, snowflower and camellia oil. For my overstretched, tight tummy, it’s been a godsend.

Bubba Bump:

Bubba Bump is a one-stop-shop for so many of your baby essentials. Founder, Majella Harrison started the brand when she was on maternity leave for the first time, launching with a range of simple wrap carriers followed by beautiful, printed muslins and change bags.

Overtime, Harrison has grown her brand to include an excellent range of labour and postpartum products including recovery support wear shorts, ice and heat packs for breasts and perineum, reusable breast pads, soft nursing tanks and disposable after-birth underwear.

Her range is thoughtfully considered and offers women an easy access point for so many of those items you never knew you needed.

My pick? Bubba Bump’s range of baby lounges are ridiculously sweet. The prints are soft and stylish, mirrored in the plush, organic cotton used to produce them. They provide a great option for baby rest time with a bit of a barrier for overly exuberant toddler siblings.

Chekoh:

Baby carriers are one of those things that every parent will tell you is vital but finding the right one is a bloody undertaking! Even after an annoying amount of research during my first pregnancy, I ended up buying a carrier that my baby never properly fit into. It was uncomfortable, expensive and his head bobbled around so much it made me nervous.

Chekoh is one of the only dedicated, Australian carrier brands, offering a great range of wrap, sling, and clip carriers that are different from the standard ones on the market and suitable for Australian climates.

Started by Queensland mum and entrepreneur, Krystal Tupi after the birth of her second son, the business has grown considerably since 2013 with new designs dropping regularly.

My pick? The Cinta wrap carrier is a great option for even the littlest humans. The bamboo fabric is soft and stretchy, and the design is simple. At $99 they’re also affordable. And the clincher? Chekoh offers a great support in the way of free, phone-based consultations to make sure you’re wearing your new carrier in the right way.

Milkbar:

As noted previously, breastfeeding for me was a minefield. I’m just not great at it, and while there are things I do appreciate and marvel at about the process, I need a helluva lot of support to make the whole practise work for me.

Nonetheless, I’m keen to give it another crack with baby number two, and so I’ve armed myself with as much information and product knowledge as possible—which is where Milkbar has helped enormously.

Mum of two, Diana Swadling, saw the gap for Milkbar when she returned to her corporate role after the birth of her first child. Needing to easily pump at work, she found the whole process challenging. After ordering a Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump from New Zealand, things became easier, but she was then fuelled by a mission to streamline breastfeeding for more women in Australia.

Swadling’s business, Milkbar is now a breastfeeding mecca, with a range of the best products from around the world as well as support resources and blogs for women navigating this time in their life.

My pick? I’ve only ever heard awesome things about the Haakaa Breast Pump, and as someone who constantly needed breast pads last time round, I’m keen for an alternative that will help me capture all let-down milk.

Love to Dream:

In 2008, Hana-Lia Krawchuk knew something was seriously wrong when her newborn son Elijah wasn’t sleeping for more than 45 minutes at a time. After observing his preferred resting position, she noticed that he liked to have his arms beside his head but the standard swaddles she was using weren’t designed to accommodate it.

After hundreds of hours at the design table, Krawchuk ended up perfecting a product that would change the lives of millions of people across the world, as well as her own.

The Swaddle Up (a zip-up sleep swaddle with arm-room toward the top of the design) became the basis of her company, Love to Dream built upon a simple ethos. “Our whole business mission is to deliver more sleep to babies and family around the world,” Krawchuk says.

My pick? It’s hard to go past the original Swaddle Up which now comes in a variety of cute designs and TOG ratings. But the range of Love to Dream Sleep Bags are also awesome.

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