career

Meet the mums whose simple ideas became multi-million dollar businesses.

As mother Dannielle Michaels struggled to change her baby in a tiny, cramped aeroplane toilet, she had an idea.

Why not create a compact nappy bag that had everything mums needed when changing babies in small spaces, and nothing they didn’t?

Enter B.Box, the business Michaels started with her good friend Monique Filer.

On how she started her business, Michaels says that the most important thing is not just having an idea but being prepared to take the plunge.

“A lot of people go, ‘It would be so great if this existed’,” she told 60 Minutes

“The difference is that we took the plunge. It’s pretty amazing, considering we started with a cardboard box.”

Dannielle Michaels and Monique Filer, founders of B.Box. Image via 60 Minutes.

Nine years after Michaels took that frustrating flight, and an $100,000 investment later, B.Box boasts 15 intuitive parenting products and is worth $20 million.

Fellow mother and entrepreneur Kristy Carr's lightbulb moment came when she tried some baby food as part of a game at a baby shower. She was so disgusted that she couldn't take another bite.

But while the taste didn't linger in her mouth for long, an idea lodged itself in her brain: if an adult couldn't stomach baby food, why should a child have to?

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"I thought, 'Why is there not a better option?'" Carr says.

It's an idea that led to a booming business, Organic Bubs, which sells baby foods that's both palatable and organic.

The product is sold in Australian supermarkets, but its real success story is across the ocean in China, where parents can't get enough of the Australian ingredients and organic label. Today, the business is worth $21 million.

Kristy Carr, founder of Organic Bubs. Image via 60 Minutes.

Jessica Rudd — daughter of former prime minister Kevin Rudd — has also found success in the world of baby products.

As a new mum living in Beijing, Rudd began making some extra cash by ferrying Australian baby products back to China for her friends.

When she moved back to Brisbane, it occurred to her that she could turn "a little cash on the side" into a full-blown business - and so, "Jessica's Suitcase" was born.

"I work in my pajamas," Rudd told 60 Minutes, "and proudly so. I often Facetime my team and everyone's in their pajamas, maybe feeding a baby in the background. That's just how we operate."

Rudd, Carr, Michaels and Filer are all wildly successful in their fields. They've solved problems creatively, shown good business sense, and taken risk where necessary.

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But, as Allison Langdon explored on Sunday's 60 Minutes, the "mumpreneur" label still lingers — and each of the women had a different reaction to being type-cast as a business "mum" rather than a business "person".

Jess Rudd, founder of Jessica's Suitcase. Image via 60 Minutes.

Rudd is particularly dismissive of the term "mumpreneur", asking why "dads" who found companies don't get the same treatment.

“Is he a Dadpreneur?" Rudd asks of Jack Ma, the man who founded Chinese online retail site Alibaba.

"I don’t think so. I think he’s an entrepreneur and that’s what I am.”

Michaels, who's just been named Australia's "Mumpreneur of the Year", takes a different approach to the label.

"I am a mum, and I am an entrepreneur," she says.

"If those words go together, and that's what generate more buzz or whatever, then that's great. But at the end of the day, I'm not one without the other."

Filer agrees with her business partner, asking the question that drives so many "mumpreneurs" to break out from the corporate world: "If I'm going to work hard, why not do it for myself?"