lady startup

Bronwyn McCahon was the editor of Cosmopolitan for years. Now, she's completely changed careers.

Mamamia is supporting women who are running their own race with #ladystartup . Meet the faces behind the businesses we’re celebrating…

Bronwyn McCahon and Kristiina Rose-Innes worked together back in their magazine days at ACP (Bauer Media). Bron was Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan and Kristiina worked on the advertising side.

They both had a secret crafty passion and quickly became friends outside of work.

They spoke about launching a kids-based business together many times over the years, and now with five kids between them, they felt the time was right.

Having spent much of their careers working on brands which were all about empowering and supporting women, they wanted to continue that by focusing on young girls and education.

Read Bron’s interview with Mamamia.

What is PLAYetc?

PLAYetc is fun and easy play wear for girls aged 0-8 years. Our designs are bright and playful, but most importantly they are super easy to wear (no buttons or zippers).

PLAYetc has partnered with not-for-profit charity Room to Read, which supports girls education and literacy in developing countries. Every item purchased from our range will educate a girl for one day – it’s all about girls helping other girls!

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What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?

We both worked in media. I was working as Editor-in-Chief at Cosmopolitan magazine where I had been for the past decade and Kristiina was Media Director at MaxMediaLab.

What made you want to start your own business?

Last year we both left our full-time careers with the aim of trying something new and having more flexible hours to spend with our kids.

How did you come up with the name?

Of all our children, this was possibly the hardest labour! We had so many different names before launch. We knew we wanted something playful and fun, but also a name that wouldn’t date or pigeon hole us too much and would actually give us scope to grow and take the business in multiple directions. The biggest challenge was finding a name that ticked our boxes and was actually available as a URL and on Instagram and Facebook. So many of the names we started with were taken by completely random businesses. Finally one day while driving the name PLAYetc popped into my head and I called Kristiina and she loved it! It just felt right.

Describe the staff/ownership structure of your business.

It’s just the two of us for now, so it’s an easy 50/50 split. We have other help that comes to assist with packing orders, but as far as ownership and structure goes, it’s just us.

What’s the single best piece of advice you got?

I hate even typing it because it’s so cliche, but you have just got to start.

What’s the one bit of advice you would give yourself if you were starting again?

Investigate your website needs and website hosting. We started out with a fancy template and web host that actually ended up costing us more money because we had to redo everything when we realised it didn’t do what we needed it to do. I wish we had taken the time to write down everything we wanted the website to do and also the possible needs we might have a year down the track before signing up with someone.

At Mamamia we have an expression “flearning” – failing and learning. What have been your biggest flearnings since you have started your business?

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Gosh, there’s been so many flearnings! We’ve made plenty of mistakes with building our website, sourcing manufacturers, selecting fabrics, dealing with customs and factoring in tax stuff, but we’ve made those mistakes and learnt from them, so we know now what to do better and more efficiently next time. Making mistakes is almost a blessing because it forces you to find the best route for next time and you learn really quickly.

What’s the smartest thing you’ve done since starting PLAYetc?

The smartest thing we’ve done is definitely just starting.

Are there any pieces of technology or software, apps or systems that have made it easier to do what you do?

Sendle offer great prices for sending our orders by courier locally and nationally.

Stripe and Paypal for e-commerce payments.

Google Analytics Dashboard has become our porn. The intel is amazing.

GIF Maker for making cute GIFs, duh.

Scroll through to see some of the beautiful range from PLAYetc. Images via Facebook. (Post continues after gallery.)

What do you do when you’re feeling like you’re in a hole emotionally (or financially)?

There are definitely days where we’re completely overwhelmed by how much we have to do. We start the day with a list of things we’re aiming to get through but then all these little grenades get thrown in and before you know it’s school pick-up time and we haven’t ticked anything off our lists. I guess the beauty of having a business partner is being able to share the pain and find the funny. If one of us if feeling a little beaten, the other is there to play cheerleader.

How many hours a day do you work on PLAYetc? Has this changed?

Generally we spend three days per week from 9am – 3pm. But because it’s our baby we’re always working on it at night or texting each other with ideas.

What are your non-negotiables?

Keeping the children alive!  We’re in survival mode right now. Launching a business, renovating our respective houses and having young kids leaves very little time for self-luxuries. I guess the main non-negotiable is making sure the kids feel happy and secure – creating stability in family and home life.

I also try to get to F45 training two or three times a week first thing in the morning at 5:55am. I feel such a sense of achievement on the days I’ve been to the gym, fed and dressed three kids, made lunches and dropped them all off before 9am!

Listen: It is impossible for you to nail your job every day. We talk about biggest career stuff-ups. (Post continues after audio.)

What’s the biggest misconception you had about starting your business?

It’s far more involved than we thought. You go in to it thinking primarily about the surface stuff like product develop, packaging, website, Instagram, but actually it’s the admin and backend that is more time consuming than you expect.

What can you recommend to women who might want to get their own hustle going?

Start.

Use your network and ask for help.

Be passionate and certain about whatever it is that you’re starting because it’s going to take up a lot of your time. After we put the kids to bed, we spend most nights on our laptops. But we love it. Also, find a good box set to keep you company late at night. I highly recommend Friday Night Lights. But nothing with subtitles!

Do you have a mentor?

So many different people depending on what the concern is. Mia Freedman has always been my primary mentor in life since I was a bright-eyed and naive 20-year-old girl. She’s always been in the wings with pizza and wine offering sage advice when needed.

Since we’re in the #LadyStartUp spirit, which Lady Start Ups do you recommend?

Bedsok has awesome kids bedding that is like a sleeping bag for beds. The top sheet zips up to the fitted sheet so the kids can’t kick their sheet off at night. It’s genius!

The Style Cantina has bright and happy clothing and accessories for women that don’t cost heaps.

Unbunched is a weekly flower delivery.

Evatimbs.com is a personal shopper and wardrobe consultant.

You can see more from PLAYetc at their website, Facebook or Instagram. If you have a #LadyStartUp or want to recommend one for us to cover, drop us an email: [email protected]

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