Hailing from Hamilton we catch up with Little Mash boutique owner, pediatric nurse & midwife, mum-of-three, Renata to chat about business beyond the lock-down, the importance of cultivating community and why family is at the heart of all.
Tell us about the move from health care to retail, what motivated that leap and how do you juggle both professions now?
I work in a tertiary hospital as a midwife where normal birth is a rarity - the enjoyment was fading & I knew I needed something new that gave me joy. I would banter with girlfriends (also midwives) about wanting to work it in retail – where the stress wasn’t so acute & wrapping online orders was a particularly enticing roll. Fast forward several months & I see Little Mash for sale on Instagram. Jeremy, my husband & I had not long prior decided that we’d like to do something together so here we are - I get to wrap parcels & he gets to own a business. Okay – it’s a lot more than that but it was him that motivated me to take the leap. He’s not afraid to fail, in fact all he sees is learning & opportunity. The big dream is that we get to do this together all day, every day but in the meantime we do our best to juggle it all.
It’s real easy to look from the outside in & think I (and others) have it all together but remember – highlight reel! The days & weeks run smoother because the little boys, Sebastian & Xavier have a carer who they LOVE so I don’t spend a single second worried about them while Eli is at school. Another clog in the wheel to juggling it all is that Little Mash isn’t open long hours because I want in on that mum life too. Jeremy is a fairly busy man, he works a regular job making milk & is the Bishop of our Church so my availability to do midwifery is limited. I typically work 4 hours shifts in the evening at the hospital, 7-11pm when Jeremy is home & the boys are about to get a sprinkle of sleep dust. That kind a flexibility is unmatched & I’m grateful for that position. If you birth in Waikato Hospital we might see each other.
Need we mention the Lila Jasmine string to your bow! Tell. Us. More.
Lila Jasmine is literally the daughter we never had, a brand committed to nourishing the minds & bodies of women. I’d like to say it’s something that I dreamt up all on my own but it isn’t, you can thank Jeremy for those delicious, sell out lactation bars. They’re his baby & the education arm is mine. Right now we hand-bake the lactation bars & offer a workshop on the fourth trimester. A lot of women aren’t even aware there is a fourth trimester yet alone prepared for it. Women spend a lot of time getting ready for the birth which is typically only ONE day & then they take their beautiful new baby home & think ‘what on earth do I do now’?! I don’t want anyone to feel that way so I’m doing my best to help new & expectant mums navigate those tricky first three months of motherhood.
More than ‘just a store’ what does Little Mash and its community mean to you?
It is so much more than just a store. If you were to interview some of our community they would tell you how much I am improving with names (insert face palm & wink emoji) – I will always remember your face but not always your name! We’ve had a couple of incidences in our short tenure where we’ve asked our community for some additional love & man did it pour down on us. Our Little Mash world does not spin without them & we feel really blessed.
Its been a big 18 months! What did you set out to achieve AND What are the key take-homes that you’ve learnt since being at the helm?
In its raw form Little Mash isn’t unlike the many other baby & children boutiques out there but I believe we’re adding value & that’s what we set out to achieve. I front the business, that took a while for me to get comfortable with but I am Little Mash & Little Mash is me & that’s sets us apart. I’m just a gal, a mum of three little boys doing my best to juggle life while bringing you beautiful things!
At the 12 month mark I wrote a blog post penning 3 things I learned in business. I looked that blog up to remind myself what those learning were & I found this message my husband had left me on our 1st Little Mash Birthday
"It's been 12 months & it’s been a crazy but awesome time. This wasn't exactly in our plan but we decided to give it a go anyway & I'm glad we did. Although it's been really, really challenging, what we've learned about each other & the new skills we've grown has been enormous & worth it. I love to work with you, we've learned to ride the highs & the lows together. You know I'm full of optimism, the future looks awesome. Happy 1 year"
So, what have I learned since being at the helm? You can’t skip being a baby. I learned that from UGG founder Brian Smith – oh how that is true!
More over, the past 18days!! What have been the growths/learnings for you or your family or your business as a result of the pandemic?
Sadly, not one of us will escape the sting of COVID-19. I’m trying to look at this with all the positivity I can muster because truthfully, its long-lasting & fatal effects scare me more than a little. That mostly stems from my health professional hat – being sucked out of my bubble to work in an overwhelmed hospital is something I pray doesn’t happen & today is the first day (April 4th) where I could feel it. We’re doing so great Aotearoa. We’ve been given the gift of time, time to fight & time in our bubbles with the people we love the most so I’m trying to embrace the eternal mess & 5,000 daily meals & snacks. I’m also trying to lead from the front where Little Mash is concerned & I’m right behind our Prime Minister who said “You may not be at work but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a job. Your job is to save lives, and you do that by staying home and breaking the chain”. Gosh - I am so proud of us Kiwi’s as we unite under that direction. Little Mash may graze its knee, it may even topple right over but we’re alive & that is the greatest gift!
What are your hopes for business beyond covid-19 &/OR How do you think Covid-19 will change the way we shop?
We all know the quote by Confucius “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, that is how I feel about Little Mash. My hope is that I can continue to turn the key to that door each day. Working in the shop is my FAVOURITE part of Little Mash, surprisingly not the parcel wrapping, that’s a close second.
I think COVID-19 will drastically change the way we shop. There is no doubt that there will be less money circulating & I predict there will be a surge of conscious shoppers who will only purchase what they need & who will show loyalty to their favourite small, local businesses. There will be a bountiful of opportunities that come from this. There cannot be bad without some good on the other side.
The juggle is real between business and raising three boys – how has lockdown been for you so far?
You bet it’s real but my boys have really surprised me. Sure, there is bickering & fighting but for the most part it’s going ok. Eli (10) is much older than the babies (3 & 4) so he spends a lot of time doing his thing, shooting hoops & watching sport but lends a helpful hand when needed. My boys don’t colour or sit, they get muddy & rough-house. It’s full on in a loud, messy & beautiful way!
What are you most looking forward to when we resume normal (or what the new version of this looks like)
Besides seeing missed family & friends…A chicken sandwich & banoffee pie from Winner Winner!
And a message to our readers/your customers?
I’m flattered to have been invited to chat, I don’t feel nearly cool enough – thank you Sabenettes. I’ve been stuck on this question but the word that I cannot shake from my mind is ‘GIRLPOWER’. Have you ever stopped to consider how awesome you are?! You’re awesome, beautiful & capable. Don’t ever forget it!
AND - what are your fave pieces from the store for us look forward to when we can start shopping again….
Aside from all the adorable clothes, particularly the girls clothes – that’s how I get my girly fix, I can passionately talk about how much I love a Woolbabe sleep sack or suit, it very easily makes my list as a top 5 must have. I wish all homes could have one. I believe they change sleep & who doesn’t want more of that?!
Next is the Kinderfeets Kinderboard an imaginative, open-ended piece that isn’t an eyesore. This lives in our lounge & there is frequently someone on it, I even catch my not so small husband on it from time to time. I love how inventive my boys get with it, visitors too
I cannot forget my favourites for us mama’s. Last Mother’s Day I treated myself (yes, you can totally do that) to the Saben Tilly Crossbody Bag & I love her. She’s worn every single day doubling as my wallet & phone carrier & can hold a surprisingly large amount; I prefer to wear her cross-body but the ability to use the wristlet is very appealing. Then at Christmas I treated myself again (it’s ok to do that too) to the Saben Roma & this is probably the bag of dreams for us mums – you’ve just gotta trust me. It’s the bag that will take you from baby to work, to the sports field, to the airport & everywhere else in between
Images by Tash and Arie Stokes of Black Robin Photography
Visit Ren and her team in store 320 Barton Street, Hamilton or view their full collection of curated children's pieces online Littlemash.co.nz/
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