Last week, I caught up with Kylie – the brains behind Kai Carrier. We snatched some ‘quiet’ time while her youngest daughter went for a nap. Her oldest daughter ‘The 5 Year Old’ is at school and this post lunch slot is when Kylie gets to work. We chatted about how the heck she manages to run Kai Carrier as well as looking after her 2 girls…Oh and she has another one due later this year…yikes!!! Fitting family and work into your day is the tricky scenario that so many of us face these days. Kylie primarily uses the time when her children are sleeping to get down to work but she admitted that, on the odd occasion, she’s sneaked off to her office whilst her children were occupied to catch up on packing orders. Needs must!!
From humble beginnings
It was only late last year that Kylie gave up her ‘real’ job as a social worker to commit more fully to Kai Carrier. She misses paid holidays (ha ha) the ability to ‘switch off’ after a day at work and admits the challenges of running her own business are sometimes overwhelming. But in the 3 short years that Kai Carrier has been up and running, she’s made a huge success of it. She’s totally humble about the whole thing and recalls with a chuckle the time she had to consult a friend about how to design a spreadsheet to calculate what her prices should be…!!
The idea for the product was simply a hole in the market. Pouches filled with baby food were a newish thing in the supermarkets and they soon became popular as mums found them far more convenient than big old glass jars. But what if you wanted to make your own baby food to take with you in a convenient pouch..?? Kylie started this whole journey with an idea for a product that she wanted, but couldn’t find. She figured other mums might feel the same so she started ‘researching’.
Kai Carrier has landed
With no experience in the manufacturing business I was interested to find out just how someone would go about getting a little baby food pouch made for them …maybe type into Google ‘plastic pouch manufacturer’..???!! Luckily, Kylie has some friends who had friends that knew people and helped her get the first Kai Carriers off the conveyor belt and shipped to New Zealand.
The first stages of the business were…experimental. There were no sales targets, financial forecasts or marketing strategies. Kylie was just delighted to see her idea come to life and thought she might try and ‘sell a few’. This is just too darn cute, given the popularity of her carriers now!! She started by talking to her friends, contacting kindergartens and going along to local markets where interest for her product really picked up. Kai Carrier is now stocked in all sorts of baby stores and big retailers like New World and most recently The Warehouse (and of course on Green Elephant!!).
A sustainable future
But it’s not all about sales for Kylie. She remembers her childhood holidays at the family bach up north. You know….a proper bach with no flushing toilet and wifi what..?? She remembers fishing for their supper every night and just enjoying being in nature. And she wants her children to be able to enjoy the same experiences.
Sustainability and care for our environment are up there as top priorities for her and she wants Kai Carrier to be so much more than just a product on a shelf. She is already involved in fundraising schemes for kindergartens and she wants to see Kai Carrier have a real seat in the community.
Well…she’s clearly making awesome progress with this little target because Kai Carrier has been nominated as a finalist in the 2016 Sustainable Business Network Awards in the Community Impact Category!! This is very exciting and the current highlight of her job – we wish Kai Carrier every success at the Awards ceremony.
I asked Kylie what was the most important thing she had learned on her journey. Her answer was, simply ‘Dream Big’; you can achieve anything you put your mind to. An excellent lesson we can all embrace and a very fitting conclusion to this blog post.