We had the pleasure of meeting with Super Mum Mimi Kwa at her gorgeous home in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs. Mimi greeted us at the front door with a beautiful smile and a whirling tornado of children, dog and building materials! Mimi and her husband are in the middle of a renovation, however this, like everything else in Mimi’s world, is taken in her stylish stride!
Mimi is one busy lady! Ok let’s start at the beginning. Mimi will look familiar because she has a background and many current roles in television. Mimi worked for ‘A Current Affair’, read the news on the ABC and has ongoing TV presenting roles. After having children, Mimi founded the successful TigeRoy and Little Grommets brands. Mimi has just opened a beautiful new store in Glenferrie Road called TigeRoy. And last but by no means least, Mimi has 4 hilarious children and one very supportive husband.
We were amazed by her stamina and ability to look unflustered under all conditions (including compressing a photo shoot into a half hour slot starting at 7.30am before getting the kids to 2 different schools by 8.15am)!
We sat down and discussed how she started her numerous businesses and her thoughts on Motherhood!
Tell us how you started Little Grommets and TigeRoy?
I had grand plans for a long career in journalism but then I had a baby and decided I wanted to be at home to work around family. We actually ended up having four children and to allow us to have what we think is a harmonious balance between work and family, I had to come up with some ideas about how I was going to stay home. It so happened that two of our four children have had grommets surgery and we couldn’t find anything to keep their ears dry when they were swimming after surgery. In the end my husband said, “Why don’t you design something?”
I had a background in design because I studied architecture before going into journalism, so I designed an earband for children, who’ve had grommet surgery, and that’s how Little Grommets started. And then from that process of design, I had to go into production, source a factory, import it and then get it out into the marketplace, essentially retailing and wholesaling the product. Going through that 101 course in retail opened up a whole world of possibilities for us and I had so many ideas that had been swirling around in my head for years, particularly around having children. So next I designed a maxi bib, which is a giant bib that covers the baby’s lap so that it catches everything, and I designed some bag tags for children’s school bags so you can remember what you pack each day.
It was just so liberating and empowering to be able to have an idea and understand how to get it from inception onto the shelves of a shop and then into the hands of the consumer.
I still do my TV stuff on the side, so I’m still able to do what I’m passionate about. I do Medifacts television commercials now and I’m hosting a new ABC TV program called ‘Opportunities Australia’. I do love it. But at the same time I’m able to be creating and designing and trying very hard to take our small businesses, Little Grommets and TigeRoy to that next level.
Why did you decide to open your own retail store?
In my local area I thought there was no retail environment that stocked beautiful products from interesting designers for both kids and Mum. I had met many interesting people creating some wonderful products while I attended various trade shows.
I wanted to bring together different brands that I love into the one retail store. I love finding products and knowing the person and the story behind the product. This has so much more meaning than the generic products you find almost everywhere else.
My store is a reflection of not only my own style and taste but also my desire to curate a beautiful range of functional gifts, homewares and children’s products that people will love as much as I do.
How do you juggle running your own businesses with motherhood?
With a fair amount of chaos and humour. You have to be able to laugh when things go wrong and I think motherhood is life’s greatest lesson in letting go. You can’t be everything to everyone all the time and you certainly can’t do everything perfectly.
I work really hard to fit my work around school hours so I can be at every school drop off and pick up, every parent teacher interview, concert and assembly performance. I’m lucky my TV work these days gives me flexible hours. Running Little Grommets, TigeRoy and now the shop have added an extra layer of challenge, however I try to focus on what is most important and prioritise knowing I can only do one thing at a time. Like with all Mums, there have been many hours working late at night with little ones feeding or bigger ones jack in the boxes in and out of bed!
Striving for a calm and order as much as possible is my key to staying on top of everything. Exercise, mindfulness, positvity and an amazing husband helps enormously.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt since becoming a Mother?
Patience. Gratitude. Forgiveness. And to be gentler on myself. To have no regrets.
I really don’t want to look back on this time and think all I did was work. I want to be there for my children and husband first and foremost but I also want to be a role model to my children to show them that it is important to have a strong work ethic and contribute to the community and the fabric of our society, to find what you are good at to have meaning in your life and to work hard to fulfill your dreams whatever they are.
What do you love most about your children?
I love their honesty, their outrageous wit and clever insights to life. The comments they make, the questions they ask. Their crazy non stop creativity and constantly surprising imaginative play. My heart sings at the sound of their laughter together and the deep connection they have as siblings. I love the snuggles and the cuddles and the being in the moment together. There is nothing better than a bedtime story or chess by the fire. And above all, the uncomplicated uncompromising adoration we have for one another. I love them individually and together. We are a team and they are my reason for living.
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