Lauren de Swardt – Kids Emporium

by Claire Minnaar

Tell us a bit about YOU and your family (where you are based, single / married, number of kids, etc)

My name is Lauren de Swardt, I am a mother, wife and entrepreneur and every now and then I get the order confused. I started Kids Emporium 8 years ago and my husband joined the business, as a partner, 4 years ago. I have two children, a daughter aged 7 and a son aged 3. We live in the leafy suburb of Tokai, Cape Town where I also run our head office from a loft studio. Traffic is never a problem and I have a homework meeting with my daughter at 3pm every day.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I fell pregnant with Toni and saw a huge gap. I was meeting other mompreneurs who were all developing incredible products or wanting to leave corporate and I felt they needed a showcase. Within six months Kids Emporium was born.

What are the challenges you face or have faced being a working Mom and how have you overcome them?

I have always worked a particular way hence being a working mom has never really been a challenge for me. Time can be a challenge generally hence I keep a very strict diary and simply always opt to play smart. I ensure that I keep things balanced and surround myself with a support structure that works for both my business and my family.

What is the hardest part or have been some of your struggles starting your own business?

I started Kids Emporium during a time when South Africa thought having a baby was just about disposable nappies and formula. Hence we as a brand, have had to educate our parents that there are many practical solutions, from a product perspective, that make parenting easier. Furthermore, we like to think we added the ‘style’ factor to being pregnant and raising children.

From a back end perspective, it was difficult to get started financially. I was 22 years old and had never owned a credit card hence trying to figure out the financial aspect was trying. But I outsourced my weakness, focused on my strengths and here we are today.

How do you balance your business and your family?

It’s a juggling act at times but I have an awesome assistant, a very loyal team of staff, a partner that keeps me grounded, a reliable nanny that loves our children and a family that understands that I might need their help from time to time. I don’t get to spend quantity of time with my kids however we have quality time. I do however have flexibility. I also diarise all special events in their day, as if it was another meeting or business trip. I also try and leave work, at work, hence from the time I arrive home, it’s family time. I do all the regular mom things and once everybody is asleep, I have a meeting with my Blackberry and Ipad (the two things I could not live without).

What or whom has been the greatest support for you and your business?

Would definitely say my husband, my mother in law and my closest friends. They are all strong believers in who I am and what I do and they provide incredible support on a daily basis.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Absolutely nothing. I don’t believe in regrets, I believe in learning lessons. And what doesn’t kill us has made us all stronger.

What advice can you give other Moms out there who are starting a new business?

Giving up is the easiest thing in the world to do. Persevere.

If other Moms would like to keep in touch, how can they contact you?

Twitter: @kidsemporium

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