lady startup

Kate's near-death experience in a terrorist attack gave her the drive to start her own business.

When Kate Anstee was almost killed in the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008 she had an age-old epiphany: life is short.

“That near-death experience really gave me the sense that life is just too short to not at least try to make a difference in both your own life and other people’s,” Kate said.

So when the right idea came along – creating toolkits for new parents – she knew it was time to start her own business.

Here, she and the rest of the team at Take My Hand, chat to Mamamia about how their helping struggling parents overcome the overwhelm.

Tell us about Take My Hand. What is it?

At Take My Hand, we are passionate about making it easy for new parents to give their baby the best possible start in life. It is a weird dichotomy that the first year of a child’s life is the most crucial in terms of development, but is also the time when parents are most likely to be overwhelmed and to struggle to meet those developmental needs.

Our BestPlay Box provides parents with a toolkit of expert-developed activities, and carefully selected toys and books, delivered every three months for that all-important first year.

It’s the brainchild (yup we went there) of Kate Anstee, an ex-corporate lawyer and mum of two who was absolutely floored by what she was supposed to be doing when her first daughter arrived.

Take My Hand’s experts include Jane Hely, who is peer recognised as one of Australia’s best early childhood educators, and Susan Coker, a child librarian with more than 20 years experience.

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20 Likes, 0 Comments – Take My Hand (@takemyhand_au) on Instagram: “WIN A BOX! We are SO excited to be featured in @pindaraprivatematernity’s latest competition. Just…”

What made you want to start your own business?

We wanted to start Take My Hand, for so many reasons. The main reason was our genuine desire to help new parents. When our founder Kate had her first baby she realised that she had absolutely no idea about how to access age-appropriate resources that matched her daughter’s developmental needs.

She kept thinking, ‘there has to be a way to make this easier’. And we feel that with our BestPlay Box, now there is. However, Kate also wanted to start Take My Hand for herself. Having survived being shot in the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008, she had vowed to herself that one day she would use her second chance at life to follow her entrepreneurial dreams.

“It just took me 10 years to come across an idea that really resonated with me and a clear pathway of how that was achievable with everything else that was going on in my life,” Kate said.

“When the Lady Startup Activation Plan came along I knew it was ‘now or never’ and in 2018 Take My Hand was launched.”

How did you come up with the name?

It was actually one of the easiest decisions we made! We were inspired by one of our experts Jane who has been an early childhood teacher for almost forty years. “Will you take my hand Miss Jane?” is one of the things that children most often say to her and for us it completely captured the support and sense of guidance that we want to give to both parents and babies.

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

“Just keep swimming” – thanks Dory (from Finding Nemo). Honestly though we find the sense that you just have to keep going so important. No matter what obstacles you face, if you have some sort of forward momentum you will be taking a positive step towards achieving your goals.

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

Be patient! We definitely found that (just like many of our little customers) we needed to learn to walk before we could run. If we could start again we would really focus on getting all the basics right first, before we moved on to the more fun things.

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

No matter how much time/money/energy you have put into something if it doesn’t feel right or work for your business it’s always better to quit and start again than keep persisting with something you know isn’t quite right.

Our website is a perfect example. We rebuilt it from scratch three times before we launched (each time on different platforms). Even when we had spent weeks working on the previous version because we knew that it was a core feature of our business and it was better to walk away from something that wasn’t right for us than to keep going just because we had spent time and money on it.

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

Two things – One is going through the feedback from our customers. Reading those positive words about our BestPlay Boxes and the experience we have created for their babies refocusses us on why we are doing this and re-energises us to find solutions to make sure we keep going.

We also try to keep things really simple. We’ve found that trying to just make one decision – even if it’s as simple as what to post on Instagram the next day – is something that gives us the sense of momentum to keep going the next day.

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

At the moment we work a few hours each night and then a couple of half days each week depending on the number of orders we have received. In the beginning, we were working much longer hours, often staying up until the early hours of the morning to get everything done.

We have worked really hard on streamlining our processes so that at this stage the business still lets us have work-life balance and we can really focus on the aspects of the business we love – like interacting with our amazing customers.

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48 Likes, 0 Comments – Take My Hand (@takemyhand_au) on Instagram: “FREE BESTPLAY FOR HUMP DAY ACTIVITY! Well here were are again folks! Is it just us or does time…”

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

That once the hard yards were done it would all just fall into place. Running your own business is a process and you can’t just sit back and hope that customers will come to you. No matter how great your product is you need to be out there hustling every day and always looking for ways to do things better or smarter or you will start going backwards.

Tell us about your proudest moment.

Our first sale! After years of work, sweat, tears (and countless glasses of wine!) It was the most exhilarating feeling to actually post off our first box.

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

Do something that makes you feel like you are working towards your dream every day. It doesn’t have to be something big. Even just telling someone about your idea is practice for the ‘pitches’ you will eventually do for PR or marketing. Those baby steps will keep your dream alive and also may lead you to unexpected places. Some of our earliest customers were people that we had those informal ‘chats’ with.

Interested in becoming a Lady Startup yourself or know someone ready to chase their own business dreams? You’re invited to join us! Enrolments open from 21 January 2019. Find out all about The Lady Startup Activation Plan here.

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