Meet Kit Ong - The Most Financially Savvy Mumpreneur
Singapore is a great place if you want to be both a mum and a business woman. You can be head of the household and head of your own company without even removing your Ergo. In fact, being knee deep in looking after a little one has, for some women, led to inspiration striking and a sole proprietorship starting. This was the case for Kit Ong, the founder of organic kids store Little by Little and winner of the Most Financially Savvy Mumpreneur Award at the Singapore Mumpreneur of the Year Awards 2014. We had a chat with Kit in how she got her environmentally responsible business started.
Hi Kit! The Little By Little collection is gorgeous. What gave you the idea?
My business partner Michelle and I wanted to be financially independent while being present for our children and all of their important milestones. We wanted to take full control of our lives. As relatively new mums, the idea for Little by Little came naturally. We were both obsessed with everything that had to do with being able to better care for our kids, especially when it came to clothing. That was the motivation.
Did your background help you get Little By Little off the ground?
My background is in Organizational Psychology and Human Factors Engineering so when the idea of starting a business first arose, it almost seemed impossible. I’m a science student and I lacked almost every skill needed for this type of business – IT, fashion and retail experience! Little by Little was really a leap of faith with whole lot of courage. And it worked!
It’s one thing to have an idea and a great product but how do you get the word out? Small businesses don’t have big budgets for marketing..
Social media is a great tool. At the current moment, we rely mainly on Facebook to reach out to fans and potential customers. We aim to expand our reach on Facebook and grow our following on Instagram. It is definitely a challenge for us given our non-marketing and non-IT background, but like everything else that we have had to learn from scratch, we are confident we can pick it up with practice. After all, learning and adapting are what mums do best!
There are competitors in this space of course. How you set Little By Little apart?
We really believe in our products. When my first son developed eczema I started looking into organic materials that wouldn’t exacerbate it so much. I found out that organic cotton was grown without pesticides and harmful chemicals. With its benefits for farming communities and mother nature as well, I saw the opportunity to make clothes available for others that did not involve conventional cotton. Michelle and I make a conscious effort to run the business in an ethical and environmentally friendly way. We try to use recycled materials in whatever way we can, including our gift packaging which is made from 100% recycled kraft box and can be reused as a photo frame.
It must feel very rewarding to practice what you preach. What do you put the success down to?
I have been blessed with many people in my life who have played a critical role in helping me get the business to where it is today. My partner Michelle keeps me going when things get tough and reminds me to slow down and smell the flowers. It’s also great that my husband is so supportive and stood by my decision to leave the corporate world, even though he knew the financial burden would fall on him for a while. My boys also push me forward as they never fail to tell me how proud they are of me, which is really sweet!
It’s brave to become a mumpreuner. Any regrets?
No, not at all. But it can be tough. You need to be careful with money management – no shopping sprees! However, I get to hang out with my boys and do something I love. I’m able to organise my hours around my children’s schedule. It’s really a 24/7 endeavour that’s constantly interrupted by family demands. You lose sleep and work late into the night but it’s for you rather than a corporate.
On that – how do you juggle between family, work and me time?
The kids are the constant. I start the day by sending Jayden to childcare while my husband sends Josh to primary school. When the boys are at school, I’m concentrating on business and errands – whatever I need to do which does not involve the boys. Sometimes, when I have work that I know the boys can handle (e.g. pasting sticker labels on the products), I will get them to help me with it. They love being involved in ‘adult work’ and feel a great sense of satisfaction! If there’s nothing pressing, CSI is my go-to personal space.
Any advice for aspiring mumpreneurs?
Go for it! Starting out is always the most difficult part because there are so many unknowns. Do your research, trust your gut feel and have faith. It also helps to work with a partner – you can challenge each other’s ideas, encourage each other and share the workload. Remember that success is not merely determined by how much the business grows, but more importantly, how much your children gain through the years because you are there with them and for them.
What’s the future for Little by Little?
Expect to find our products in more brick-and-mortar stores across Singapore! We are also planning to tap into our expertise in psychology and counselling to conduct workshops for young parents or parents-to-be. We hope that by engaging parents through meaningful activities, we can empower them to care for their children, while spreading the message of healthy and eco-friendly living.