As parents to “energizer bunny” kids, most of us are always on the lookout for tips and solutions to keep our active little ones stimulated and entertained – preferably without having to rely too much on devices.
Well, it turns out that Mummy Audrey Wong’s initial idea of creating placemats with kiddy designs has now transformed into a colouring “tool” that would keep your kids occupied as they doodle and colour to their heart’s content.
You might have known Audrey as the founder of Thelittleonesinmylife (TLO), an online retailer of a wide range of baby and mummy products such as the much raved about Haenim UV Sterilizer and Bluetooth Breast Pump. Besides dedicating her energy and efforts towards raising her 3 beautiful kids and bringing quality products to young families through TLO, Audrey took the leap to turn her idea of creating placemats filled with her children’s doodles into reality.
And so, this marked the start of #ohmymats, a handy and practical range of reusable dining and colouring placemats made of high-quality silicone. #ohmymats is also Audrey’s personal project which allows her to give back to the community by helping struggling or new artists.
With #ohmymats being such a great hit with kids, we were intrigued to find out what it took Audrey to realise her dream of creating these kid-friendly placemats and how she juggles her time between her family and her business.
WY: Our kids can’t get enough of your cute silicone placemats! How did you come up with the great idea of creating #ohmymats?
#ohmymats was a project that I had in mind since 2014. It started off with me looking for cute dining mats, customised with doodles from my boys. However, that did not take off as I lacked the design skills to convert raw drawings on paper to digital drawings in certain professional formats that the factory required.
So I took some time to learn the ropes of graphic design, and by chance in 2018, a close friend of mine who is really talented in drawing helped me out with our first few designs. From then on, things just fell into place nicely and #ohmymats was born!
Our initial idea was for it to be a dining mat, but during a chance meeting with a friend who sells stationery in early 2018, I realised that markers can be used on the mats and wiped off cleanly without any stains.
It was a eureka moment and I researched extensively with the Korean factory on the details to make this work such as the type of markers, suitable printing methods and types of silicone. It was not easy, but I am extremely happy that we managed to perfect the product using high-quality materials and get them ready by October 2018.
WY: Tell us about your parenting style and beliefs!
I’m definitely a tiger mum!
All my customers who have been following me since 2012 when I first ventured into the baby product business know this, as I’ve extensively shared my children’s learning journey with them. This is especially so since my eldest boy was diagnosed with autism and many fellow mummies of kids with special needs came to me for advice on managing the academic expectations for their children.
Many others have also approached me for advice on types of assessment books to purchase for home practice. I’ve even organised bulk purchases for my customers for past year exam papers for many years, just to secure a good bulk price and helped many of them get their hands on a set as they were clueless on where to purchase them.
As a family, we firmly believe in the values of effort and opportunity. As much as we can, we give the children opportunities to try out various sports, activities and skills. And we agree that as long as we put in our best effort, results will show and we will be rewarded.
WY: Tell us about the proudest, most fulfilling moment you’ve experienced as a parent.
The most fulfilling moment was when I realised that my eldest child has overcome his lack of social skills (due to his autism) and has learnt to be open about making friends in his new school (secondary school).
Both of my younger children always look up to their brother as a role model and he has really shown his siblings how he can adapt and cope in different situations despite his personal challenges.
WY: What are some of the key values and beliefs that define who you are, and how did you apply this to your business and the way you raise your children?
Honesty and reliability – these are the values that are always at the back of my mind in everything that I do.
I feel that as a business owner, it is only right that we be honest with our customers, suppliers, clients and everyone we work with. I also try my best to ensure that we fulfill what is promised in a timely manner.
Similarly, with my kids, we expect them to be honest with us at all times and in return, we promise to be on their side and help them whenever they fall or fail and need a helping hand.
WY: As a supermum, wife and mum boss, what are some challenges that you struggle with and how do you overcome them?
It all boils down to time management, really!
Yes, life can get quite crazy with 3 kids who are packed with their own unique schedules, plus a business to run on top of everything else. But to make things work, a lot of self-discipline is required and I’m very thankful for a reliable team at the office who have no qualms about helping me out when I’m stretched with my kids.
WY: Complete this sentence: Life as a mumpreneur is _____ because _____.
Life as a mumpreneur is like a walk in the (Jurassic) park because I’m constantly running after my kids, and at the same time, having to keep a lookout for predators that may eat us up in an instant!
Running a business is never easy, and we need to constantly be creative and think one step ahead before someone else produces something similar.
WY: For mums who are thinking of leaving their full-time job to start their own business, what advice do you have for them?
I’d say….be prepared to work 48 hours or more a day!
It doesn’t sound quite possible, but once you’ve tried it, you will understand. There’s never enough time when you are running your own business. It is double or triple the workload of a normal full-time job, but what you will have is the perk of enjoying flexibility on your time, so you get to be there for all the important moments your children need you.
A big thank you from Wonder Years to Audrey for sharing her journey in parenting and as a mumpreneur with us!
Heads up! We will be running a Wonder Years X #ohmymats Giveaway.
Contest runs from 20 April to 3 May 2020 – do look out for our Facebook post on Wonder Years FB page.