Ahead of Mother’s Day, we spoke to a bold and brilliant Mother of two, Kate Casey, the co-founder of the new Mother’s must visit shopping destination, The Memo. The Memo is a thoughtfully curated collection of the most loved and trusted baby brands available today for modern mothers.
Kate, and her co-founder Phoebe, created The Memo to provide new mums with the essentials they need to navigate motherhood. No unnecessary gimmicks, just the necessities. They don’t sell thousands of products because they know not all baby products are worth your time or your money. Instead, Kate did the trawling, the trialling, and the reading of oh-so-many reviews to curate a highly considered edit of covetable and helpful products to make the life of a new Mum as effortless as possible.
Here, we speak to this retail queen Kate (avid shopper and ex-buyer for MECCA, Myer and David Jones) about the birth of her online business The Memo, how she manages a growing business and the demands of mum life, the realities of the non-stop juggle, what she wish she knew before kids, and what she’s learnt along the way.
What’s in your SIMONE bag right now?
I never go anywhere without Jak’s Aqua Wipes. Of course they are on standby for when the kids are with me, but also to help clean my clothes which can get a little grubby from being in our warehouse during the day. Beauty essentials like the Omorovica Perfecting Lip balm and my notebook/pen for when you need to write something down before you forget it again.
Our bestselling leather tote - the SIMONE bag - now available at The Memo
How has your bag preferences changed since having kids?
Gone are the days of a small cross body or shoulder bag, insert a practical and functional bag instead. All of the baby ‘stuff’ takes up a lot of room, leaving the house is not as simple as walking out the door anymore, I needed a bag that I could fit half my house in. The SIMONE worked beautifully as it was so deep and could easily fit everything and doubles so well as my work bag, out with the nappy wallet, in with the laptop.
Baby bag, work bag, can-fit-your-entire-life bag...
Must have beauty product for busy mums wanting to look and feel their best?
Dry shampoo as washing your hair often gets forgotten, lip balm as your lips can get so cracked, mascara to wake up your eyes, blush to make you look like you are alive.
And any style or beauty tips you’ve picked up over the past decade working as a buyer for MECCA, Myer and David Jones?
Your fragrance can instantly alter your mood, it can help you feel more energetic and invigorated or even relax and soothe you. Investing in a beautiful scent can help your confidence and motivation, and it’s so nice to have a signature scent.
What do you wish you knew before becoming a Mum?
That it was ok to ask for more help. Being a parent can be really challenging yet I placed a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect. I felt embarrassed that at times I didn’t have things under control and thought it would be a sign of weakness if I asked for help. I still need to ask for more help!
What inspired you (and Phoebe) to create The Memo?
When I was pregnant, I was overwhelmed with the amount of choice, the number of opinions and the amount of times I had to go to Baby Bunting. It never made me feel good, it wasn’t in line with the retail experience I was used to getting in beauty, fitness and fashion, and I knew there were more parents like me who expected better. We saw a gap in the market and the opportunity to deliver something that would really mean something to Australian parents. A feel good, fast online shopping experience that sold everything you need, and nothing you don’t, to prepare you for a happy homelife with your newborn.
Power duo: Kate and her The Memo co-founder Phoebe Simmonds. (You can get to know Phoebe in our IN HER BAG interview with Phoebe here.)
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced with The Memo so far, and how did you overcome it?
Phoebe and I are traditional retailers and marketers, so we had the skillset to create the brand, assortment and experience, but we are not ecommerce experts. We very quickly realised that we needed to lean on digital consultants who are experts in performance marketing to be a player in the e-comm space. This was a significant investment as originally, we had planned that we would manage this ourselves in order to save money. As a small business, this was scary and needed additional investment from us. We look back at this now and laugh as we now see the importance of leaning on people who can support you in areas that are not your expertise. This allows you to focus on the areas that you are strongest and experienced in, whilst having people who are the experts manage areas of weakness. We have taken this lesson and have continued to apply this for other projects that we have undertaken.
And, what has been the biggest win?
Simply the success of the business. I have just loved receiving emails from customers telling us how helpful and resourceful the site and service has been. This was the purpose of the brand, to help expecting parents feel confident as they approach this exciting (but overwhelming) time in their life, so it makes my heart warm when we hear this kind of feedback.
What is next for The Memo and what can we expect to see from the site in the coming year?
I could write an essay on what is to come from the memo, there are just so many exciting things! Everything we are focusing on is related ultimately to a better customer experience. This is just the beginning, and we are constantly looking at ways to deliver the brand in even bigger, badder and better ways across all our touch points. One thing we’re really inspired by is community connection and how keen our audience is to learn from us and each other, so we’ll be working hard to help them feel prepared and informed across their whole pregnancy and baby journey. We are also trying a memo pop up store to really extend the brand expression and service to customers who prefer a physical experience. And of course, you can look forward to a ton of exciting launches!
What needs to happen this year, for you to consider the year “a success”
I am really trying to focus on balance between work and my home life and learning to switch off more whilst at home. The last two years I’ve felt like I’ve just been running a million miles, but now with the expanding team, I am really looking forward to being more present with my family when I am with them.
Less work, more play. Like so many young working mothers, Kate's focus this year lies in work/life balance.
Running a fast growing, successful online site The Memo, plus your non-stop mum duties mean you a juggling a huge amount of balls every day. What are your top tip for managing stress and maintaining positive mental health?
I found that by making time for myself and scheduling it with my partner is key. I attend pilates three times a week and I find this activity combines mindfulness and exercise nicely.
Best career (or life) advice you ever received?
To be comfortable and confident in your skill set and to surround yourself with people who are smarter than yourself. You and the business will be more successful- it’s just so rewarding.
Best career (or life) advice you wish you followed, but didn’t?
Travel as much as you can as travelling with kids is so hard and very different.
If you could go back to young Kate, at 18 or 21, and give yourself 1 piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t sunbake and wear SPF daily.
We hope you enjoyed our conversation with Kate. You can visit THE MEMO here.