YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR QUALITY, HYGIENIC, FUN TEETHING TOYS
As a mother herself, Karina Hill understands how painful teething can be for little ones, and how much this time can disrupt the household during the worst of days. She created The Teething Co to be a one-stop shop for teething toys, doing the research for you and carefully selecting a range of products that are safe, hygienic, effective and add a bit of fun and joy during the teething phase. Their products are made from non-toxic, BPA-Free, food-grade silicone or eco-friendly natural rubber and come in a range of cute designs. Here, Karina talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her business, how she balances work and family life, and her plans for the future.
What inspired you to set up the business?
During Covid lockdown in Melbourne, we received a teether in the bag we got from the government when we had our first daughter Eleanor in April 2021. Everybody was raving about teethers. Being my first baby, I didn’t know anything. Over time, Eleanor loved the teether. It would not only help her sore gums, but it also helped with her development as she loved playing with it. I started looking around where I could buy more and found I could not go to one place with a whole range of different teethers. I spent so long going to so many sites. I also found many stores focus mainly on beaded teethers, pendants, and bracelets. I wanted to steer away from that, focus on character, and make teething fun, as hard as that sounds.
What was it like being a first-time mother?
I moved to Melbourne to be with my now husband in 2019, so I live away from my leading support group, based in New South Wales, so it was difficult, and to top it off, we were stuck at home due to lockdowns. However, it was good in a sense as we had a lot of together time, and at times I loved being a new first-time mum.
As a new mother, what did The Teething Co do for you?
It gave me something to focus on when the days were the same and a break from just changing bums, feeding a baby, and watching too much Grey’s Anatomy. It gave me a sense of achievement and something else to focus on that I could learn and research while breastfeeding or when putting Eleanor to sleep.
How did you start in the beginning?
I just dove right in. I researched and looked for different reputable suppliers and a whole range of other products with which The Teething Co can grow. I chose a starting point and put some money aside from our savings. I did everything by myself and learned heaps about social media, marketing and e-commerce. I loved it being so hands-on.
What do you think was the most significant breakthrough you had in business?
We have done the markets, which have been an excellent avenue to get feedback from our customers. It has made it easier to talk about the product, get more ideas and go from there, and customer feedback has been good. We have the newsletter that we are constantly revamping, trialling different things, so The Teething Co becomes a resource for mothers about early childhood, not just a destination about teething. We want people to grow with the brand as we grow and to know that The Teething Co is on the same journey as them, learning, developing, trying and testing all of our products. We are all in this together!
Tell me about the interaction between mothers. What have you found?
There is always a sense of appreciation, and everyone supports each other. You can have a bad day, and you don’t know the person, although you can relate to them. It comes across in socials and all of our interactions. I love it.
When someone buys at the teething co, what do you want them to tell their friends?
They have some great products, and you should follow them, LOL. The teether was packed nicely, it was delivered on time, and it was great supporting a mum’s small business. My child loves to play with their teether. I can take it anywhere, it’s easy to clean, and it’s one of those things you always want to have carried around in your bag. Oh, and we were friendly, fun and fantastic to deal with.
How do you balance work and family?
I schedule time as best as I can. Usually, at night, I wrap any orders to give to my husband to post the next day. The big game changer was when I started to plan all of my content for social media. I designed it basically for twelve months with what I wanted to include, then I broke it down quarterly and monthly. At the beginning of every month, I set it out. It has made everything so much easier. I am no longer sitting there every day thinking about what I will post, and now I can focus on learning how to do reels and other social content like TikTok. As a result, I have more time with my family.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
So many, like building the website using Shopify from the ground up and figuring everything out that I’ve never done before. Now and then, you feel like giving up, and then someone will post a comment or send through a review on a purchased product, and it’s good. It has been a challenge the last few months with the current economic environment, so we have completed different campaigns specifically for our VIP customers who are registered to receive our newsletter; the response has been great, with plenty of customers returning to pick up another teether and trying different products as we grow into them. So many teethers go missing under the couch, LOL! We are always looking to improve and get better at what we do daily.
What are the pros and cons of running your own business?
It has given us an additional income and helps us plan for the future to be able to look after the family. I love learning, and The Teething Co has given me a better understanding of how businesses operate and how some do it well and others don’t. I love supporting other businesses. I would prefer to support another small mum’s business rather than go and buy it from a big company, and there are so many different brands doing great things. It is a real community. On the other hand, running a small business can be stressful. You must assess what you can do and determine where things need to happen and what will come in the future.
So what’s next for The Teething Co?
As Eleanor is growing and evolving, The Teething Co grows and develops. We are trialling a childcare specific range that we offer to childcare centres across Australia, which allows them access to great silicone toys for their kids to learn, develop, grow and play with, all from a single trusted source, The Teething Co. We offer “Raise”, which raises much-needed funds for childcare centres and allows families to purchase teethers with funds going back into the childcare centre to upgrade equipment. Our customers also love pets, specifically dogs, so we launched our Puppy Chewz range which continually evolves. We want to continue to focus on being a resource and guide for mums about teething where we partner with experts that give our customers the right advice, all in one place. We will continue to be fun and genuine and stand by everything we partner with. The future is exciting!