There’s a little shop on Wells Street Frankston that we are sure most local mama’s or mama-to-be’s have either heard of or popped into. It’s called Preggi Central and while she may not of have started the business from scratch, Shelley Knox is the woman behind it’s recent growth and success. Wife to Scott and mama to two beautiful blondes, Zoe (Grade 3) and Jessica (Kinder), she’s a perfectionist with vision, passion, an eye for detail and a whole lot of guts! We recently had a chat to Shelley about all things shop life, mum life and finding the perfect work/home balance (if that’s possible!)
MLTS – Thanks for chatting to us Shelley! We have personally been visiting Preggi Central for years now, even when it used to be located in Seaford where Helen and I did Preggi Yoga together! For those who haven’t heard about Preggi Central though, tell us a little about your shop.
Shelley – Preggi Central is a maternity, nursing and baby wear shop and has actually been around for 12 years. I bought the business in February last year (2017). We offer bra fitting, pre and postnatal support garments, lactation cookies and I can’t forget to mention the hottest fashion around for pregnant and nursing mums. Since I bought the business I have been working myself silly transforming it into the vision I have always had for it.
MLTS – That’s awesome Shelley, must be so great to have your own hands on it now so you can transform it with your vision! What inspired you to buy Preggi Central?
Shelley – I’ve always known that having my own business was what I wanted. In fact I tried and failed miserably to have a web development business when I was 19 years old! Next I ran a successful promotional modelling agency called 2tempt in my mid twenties, however, when I met the love of my life I realised that working late into the night and weekends chasing young women into their promo shifts wasn’t really going to work for a married woman and mum!!
So when the opportunity knocked at my door (or actually rang me on the phone) to buy Preggi Central there was no decision to make. I had worked at Preggi Central managing the business for the former owner back when it was in Seaford, it was my ‘in-between having kids’ job and I LOVED it. I couldn’t possibly give up the chance to take it on and make it what I had always dreamed of. My girls were old enough to understand a bit more ‘Mummy working hard’ and Preggi Central is the sort of job that they can see, they love visiting the shop too!
MLTS – A web business at 19! You are quite the entrepreneur aren’t you! So tell us about the early days, were you nervous about juggling mum life and owning a small business?
Shelley – Taking on Preggi Central was terrifying. I felt (still feel like) I had my family’s future in my hands – financially speaking – and one bad decision will bring us all down…eeeek!!! But I just take a breath and follow my gut and keep pushing forwards hoping in my heart that something that makes me so happy has got to be for the good.
I am the sort of person who is a major control freak, very determined and I have a very clear vision in my mind. I just try to make sure that every choice stays true to that vision and so far it seems to be steering me in the right direction. Fingers Crossed!!!
MLTS – Our fingers are also crossed for you even though there’s no need because we think you’re going great guns! What are some day-to-day challenges you face with being a mum and a business owner?
Shelley – OK – well there is the LIST – you know the one in every Mum’s head that is NEVER ENDING!!!!! It’s great that I now get to work my business in and around my family. I can put down my work and run off to school pick up or dancing or swimming or appointments etc… but the difference in being a business owner is that the work is always still there for you when you get home, when you’re trying to relax the LIST is still there making you feel like there are a thousand other things you should be doing.
And then obviously on top of the work list that follows me home, I still have all the same challenges every Mum has – like getting my kids dressed and fed in a reasonable amount of time, ugh, and helping them with their reading and learning etc. Some days I feel like ‘Mums Taxi’ too although I’m sure that element is only going to get worse from here!!
MLTS – Yep, we know what that feels like! Lists are everywhere! In our heads, on paper, in our phones… argh! Family time is so important though and it’s so great that you get to do both working for yourself! Are your family also your biggest supporters?
Shelley – I’m really lucky to have a very supportive husband and family and my girls are so supportive! They even love coming to the shop and helping out!
My husband is plainly proud of what I’m doing and that support gives me the courage to carry on when times get tough. My mother-in-law is amazing and she helps out with the girls one day a week, my father-in-law also helps with the girls too and is also on call if I have any ‘jobs’ around the shop like installing things or moving things – you know handy man stuff and both of them would be there in a heartbeat for my family when we need them.
My side of the family aren’t local but they are super supportive, proud and they understand what I’m doing – its great to be able to talk the work stuff out with them too as sometimes as a sole business owner I can feel a bit alone in it all.
MLTS – They sound like an amazing crew to have around you, Shelley. Family care and support is the biggest battle for a lot of small business owners so that’s awesome you have that covered. So what’s a typical day look like for you? Ie, school run, work, cook dinner, sports, etc…
Shelley – So like most Mums I’m all about the kids for the first hour and a half of everyday. Get them sorted and off to school and childcare. I am lucky enough to spend one weekday still with my youngest daughter and I’ll be super sad next year when she goes off to school too.
After the mad drop off I’m either off to the shop or if I need to really concentrate home to work. It all depends on whats on the list for the day but its great that I have that variety of working from the shop with amazing women around me or at home alone with the computer.
Then depending on the kids activities I’m off as mums taxi or I pick them up in time for a dinner I haven’t had any time to prepare! Its my biggest failure at the moment, that I just can’t seem to get my act together enough to plan a good meal often enough (like ever)! But I do feed them and wash them and read to them and help out with Zoe’s school stuff. I love bedtime with them – we have quiet – one on one – time with each girl so we get the chance to really connect and talk every night. I love that.
MLTS – Awww that’s gorgeous, we’re sure the girls would rather that than a lavish dinner any day! There is no juggle is there! We are all reading this nodding our heads knowing that we are all just doing our best! So you managed Preggi Central and then you were lucky enough to have the opportunity to buy it which we are sure is a dream for many!
What are your tips for other Mamas who are wanting to start their own business/buy a business but don’t quite have the how to knowledge or confidence?
Shelley – God what a question! So many ways to answer that one. You have to do what makes you happy – what you dream about.
I think the biggest thing that holds us back as Mums is that somewhere along the way we stop hearing ourselves, we make so many compromises for the family that eventually we stop being able to even know what we want for ourselves. If you can take the time to connect with yourself and hear the voice, see the vision, inside then you have to trust that it’s right and make it real for yourself because no one else can.
And of course, a happy Mum is a great Mum. Even if she is bat SH** crazy busy!!
Now the much more practical advice: Only do it if you LOVE it, if you have to. You know the feeling where you just can’t stop thinking about it. You need great drive and passion for the bigger picture and the small everyday stuff to get you through the tough times.
Take it step by step and don’t grow it too quickly. Do what you can manage and get it perfect before you move on to the next step. Respect the systems and processes that go into every step of your business and make sure that what you do can be replicated by someone else if you choose to grow.
Trust Marketing Works!!! You can have the best business in the world but if no-one knows you exist then what’s the point. You have to spend money to make it – its SO true. But only spend it if you can afford to lose it as nothing is certain in business. Test small, measure results and then go bigger.
MLTS – That’s fantastic advice! Do a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life right? Well, unless you’re a small business owner then you have to work your butt off twice as hard! We also especially agree with the marketing part, test small measure results then go bigger, that’s great Shelley.
Now about leisure time (if that is such a thing!), what’s your fave activity to do as a family on the Mornington Peninsula?
Shelley – We love living on the Mornington Peninsula! On school holidays there is never a shortage of amazing local things to do. My girls love the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park for quick weekday visits, the Enchanted Adventure Garden or Big Goose for weekend outings and of course the beach!!!!
MLTS – We love living here too and all of those places you mentioned! It’s great to have a work/life balance that makes you happy. What do you love most about being a working mama?
Shelley – I love my girls more than life itself, but I don’t flourish personally as a stay at home Mum. I tried it for a couple of years after I had my eldest, I wasn’t very happy and that wasn’t great for my kids. I felt SO very guilty when I first went back to work and still do all the time – #mumguilt. I see some Mums at the shop who are clearly thriving with their kids!! But me, I just felt parenting is relentless and it kicked my ass. I’m a much better Mum when I get to work and take a break from what is clearly the hardest most rewarding job in the world. So what do I love about being a working Mum? Sanity.
MLTS – Amen to that sister! We totally get you! Speaking of you, tell us something about yourself that other people may not know?
Shelley – I used to teach Salsa Dancing!
Wow, you really are a talented mama! Thanks so much for chatting to us Shelley, we loved your shop while we were pregnant and feeding and still love checking out the Preggi Central range now!