CrowdInk just sat down (virtually) with Raylene Barton, the Mum & Entrepreneur behind “Ariel’s World,” an online shop that works with the Down Syndrome Association and Lifestart Australia to raise funds for supporting those who have Down syndrome. Her founding story and business model is pretty darn special, as is her frankness about balancing life as a Mum and an entrepreneur.
CrowdInk: What was the inspiration behind Ariel’s World?
Raylene Barton: My daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth. Even though my very close friends and family knew of the diagnosis, I still hadn’t informed a lot of my other friends and acquaintances I was close to on social media. I already had a blog for my custom lip balm and bath and body care business. I gave in to an urge one morning and broke the news via my skincare blog. It didn’t have a lot of followers, but I shared it on facebook and the response was overwhelming. I got over 100 views that day and the support and kindness I received was comforting and empowering. I kept updating it and it all grew from there. I already made candles in my corporate gifting business and developed a beautiful candle called Ariel to sell. Some of the profit goes to Down syndrome charities. The blog is a personal/parenting blog that will (hopefully) increase awareness and focus on ability rather than disability.
CI: How did you get involved with the Down Syndrome Association & Lifestart Australia?
RB: Down syndrome NSW was my first point of contact as soon as I got home from the hospital. It is such a difficult time and they are all Mums who have children with Down syndrome so they know exactly what you are going through. They sent out info packs and books and a staff member will even visit your home. Lifestart provides early intervention support such as OT, Physio, and Speech therapy. I also had a mothers’ group I organized with Lifestart for new mums with babies who were diagnosed with DS. That was also an extremely supportive network that got me through the difficult times, such as the break up of my relationship with Ariel’s father.
CI: What have been some of your biggest challenges/obstacles in business development?
RB: A lack of capital. I have to be very “creative” with finances. Also time management. Being a single Mum, I have to do a lot of my work in the evenings and when Ariel is at her Dad’s in the weekend. This year, I have put Ariel into daycare an extra day to spend time on my business.
CI: How about some of your biggest successes or surprises?
RB: The fact that I think I am actually going to pull this off, being a single mum with a business that is. The business and blog has been growing slowly but along with my other business, one&co bespoke gifting, I seem to be gaining some traction.
CI: What can your customers look forward to next?
RB: At the moment, I am working on some festive candles for special occasions such as Mother’s day, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas, and these will be up on the site next month along with the petite Ariel candle and lip balm. Hopefully soon I would also like to bring out a perfume balm in a key ring and/or locket.
CI: Do you have any advice for those looking to start their own business?
RB: Don’t rush things. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I am still learning to slow down and really make sure I am 100% on things before committing. Keep overheads low when starting out as well. Working form home can definitely help with that.
CI: Finally, what’s it like to be both Mum & Entrepreneur? Do you have any anecdotes of when playing both roles worked really well or were particularly challenging?
RB: I won’t lie, it is really hard, especially being a single mum. It’s who I am though and as tiring as it is, I am being true to myself and I think that makes a good Mum. I get counseling to help with the stress and take time out for self care. I learned why this is important the hard way. I am hoping that Ariel will want to work with me in the business one day. Already she knows what the Ariel lip balm is and how to apply it.