Welcome to our new blog series, My Week, where we chat to women in ecommerce and learn how they manage their online business alongside friends, family and life.
Today we are hearing from Fran, owner of Hemp Co Australia, which offers a range of skin care and beard care products that are all natural, completely vegan, and that are totally toxin free.
My name is Fran Power and my business is Hemp Co Australia. I’m a Youth Counsellor by trade who has been working with young people and their families in the mental health space for 15 years.
I have two children and a great supportive husband. Sometimes I don’t know if I love the business of my life or I miss the quiet before kids and my own business. Probably both moment to moment.
I started a mental health education business 10 years ago where I learnt the smallest amount about the importance of SEO and networking, however it was just a side thing and never a priority.
After I had my second child and was made redundant the week before Covid hit Victoria, I knew that I had to pursue something else too.
I dabbled in property development and thought about selling baby products for some time, but I knew nothing about owning an e-comm business and still seem to know just a little about everything but not a lot about anything.
I had always been looking into CBD and hemp products as we own some Cannabis shares in Canada and had been watching the space for a while. Then when my cousin offered to make me my own line of skincare, everything started to fall into place pretty quickly.
I started to get my friends and family to test our products while I sourced bottles and suppliers for boxes, thank you cards, stickers etc. I spent many late nights on Alibaba while my son didn’t sleep. Two years later and almost one year of selling I am slowly building up – not as fast as I would have liked but I’m getting there, and giving it everything I can in the small amount of time I have for it each week.
Monday morning, like every week morning starts at 6am with my son singing and yelling to be picked up for a cuddle from his bed, and the one time he sleeps in, my daughter will come into my bed for a morning cuddle. I head to the gym at 6:30-7:30 every morning while my husband does breakfast at home, this is for my physical and mental health. 7:30-8:30 is always a mad rush of shower, breakfast. getting me and kids dressed and heading to school.
Mondays is one of two days I get with Tommy (3). We head to gymnastics for him at 9:30 and then usually from 10:30-12 I am packing orders, returning emails, quickly doing one or two little things in our office while he plays or helps until I meet a friend.
My best friend is a single mum and we spend almost every Monday & Thursday parenting together until 3pm, this is my time off. At 3pm I drop Tommy and I head to my PAYG job of Youth Counsellor until 7pm.
TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY
Same morning routine but I head to my PAYG and Tommy is in daycare while Maya is at school and afterschool care.
I am super lucky that I can take a break and pack or send orders, do a little instagram posting, reply to some emails and pay some bills throughout my breaks in the day.
My boss knows that I often come home at night and after 8pm will write up my case notes from the day and attend to any PAYG work I didn’t do that day. I usually have 4-5 sessions in the day with young people, so they are busy days.
When I drive to work I always have Lisa and her team on in the car, giving ideas, inspo, even if I’ve heard it before, I’ll listen again – I get something new each time, or it sparks an idea, or gets my brain firing about excitement and possibility.
This is my favourite day as I get the whole day with Tommy and afternoon with Maya.
Poor Tommy gets dragged around again while I pack an order or reply to an email. We build a fort, we go to the post office, he plays at the cafe while I have a coffee and look at Alibaba again for a new product idea and check out what my competitors are doing in the space, what’s getting good reviews, what’s trending.
I also search for some beauty awards or potential collaborations, or I contact one potential stockist. Often on a Thursday we may also do an hour drive each way to collect items from our chemist/manufacturer. Tommy likes this as he snacks away and we talk about life or sing and play in the car. After we go to Scienceworks or a park or friends place and we play together, phone away.
In the afternoon Maya has gymnastics so I spend time with my friend again, have a cuppa and debrief all about life. At night after the kids are in bed, I often have a sauna and watch an hour of Netflix. This is my time every night to check out. But I also go to bed early. Sometimes at 9, but my brain will run for at least 30 minutes, what colour bottle should that bottle be, what ingredient should be the hero ingredient, should it be glass, from China or Melbourne. I brainstorm everything until my brain eventually gives up and I fall asleep.
My most important business day. From school drop off 9, until pick up at 3, It’s all me and Hemp Co. It’s go, go go…whatever I can do.
I will try and plan an email or two for the next two weeks, I listen to the latest podcast. I do a stock take and touch base with my manufacturer or when I will need more products.
We had a quick chat about my latest product idea. At the moment I’m planning CBD oils, however as this is a consumable my manufacturer can’t make them as it requires a different factory set up and licence, so we are planning how I can find a new manufacturer to help me set up the process.
I love looking at Pantone colours and thinking about bottles, for example my glass manufacturer is absolutely amazing, but it’s a 10,000MOQ, so how do I do that with three different colours but keep costs down? Will they do different shades, what are the current costs of shipping to Australia, should I look local?
I battle all the time with Australian companies and their terrible attitudes and support. I love my connections in China. But it also took me failed attempts before I found my current manufacturer, we had to dispose of 10,000 very dodgy looking oil bottles when I first started.
I ask myself how many weekend markets do I need to do to build up the costs needed? I battle being away from my kids on weekends, especially Maya now she is at school, I got into business to buy time with them in the future, but at what cost now. Sometimes I know I have a full day of to-dos but I give it all in and take the kids to the park. They are my number one.
I start at the crack of dawn (it’s still dark!) to head out to a market in Victoria. It’s hard work, it’s a long day and I miss the kids, but it’s brand building and I’ll do it for the first two years. Craft markets, Vegan markets, Mind Body Spirit and gift fairs.
It’s an upfront cost and sometimes I will break even and sometimes I will get a good cash injection, but it’s all brand building and what I’m willing to do to get awareness out there. I had unfortunately lost a lot of money through ad agencies, and I put some much money into the startup so I’m now focusing on small low-cost marketing tactics to start.
Currently my weeks are focused around my PAYG and my kids, but I only have 18 months left with Tommy at home before he starts school and I want to get the business to a position where I can work 9-3, five days a week, around the kids schooling and be there for them the rest of the time.
I also want to be able to hire three or four part time mums next year to help with packing, socials, ads/branding & customer service, so I have a lot of work to do, but big goals that drive me every day.
My goal for the next 5-10 years is to grow this business to run without me so then I can get back to my passion and purpose in life to help children and women,through psychotherapy and mental health education and coaching.