In this special feature, Justin Grey chats to Adelaide’s Edwina Pearce of Nature’s Quest, winner of the Women in Business Award at the 2014 My Business Awards.
If ever there were a business owner who put the ‘Mum’ in Mumpreneur, it’s Edwina Pearce. The 48-year-old Adelaide mother to seven children – now aged between 16 and 33 – became a mum for the first time at aged 15 and married her partner, Barry, a few years later.
After being a stay at home mum her entire adult life, Edwina launched her own business, Nature’s Quest, in 2009. Nature’s Quest is a family owned and operated small business that develops and manufactures a range of natural hair and skin care products – all of which are environmentally friendly and proudly Australian and produced and bottled in-house in Adelaide.
With three of her seven children still dependent and living at home at the time, Edwina decided to start her own business after helping out her husband’s employer with some manufacturing issues they were having.
“I was manufacturing some new lines for them,” Edwina recounts. “To put it politely, they were from another country and they didn’t like women in business, so they weren’t taking on any of my formulations. I said to my husband, ‘This is really silly and I’m not going to keep doing this’.
“So I thought I might just start up my own business and do it as my own online shop. I didn’t really think too much about the future – I thought it’d be a little hobby on the side to keep me occupied, because I’ve never been one to just sit home and do nothing. And it actually took off from there.”
At the start Edwina was selling Nature’s Quest products online, but before long her small sales team, led by husband Barry, were successful in getting Nature’s Quest products ranged in health food stores and pharmacies. In late 2012, she launched a new range, Uniquely Natural, which would target the larger, mainstream market via supermarkets.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
While having such a large family may seem like a burden for a small business owner, Edwina (pictured, left, in the photo below) says that it’s actually helped her run her business efficiently.
“With such a large family, you have to be organised, so I actually think it’s benefited me,” she explains. “When the kids were little, you had to have a routine to get them out the door and to school on time. Those routines have helped me in setting up the business.
“And as silly as it sounds, I actually think it’s helped me financially, because we’ve always been a one-income family up until I started working for myself. It’s helped me budget as well, because I had to learn the income coming in and what was going out, so you shop accordingly. With our business to date, the only debt I’ve got is for our motor vehicles. Everything else has been paid for by budgeting like I’ve done at home.”
And, naturally with such a large brood at home, there’s plenty of helping family hands in the business. On top of having husband Barry, a sales veteran, as her Sales Manager, Edwina’s son Michael is Nature’s Quest’s Operations Manager and has been groomed to eventually take over from Edwina. Matthew, Barry and Edwina’s fifth child, is their South Australian sales rep, while two of their daughters, both accountants, help Edwina with the bookwork.
“I’ve got a policy with our children working for us – they’re not allowed to work for us unless they’ve worked elsewhere,” Edwina says. “Michael had his own business as a tiler; he closed his business and came over and worked for us. Anything I can do, he can do – we’ve trained him up to fit into my shoes, so should I be ill or whatever, business can continue.
“Matthew, who is our fifth child, was working at [South Australian independent supermarket] Foodland. The butcher offered him an apprenticeship, but he declined it and wanted to work for us. He started off in the warehouse and is now our South Australian sales rep. Having the kids work within the business, they see things differently to how we do and they bring in new ideas, particularly with technology. So I definitely think that the kids will take the business to a whole new level.”
MY BUSINESS AWARD WINNER
At the 2014 My Business Awards, held in November, Edwina followed in the footsteps of Tina Tower (Begin Bright) and Gemma Munro (Inkling Women) in winning the My Business Award for Women In Business. Introduced in 2012, the Women In Business Award recognises outstanding contributions of women in running their own businesses and is one of the most popular and competitive categories in the My Business Awards.
“I was really shaking when my name was announced because I truly wasn’t expecting it,” Edwina recounts of the moment she was named a My Business Award winner. “I was just amazed that I was chosen, because [as a small business owner] you do dream about being acknowledged in the industry.
“It’s amazed me how many people have congratulated me; I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the response. And also, our customers have been amazed and have stopped to take the time to thank me. For me, it has been and award and a reward, to think that I could achieve this.”
Edwina encourages all SME business owners to enter the 2015 My Business Awards. “When I was filling out the entry form I used it as a reflection to find out questions about our own business that I sometimes overlook and can improve on. You actually start setting yourself some targets without even realising you’re doing it, because you’re critiquing yourself and your business and thinking about what you can do better.”
Details regarding the 2015 My Business Awards can be found here.
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