Mimi Kwa is a super organised, multitasking entrepreneur and mother of four. She has worked in television for 20 years but like a lot mamas, having kids changed her life focus. She wanted to do something that could work around her family. Up late at night feeding babies, the idea for Tigeroy emerged… beanbags, teepees, and bibs. Then twelve months ago, Mimi went beyond product development and her beautiful and beloved store in Malvern of the same name was launched.
Hi Mimi, can you tell us about your children and what you enjoy doing as a family.
I have four children – Royston 12, Mason 10, Harper 8, and Berry 6. All two years apart and the funny thing is their birthdays are two months apart! They all have curious minds and are quite inventive and theatrical when they are together, making up all sorts of games and turning our home upside down. I quietly hoped that they might all like the same activities but (of course!) they are all into different things. The one activity we can all agree on though – is the beach. We are drawn to the ocean and chase the sun whenever we can.
How would you describe Tigeroy?
Tigeroy is a collection of things I love – all beautifully curated with a whole lot of heart. The Tigeroy team is amazing and there’s no way it would exist without their incredible dedication and support. We source predominantly Australian design and some international. Basically, if it’s beautiful, ethical, sustainable, hard to find anywhere else, and it feels authentic … then it’s Tigeroy. Our range includes everything from babies, kids and adult clothing, toys and gifts, as well as homewares like bedding, baskets, rugs and ceramics. We also have some wonderful paintings in store from clever local artists. We want everyone to feel at home when they visit us. Giving our customers the most welcoming, best possible experience finding the perfect gift or piece for their home is what drives us every day.
Did you always dream of opening your own business, or was there something else you wanted to be ‘when you grew up’?
I was, and still am a television presenter (www.mimitv.com.au). When I had kids, I started out with my brand Little Grommets as two of my kids had grommets and I couldn’t find anything to keep their ears dry so I invented something. ENTs, pharmacies and hospitals stock our earbands and earplugs but most people find us online. From that came ideas for Tigeroy. Tigeroy wholesale has been going for a few years now, and we supply stores across Australia. Last year I took the plunge into retail, selling not only my own brand but more than 70 other brands as well. I have always wanted to open my own shop since I used to sit behind the counter in my Aunty’s shop in Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. She used an abacus back then. I’m glad we have a computerised cash register at Tigeroy!
How do you juggle running your own business with motherhood?
I have to delegate quite a lot to get things done. I could never do it without fabulous staff. Not to mention an amazingly supportive hubby. I love having the flexibility to be at every school drop off, every pick up, every appointment, and to be able to be with the children as much as I can. Now that all the children are at school it’s easier to get things done but I still do struggle with the juggle. Being all things to all people is not possible so I just do my damned best to be as much as I can to as many as I can.What advice would you give other mums who are considering starting a business?
It’s hard work so you need to start from an honest place with why you want to start a business. Of course it needs to be commercial, but if your heart isn’t in it you will never feel fulfilled. I am learning new ways to juggle work and kids all the time. I would say be open to ideas, be flexible and be willing to make lots of mistakes. What we learn from our mistakes makes our successes. My most practical advice though is to get systems in place from the beginning. As my business changes and evolves we are still streamlining our systems.
What inspires you and what has motherhood taught you?
Beautiful design and particularly art inspires me. I love hanging out at NGV with the kids whenever I can. Motherhood has taught me to be mindful and forgiving, tolerant, patient and more patient and … did I say patient. My kids teach me something new every day. Because of course they know everything! Sometimes I like to run a tight ship to stay sane, but often I surrender to the chaos of four children, a dog, a cat, and a canary, and just think I’m the luckiest girl in the world.
Since this month’s theme is home beautiful, we have to ask you: do you have a few words of advice on interior design for families?
I’m reading a book called The Kinfolk Home at the moment (which incidentally we now stock at Tigeroy), since I received it as a gift from a friend. It’s all about curating your home with meaning and beauty and things you just can’t do without. It’s a beautiful pictorial and essay account of homes around the world that abound in simplicity, warmth and are a genuine expression of the people who live there. It’s a teaching I am trying to follow and really think Tigeroy is a reflection of this philosophy, bringing you many of those sorts of lovely things you just can’t do without.
Find Tigeroy at 189 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern and online at tigeroy.com