Remember that ‘newborn’ stage Mama? When sleep was a distant memory and getting in the shower before 4pm was nothing short of a miracle.
Now think back to when you were at school; the hustle to get ready in the morning, get your lunch sorted, get your books, get on the bus.
Imagine having to combine those two stages of your life? Being a student and being a new mum. Which is exactly what some of the students at Swinburne University of Technology do. These incredible young women are making every effort to secure their future by completing their high school education, whilst caring for their young babies – in class!
The Young Mums’ VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) program has been running at the Croydon campus for the past 12 years. Students aged 15-24 years attend 3 days per week to complete the course and also obtain a Certificate II in Business and/or Retail.
Guided by teachers Samantha Jones and Jane Waters, the students study numeracy, literacy, work-related and industry skills and personal development. However, a lot of these classes are taught in a way that is relevant and practical. For example, spending time at community kitchen learning maths techniques through cooking – and simultaneously gaining the experience to be able to prepare nutritious meals for themselves and their children.
Whilst support staff are in place to assist the Young Mums, and every effort is made to create a syllabus that is engaging, this is no easy ride. Most of them don’t have a car (or are in fact old enough to have a license), many live outside of their parental home and very few have the opportunity to be employed, simply due to the fact they are teenagers and inexperienced in any kind of work place. When surveyed mid-way through this year, all of the students described the most challenging aspect of their life is “juggling the workload with being a mother of a little baby”. We hear you ladies!
Over the past few years, the Young Mums’ VCAL students have also dabbled in micro business endeavours; creating “Snuggle Boxes” containing essentials for new mums and then going on to develop some basic skincare in order to encourage the practice of self-care.
Each of these ideas, whilst being “commercial” in nature, have always had an element of “giving back”, particularly to other women in the local community that the students empathise with.
Toward the end of 2018, the Young Mums successfully won a “Pick My Project” grant from the State Government.
These funds have allowed the class of 2019 to further their entrepreneurial aspirations and take their skincare range to a more professional level.
With the assistance of Project Co-ordinator Anthea Riskas, the Young Mums have created Mummafly.
Starting in first term, each of the young women have worked collaboratively to hone their business pillars and values, develop a strong visual brand and voice, and inject their individual style into what they want to create; even the name was carefully considered to represent the idea of metamorphosis through education.
The students’ mission is simple:
Mummafly is a handmade skincare collection developed by a team of passionate young mums. We pride ourselves on creating an all-natural, sustainable range that is fun, inclusive, luxurious and affordable. We want you to treat yourself!
The class has had the opportunity to reach out to other leading females in Melbourne’s business scene; design doyenne Maria Harran has worked with the team to bring to life a colourful and contemporary look. Founder and director of the Creator’s Market, Megan Luscombe has mentored in how to take the product out into a competitive retail scene and Andrea Galas – the woman behind successful natural deodorant company Babs Bodycare – generously gave away some industry secrets in order to get the Mummafly product range rolling.
After 3 months of hard work, Mummafly had their soft launch on campus for Mother’s Day – to much positive feedback and commercial success!
Whilst having a budget at their disposal has lifted their business game, there are strict outcomes that must be delivered as part of Pick My Project. Since February the Young Mums have researched, developed and rigorously tested their products in the science lab at Swinburne. If it wasn’t good enough, it was scrapped and the process started again – quality had to be high and production consistent. Packaging was tested and purchased with the environment in mind; almost everything can be recycled or reused (those that can’t are due to health and safety reasons).
After 3 months of hard work, Mummafly had their soft launch on campus for Mother’s Day – holding a Pop-Up Shop in the cafeteria – to much positive feedback and commercial success! Put simply, the girls’ made money.
This dress rehearsal of profitability has shown that there is potential for Mummafly to sustain itself as an entrepreneurial program into 2020 and beyond – providing much-needed vocational training for students and ideally lead to employment.
The final outcomes the Young Mums needed to tick off were two public Pop-Up Shops: four days of successful trading at So:Me Space at South Melbourne Market in August and an appearance at The Make It Collective Market at Melbourne Museum in September.
Their online shop is open for 24/7 shopping at www.mummaflyskincare.com
Photos: Kate Dyer – Hello Urban Safari