When Lauren Kennedy couldn’t find her son a swimsuit that met all her needs, including quality, fit, style and sun-protection, she decided to take matters into her own hands, quite literally. Juggling a baby and marketing role, all her spare time (or lack thereof) was consumed by creating the ultimate in kids’ swimwear. harry & pop was not only a new business idea, but one that ultimately changed her career and life path…
“I became extremely frustrated with the lack of options [of kids swimwear]. It was near impossible to find swimmers that were UPF 50+ and weren’t either fluorescent, covered in loud motifs (sharks, unicorns, sailors, fish and fairies – you get the idea), overly cutesy, far too mature or throwaway quality.” Like all good business ideas that directly address a need and gap in the market, Lauren zoned in on all the factors other swimwear brands weren’t considering and made it her mission to commit to sun protection, sustainability and quality first and foremost. “Ignorance is bliss. If I knew then what I know now harry & pop may never have gotten off the ground. It would have seemed way too overwhelming, far too much work for one woman to achieve, too many obstacles and risks… Fake it till you make it they say and that’s exactly what I did. Formal education is always helpful if you can afford the time but there’s nothing like jumping in the deep end and learning while actually doing.”
We caught up with the busy mum (who has a second child on the way) to see how she turned a passion project into a business, what we should all be looking out for when choosing children’s swimwear and how she approaches the daily juggle while keeping her sanity and priorities in check…
You started harry & pop after having your first child and while still working in a communications and marketing role. What made you take the leap and turn a passion project into a business?
harry & pop happened organically. I took a year maternity leave when our son was born which is when the idea sprouted and it became a bit of a side project during that time. After going shopping for his first swimsuit (which I thought would be a simple task) I came home empty-handed. I just couldn’t find children’s swimwear that was both stylish and provided UPF 50+ sun protection. Over that summer, still searching for something that fit my brief, I became extremely frustrated with the lack of options. It was near impossible to find swimmers that were UPF 50+ and weren’t either fluorescent, covered in loud motifs (sharks, unicorns, sailors, fish and fairies – you get the idea), overly cutesy, far too mature or throwaway quality.
After a year of research and wonder, I returned to my strategic communications and marketing role at a sustainability organisation but just couldn’t stop thinking about this huge gap in the market. At the time I was juggling my day job and motherhood while trying to start the business. Eventually, sleep became the sacrifice which was definitely not suitable (I was working on harry & pop late into the night and getting up before the sun rose to fit it all in around my day job and being a mum). That’s when I decided to take the leap and focus on harry & pop full-time.
How do you juggle motherhood with harry & pop right now?
Honestly, it’s a constant struggle. I often feel like I’m doing nothing well – drowning in emails, leaving wet washing in the basket for 2 days before rewashing it, forgetting dress-up day at childcare, playing trains with my son while writing the shopping list – but I’ve learnt to become much more comfortable with this. I’ve come to realise that the ever-elusive work-life-balance just doesn’t exist. Us mothers, no matter what we’re juggling, always feel like we could be doing things better but the fact of the matter is that we’re trying the best we can and we’re doing pretty damn fine. We just need to go easier on ourselves. The washing eventually gets done, emails get responded to a few weeks late, costumes get created the night before and our kids think we’re the best mummies in the world even if we are multi-tasking while making toot-toot noises. I do what I can in a day and at the end of it if all else fails there’s nothing a cuddle and a good glass of red can’t fix.