One of the things I have noticed when working with people either starting up their own business or in the first two years is that it can be tough! There are times when you wonder if it’s all worth it, if it really should be this hard, if the 9 to 5 is the better option and more importantly when will I be earning enough to draw a wage?

These doubts and many more are constantly in the back the minds of many small businesses. It is for that reason that I have decided to include regular interviews with other businesses that all started the same way as you, in the hope that it will give you some confidence that yes there are tough days but there are also some very great and rewarding ones if you hang in there.

What better way to start than with Brooke from Five Little Faces. Funnily enough I met Brooke for the first time when I was in the same position she was in when she started Five Little Faces – there were just no funky, age appropriate clothes for boys!

Now for me, Brooke is such a great example that we can all learn something from. She has had more than her fair share of challenges and heart ache and yet instead of deciding the world was against her and giving up, she decided to use the strength that she discovered she had to build something.

Brooke’s passion is her family…as well as her other loves, which include children’s clothing, design and marketing.

Here is her story…..she was even kind enough to leave us with a quick fail safe dinner recipe!

You’ve had some challenges in your life that have required great strength, tell us a bit more about this.

Ohh dear, I think that if there have been life challenges then I seem to have faced a number of them, but it taught me to accept that things are out of my control and – never give up.

I was adopted at 30 days old to a gorgeous family. It’s a strange feeling to look in the mirror and not know where you came from.

At 26 I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic requiring 5 injections a day. The insulin pump changed it all for me. Whilst I look a little weird with this pager like thing attached to me 24/7, it gives me more freedom and no more needles – yaaah.

In 2006, I married Glen (that was fantastic) – he’s definitely a keeper. My father passed away that same year after he was given 6 months to live from Melanoma cancer. That completely broke my heart.

At 36 I gave birth to the premature Mac at 6 months who ultimately changed it all and the direction that life was taking me. He spent 2 months in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and today is a healthy, strong, quirky little poppet full of life and energy.

Five years ago I found out via a Facebook post of all things that my birthmother passed away. That was pretty hard as we never had a strong relationship and I found it quite difficult to mourn for a mother that I never really knew. It was kind of raw to find out via a public medium that I use for business.

Last year I met my biological half-sister for the first time. That was rather weird, but we are slowly building our relationship and being sisters for the first time in 42 years. I absolutely adore her; we are different but have so many little mannerisms and quirks that are the same. We are now trying to determine who my birth father is. Ahhhh, that’s the next chapter in this crazy story….


What did you do prior to starting Five Little Faces? 

At 17, I entered the big bad advertising world with no experience and worked my way up from reception to Senior Account Manager, managing the Capt’n Snooze account for over 7 years. I managed Capt’n Snooze over three different advertising agencies. In such a competitive field, it was a feather in my cap (or should I say bed).

Then I took a leap from agency to become a Marketing Manager.

My previous Marketing Manager roles included: Budget Eyewear/Vision Plus/Viva Juice/Pure & Natural/Fancy Fillings, Wrappings Giftware/MICM Property and lastly Tempur Bedding Australia.

And then it all literally changed for the better overnight when Mac was born.


Tell us a bit about your business?

Five Little Faces (located in Spotswood, Melbourne) is children’s clothing with a difference: very hip, the style is fun, its unisex and it’s AFFORDABLE. Think stars, bold prints and fun skulls. We sell primarily on-line and in a few clothing stores with sizing ranging from 2 to 7 years old. Affordability is key with mummy consumers when it comes to children’s clothing. Our pricing is honest and fair; $18 singlets, $22 t-shirts, $25 long sleeves tops, $35 denim jeans and accessories.

Five Little Faces was born out of the frustration of big brands being generally expensive and some brands not really age appropriate. There was a multitude of girls clothing and little boys in particular seemed to miss out on funky and cool. It wasn’t an option to dress Mac in clothes a 10 year old would wear. So after months of research, Five Little Faces was born.

I love seeing little faces in our clothing. I love being asked by other mummies ‘where did you get those pants from’? That has to be the biggest complement!! Our customers are just so gorgeous!! One mummy told me recently that “it was like our children are growing up together”. We’ve never met and she is located in NSW.

Our unique style is what customers have come to expect and we strive to provide awesome customer experience from point of purchase to delivery of product.


How long have you been working for yourself? 

It’s been nearly 2 years now and I do just love it. It can get a little lonely and isolating working from home at times but:

I LOVE not getting a sale because it makes me work harder and think smarter.

I LOVE getting a sale because it makes someone happy.

I LOVE the brand.

I LOVE being able to turn anything around very quickly.

I LOVE that there’s been only 1 return in nearly 2 years.

I LOVE inspiring and mentoring other business mums.

I LOVE being able to take my son to school and pick him up.


What does your family think of your business? 

They LOVE it!! My husband supports me in every way….. Ok, maybe 90% of the time –ha. But he is terrific, understanding, helpful and just a really gorgeous person inside and out. Mac is such a character and so loving (proud mamma). Mac loves it because he always asks “is this Five Little Faces mummy?”


What was the catalyst behind you starting your business? 

It was born out of the frustration of spending hours and hours trying to find funky and affordable children’s clothing for Mac. So I researched it and with that in mind and Five Little Faces was born.

Please don’t tell anyone…………… but I love shopping, any shopping but mainly I love shopping for children’s clothing. But, it felt that all the big brands were overpriced and the everyday brands were not age appropriate. Mac is a child and I wanted him to dress as a child should – fun and funky.


I’m sure you have had some business challenges, what are these? 

Ohh dear, at the beginning, it was starting a business with no budget or financial backing. The initial investment was minimal and then the rest was up to me to make it work. It meant working harder to grow the business with no budget or contacts. Although I came from a marketing background and have acquired skills there was aspects like running a business where I am everything, which was extremely challenging. If I didn’t know how to do it………. Youtube it. Social media, WOM and PR were key in business growth. I set myself goals of who to approach for assistance in business growth.

I seem to be absolutely everything at Five Little Faces –a one stop shop inside the shop. From designing the logo, creating the brand livery, designing all the artwork, talent scout, managing social media, updating the website, planning, strategy, marketing, buying, selling, newsletters, advertising, photography, accounts, public relations, retailer and wholesaler.

The one role that I am proud of is the photography. Am I a photographer?  Ohhh no but I gave it go. Whilst working with no budget I had to work around areas that weren’t my expertise. It sometimes is a lot of pressure wearing all of the above hats.

Facebook’s regular algorithm changes – unfortunately, the business started after Facebook started changing algorithms. Whilst other business got in early and grew organically, it hasn’t been that easy for me. Solution = I’ve booked into a Social Media Course in August.

YouTube has been very useful as an educational tool. It has taught me a number of things such as retouching image backgrounds and correcting lighting. I watch videos to educate myself on Facebook and Instagram tips to increase my brand recognition.


On your darkest days in your business, what keeps you going? 

Customer positive feedback is always an achievement. The fact that someone loves their purchase makes me feel proud. A ‘Thank you and I love it’ are such a powerful words and it makes me do mini backflips. My customers inspire me a lot. Some customers have told me “I’m so glad that I found you”. People in the park inspire me when they ask “where did you get those boys jeans from?” The business is ultimately a feel good experience where it makes mummy consumers happy.

The business team is me at this stage. My business motivation is not to fail. My personal motivation is to show my son that anything is possible if you put in 150%.

Each day the cobwebs are cleared whilst walking my son to school. He inspires me each day with his positive and happy attitude.

A network of business mums really helps. They can help you, challenge you and support you.


What was the turning point in your business? 

In 2014, Five Little Faces was featured in an article ‘where to buy kids clothing online’ in the Sydney Telegraph and an associated blog on Kidspot was a major achievement.  It gave Five Little Faces a stronger customer base and we were featured next to Bonds in the 8 best online stores in Australia.  Appearing in Practical Parenting Magazine a number of times with product placement and more recently inspiring other mums appearing in Bubba West and Mamma Magazine.


Where there any moments when you thought you would be better off going back to the 9-5? 

YESSSSSSS, I dream that would be less stressful, but there are more positives being able to work from home and having a better home/work balance.


If you could give other women any advice on starting their own business, what would it be? 

To be brave, be passionate and don’t give up. There are times when it’s not easy. It’s hard work but so very rewarding. Never give up and always find a solution to a problem!


How to you juggle running a business and a family? 

Running a business takes some serious multitasking and when you throw children and a husband to the mix you have so many more balls to juggle. There are times when I feel I should be spending more time with my family but it means then times I feel I should be working. Do I feel guilty sometimes………….yep!!

I started Five Little Faces so I could control my working hours and be there for Mac, and that has worked well. I really love what I do. It really is a juggling act, running an online business is a little more flexible than an office job and means that the working day can sometimes finish at 3am.


You recently won an award, what was this and how has it changed your business? 

Being nominated for Telstra Women in business awards is totally amazing. I didn’t believe it at first when Telstra called me and I answered – really, ME? I nearly fell off my chair!! It’s a competitive process but I am honestly chuffed just to be nominated. This taught me that anything is possible.


Top 5 must have’s in business? 

  1. Passion for the business
  2. Belief in yourself and your product
  3. To be solution orientated
  4. The belief that anything is possible
  5. A network of business mums that are willing to share what is working for them


If you could leave our readers with one piece of inspiration what would it be? 

It’s not about being the best. It’s about being better that you were yesterday.
What is your top productivity tool? 
I tend to use Post Planner (the free version). It’s simple to use and really helps deliver content to the Five Little Faces Facebook page effectively at specific times.

What’s the best business book you’ve read?
Facebook for Dummies really helped me get my head around this particular medium. I’d always used Facebook for personal use and had no idea how to use from a business perspective.

What’s your go to meal when you’re time poor? 

This is the possibly the easiest recipe our family eats. Nothing too complicated – French Onion Soup Burgers. Sounds a little odd but they are seriously delish!

You need:
500g chicken or beef mince
1 ripe tomato – diced
1 small onion – grated
1 medium carrot – grated
1 x 40g pack of French onion soup
1 egg
Plain flour for coating
1 tbsp. Vege Oil

Mix all ingredients and divide into 12 patties. Roll in flour and cook in oil until golden.

I am so grateful to Brooke for her open and honest answers to these questions and hope that by reading Brooke’s story you have a renewed sense of inspiration about your own business. As you can see, we all have similar challenges, they are just packaged differently.

If you would like to see more of Five Little Faces you can check them out at their website. Just make sure if you have little people, your credit card is at arms reach haha!