It's safe to say kids PJs are as cuddly as they come, but have you ever thought about where they actually come from? Letting your little one's skin breathe while they sleep is super important, but finding a good quality product can be tricky sometimes. Awakind is a children's sleepwear and bedding brand designed for the modern child, and rooted in purpose. Made from 100% cotton jersey fabric, these PJs and bedding are soft, comfy and more importantly, founded in an important cause - so you can feel as good on the inside about these PJs as you do on the outside.
"To create a brand that challenges the status quo in sleepwear, where the profits are used to fund homes for children in real need." - Awakind
We sat down with the founder of Awakind, Mumtrepreneur Vanessa Rowed, to chat all things from business running while being a full time mum, to creating a quality product that is ethically sourced.
[TLSE] When did you first start to learn more about homes and programs for children
[Vanessa] I’ve been involved with these two charities for over a decade now. Close friends of mine introduced me to the great work they were doing and I’ve been supporting them through their own charity events for many years. In January this year I went to visit the homes and meet the children. It was a humbling experience and made my dedication to this brand even stronger.
What drew you toward sleepwear?
My own personal experience with my children. I was searching for a modern pyjama design that wasn’t so cliché. I was sick of the licensed characters or pink and purple designs for girls and blue and green for boys. Everything was cheap and not well made. There were only a few brands that I would always go to for my kids pyjamas, and even they only had the basic styles. Often I would bath my kids early, around 5pm, and then put them straight in their PJs. If we had to duck out, or go to a friends house last minute, I would then worry about getting them changed. I started to think about pyjamas that were cool enough to wear out and all day.
How did you find out about the Thien Phonc Centre and Mai Hoa Centre, and what were the main things that pulled you toward those two centres specifically?
As mentioned above, I found out about these centres through some close friends who have been raising money to support these centres for a very long time. I’ve always been passionate about ensuring children have a safe place to grow up. I’m passionate about foster care and adoption. Given my current family situation, the later are not options right now, so I wanted to find other ways that I could still help keep vulnerable children safe. This felt like the natural fit as a starting point. I am working now to secure other partners to broaden our impact.
What's your favourite Awakind piece?
Right now my favourite is the Singlet Romper. I’ve refined it over time and it’s now our best seller. It’s sooo comfy and surprisingly functional. With the elastic shoulder band, it’s super easy for kids to pull on and off for a toilet run, but it also avoids the constant issue of pyjama tops riding up in the middle of the night.
What’s the biggest challenge and reward about owning a business while being a full-time mother?
The biggest challenge is time, but that’s not unique to running a business, it’s part of the job description of being a full time mother. There is always more you can be doing, more support your kids need and you never feel like you’re doing enough. The biggest reward for me right now is the education I’m giving my children about owning a business that gives back. Let’s face it, our kids have hit the jackpot being born in Australia and unfortunately they grow up in a privileged world. Through the work we are doing at Awakind, I’m trying top open their eyes to the bigger picture, expose them to the challenges others face in the world and empower them to feel they can and should contribute to a better world.
Do you feel like you’ve grown with your business?
Absolutely. It’s not my first time running my own business and each time I’ve done it before the growth is immense. What’s most interesting is the personal growth. You learn more about your own grit and resilience than any tough corporate job has ever taught me.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Be patient and wait for the right mix of timing, opportunity and experience. I ran my own business when I was young and whilst it was a great experience, the timing wasn’t right and I didn’t have the right level of experience. Later in life I felt I had the right experience but the timing wasn’t right due to financial security and a lack of a strong idea. I waited and continued to build on my knowledge and experience, so that when I came across a new opportunity I would be ready.
Are there ever times where you find it difficult emotionally working with helping children?
Absolutely. You can’t shy away from the reality of what is happening in the world. It’s also very difficult to trust all people involved in the process. You rely so heavily on partners and other intermediaries, you have to be scrupulous with where you place your support to ensure it can have the right impact. After visiting the two homes in Vietnam in January, I was filled with so many emotions. Part sadness for the fragility of their lives, part joy for their incredibly strong spirits and frustration that I couldn’t do more, more quickly. It’s an emotional rollercoaster as we all feel so disempowered when we look at the immense issues facing people around the world, but I have to remember that even the smallest things can have a positive impact. For example, even the toys and presents we brought the children on our visit lifted their spirits. The funds will go a long way to providing care and education, and even though it’s only for a portion of the population, it’s a start.
How do you balance business and your home-life?
The honest answer is I don’t balance it. One spills into the other, and it’s a madhouse and life is crazy, hectic and often exhausting. But it’s never been any different since we had kids and that’s just the crazy life we live. There is always one thing that is falling behind and I’ve come to accept that you have to go with it. For example, my fitness has dropped off this year, so that is something I’ll have to remedy next year. Previously it’s been quality family time, friends or even work. I still like to believe you can have it all, just not all at the same time!
What's next for Awakind?
Our 2021 Winter range is shaping up to be really exciting. Dressing gowns, slippers, adults range, bedding...there is so much exciting innovation coming up, I am looking forward to taking the brand to another level next year and really expanding our offering. Most importantly we are also working to secure a number of new partners both locally and internationally, which will really see the impact we can achieve to reach new heights.
INTERVIEWER | Brittany Ross
INTERVIEWEE | Vanessa Rowed
IMAGERY | Awakind