What launching an e-commerce store taught this mum-of-two about ‘having it all’


Naturely founder Ann Phan with her two daughters. Source: supplied.

I launched Naturely and started working full time on the business in July 2018. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but amazing nonetheless, and I have to learnt many important things along the way that I’d like to share with you.

My journey began when my younger daughter was suffering from severe eczema. It was tough, as a mum, to see any unbearably red, inflamed and itchy patches appearing on my child’s adorably squishy chubby cheeks, then spreading to those tiny arms and legs. 

At first, I applied many different topical steroid creams on her, but it didn’t take me long to discover that steroid creams have lots of adverse effects on babies. I began looking for more natural alternatives to control those skin rashes, and the results exceeded my expectations.

Since that incident, I wanted my family to live healthier and happier together. I developed a passion for organics and became more conscious of how chemicals and toxins from mainstream products could be harmful to our family. I was more cautious when choosing food and home care products. Honestly, switching to more natural and organic products came naturally.

As a busy mum, however, having to visit multiple stores to source organic products was a real hassle. That was when I knew I had to do something about it. I strongly feel the calling of playing my part to change people’s mindsets about organic products. 

Naturely was born out of the idea of a one-stop hub to get advice, and every single natural product a busy mother needs.

Expect difficulties when priorities overlap

I had no idea what was going to come next. One day my life was just similar to that of any ordinary mum out there, with my two little daughters being my life’s centre of gravitation, and the next day, I found myself juggling running a business with my family commitments. 

There are a lot of sacrifices that female founders have to make. In the first nine months of building the business, I felt exhausted and overwhelmed all the time. I worked day and night and didn’t have time to read bedtime stories to my children.

I felt unbearable guilt when I had to attend a business event instead of taking my kid to her playdate. Seeing her upset, eyes in tears, and locking herself in her room, broke my heart into pieces.

It was shortly after that I realised there’s no point building a successful business helping other people to stay healthy and happy, if I couldn’t maintain work-life balance myself

I started going to the gym again, and spending more one-on-one time with my children where my focus was 100% on them. It’s not hard to change, you just need to start and build a routine, and gradually the habit will come.

Take some small steps with great love 

Being a mum and running a business, I know how life can get so tough.

But I always keep three daily small tricks up my sleeve: doing a seven-minute workout every morning, choosing water as the drink of choice throughout the day, and praising myself that I am doing a great job.

I also practise meditation whenever I can. It helps me to stay in tune with myself.

Small steps require very little effort. And that’s exactly why they stick, day in, day out. We can all start small to love ourselves so that we can love others with our enormous positivity.

Know what works for you and develop a routine that is sustainable for you, your schedule, and your family. There is no one-size-fits-all, whether it’s the way you eat, your meditation, your business, or how you exercise.

NOW READ: How realistic is ‘work-life balance’ if you’re running a business? Can you successfully grow an ambitious enterprise on 40 hours a week?

NOW READ: Ignoring your ‘obnoxious roommate’: What this founder learnt when she met Arianna Huffington


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