Business planning, Growth

Mumpreneur Melanie Seears wins award for cardboard box creation

Michelle Hammond /

Mumpreneurs can still make their mark in an increasingly crowded market, experts say, after a South Australian mum won an award for a cardboard box creation, dubbed Imaginabox.

 

Melanie Seears, a South Australian mother of three, is the owner of On The Gro. Seears’ latest creation, Imaginabox, was named best new product at the 2012 My Child Excellence Awards.

 

Held at the Baby & Kids National Buyers Show in Melbourne, the annual awards celebrate the best in baby and children’s products across Australia.

 

Imaginabox is a set of stickers and plastic parts, transforming unused cardboard boxes into toys, such as an oven or car.

 

According to Seears, motherhood has “proven to be a vital source of inspiration”.

 

“I am constantly learning from [my children’s] needs and drawing upon their energy, which I then translate across my ideas and products,” Seears said in a statement.

 

“The Imaginabox product is a direct example of this.”

 

“I saw how much our children loved playing with cardboard boxes, decided that I could enhance a box and make it more interactive, then set about designing the Imaginabox range.”

 

Seears pointed out the Imaginabox product is also ethical because it “touches on the importance of recycling and reusing all its parts”.

 

Polly McGee, who’s behind the MumpreneurIDEAS program, says the Imaginabox concept could be replicated at home. But if there’s a market for it, it’s still worth pursuing.

 

“Mums are in this market because they see the time-poorness and the fatigue of other mums. In some ways, [the Imaginabox] is a smart approach,” she says.

 

McGee says while the mumpreneur market is becoming increasingly crowded, she doesn’t believe a particular product category can ever reach saturation point.

 

“As long as there are people in that category who are willing to do things differently and capture people’s imaginations,” she says.

 

According to McGee, the most successful mumpreneurs are those who can identify future trends.

 

“The way that mumpreneurs can do that is to understand the market and be really savvy, and see into the future of where the next trends are happening,” she says.

 

“Also, know what the hot buttons are – things that you yourself are instantly drawn to as a mumpreneur… It’s all about reinvesting in things with a different flavor.”

 

Melbourne mother-of-two Tracey Cotroneo is the founder of Melbourne Mamma, a site designed to helping Melbourne-based mumpreneurs generate more traffic to their stores.

 

Unlike McGee, Cotroneo says some products in the mumpreneur market have reached saturation point.

 

“I thought Imaginabox sounded really good. But, with some products, you can only have so many. Things like breastfeeding wraps – there’s quite a few of those on the market,” she says.

 

In addition to breastfeeding wraps, there has also been a surge in mumpreneurs producing baby T-shirts, although Cotroneo believes this trend is finally starting to fade.

 

“It seems to have died down a little bit lately, possibly because Cotton On brought out some T-shirts that were a bit inappropriate,” she says.

 

On the flipside, Cotroneo says organic trade is picking up, although consumers are still concerned about the cost of organic products.

 

“You need to do a lot research into what your product is, not just here in Australia but also overseas,” she says.

 

“You need to work out whether there really is a market for that product, or whether you’re doing something that’s already out there.”

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