Inspiration from a former banking senior manager turned online retailer.

Debbie Hatswell from the Story MamaCas found out from a former banking senior manager what it’s like to follow your passions and work from home with an active toddler.  Be inspired by Story Mama’s, Debbie Hatswell, and get some tips on running a business from home while juggling a family.

Tell us a little about the person behind the business?

I am a married, mother of a very active three-year-old boy. In my previous work life I was a senior manager from one of the big four Aussie banks. After having my son I struggled to balance work, home, motherhood and guilt!  I have been a Mumpreneur now since May 2012.

And now a little about the business itself?

Story Mama is all about making picture book buying for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers really easy. When I was buying books for my son, I found it really frustrating that books were not labelled by their age appropriateness. I also wanted easy access to award winners and books recommended by other mums. I felt like there was a gap in the online book market at the time – so in I leapt.

How did you come up with your business name?

My little boy used to say “tell me a story mama” so I guess he chose it really.

What made you want to begin a WAH business and how did you get started?

I took a redundancy package from my previous employer in January 2012 and took three months to have a good long think about what I wanted to do. I wanted my son to be able to do shorter days and less of them in long day care. I wanted to be able to work from home so that I could attempt to stay on top of the cleaning and cooking. My father was terminally ill at the time, and I wanted to be able to easily reprioritise my day and take him to appointments or catch up with him when he was feeling well. I got started by writing a very comprehensive business plan and conducting and getting my hands on some very solid market research. I then ran the business plan past some trusted advisers.  In a way the business plan helped convince me that I should give Story Mama a go.

What inspires you to keep your business going?

I am loving working for myself and being the key decision maker. This is a nice change after being part of a big corporate bureaucracy. I love building a brand and learning new things every day. I love discovering new picture book gems; some classics, some new releases. I love getting feedback – and make sure I keep a record of it to read over if I am having a slow day. I love the community feel of the Mumpreneur network.

story mamaHow do you advertise your business and which methods have proven more successful?

Our website was launched in December 2012 so is relatively new to the web. To date we have advertised in Melbourne and Sydney Child and have a solid social media presence on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. We are also doing as much as we can with good old word of mouth!   We are still working through what works best. We will keep tweaking and trying different things over the next six months

Do you have a current best-selling product or service? If yes, tell us about it.

Our current best-selling title is Fancy Nancy. This title was a New York times Bestseller and is the original book in the series by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser. In the book, Nancy makes over her family (who are very good sports!) to be more “fancy”. It is a story for girly girls who love dress ups and bling.

How do you juggle your family and your WAH business? Any tips for other WAHPs?

I find I am completely unable to focus/ use my PC/ pack orders if my son is around (or awake!), so we are utilising paid childcare and he will attend four hours of kinder this year. My husband is incredibly supportive and he will help out by packing orders and managing inventory. I am outsourcing bookeeping so that I can stay focused on where I can add value. Besides that, I am finding the best way to balance it all is to be organsied and plan everything from meals, to scheduling playdates, outings, and bill paying. I tend to start to feel overwhelmed if I am not feeling organised.

And finally, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a WAH business?

Go for it. You will never know unless you do it.

Do you offer any discounts to Support a WAHP members?

Mention WAHP in our “how did you hear about us” to receive a free gift with purchase. Gift is a Cafe Kids activity pack.

Name: Debbie Hatswell

Business: Story Mama


Facebook Page:


Location: Melbourne, Australia

Cas McCullough About Cas McCullough

Author, speaker, activist and prolific blogger Cas McCullough empowers women as mothers through her startup Mumatopia, and she empowers women solo business owners (and a few enlightened men) to drop the sales pitch and harness the power of content marketing through her Content Marketing Cardiology program. Cas is the author of Diving In: Practical tips for starting up and growing your home based business and writes a regular column on home based startups for Find Cas on Google+