Emma started a business to contribute financially to the family. Starting her own business helped her take better care of her family, as well as other families.

Merchant Stories: Real stories from real people – successes and struggles from the small business owner. Here’s Emma’s story of why she started her business.

Emma started a small business to help with household expenses

Three years into her maternity leave, it was clear: Emma was not going back to work.

It was meant to be a short break. Emma was looking forward to becoming a mom, and wanted some time to learn how to take care of herself and the new baby. Then she had a second baby (yay!), and then she had already been on maternity leave for three years, and then it was time for Emma to move on.

Emma liked being a mom and loved her children. Her husband made enough for the family. Still, Emma wanted to contribute to finances. She decided to start a lifestyle business, something small. She wanted to have the flexibility to work on it, while raising Evie and Louis, and maybe make enough to pay for the occasional vacation.

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Family trip to Bali. Via Riff Raff Blog

It was on one of those vacations that Emma had her breakthrough. She was lugging an entire luggage just for her children’s toys; this one for play time, this one for nap time, this one for when the other two got dirty. Emma knew parents would pay for a toy that could help their babies sleep, but was also washable and good for play.

A few months of research and emailing, and Emma paid for the first batch of Riff Raff & Co toys: a multi-functional, washable toy that helped babies sleep. Emma loved sleep, loved her children, and she was sure her meticulously-designed toys would sell well with parents.

Emma faced slow sales and a powerful competitor

For the first few months after launch, Emma was excited to check her sales the first thing in the morning. But on most days, she woke up to zero new purchases. It was a worrying trend. She had drawn on her mortgage to pay for the first batch of toys, and had spent months of work sourcing and getting samples.

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With the the first two toys: Raffy the Fawn & Riff the Fox

Emma was filled with doubt. Would she be able to sell the boxes of toys now in her house? Had she made an expensive mistake? Emma worried the slow trend would continue. And then things got worse.

A competitor, Roro, started an advertising blitz for the Lulla Doll, their washable sleep toy for babies. Ads were everywhere, on TV, Facebook and on search. Roro had advertising savvy and a big budget to put behind their ads.

Emma’s young brand was in trouble.

Parents found Emma’s brand, and Sales Took Off

It felt like the odds were stacked against her, but Emma refused to give up. To combat the advertising push, Emma created her own content and ran Facebook contests to build her brand. All this, while still taking care of her family and posting orders from her own kitchen.

Things started to change. Emma’s first customers had rave reviews, and that helped kickstart the change. Parents searching for a washable sleep toy found Emma’s content and bought Riff Raff. Satisfied moms began sharing their referral link on social media and in Facebook groups.

Slowly, and then all at once, sales of Riff Raff took off. Emma started to get busy, and then she had to struggle with balancing the needs of her business, her children and her household.

Friends and Family helped Emma settle in

Riff Raff and Co was growing so fast that it was becoming a full-time job. Thankfully, Emma could count on her friends and family to help – including a few moms with small children. They helped her with childcare, dinners, and even with building the business.

Hauling a carload of toys in the early days. (Via Riff Raff FB)

Now that the company was up and running, the challenge went from simple survival to juggling her many responsibilities: her job, her household, her children, and managing to get enough sleep for herself.

Some days felt so overwhelming that it was a struggle to continue the business, but Emma reminded herself of her passion for her product and was motivated by the pictures of happy families posing with their Riff Raff toys. Eventually, by the second year, a stable team was in place to help take some of the weight off Emma’s shoulders.

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The Riff Raff team

Emma is a happy mum and happy boss of happy mums

With a good team behind her, Emma was able to continue growing her business. Riff Raff has won awards, and Emma credits this to being obsessed with her customers. She still loves it when moms take photos of happy babies cuddling a Riff Raff & Co toy.

Emma’s not the only mum on the Riff Raff team either. Two of the moms – Carmel and Chelsea – had been there from the start, chipping in to help when the company was still just Emma sending orders in her kitchen.

Louie, Emma and Evie on a vacation

From a modest dream, Emma now runs a successful business, with mums as her customers and mums on her team. She has the energy and time to grow her business, take great care of her family, and still enjoy date nights with her husband.

Date night. Via Riff Raff & Co Instagram

Emma started and runs Riff Raff & Co. Read more about Riff Raff’s business journey on ReferralCandy.

Merchant Stories: Real entrepreneur stories from real people.

If you’d like to share your merchant stories, email us.

Bonus: Here’s Emma & family singing the words to the Riff Raff Lullaby




Darren Foong

Posted by Darren Foong

Darren works on Growth at Candybar. He spends too much time reading fiction, performing improv, and doing things that don't scale. One day he hopes to be quite interesting.