PLANS IN MOTION
COPING WITH A MARRIAGE BREAKDOWN AND RAISING THREE CHILDREN UNDER FIVE FORGED A FUTURE IN ONLINE ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR KATE BARLSTROP, TURNING A HOBBY INTO A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
It took heartbreak for Kate Barltrop to realise where her true passion lay. Her 10-year marriage had just come to an abrupt end and she was juggling three children under the age of five while bed-ridden due to pregnancy complications.
She couldn’t go back to work but needed a way of generating an income and found herself having to look outside the box.
She began racking her brain for ideas on how she could pursue a career from home that would fit in with her schedule, and that’s when she realised she could turn a hobby into a business.
Kate said she stumbled into the planner community when she was Googling ways on how to stay organised.
She started following popular planner social media pages, began watching Youtube videos on designing planners and ordered everything she needed to create one from American sites.
“I didn’t realise just how big the planner phenomenon was,” she said.
“There was a whole community of people, mostly women, who shared the same passion for writing, drawing, planning, journaling, organising and documenting life.”
She said she loved the concept but soon became frustrated with the fact that the American planners did not align with Australian dates. And that’s when an idea struck.
“I thought my love for planners is undeniable, I have design skills and graphic computer program skills, I have some money saved, I have time at night when the three kids are asleep, and I have massive motivation to have a good shot at starting a hobby that will hopefully one day become a business,” she said.
“Not to mention I needed a distraction to keep my mind busy, when the kids weren’t at home or were asleep.”
From there, her online business Mulberrypop was born.
“I posted on one of the planner Facebook groups that I was going to print and bind a few well-thought-out planners that had Australian dates, seasons and layouts, not backwards like most of the American options are,” she said.
“It was a simple idea that at the time I could not find existed anywhere.
“The response was huge, and it was then that I realised there was a real need for a beautiful, quality, well-designed and made planner made in Australia for Australians.”
Kate’s online business launched four years ago and has grown steadily into the popular venture it is today.
All of her planners are designed, printed and made on the Coast and are sent out around the nation.
Kate said she was constantly developing her ideas and looking at ways to improve her range of planners.
“Each year I have a list of goals: some small, some big, some really big,” she said.
“I’m still working from a small room at home and often at the dining table and on the lounge room floor.
“But with the kids still fairly young, and the juggle of toilet training, dance, sport, school, homework, my part-time job plus allowing for down time with their mum, for now this is perfect for us.”
Kate said she was most passionate about helping others find a way to keep on top of their busy schedules.
She said she owed a lot of timemanagement skills to the fact that she used a planner and she wanted to share this skill with other time-poor people.
“It’s very calming and makes you feel like you can get on top of things,” she said.
“My weeks are chaos and without my planner, I would be totally lost.
“A lot of woman who use the planners say it helps make them better mothers and also gives them more time for themselves.”
Kate’s three daughters, aged three, eight and nine, love to help her with the designs for the planners and she said it was something they could all enjoy together as a family. While she was proud of the success of the business, Kate said the greatest reward was the example it had set for her children.
“This has all happened because of a dream that I followed,” she said.
“If I was still with my husband, it may not have have happened and I just feel empowered that I turned something I loved into this thriving business.
“And it’s awesome to be able to show the kids that they don’t have to stay in a job they don’t want to do. They can go out and pursue their dreams, too.”
KATE’S TIPS FOR USING A PLANNER
● Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to set up the “perfect” planner. Some people are so terrified of messing theirs up that they don’t want to write in it.
● Use planner stickers to make organising easier and neater. Hundreds of stickers are available online.
● Make it exciting so that you continue to use it. A different theme for every week helps keep you engaged.
● Invest in a good-quality planner with a good layout. Often the cheaper versions are not very motivational and not easy to use.
● Stay on top of it. The more you do it, the quicker it will become a habit.
To find out more about Kate’s planners, visit www.mulberrypop.com.au or connect via Facebook at facebook.com/mulberry Popplanners/ or on Instagram at instagram.com/mulberrypopplanners/