Web designers, photographers, accountants, marketing managers, product designers, and childhood best friends Gosia Sobolewska and Malwina Rewkowska are the creative brains behind the family-run business MiniOwls. Established in 2014 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada MiniOwls is a family-run business that offers premium products designed by two experienced moms and tested by their five energetic and creative kids. MiniOwls is a creative solution that makes parenting and managing the house a walk in the park. Since its inception, MiniOwls has expanded operations to the USA, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Turkey, and the UK.
Chaos to Serenity: The MiniOwls Approach
A collaboration of childhood friends Malwina and Gosia, two moms (with five kids between them) who were driven insane by the mountains of toys scattered throughout their homes, created this amazing organizational product range that helps parents' homes, as seen on Pinterest. "Like most moms, we became overwhelmed by the growing number of toys that our children have, love, and can't seem to part with," Gosia says. “And we’ve dreamt of the calm and clean spaces we’ve seen on Pinterest. While on maternity leave, we have decided to start our own brand. It was a true journey and a huge learning curve. It is not easy to juggle family life, home chores, work, friends, and stay sane. Life brings us many challenges and opportunities, and becoming an entrepreneur is the end result of taking every success and failure and using them as lessons."
MiniOwls is also proud to say that it is fully operated by female moms. It offers flexible working hours and a stress-free workplace that fits with a mom's schedule. Malwina shares their belief that "Being organized is not about being perfect. It’s about customizing your whole world to work for you."
What Separates MiniOwls from The Rest: Philosophy, Creativity & Customer Service
Malwina shares, "We believe in very strong customer service. Every piece of feedback from our customers is taken seriously. We do everything to understand our customers’ needs, and we make improvements if needed. From the very beginning, not knowing how far we would go or how big we would grow, we strongly believed in giving back to the community. We made a decision that our company will make every effort to touch the lives of many, not only through creating beautiful, organized places but also by giving back to the community. We are proud to say that we continue to support various non-profit organizations, and every day we donate a percentage of profits from all sales to the Breast Cancer and Autism Foundations. To this day we have donated over $70 000."
This success has come with the understanding that being organized is not a matter of being perfect, but a matter of customizing spaces that work for each family. With this understanding, the two best friends began to think about storage solutions that could help calm the chaos that inevitably comes with young children! This was where MiniOwls and the toy hammock were born. "After all, if it works for us, it can definitely work for other families as well. And it did, as we quickly became the Toy Hammock Queens," said one of the founders.
It has been an exciting and surreal journey so far. The two best friends never imagined that they would end up creating a brand of organizational products that is recognized in so many places around the world and is being used in thousands of homes. With over 10,000 positive reviews and feedback.
Adversities Are the Backbone Of Success
Gosia shares, "Our most vulnerable moment was right at the beginning when we were learning the Amazon system. We have set up a sale, and by accident, we have sold all our inventory for $1 each. There was a lot of crying and a full-fledged panic attack. We thought this was the end of MiniOwls. But it turned out that this sale made our products visible to all future customers. Now we only wish that Amazon World and its algorithms were as easy as they were 8 years ago." MiniOwls plowed through because both co-founders believed in themselves and their dreams.
Malwina recalls her initial days, when she had just finished school and different business courses were a great start. But it was networking at business conferences with like-minded people that brought their entrepreneurship to the next level. At the same time, it added a little glam to their mommy lives. However, juggling so many roles and responsibilities can be a daunting task for even the bravest of leaders. It is their constant thirst for knowledge and development that drives them to "have a coaching leadership style, trying to be collaborative and supportive while bringing out the best in our teammates by guiding them through goals and obstacles. Leadership style is a journey. We are sure we started with a different style, and today’s style will still develop and change to a different one. It changes with situations that business and life bring us."
"We believe in very strong customer service. Every piece of feedback from our customers is taken seriously.."
Leadership Journey: Experts from a Success Story
Gosia feels that they are still developing their leadership confidence. She believes that great leaders never stop learning and growing, and the more a person learns and experiences, the "stronger" their voice gets. However, despite the immense success MiniOwls has had, she still feels that "every day brings new challenges and new opportunities. There are so many places we can take our lives and so many directions we can take our business. We are taking it one day at a time, trying the best we can, and for sure learning lots in the process."
Being a mother can be a full-time job, and on top of that, running your own business and employing other like-minded women can be overwhelming, but leaders know how to maintain the balancing act, as Malwina shares, "When you are a woman, mother, community volunteer, and a business owner, there is not much time left for self-care. But knowing how important it is, we try to find time to take care of our mental health by doing things we love. For example, going on a family hike, meeting with other moms with the rule "no kids subject," going on dates with a husband, and reading a good book. Also, a morning coffee break at work with a best friend does the trick to unwind and refocus."
Looking through: Future Plans and Goals
Gosia and Malwina are very excited about their plans: "We are actually very excited about our Europe expansion. For many years, our products were available in Canada, the UK, and the USA. We are now working on adding many more countries. Also, in Q1, we are happy to introduce two new products. One is a "souped-up hammock" with lights and tassels. And the other is a display case for little cars, dolls, and other collectibles. That means a lot of changes to our storefronts and website, and many hours in the "dark room" developing the pictures we will take."
In addition, Malwina and Gosia have their own goals, wherein they would like to work on their team's growth by focusing on their strengths and weaknesses. Gosia feels that "time management is always a good goal, as it is hard to juggle all the roles and still have the motivation and inspiration to push MiniOwls to the next level."
She signs off with these motivational words: "Believe in yourself and your dreams, and don't let small mistakes bring you down. Shake the dust off, learn, work hard, and move forward one step at a time."