The Curious Mummy Meets Rachel Carrell, the founder of Koru Kids. Koru Kids is a high quality childcare platform, which provides flexible and affordable childcare solutions for the capital’s parents. Today Rachel shares her tips on starting a business and how she finds the balance between running a successful business and raising a family. Be prepared to be inspired.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up in a small sheep farming services town in New Zealand. Growing up, it never crossed my mind that I would make my life in London. I’m still a Kiwi at heart, but these days I live in Highgate with my husband and our 3 year old daughter and newborn son.
Tell us about Koru Kids and what gave you the idea to start?
I experienced first hand how hard it was to find good childcare. At the same time, I was hearing from friends that were struggling too. So many things about our childcare infrastructure just don’t work for working parents, like school finishing at 330pm and the after school club being full — or nurseries shutting for school holidays – or it being pretty much impossible to find ‘before school’ care. Plus it’s all so expensive.
When I saw all of this, I decided to quit my job and found Koru Kids. My professional background was in healthcare – I’ve been the Managing Director of two different healthcare companies. I think a great childcare service has a lot in common with a great healthcare service: they both have to be safe, reliable, convenient, and affordable. But I have to say working in childcare is a more fun 😊 I love hanging out with children and parents!
Describe your typical day
My daughter wakes around 6.45am, and my husband gets up with her. We’re all out the door by 8am and I take the Tube to our offices near Old St. Each morning our team has a ‘morning standup’ meeting for 10 minutes to plan the day. We each say what we’re working on that day, and see if anyone needs any help. Koru Kids is growing incredibly quickly so there’s usually something to celebrate from the day before.
During a typical day I’ll then spend time with the team members who speak to parents, or who train nannies, or those who get the word out about Koru Kids. I might do an interview or speak at an event. No matter what, I always take time to review the nannies that are coming through to make sure our standards are super high, and I read every single parent signup.
I race out the door at 5.30pm to go and pick up my daughter, then it’s stories, bath and dinner with her. After she goes to bed I generally work far too late into the evening – another reason I need the lie-in the next day.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of the job by far is hearing from parents about how much we’ve helped them. We get such amazing feedback – families tell us it’s been a ‘lifesaver’, that their worries and headache are gone, that the nanny has changed their lives. Hearing this truly makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Also, I love my team. They’re dedicated, passionate, talented and fun. I absolutely couldn’t be happier with the people working at Koru Kids. It’s the best team I’ve ever been part of.
What would you say the most important thing is in running a business? What has been the greatest lesson you have learnt?
I’m obsessed with continuous improvement. Everything is a work in progress. For me, the most important thing is being constantly on the look out for things that could be done better, and encouraging the whole team to do the same.
What do you think it takes to be a Mum Boss?
There should be nothing remarkable about being a mum and a boss. It’s just like being a Dad boss – you’re a parent, and you also have a job. I find it so depressing that the roles are still so gendered, decades after our own mums supposedly forged a path for us all in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s still the mums taking on virtually all the childcare tasks, it’s still the mums doing all the volunteering at school, it’s the mums labelling all the kids’ clothes with their names, it’s the mums on Whatsapp at 11pm when their childcare fails. No wonder all the mums I know are so exhausted. My dream is that Koru Kids helps mums be mum bosses if that’s what they want to do, and that with our help it becomes utterly unremarkable and normal.
As the ultimate Mummy Juggler, how do you find a balance between running a successful business, and raising a family?
I’d say three things are key: firstly, lower your standards for housework (and outsource entirely if at all possible); secondly, get any men around to be properly equal partners; and thirdly, ditch the guilt.
Also, you have to sacrifice the unimportant stuff. I used to love reading, shopping, travelling, running, hanging out with friends, watching films … but for the next few years I know there’s only going to be time in my life for two things: working on my business, and spending time with my family. That’s fine. I still love all those other things, but there’ll be plenty of time to do them when my kids are older and my business is less intense. The books will still be there, the films will still exist, I can take up marathons when I’m 50. But my daughter is only going to be three years old for another 6 months. I’ll never get that time back.
After work, how do you find time to relax?
I love the concept of ‘after work’! There is no ‘after work’. There is ‘doing something else for a while’. I guess occasionally I have a bath?
What are your top five tips for starting a successful business?
- Learn as much as you can about the industry you’d like to go into while in employment for someone else.
- Invest lots of time upfront getting to understand the problem from your customers’ perspective.
- Stay lean – keep your spending low – but also understand the value of your own time and don’t be afraid to invest to make yourself more productive
- Understand your own energy and what time of day suits you for different sorts of tasks
- Learn, learn, learn. Treat every single encounter and every single day as a learning experience.
If you were to host the ultimate dinner party and you could invite anyone in the world, who would be on your guest list?
Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Elon Musk, Caitlin Moran, the Duchess of Cambridge, Armando Iannucci, Lorde, and Brandon Flowers. Oh, now I really want that dinner party.
If you wish to find out more about Koru Kids head over to the website or social media pages. See below.