Sydney-siders Miriam Raphael and Josie Jones met through their children’s daycare, and connected over a shared longing to contribute to their community and bring parents together in a meaningful way.
Over a number of play dates, the idea of Kin & Kind was born. Through Kin & Kind, Miriam and Josie run parent-focused workshops and events which upskill, stimulate and connect parents.
Their program is truly inspired, from making bush toys for city kids and creative indoor gardening, to making iPhone movies and decluttering. Plus there’s an onsite crèche where little ones can be entertained while mum or dad are meeting new friends and learning a new skill.
Miriam and Josie share some insights into running their new creative business, balancing family and work, and the importance of spending time with like-minded creative people.
Tell us a bit about your backgrounds. What led you to start Kin & Kind?
MIRIAM: I was working as a freelance writer, editor and radio producer. I spent six months last year travelling in the US with my family, and decided that on my return I wanted to do something different, that preferably didn’t involve staring at a computer all day (writing online listicles!). I knew I wanted to be part of a community initiative where I could produce something tangible each week and connect with other parents.
Josie was a daycare mum friend with a background in corporate marketing. We were both surprised at the dearth of parent-focused activities in the mid-week morning space and about the lack of authentic parenting conversation (that didn’t revolve around feeding your kid solids or decorating a nursery). She was thinking along the same community-focused lines and the idea developed over a couple of playdates back in February.
What was it like to start your own creative business?
MIRIAM: It’s an unbelievable experience. So many highs, so many lows. Kind of like having your first child! I can’t believe how much we’ve learned in such a short time. I love that any idea that we have, we can try and make happen and believe me, we have plenty. But then, there are so many ideas and only two of us! Plus we’re responsible for everything from getting bums on seats at every event to making sure there’s enough coffee to go around, which is no small undertaking. Keeping up the energy and motivation especially on a difficult day is also hard – we really lean on each other.
In terms of rewards, there’s nothing better than hearing positive feedback about something you’ve created from scratch. Nothing. When someone tells us they loved the event, met a new friend, or went away with a new skill/perspective on their lives… we literally do a happy dance!
It’s wonderful being able to tailor the business around our personal lives so we have the flexibility to do kid drop-offs and be there for all the school activities. I do not miss having to ask permission to come in at 9:15 am so I can drop my daughter at school.
How do you put together your program and decide what and who to feature?
MIRIAM: There’s so much noise out there in the parenting space, so we want to stand out with interesting, thought-provoking content. I use the same skills I did as a radio producer, and ask the questions: ‘Is it a compelling story?', 'Are they good talent?’ We use a general litmus test, ‘Is this something/someone that would inspire and excite us?’ If it doesn’t, it’s out. We can’t sell that.
JOSIE: We do lots of research and spend time talking to others about what they are interested in and the topics parents are grappling with. We also regularly survey our parents to find out what really motivates them.
How important is it for creatives to connect with other likeminded people?
MIRIAM: So important! I often forget this as we get so focused on the nitty gritty of each event. It’s easy to get bogged down in the practical details and lose sight of the bigger vision. Then I’ll have a coffee with another business owner creative and suddenly be filled with excitement and ideas once again. You never know where a conversation will take you… also these connections are a great space to vent and normalise the challenges we all have to deal with.
How do you make time for creativity in your day-to-day lives?
MIRIAM: I’m passionate about books and long-form journalism. I was inspired by Lorelei Vashti who replaced Facebook with a subscription New Yorker app on her phone. It’s totally cut down my Facebook use (Instagram is a work in progress). I’m a podcast obsessive which I squeeze in while cooking/cleaning up and hustling the kids around. My current favourite is Invisibilia.
Josie loves to blog. She’s a prolific writer and finds it really therapeutic… I have no idea where she finds the time!
You both are juggling a creative business and family – do you have any tips about making it all work?
JOSIE: Ha ha, I wish. Designating time for work and kids/family is really important. So it’s good to know how much time in the day you have for work and working out realistically what you can achieve in that time. Because there are two of us, it does make it easier to lean in and lean out when kids get sick or there is something happening at the kids’ school.
I recommend having an open and honest conversation with your partner about the load they will pick up regarding childcare. It’s tempting to load it up on the small business owner who works from home! But this isn’t good for business, family or your sanity.
Who are some other creative women who are inspiring you at the moment?
JOSIE: Miriam! Also Uldouz Van Eenoo from The Mother’s Den. I just finished her Success Circle and it was a brilliant experience.
MIRIAM: I’m inspired by women who are honest about the mess and chaos of life and kids, but still manage to be brave, create and get sh*t done. The designer Elke Kramer, artist Emily Besser and all-round creative Johanna Bell are friends who energise me in this way.
What would you say to other women considering starting their own creative business?
JOSIE: Just do it. It’s OK to have high ideals but be conscious about whether any of those high ideals are stopping you from just getting going. Nothing is ever perfect and you have to be prepared to adapt and change the business as you go. Talk to as many people as you can – but like all the advice people give new mothers, you must work out what advice works for you and where your values are before you can decide what path to follow. Not everyone’s advice will work for you. But equally if someone gives you advice that you don’t like, ask yourself why this rankles you – does it highlight a shortcoming you’re not ready to address or is it just bad advice?
What can workshop participants expect when they come to a Kin & Kind event?
JOSIE: All our events are different. The common thread is that each one connects and (hopefully) inspires parents to engage their post-baby brain, start conversations and laugh. It’s not to say that parents don’t do those things daily, but this is about giving parents permission and tools to be more than just someone’s mum or dad.
What do you hope for the future of Kin & Kind?
JOSIE: Is global domination not enough? In all seriousness, what we want is for Kin & Kind to be part of a change movement that supports, encourages and makes it possible for all parents to feel comfortable taking time out for themselves. We strongly believe that when parents look after themselves and invest in themselves, it is good for them and good for their kids. As long as that happens, we will be happy.
Kate Shannon is a freelance writer based in Brisbane after many years living in Darwin. She spends a lot of her time in the garden with her two little girls, and loves writing and learning about creative people, flowers, and plants.
Photography by Asch Creative (first photo) and Studio Something (