Five Minutes With… Pinky McKay, Boobie Brands
- Business name: Boobie Brands
- Industry: Foods for breastfeeding mothers
- Number of employees: 10
- Operating since: 2012
- Location: Melbourne, Victoria
What was your first paid job?
At 16, I went into nursing — six days a week, earning $28 a fortnight plus uniforms and board, living in a nurse’s home, complete with 11pm curfew (luckily my room was at the top of the fire escape — “escape” being the objective!).
What made you get into your current business?
As a lactation consultant visiting new mums who were exhausted, teary, struggling with low milk supply and so busy caring for their newborns, they were not feeding themselves. I handed out recipes, but the mums I was seeing could barely manage a shower, let alone cooking foods with specialty ingredients, so creating nourishing foods that supported lactation seemed a “no-brainer”.
We started with lactation cookies — easy, convenient, lactogenic ingredients. I had made these when my own babies were small, gifted them to mum friends and called them “Boobie Bikkies”. I was trying to think of a product name, talking to Simon Reynolds, ad guru, saying: “I need a name for these Boobie Bikkies.” He looked at me and said, “You have a name!”
So many people said, “You can’t use that!” We proved them all wrong, and now our brand Boobie Bikkies has almost become the Kleenex of breastfeeding cookies.
How did you get your very first customer/client?
For our first individual customer, we launched at a baby expo, so a face-to-face sale. But our first retailer customer we got from a phone call.
What has been your biggest triumph in business?
Creating a profitable, all-women business without loans, debts or investors — a business by women, for women, supporting the women who work in our totally family-friendly workplace (think school hours) and our customers, breastfeeding mums.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To schedule holidays/block-out breaks in my planning calendar before scheduling work projects. Otherwise, it’s too easy to simply keep on working. And really, the best ideas don’t happen when we are nose down at the grindstone.
If you could change one thing to make life easier as a business owner, what would it be and why?
To have a “wife” — a personal chef and run-around person to deal with all the things in my head from food shopping, scheduling appointments and filling out forms, to the things that pop up from left-field, such as sick family members, sick pets, broken windows (that’s just this week!). The mental load is my biggest drain.
Who do you look up to in business and why?
My two business partners: my daughter Sarah McKay, and Kim Vespa. They are the smartest, most business-savvy, hard-working young women I know, no exceptions.
What do you do to get away from work?
I love what I do, so I never really “get away” completely; there is always another idea percolating in my brain even when I am “away”. Multi-tasking is my jam (having five kids will teach you that!): I can write a blog while I Netflix binge.
However, I love rock concerts and shows, and have just come back from a week in Fiji with grandkids — I left my laptop at home and unplugged totally, not even a glance at social media.
What is the best thing you have ever spent money on in your business (and why)?
Great mentors, like Siimon Reynolds, who have actually run a real super successful business! Every man and his dog are business coaches now, even when they haven’t run an “actual business”; so many are simply offering one-size-fits-all templates, that are either irrelevant or easily outgrown.
Name a little-known fact about yourself.
At 19, I belonged to a skydiving club. Then, there were no “tandem jumps” strapped to an instructor who knew the way down. You did the training, you jumped!
What is the funniest experience or encounter you have had in business?
At a baby expo, a sweet little Asian lady had just bought a dozen packs of Boobie Bikkies and was trying to organise all the bags on her pram. She turned around, noticed me and gasped, “Pinky! You so famous! You on box!” (my picture is on our packs).
Then she woke her sleeping baby, handed him to me and insisted on taking photos of me with her baby, then a video, then another photo, all the time excitedly telling everyone now crowding around, “She famous, she on box!”
My girls have never let me live that down.