Jennifer Teh, Hush Little Baby
I’m excited to share with you a spotlight interview with my fabulous client Jen from Hush Little Baby! Jen is a serious powerhouse! She is doing such amazing things in her space and the gusto with which she takes on business tasks was seriously inspiring to see and experience! If you’re a mum with young kids, you’ll be seriously interested in what Jen has to say about the impact music makes on kids, as well as the thoughtful advice she offers about integrating more music into your child’s life and finding balance as a mother AND a successful business owner. Plus you’ll get her first hand take on what it’s like to go through a rebranding process. There are seriously so many juicy details to dive into… so sit back and enjoy!
Give everyone a little introduction to your fabulous business!
Hush Little Baby provides music classes for children aged 0-5 in a number of settings – in the community with caregivers, as whole-centre childcare music programs, and as mobile classes for mums’ groups and birthday parties. We also provide music education consultancy and professional development for childcare centre staff.
For those who may not know, explain why music education SO important for children and what benefits can you expect to see in your child by doing Hush Little Baby classes?
All children are born with the innate ability to respond to music. Even in the womb babies are able to differentiate between familiar voices and even recognise songs. Beat is a part of their babies’ before they are born, through constant exposure to the mother’s heartbeat and the rhythmic nature of their own kicking, sucking and crying. As humans, we are hardwired for music. If this propensity toward musical knowing is not nurtured, however, it can disappear – and this ‘nurturing’ of music is most effective between the ages of zero and seven years old.
So WHY should we want to keep it in our children’s lives? Well, there are scientifically proven links between music and the development of language, numeracy, creativity, socialization and motor skills. But there’s more to it than that – we want music to be a significant part of our children’s lives for music’s sake – to foster an appreciation and love of music. Also, when a child is held and sung to by a responsive and loving caregiver, amazing things happen in terms of the connection between the two, including the production of oxytocin – the love hormone. Music brings people together.
In our classes, we use live music – not recorded – and focus on the connection between caregivers and children. Our carefully planned classes ensure that a range of musical and non-musical goals are being achieved, that there is a perfect balance between energetic movement and opportunities for calm, and that a very deliberate flow exists from beginning to end of lesson with carefully implemented transitions between each lesson ‘segment’. Children come to our classes to connect, to sing, to learn and, most importantly, to have fun.
What do you LOVE about being your own boss and running Hush Little Baby?
There’s a lot to love. I make my own hours (and am getting better at making the hours a little less ridiculous), a lot of what I do (teaching my classes) can be done with my babies on my lap, and I can choose how I spend my time. I also have an AMAZING hand-picked team who are a dream to work with.
For any mothers who may be reading, what are some things they can do at home to foster a love of music in their children?
SING! Sing to and with your children as much as you can! You don’t need to be a world-class singer or have thousands of resources to use music at home. In fact, all you need are your voice and your hands – and a few ideas. There does not need to be any great ceremony or planning around using music – just slip it into your day-to-day routine by singing a song or saying a rhyme. Some great opportunities are:
- during nappy changes/going to the toilet
- driving in the car
- getting dressed
- waiting (for older siblings at school pick-up, in waiting rooms, in checkout line at shops etc)
- packing things away
- transitioning from one activity to the next
- before bed
- calming an unsettled baby (try humming – it lowers your heartrate and blood pressure, regulates your breathing and calms you and your baby down)
What advice would you give to women who are trying to juggle being a mum while running a successful business? Have you ever struggled with finding a balance?
I think we all struggle with finding a balance, and I definitely have in the past – but I am getting better at keeping most of the balls I’m juggling in the air most of the time.
My main piece of advice would be to delegate tasks that don’t utilize your specific skill set. If there is something that someone else can do better than me, and I can afford to pay them to do it, I delegate. If I have a million tasks to do and some of them can be passed on then I pass them on and focus on the skill-specific work that is going to generate the most income.
Separation of work and home is hard when you’re a work-at-home mum but I also think that it can be really useful. I now have dedicated work days, where I leave my house (and my children) and sit at a desk in a beautiful shared workspace in inner-city Brisbane. During these work days I sit at my computer and on my phone and smash out a HEAP of work, then I go home and ignore work emails and phone calls, except urgent stuff, until my next work day. It REALLY helps to have that physical separation between work and home, as I found that I was trying to sneak in emails and bits of work while my kids were sleeping/playing/leaving me alone for five minutes, and neither the business or my children were getting my full attention.
What does a typical day in the life of Jen look like?
It depends on the day! Let’s go with a Monday… I wake at some ungodly hour without the aid of an alarm clock. I literally haven’t set an alarm clock in about twelve months because I am confident my children will have me up WELL before I need to be awake. I fire up the coffee machine, snuggle my currently super-clingy toddler and try to explain to my four year old that I can’t answer his (never ending) questions until I’ve at least had a sip of coffee. My husband and I juggle children and breakfasts and questions (and coffee), and somewhere in there I throw on clothes and makeup. I jump onto my back end manage system for my community classes, fill in any last minute bookings that have come through overnight and print out attendance sheets for the morning’s classes. At 7.30am our amazing nanny arrives and I head out for the day. The 40 minute drive to my classes is SO QUIET.
I start the morning of teaching with a gorgeous group of 3-5 year olds and their families, many of whom have been coming to my classes since they were tiny babies. We sing, play games, explore instruments, tell stories and dance about. Little do the children know that in today’s lesson they have been building neural pathways galore!
As my Pre Kindy class leaves, my Toddlers arrive. They are sweet and lively and shy and brave all at once. They plop themselves down in their mum/dad/grandparents’ laps (or sometimes my lap!) for our ‘hello’ song, and then begins half an hour of non-stop engagement. The trick with toddlers is to be able to predict when they need to sit and when they need to move, so the lesson plan is a guide only. As always, we finish with bubble blowing (there are SO many benefits to bubble blowing – but that is a story for another day), lullabies and a story.
My last class of the morning is the Baby class. I take babies from six weeks of age, so we often have teeny tiny bubs coming along. There is something magical about watching bleary-eyed, sleep deprived and shell-shocked first time parents holding their babies ever so gently, gazing in wonder as they fall asleep to a lullaby or kick their legs in excitement as a song is sung. The support the Baby families provide to one another is amazing, and the placement of the Baby class at the end of the morning of classes is deliberate as it allows them to linger after class for a chat, and to feed and change their babies in the cool of the air-conditioning.
After my classes, I will either drop in to observe one of my teachers running one of our many childcare centre programs (where we teach EVERY child in EVERY room) or I spend a few hours at a desk doing business stuff. This can include emails, social media/marketing, lesson planning, making videos for our YouTube channel, marking (I also do some casual uni lecturing in Creative Arts in Early Childhood), phone calls, long term strategic planning, website stuff and financial stuff. At about 4.30pm I pack up and head home, and during the drive I try to get my head out of work mode and into mum mode. As I walk in the front door I do my best to shed all thoughts of work and I lean into the (mostly) joyful mess of mothering two young boys. We play, read stories, eat, bathe, read more stories and get them into bed. My husband and I get to have a conversation for the first time all day. Wine and Netflix make regular appearances. I head to bed knowing that Tuesdays are a day at home with both boys – a reward for the chaos of Mondays.
What do you love to do in your spare time?
Spare time? Hahahahaha. Honestly, I hate to sound like an overworked mum cliché but between the business and my family there’s really not much spare time. I do have a season ticket to La Boite with one of my besties, which is an awesome way of seeing her AND seeing some theater regularly, and my husband and I try to get out on ‘date nights’ semi-regularly. Other than that we like to get out and about with the kids, and sometimes have little weekends away with them at farmstays etc.
Why did you decide to work with me on your branding?
I met you at a networking event and was excited by the way you spoke about projects you had previously worked on. I was curious after the event so I checked out your website and was blown away by the quality of your work and the care with which you get to know your clients. I needed some new print materials for some upcoming conference exhibits and rather than using my old branding – which I knew needed a refresh – I decided to go all in and do a full rebranding with you.
What was your experience like? Did you have a favourite part of the branding process?
The booklet that you gave me to fill out was a big task but it was actually really enjoyable. The questions you asked help me to delve deep into the ‘why’ behind what I do – and then when you sent me an email full of really salient follow up questions after receiving the completed booklet I realised just how well you understood what my business was about. The Heart and Soul booklet that you put together for my business was AMAZING to read – you had put into (super marketable, copy and pasteable) words the very essence of my business. That was a high point.
What kind of personality did you want to come across in your branding and how did you decide on that?
I wanted my branding to be warm, compassionate, personal and connected. I pride myself on the fact that all of my teachers and classes have these characteristics and it was important to me that it was reflected in my branding.
How does it make you feel to finally have branding you’re truly proud of and which fits your brand’s heart and soul? Have you been getting positive feedback?
Honestly, I feel like my business has been taken to a whole new level. Everything LOOKS so beautiful, I have the right words to communicate why Hush Little Baby is so special and I also have been given the tools and skills to keep on moving forward with my brand. It’s empowering. And the feedback has been IMMENSELY positive.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs who are thinking about branding / rebranding their business, but don’t know where to begin, whether it would be worth the money, or how to find the right person to partner with?
If you are serious about branding or rebranding you need to be open to new ideas and ready to hear some sometimes difficult truths about your current branding situation, but the process and end product is infinitely rewarding. It can really breathe new life into your business. For me it was well worth the investment. In terms of finding the right person, you need to do your research, but also go with your gut. I did both and I’m grateful to have found the perfect branding match for my business in Emma.
Thanks Jen! What fantastic responses. I’ve seriously been so proud to see Jen go from strength to strength since the rebranding! She’s secured new contracts with childcare centres, been able to hire some amazing new staff, and I’ve loved watching her really step up her social media game! I loved getting to learn more about how important music is for young children during the branding process. I really had no idea it was just that beneficial. Hush Little Baby classes will definitely be on my list when I have kids and I can’t recommend Hush Little Baby enough to Brisbane parents. This is an absolute MUST for the kids!
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