When Sydney-born Grace Barrow Piper moved to New York, she found a lack of support for new mothers in their postpartum journey. Luckily for all the new moms in New York, Grace is a Pediatric and Neonatal Registered Nurse, and her deep understanding of the needs of new parents led her to starting Maison D’Enfants. Find out what inspires Grace to maintain her motivation whilst conquering the challenges of establishing a new business in a new country.
Tell us about Maison D’Enfants and what inspired you to start your business?
Maison D’Enfants (MDE) was born (no pun intended) when I was looking into having a baby in NYC. I’m a Pediatric and Neonatal Registered Nurse (with a Masters in Peds and a Masters in Maternal-Fetal Public Health) and had worked in community health in Australia, where I supported new moms in their postpartum journey. I couldn’t find the same level of support here that is offered in Australia, so I thought “how do I bring what I’ve learned working in the Australian health system to the US?”. Enter MDE.
At Maison D’Enfants, we provide full-spectrum maternal support from pregnancy and birth, through to newborn care, the wonder years, and the transition back to work. We offer labor and postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, sleep training, pediatric First Aid and CPR courses, nannies, and anytime sitters.
What have been your greatest challenges starting up a new business in the New York area?
I guess being Australian is the number one barrier. Not only is all of the red tape and paperwork challenging in a foreign country, but you are also cut off from your usual support network. That’s why AWNY is so great. Connecting with like-minded women who are incredible sounding boards, certainly makes these hurdles more manageable.
What are your three greatest learnings in starting up a business?
1. Never take “No” for an answer.
2. Never think you can’t ask for help. You will absolutely need it with your accounting and books!
3. Treat your team the way you would want to be treated in the workplace, with respect, trust, and love. The team is the most important part of MDE. Without them, none of this would be possible.
Starting up can be notoriously difficult. What motivates you to keep going?
The wonderful families that we work with always provide that extra bit of motivation for me. All I need to do is go on a home visit and chat with a mom, or catch a cheeky smile or laugh from a little one and I am instantly reminded how truly rewarding this job is. Our goal is to become part of the family, and we definitely feel a tight bond with the families that we currently support.
The late night calls are another moment that makes it all incredibly real to me. The trust that our families place in MDE is never more clear than when they turn to us for help in their moments of need. It is truly an honor to be able to see them through the good, the bad and ugly!
When did you know you had “made it” in New York?
When I hired my first full-time staff member for the business.
Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
We are yet to spend a dollar on marketing! That’s the incredible thing about this city. Once you build up a network, word of mouth can take you a long way. We obviously appeal a lot to Australian families, but through our network, we’ve reached a lot of American families too. Moms’ groups are a key market for us. A mom’s recommendation on a Facebook group or in a moms’ group is our highest endorsement.
Do you have any mentors that have been instrumental in their support?
Holly, an MDE mom, and fellow small business owner has been my biggest supporter and mentor and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without her unwavering support and guidance.
Which Aussie women doing amazing things in New York are currently on your radar, and why?
Raegan Moya-Jones – Founder of Aden and Anais and mom:
She’s not someone I know personally but someone that inspires me. An Aussie who built a 100 million dollar business while working full time and having four kids. Wow!
Sarah Juchima – Producer at The Howard Stern Show and mom:
Sarah has just landed her dream job at the Howard Stern show and is a mom we work with. She is just such a force and is incredibly busy raising her beautiful daughter but still has time for a coffee or wine and to chat. She is such a hard-working, down to earth person and someone I look to for inspiration on how to juggle everything in NY.
Rose McNeil – Australian Midwife and Diabetes Nurse Educator:
Rosie has to be one of the most gregarious, vibrant and energetic people I know. She is constantly learning, trying to develop her skills and is incredibly generous with her time. From volunteering as a Doula, to helping refugee families with their newborns, she is a pretty formidable woman.
How have people been with sharing information and their networks?
Moms’ groups are not keen on advertising from outside sources and I completely understand that, so we don’t market directly to them. Our growth has been very organic and built on word of mouth and recommendations from moms to their networks.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
Don’t do it! No just kidding. I would say that you have to be prepared to put the hours in. In the beginning, you’re not likely to have anyone else doing the work so it can become a 24/7 job. For a while, that’s what it will take to get your business off the ground. But the exciting thing about NYC is that while there may be a lot of competition, there’s also so much more opportunity than you would have in Australia!
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business, and why?
I guess the whole business model is based on the Australian health and childcare system. The other thing is our staff. We have a lot of Aussie staff and I think that brings a sense of familiarity and comfort to our Aussie families. Americans love us for our reputation as straight-talking, hard-working, trustworthy people, so that’s a bonus!
As a professional working in New York, what are the differences to working in Australia?
Tone, directness, and willingness to pull your sleeves up and get on with. Australians are a special breed and they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and work hard. Don’t get me wrong, Americans work hard but Australians are a very humble hard-working bunch and it is definitely noticeable.
I also feel that Americans are more willing and encouraged to talk about their achievements and what they excel in more freely, which we are not so used to in the Land of OZ, so that was definitely a culture shock when I initially moved over.
What is next for your business?
We have so many exciting projects coming up this year. We are growing our team and have just welcomed a full-time Labor Doula and Certified Lactation Consultant to our team. We are about to launch our birthing course, as well as a crowdfunding campaign to help us build an online platform. And we are busily building out the team to keep up with the demand for our services.
Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with the AWNY community?
Promo Code: AWNY20
With this code, AWNY members will receive a 20% discount on any MDE services.
Where can the the Parents of New York find you?
All photos by Catherine Dzilenski at Idle Wild Photo