AWNY Mums and Dads update, June 2017

Written by Helen McWilliam

May was a quieter month for the AWNY Mums and Dads group after a very busy April.  The warmer weather has been very welcome and my children are loving the more regular sight of sprinklers in the playgrounds.

This month, Amanda and I wanted to include a shout out to the Dads of this group.  The events we’ve organised so far have been focused on the Mums.  We’d love some input from the Dads to see if you’d like our help to organize a Dad’s meet-up, arrange a Saturday playgroup or something else entirely.  Please contact us through our Facebook page or email AWNY. We’d love to hear from you.

With the school holidays rapidly approaching, I wanted to share a day trip idea.  As I have recently overcome my fear of travelling on the subway alone with two children, I am finally leaving the Upper West Side.  Well, if I’m honest there’s still fear, I can just do it without hyperventilating and shouting! The New York Hall of Science in Queens is worth the long subway ride.  I have a 4.5 year old and nearly 2 year old and they were both transfixed for hours.  It would also be suitable for much older children as my two missed a lot of the meaning behind many of the exhibits. All the exhibits were engaging and hands on, however the ‘Connected Worlds’ installation was a must see. There’s also plenty of staff on hand to help the children get the most out of the museum. It can get a bit hectic with school groups but there’s a preschool area where groups aren’t allowed and we were advised that the groups tend to leave at 12-1pm. A few helpful pointers:

1. There’s no lift for strollers at 111th street Subway Station in Queens however, however I found I only had to look towards the stairs and people were offering me help.

2. The café was pretty basic so I would advise bringing your own food.

3. In what I would consider a big win, the shop was easily avoided!

Some up coming AWNY events to highlight: the ‘Working In the USA’ information session presented by Belinda Jackson is on the 14th of June.  It provides expert advice for Aussie job seekers.  Plus, the annual AWNY picnic is one for the whole family on the 24th of June in Central Park.

Photo credit: Helen McWilliams

Enjoy your June and the last few precious weeks of school before the endless school holidays!


Mums and Dads Xmas drinks

by Helen McWilliam
Joe’s was a great venue for the end of year AWNY Mums and Dads drinks; suitably festive and very cozy.
We had a lower than anticipated turn out, I suspect because the drinks event fell on the coldest day of the year so far. However, many of us braved the chill and there was still a great mix of members, old and new, and between us we represented most states in Australia.
Possibly slightly too much wine was had for a Thursday night but there were a lot of laughs. Thank you for sharing in  such a fun night to those who came.
Looking forward to our next catch up slated to be a long brunch in Feb 2017 so stay tuned!


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AWNY Mums & Dads October update: Trick or Treat NYC style

Written by Anita Davison

Last October I wrote a well received post about ‘Dressing Kids for Winter‘, and although it feels like I wrote the piece just yesterday, it seems we have come around full circle. The funny thing is, I wrote it based on my experience in the winters of 2013/2014 & 2014/2015 which hit New Yorkers hard, fast and quite frankly a little too brutal for my warm climate accustomed derrière. Of course I thought I was being so very clever in giving you that information, preparing you all for the winter of 2015/2016, which was neither hard, fast or brutal compared to its predecessor. Well this year we seem to be back to ‘normal’. I can hear the collective groans amongst you, but alas, you can find yourself well prepared for what’s to come by clicking back into last years piece and giving it another look – all the info is still as relevant as it was then. And for those of you that are here for your first NYC winter; you are welcome! Click here to be enlightened…

October 31 brings us the, oh so American, tradition of All Hallows Eve: better know as Halloween! Trick or treaters can delight with a list of some of the best streets in New York to get your Trick or Treat on, as well as some great places to pick up costumes for the kids, pets and adults too. Just a note though, like every person has their favorite brunch spot/coffee shop/neighborhood, you too may know of other great places to take the kids in your ‘hood. If so, please share your wisdom in the comments section or on our Mums & Dads Facebook page!

Trick or Treat in New York by Neighborhood

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Counseling & Photography go hand in hand for Susie Lang in this week’s AWNY Startup Story

Susie Lang has combined her two lifelong passions, photography and counseling into two wonderful startup’s in New York. Susie has a private counseling practice, working with individuals and groups. She is also a professional Photographer and has lived in New York since 2004 with her husband.

Susie is a valued AWNY Committee member and is also hosting two group sessions in October – The Emotional Transition of Moving to New York.

Tell us about these businesses and what inspired you to begin.


I have been in the Caring Profession since 1975.  In Australia I was a Registered Sick Children’s and General Registered Nurse in Adelaide, and the Manager of the YWCA Child Care Center in Darwin.  Throughout the 1990’s in the UK I worked in Women’s Centers offering women low cost, long term services – counseling, childcare, women’s health issues, legal support and computer training.  I also worked in a center for women who experienced domestic and relational violence – here the women were offered counseling, emergency and safe re-housing, emotional, legal and financial support.  I had a small private practice.  When I arrived in the USA in 2004, I was employed as a Psychological Consultant with a company in Arizona which dealt with Identity Theft.  In 2009 – 2011 I worked alongside the family caregivers at the NYC Chapter for the Alzheimer’s Association.  Throughout my personal life and my career I have been fortunate to have women in my life whom I have felt inspired by.  I have never forgotten their “way of being” – being available, supportive and present to me throughout my life.  I realized that at an early age I didn’t have enough wisdom, presence, life experience, personal growth development and healing to go into the counseling/psychotherapy field as a younger woman.

My husband and I arrived in NYC in 2004.  Being in NYC I found my previous work experiences in Australia and the UK didn’t cut it.  It felt easy to simply give up on the notion that I could “make it” in NYC.  As a requirement to become licensed as a counseling therapist, I needed to go to University to get a MA (Mental Health Counseling and Wellness), degree in order to practice.  Since 2012 I have been in Private Practice as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).

I am passionate about my therapeutic work, gaining much experience in my intimate and professional work with clients.  It is one of my life’s joys.


In growing up on a farm in rural South Australia I shared a camera with my 4 brothers.  Luckily for me they weren’t interested in using the camera that our father bought for us, so I began to experiment with film photography. My inspiration came from John Sprod, a well-known and much-admired South Australian portrait photographer who traveled throughout the State, to photograph families in remote areas. He “knew” how to work with us, as small children.

I traveled to the UK in the early 1980’s, where I was accepted to the four London Colleges of Photography. I chose to attend Watford College where I received a BA in Design, majoring in Photography. I was awarded the prize for Portrait Excellence from Kodak in 1986. I have continued to photograph with a passion, receiving positive feedback from many who have seen my work.

In 2005, I switched from film to digital photography. I have always referred to my photographic work as my “creative outlet”. It is in contrast to the intense and intimate work I do in my counseling field.

In 2013, I created my photographic website – this has been a massive personal step, stating that I was ready to show the world that I love what I do.  Photography offers and gives me great joy.  I simply come alive!

I am passionate about connecting with people in both professions.

As I like to say, it is my “art of connection”.


Do you find that the synergy of these businesses overlap?  

Yes!  In the Summer of 2014, I was talking to a woman, also a photographer, who said to me, “What sets you apart as a photographer?”  I had never been asked this before.  In considering my psychotherapy training, my passion in photographing and my ability to connect with people, and after many hours of processing, thought and conversation with close allies I began to realize that I have an “art of connection” in my two fields of work.

In counseling, I am very present with each client, listening intently to them, empathizing with their experiences and offering unconditional positive regard.

In photography, I am able to “see” and be with a person, as if there is NO camera between us.  The synergy is electric to me, and in this, I trust that there is mutual connection with those whom I am working with.  Counseling clients continue to return with greater self-awareness and a willingness to delve deeper into their own self-understanding and self-awareness.  Photographic clients delight in images of self – I often hear their “WOW” factor being expressed!

What has been your “Aha / I’ve made it in the USA” moment?

I continue to strive towards this “aha” moment and I never take this for granted.  It is a very competitive world out there, and I am up against lots of others in the same fields.  “Aha” moments come with my connections I make with my clients.  They are often brief moments in time, and I have learnt to really feel and acknowledge them each time this joyous experience happens.

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From the Kitchen Table to Global Baby Phenomenon – Meet Raegan Moya-Jones of aden + anais – This week’s AWNY Startup Story

Raegan Moya-Jones is an Australian who has lived in New York for 18 years. From her kitchen she created the baby brand aden + anais which is internationally recognized, acclaimed and loved by celebrities the world over.

Congratulations on the huge success of your global baby brand aden + anais! Tell us about yourself and your business?

I’m originally from Australia, but have spent the last 18 years of my career in New York City. When I was expecting my first daughter, I was living here in New York, very far from home, and preparing the way that new mums do, nesting. We tend to stock up on all of the things that brought us comfort when we were young, things that we saw our mums and in my case sister using on their babies, and for any Aussie mum to be, a stack of muslin swaddles would be the first thing on that list.

I looked all over New York – a city where you can find absolutely anything – and there wasn’t a piece of muslin in sight.

At the time, I wasn’t an entrepreneur. I didn’t have aspirations of owning a business. In fact, my most recent boss had told me that I didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. I was working in research sales at The Economist, and I was good at what I did and was successful. But in the back of my mind, I knew that the little voice telling me that I could make American mothers fall in love with muslin swaddles was right, and I decided to give it a try.

This is the part where I walk right in and turn in my resignation, right?


I started aden + anais as an additional full-time job, one that I worked on at night in my kitchen after my girls were in bed and I’d worked a full day at my “real job.” I survived on a few hours’ sleep every night. I went way too long without washing my hair. And I believed from that very first day that what I had in my kitchen was the makings of a 100 million dollar business.

How long did you have the idea for this business and why did you decide to start aden + anais?

The entire brand was inspired by necessity. I knew that if mothers in America had the kind of swaddles that mothers in Australia did, if they realized that this one piece of fabric had multiple uses and would become indispensable after having their baby, they’d fall in love with it. And for whatever reason, I thought that I could work out a way to make that happen.

classic swaddle 4 pack jungle jam bird

Why do you think your brand has been so popular in the United States? 

Ultimately, we all want the same things when it comes to our children: to know that we’re making good choices for them, that we’re bringing products into our lives that we trust, and that the things in our lives feel authentic and true to who we are. You can’t fake any of that, and our brand is popular not because we have a massive advertising budget – we absolutely don’t – but because we’ve been focused on doing what we do best. We make beautiful, useful, high quality products that we’d want in our own homes. We make things well. We make things to make life easier for parents and caretakers. And we make them stylish. We owe our success to every parent who loved our product and told their pregnant friends, who told their pregnant friends…

After your success in the USA how long afterwards did you start exporting?

That happened very quickly as I realized that outside of Australia no other country had heard of muslin swaddles either so I worked quickly to expand globally. I started the Australian office first in 2008, as that was easier in terms of staffing. My sister Paige ran the business and my mum Barbara was our bookkeeper. Then I expanded into the UK in 2009, Canada and Japan in 2010 and just this year we incorporated in China.

What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?

Having Adam Sandler photographed with his first baby, using one of our products…and then Gwen Stefani…and then Beyonce…that kind of truly authentic PR coverage, where celebrities were using our products not because we were sending it to them, but because their own friends and family had suggested it to them and purchased it for them, THAT was special.

Beyonce, Jay-Z And Blue Ivy Leaving St. Barth

What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business in New York and how does it differ to Australia? 

I’ve only ever started a business in the US so I have no comparison to starting one in Australia. I would think that the challenges would be the same. It is a huge amount of work to start a business from scratch regardless of what country you start it in. Had I known going in how much work it would be I may not have dived in so willingly. That said, now I am out the other side I am very happy that I did.

Are there any particular manufacturing challenges you have faced and what tips would you give someone looking to start a product range? 

It took a long time for me to develop the quality of muslin we are known for at aden + anais. Once I found our manufacturer, which in itself took me two years, there was endless back and forth until we perfected the fabric.

The biggest tip I have for someone trying to start a product range is to understand that you are signing up for hard work. It’s work that you can do, but you better want it and love it, because it’s not going to be easy and it certainly won’t be glamorous. I started aden + anais at my kitchen table, and worked it full time from 8.30pm through to 3am every morning on top of my full time job …while raising my daughters.

Everyone thinks “I can do that,” and the only thing that will set you apart is actually doing it. You don’t need to be an expert in everything. You need to have a vision you can stay true to, and enough humility to be able to surround yourself with people who are experts at what they do…and let them do it. 

classic swaddle 4 pack jungle jam hanging

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

We have never spent much money on traditional marketing; in fact the first time we paid for any marketing placement was in 2014. I am a big believer in PR and have worked with the same PR agent, Kristina Junger Godfrey since back in 2008. She did an amazing job getting the word out on aden + anais. We are lucky to be a brand that people really connect with and because of that they are happy to spread the word for us. Most of our success has come from word of mouth, mums telling other mums that they have to use aden + anais.

Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks? 

I have never had a mentor and I am not much of a networker. There have definitely been people over the years that I have gone to for advice. The most significant being my first private equity firm, Seidler Equity Partners. Bob and Matt Seidler were instrumental in the early stages in guiding me on how to build a successful healthy business. I definitely owe a lot of my business success to them.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business? 

Make sure you believe in your idea 150% otherwise the amount of work you need to do to get it off the ground will derail you if you don’t. Know what you know and what you don’t know and fill in the gaps with people who do. Trust your instincts, mine still guide me and to this day have yet to let me down.

Your first product was a baby swaddle. Why do you think that Americans didn’t use swaddles before you introduced the product?

I think that plenty of Americans knew about swaddling, but thought it was too difficult, or were using entirely the wrong kind of blanket to do it. Cotton muslin is really the ideal fabric for a swaddle. It’s soft, and breathable, and has the right amount of stretch to make sure you can get it right. A muslin swaddle was designed to make swaddling as easy as possible. It has a natural stretch, it gets softer with every wash, and it’s intentionally oversized, to make it easier for parents to get a nice secure swaddle.

What is next for aden + anais?

We always have lots of things in the queue, which is why I’m still excited to come to work after ten years. I can tell you that we plan to keep growing globally, to continue to innovate and make great products for families around the world, and that I plan to still be here steering the ship for the foreseeable future.

Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members?

I have set up a 20% code for your members at if they enter AWNY2016 at checkout. The code will be valid through November 1st.

classic swaddle 4 pack jungle jam packaging

Follow aden and anais on social media to keep up to date with this wonderful business. 

Twitter: @adenandanais

Instagram: @adenandanais

Facebook: /adenandanais


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