We believe that small businesses with success stories need to be shared. For this reason we are pleased to bring our readers an interview with Yvette Vignando, founder of online business, happychild.
Take inspiration from her story as you grow your own businesses.
-Phoebe Netto, Managing Director, Good Business Consulting
What is happychild and what is your role in the business?
www.happychild.com.au is a parenting website focused on publishing high quality information about children’s social and emotional wellbeing – it’s about their happiness. I am the Publisher and Director of the business.
How and why did you start happychild?
I have been working in the area of emotional intelligence since 2000 as an executive coach and workshop facilitator with a focus on leadership and people management skills. I was also offering workshops to schools. Prior to that I worked as a lawyer for about 10 years in commercial and criminal law. My change to the area of Emotional Intelligence was inspired by reading Daniel Goleman’s book on Emotional Intelligence and my wish that our children learned the skills described in there. I attended the first international conference on Emotional Intelligence in San Francisco in 2000 and decided to make a career change as a result.
In about 2007 I started working on a plan to publish information in a variety of forms for parents and teachers using the happychild brand. I started with a webpage and an emailed newsletter. Participating in the Australian Businesswomen’s Network Mentoring program gave me the impetus and information needed to write a solid business plan. After publishing the happychild newsletter I then launched the www.happychild.com.au on 1 July 2010.
How did you get readers to be aware of happychild and how did you get them interested?
The newsletter and word of mouth online and offline was what started awareness of happychild but after launch of the website, I use all the usual methods including social media and PR.
What were you doing prior to starting happychild?
Parenting our three school age children and working as a consultant, executive coach and trainer specialising in emotional intelligence via the website www.eidevelopment.com. I still work in this area as I love the work and have a strong network of clients.
How did you go about designing your logo and website?
I had a recommendation for a designer of my logo and I didn’t really shop around for that – she worked very flexibly with me until we found the simple and bright colours and feel I was after.
The website was much harder. The current website is actually a second website. The first website was built earlier and frankly I was very unhappy with the developer and the site, so ultimately decided not to launch it at all. I then rewrote a very detailed brief with wireframes and did some online research about developers recommended on open source platforms like Joomla and Drupal. Ultimately I chose a developer (who worked closely with a designer) who was recommended to me – he was not the least expensive but he was the most experienced and I was confident he could deliver what I needed.
At what point did you start to engage a loyal following and a growing number of visitors to your blog?
It’s really hard to answer this. Probably within a few months of publishing my first email newsletters I noticed a surge in subscribers but there’s no doubt that social media, and in particular Twitter has played a huge part in that.
We’ve all seen the inappropriate use of social media (including blogs) where it is used for constant selling or self-promotion, or where there is a lack of transparency. What are your recommendations on using social media well in a way that also makes good business sense?
I suggest using it as a conversational medium rather than a broadcasting medium. That’s the best advice I can give – be authentic and do not say anything in social media that you would not be willing to post on a billboard on a busy road like Victoria Road, Sydney.
What difference has your role as regular parenting commentator on Channel 7’s The Morning Show made to happychild?
It has strengthened the happychild brand presence. Appearances are also sometimes inspiration for online conversation or further blogposts and articles.
What does the future hold for happychild?
Many good things I believe! Visitors and traffic are building and the brand now has a strong presence in Australia and in some places overseas. Keep your eye on the website for some new sections very soon and more multimedia integration.
Many of your articles and reader comments relate to the constant battle to juggle so many things in daily life. What are some of the hats that you have to wear and how to maintain sanity while wearing so many at once?
It’s a fact of life that parents who work and those who don’t do paid work are all juggling many priorities. It is frankly impossible to do everything well so sometimes you just have to tell yourself to ‘let go’ of the small stuff and be very good at prioritising. Like everyone, I have days where I am exhausted by all the expectations I have of myself! The best antidote to this is to take some genuine time out (either an hour or a whole day) – it’s very easy to fall into the trap of never giving yourself a break when you are working for yourself. I’m not sure if I maintain sanity all the time, but doing work that I love and believe in is a great motivator.
About Yvette Vignando:
Yvette is a mother of three boys, aged 15, 13 and 9, and lives in Sydney and the Publisher of popular Australian parenting site www.happychild.com.au. Her passion and commitment is to make a difference to the happiness and wellbeing of children by advocating for emotional intelligence to be taught in schools. Her site www.happychild.com.au is for parents because most parents are focused on doing all they can to maximise their children’s chances of a happy, successful and fulfilling life.
By providing information to parents about raising children with emotional intelligence, Yvette hopes that more parents will feel empowered to advocate for change in the school curriculum and will also use their knowledge in their parenting.
If you have any questions or comments for Yvette (or Phoebe), leave them below and she will respond to each of you.