Woman fired from her own company after Prince George wore her brand
Raegan Moya-Jones is a Sydney girl who moved to New York 22 years ago when her then-boyfriend, now husband, Markos Moya was offered a dream job in New York with Telstra.
What was only meant to be a two-year stint, became a two-decade life change, with marriage and four kids to follow.
But this momentous move wasn’t “the” moment that changed Raegan’s life.
No, that came in July, 2013 – when Prince George left St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington as a newborn swaddled in a wrap from Raegan’s range, Aden + Anais.
Then, less than five years later, in March 2018, it came crashing down when Raegan was fired from the business she created.
“I had lived and breathed that business for literally over a decade. So to have these people come in and rip it out from underneath you…it’s absolutely an emotional and a very stressful situation to find yourself in,” Raegan admits to 9Honey over the phone from New York.
HOW BUSINESS BEGAN
In 2003 when Raegan gave birth to her first child, daughter Anais, the Aussie mum went searching high and low for muslin cloth wrap so many Australian parents use in the first few months of their newborn’s life.
The then 36-year-old struggled to find such a key baby item so, the Sales Executive decided to start her own business.
She researched and set up the business in her spare time, till they went to market in 2006.
Raegan did this in addition to her full-time job and life as a mum of toddlers and a newborn, having welcomed second daughter Lourdes in 2005 and Arin in 2007.
“When we launched the product till 2009 and that was tough – we’d had three of the four girls at that point and a full-on day job and then I was building Aden + Anais of a night, after the girls went to bed,” Raegan recalls to 9Honey.
“It was a lot of work. People used to say to me ‘how are you doing it?’ but I was so driven, in terms of building the business and because it was a conscious decision on my part to choose sleep deprivation over any kind of financial pressure, I kind of just never thought about it.”
However, the mum and entrepreneur is quick to add: “It wasn’t like I just sort of breezed on through it like a machine.”
“There were definitely times when I was curled up in the fetal position at 3.30 in the morning, crying my eyes wondering ‘What I have I done? I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, this is ridiculous’. My hair was falling out, I would go two weeks without washing my hair because finding the half an hour to do that just wasn’t an option and I definitely did have those dramatic moments but I didn’t allow them to take a hold of me.
“I would have the moment, then get up and shake it off and then keep going. And it was usually late at night when everyone else was asleep and has been for hours and I think it was exhaustion as much as anything else that would trigger those moments. And I didn’t have a lot of them but I definitely had them.”
And the thing that got Raegan through, was all the sacrifices – time with her girls, friendships, self-care – that she had already made.
“All of that would have been for naught and that’s what I wasn’t prepared to accept,” she tells 9Honey.
Then, in May 2009, revenue hit the magic $1 million mark. It was the goal Raegan had set herself to quit her job and run the business full time.
ROYAL SEAL OF APPROVAL
Then, in 2013, Kate Middleton bought an Aden + Anais wrap from a store in London, unbeknown to Raegan.
“Being from Australia, I know no Royal baby comes out for that first photo in anything other than that white wool blanket that has probably been royally appointed by some affiliate.
“So, if someone would have bet me a million dollars, there’s just no way I thought that that was possible… and you’ll note, it’s never happened again.”
And the day Prince George left hospital in that particular swaddle from Raegan’s collection is one that stands out in her memory… but not for the reason you’d think.
“The day it happened, I’ll never forget it because… I was in this meeting trying to work this issue out and one of our designers walked into the meeting and said ‘Oh my gosh Rae – the Royal Baby’s just come out in an Aden + Anais swaddle’ and I was like ‘You know what, I’m so not in the mood today guys, it’s not funny’.
Convinced the image of Prince George leaving St Mary’s Hospital was photoshopped, it took a while for reality to sink in before “all hell broke loose for a couple of weeks.”
The website crashed twice and Raegan was doing TV interviews from Australia to Japan and all round the world.
“It was the ultimate PR moment for any small business,” she admits but says it wasn’t what made the company.
“A lot of people think that particular moment made Aden + Anais but what actually happened was, yes, there was a huge spike for a couple of weeks but only on that particular blanket – everybody wanted want the Royal Baby had,” Raegan says, adding that sales then plateaued back out to its normal growth rate.
WHAT WENT DOWN
Five years after the game-changing moment on the steps outside The Lindo Wing, in March 2018, Raegan was fired by investors from the $100 million company she founded.
Although, the mum-of-four wasn’t exactly blind sighted by the decision, revealing she was edged out for a “Superstar CEO” and eventually fired 15 months later.
“When it happened, I wasn’t shocked – I can honestly say the emotion when they did fire me was relief because it was a horrible situation to be in.”
Aden + Anais acquired another business in December 2016 and investors didn’t have confidence in Raegan being able to run them both, something that still confuses the businesswoman.
“We just didn’t see eye-to-eye on the way they wanted to take the business,” the entrepreneur said of investors.
“It’s a bit of a head-scratcher because they wrote me a very, very big cheque to buy the business that I had built from nothing to when they bought it, I think we were doing over $50 million.”
Despite seeing it coming, Raegan admits it wasn’t an easy thing to come to terms with, walking away from the business she created.
“It was horrible, I fell into a black hole for the best part of a year,” Raegan admits to 9Honey, adding: “It’s made all the more horrible because my daughter’s name is still on the door”.
The mum-of-four says it felt like a death in the family and says she went through many of the same emotions associated with grief and dealing with grief.
BUILDING HERSELF AGAIN
“I was a mess for a year. I drank too much, I put on [13kgs], I was not in a good way but I dived straight into Saint Luna because I needed something, I needed the distraction,” Raegan says of her new moonshine business.
“It got to the point where I realised I was drinking the wine to cope and that was the point I thought ‘OK Raegan, get your act together here and get on with it’ but that took about a year.”
Raegan credits her supportive family for helping her get through the dark period.
The entrepreneur adds the experience wasn’t enough to be put off starting another business from scratch.
“No, I’m just smarter and wiser, I’ll never make the same mistake again. I’ll never sell the controlling interests of a business that I really want to be working in – you live and learn. I’m bringing in everything I’ve learned from Aden + Anais – the good and the bad.”
ADVICE TO OTHERS
Now, the self-made Aussie businesswoman is helping others by sharing her story – warts and all – in the book: What It Takes: How I Built a $100 Million Business Against the Odds.
Raegan looks into plenty of topics across the memoir meets guidebook, exploring practical issues like butting heads with investors, parting ways with your co-founder and more emotional ones, like mum-guilt.
The mother-of-four and successful businesswoman has these tips for anyone thinking of turning their side hustle into a business:
- You don’t have to know everything at the outset – I Googled my way to $50 million
- Commit to the idea and don’t deviate from the goal – a lot of people don’t see it through
- Block out the noise – be willing to ask for advice but don’t take it all as gospel
- Be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked before – if you’re not prepared to put in the work, it’s never going to happen
- Push through the curve-balls – it really is just about believing in yourself
Source: Thanks msn.com