This mama shares how her business has grown organically with her children.
Victoria Chuard prefers to be known as Vicki. She’s all about keeping things good, clean and simple. You’ll see that in the choices she makes for her business and her children. And that’s how Petit Tippi came to life almost as soon as Vicki became a mother. Looking for eco-friendly alternatives for baby essentials made her realise that there was a need gap in the Hong Kong market. We chat with Vicki about straddling a business she’s passionate about, a day job that she thoroughly enjoys, and a busy family of two young kids and a supportive husband.
Where are you originally from? When did you move to Hong Kong and why?
I grew up in Canada and moved to Hong Kong 12 years ago to start my career. After meeting my husband and having two kids, what was supposed to be a 3 to 5-year stint has turned into a very much permanent home for the foreseeable future!
Where and what have you studied? And worked? How you have used that experience setting up Petit Tippi?
I studied Finance in school and that is also what my primary career is. I still love that aspect of who I am and what I do there. My education and work experience don’t have much to do with the e-commerce side of the business, but I think it helped me to be fiscally responsible for this business. It’s part of the reason that we’re still standing five years in. We’re not a fast-growing start-up that will boom and bust in a few short years; it’s very much a family business with sustainability at its core, in all aspects.
Why did you decide to set up Petit Tippi? What need-gap did you feel it fulfilled?
I started Petit Tippi when I was pregnant with my first child here. I did a lot of research on baby products and shopped a lot overseas where I felt I had a much better selection of organic and eco-friendly baby products that were also beautiful and functional. One of the things I really wanted to do was to cloth diaper my baby, but I really couldn’t find a good selection of cloth diapers or the support to get started. The modern parent wants convenience, safe products for both ourselves and the environment, and things that fit aesthetically into our homes as well. We don’t want parenting to mean a home invasion of primary colours, single-use plastic and flashing lights!
How did you go about selecting and choosing the products?
Usually, after doing my own research, I buy the products for myself and use them first. If we like it, we will reach out to the brands to enquire about representing them. A lot of the times that does mean they are smaller brands, local brands or start-ups. We feel that having brands that we believe in rather than just those that are readily available through major distribution channels makes us different and brings more value to our customers.
What are the plans for the future? Do you want to get into retail in a larger way?
I hope so! There is so much that I want to do, but I will have to prioritise! While our workshop space is supposed to be by appointment only, I realise that we have a lot of walk-ins who want to shop in-store, so it would be lovely to have a storefront one day. I would also really like to design my own cloth diaper that makes cloth diapering more accessible and convenient, with all the personal experience and also feedback from customers that I’ve accumulated over the years. I think that one of the biggest challenges with getting started with cloth diapering is that it feels so overwhelming and scary – I want to try and take that factor away so that it can be normalised.
How has your husband supported your venture? Does he play an active role in it?
In the first couple of years, it was very much an “all-hands-on-deck” kind of venture and he helped me a lot with whatever needed to be done. Now that the day-to-day is mostly out of his hair, he supports me by being very engaged with the kids and our home life so that he can take some of the responsibilities off my hands and give me space to focus on work without worry.
Do you involve your children in your work at Petit Tippi? If yes, in what way?
They do all the product testing and modelling! Since we’re using most of the products at home at any given point in time, it’s very easy to get lifestyle shots!
With two kids under six, how do you manage to run your business and have a full-time day job? What’s your mantra for work-life balance?
I’ve always been a good multi-tasker but I have become very good at prioritising things and focusing on what’s really important in everything I do. I carve out time for certain things – work, family, friends – and I bullet journal. I think staying organised is so important to staying sane! I am very lucky to have a great support system around me at home and at work, especially my talented and nimble team at Petit Tippi.
What do you most enjoy about living in Hong Kong?
I love how easy it is to live here and how accessible things are – beaches, excellent food, amazing travel destinations, just to name a few. I love that it’s so efficient and the fast pace of life; I think it actually helps to make time for dedicated downtime. I love that my kids will grow up speaking three languages and how safe and multicultural their community is. There are certainly drawbacks, but there will be some anywhere in the world.
How eco-friendly do you find Hong Kong and its people?
I find Hong Kongers are very open to being eco-friendly. It’s deeply rooted in their way of life and they value it. But, living in a fast paced-city, there’s also a lot of single-use products that facilitate convenience and also hygiene (in their perception), and it is sometimes hard to eliminate those habits.
Who has most influenced your parenting style?
Both my parents worked very hard while I was growing up and I grew up being very independent (not that that was their intention). I think that in the long run that builds resilience in life, to rely on yourself to problem solve and I want that for my kids. I want them to know that I am there to offer love and support in any way they need, but I want them to want and have a sense of agency in their lives.
How similar or different are your children? Have they taken after you or your husband?
Louis and Olivia are completely different. Louis very outgoing but is cautious and likes to do the “right” thing. Olivia is shyer around people she’s not familiar with, but is less inhibited by fear of getting it wrong – I think that’s why she started walking at nine months! I think Louis and Olivia are each individually a good mix of both parents.
What do you enjoy most about being a mum?
That look of pure joy or love or excitement when they see you! Whether it’s while breastfeeding, during a nappy change, when you come home from work, or when you put them to bed.
What is most challenging about being a mum?
You feel guilty about everything, no matter what you do!
After a long day, what’s your favourite way to unwind?
I like to watch a good movie or TV series with the hubby, it really helps me switch off from everything else going on that day.
What are your top three tips or advice for entrepreneurs in Hong Kong?
- You have to be passionate about what you do and believe in the purpose behind it because that’s what going to keep you going through the ups and downs.
- Connect with people who have been through similar journeys and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.
- Be bold and take charge of your dreams, even a baby step is a step in the right direction.