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Origin Story: How The Memo Came to Be

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Latest Stories

With our new flagship boutique opening soon, we thought we'd give you the back story.

It started with a list…

The Memo was born from a list, “everything you need for a baby”, emailed from friend to friend, refined with each experience of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood, until it contained only the best, brightest and most useful products in the babysphere. Each time someone announced they were expecting, someone else would say “I’ll send you the memo”. There was only one problem, there was no one place you could buy all these parenting MVPs, without being overwhelmed by the noise and pressure or a heap of baby products you don't need. The Memo Co-Founder and CEO (a recipient and sender of the list), Kate Casey, decided to create one. Teaming up with Phoebe Simmonds, Co-Founder and Voice of Brand, the two set out to create a place for new and expecting parents that cut through the clutter, the loud opinions of the babysphere and the overwhelm that had become wrapped up with shopping for a baby.

The two also wanted a place where parents could feel good, supported and excited about preparing for a baby. Throwing out the pretence that you suddenly know everything about babies as soon as you're expecting.

With a chic online store (sans cartoon babies, sans pastels), The Memo was launched as a considered edit of helpful and highly rated products that work to make life with a baby that little bit easier. Everything you need, and nothing you don't. As we grew, so did our edit, as more and more we saw that there is no one way to parent and while one parent might never need a bottle warmer, another might use it every day of the year for two years, each time looking at it and thinking, man, I'm so glad you exist. True to our roots, each time we add a product, we make sure it's the best in it's category: for value, for function, for life cycle, for the planet — tried, tested and beloved by parents who know.

Now The Memo has expanded from the online realm to the touchable, tangible world of a IRL boutique, what better time to really get to know our story from the people who wrote it, Phoebe Simmonds and Kate Casey.

What inspired you to start The Memo?

Kate: I had the idea for The Memo when I was on maternity leave with my second child. When I became pregnant the first time around, I felt completely overwhelmed. I was busy, and I was trying to navigate all the changes to my body, my mind, my work, my family, and knew I needed to get all the baby gear, but I had no idea where to start. My experience at big box baby retail left me with a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers. Like many other parents, I turned to a friend who’d done it before, who I knew would have recommendations. More than that, she had a list. Everything you need, and nothing you don’t. She’d outlined line by line the products that worked, that you’d need, use and want daily. The ones that were worth the hype, the ones that weren’t, and the ones that you should borrow from a friend. It was incredibly helpful and made me feel so much more confident and prepared in the leadup to my child’s birth. The only problem? They weren’t all in one place. So it sparked an idea, what if a place existed that sold only the best and brightest brands for pregnancy, postpartum and parenting. A curated edit of only the essentials but with options to cater to price, lifestyle and taste. A feel good experience that would remove the clutter, judgement, the soap boxing, the assumed knowledge that I felt was way too prevalent in the baby industry. My background was in beauty buying for luxury retailers in Australia, and with this context, I knew that expecting and new parents deserved better from their retail experience. So I set out to deliver it.

Who is The Memo for?

Phoebe: we are incredibly motivated to meet the needs of expecting and new parents. This is important to us, we’re not a baby retailer, as babies are not our customer. You are. And so we talk to you, and aim to support you through every stage, from pregnancy, to postpartum and parenting. This goes beyond product. We want to be a destination for education, connection and inspiration.

How do you choose what products are available on The Memo?

Kate: That’s the fun part! The products we select are a testament to our DNA, all the essentials, none of the crap and clutter. Just the items that will add value to your life. Particularly, we like to partner with brands whose products have a long lifetime value and can grow with you and your child, and be passed on from one family to the next. We pay close attention to reviews, industry buzz, what you’re saying and obviously, our own experiences. We started The Memo with just the products on the list I used when I was pregnant, but my kids are now 6 and 4 and the industry has evolved phenomenally over this time, for example we are seeing more brands introducing items catered to a mothers health and wellbeing, which is wonderful to see, and this is an important category for us.

We also believe in giving you choice, on price, taste and lifestyle, as no two families are the same and we want you to be able to do baby your way. Having said that, our commitment to you is to never confuse, so we’ll never stock 20 different high chairs, it’s unnecessary and overwhelming.

Why have you opened a boutique?

Kate: We always knew we’d do retail, it was just a matter of resources and time. It’s been incredibly motivating to see the response from our community to our brand, our product, our service, our message, and so we were encouraged to take the plunge into bricks and mortar retail. We know that for many of you, it can be helpful actually seeing, feeling and talking through all the gear that you need, in one place. You can book a 1:1 consultation to set up your Gift Registry, get a bra fitted, choose the right breast pump, pack your hospital bag, or tick off your nursery list… this personalised service we hope will give you confidence in your purchases, so you can approach parenthood feeling supported and prepared. It’s also a great place for us to host masterclasses with industry experts that will bring our community together.

Why is it in that location?

Kate: Melbourne is our home, it’s where The Memo was born, so it made sense to start here, and we chose High St Armadale because it’s the best shopping street in Melbourne with a ton of Australian brands represented. Plus, cafes, parks and parking! Important for new parents ha!

How is The Memo different from other baby stores?

Phoebe: Firstly, our assortment is unparalleled in Australia, with a blend of high and low price points and exclusive brands that you won’t find anywhere else. But additionally, I think so many retailers forget that expecting parents don’t know this category at all, it’s the first time they’ve had to think about, for example, a breast pump, or consider the benefits of a wipedownable change mat. When we created The Memo, I was single and had no kids, and Kate was a mum-of-two. So when I was writing copy I was calling her saying ‘seriously, what the fk is a perineum’ and ‘why would I need a white noise machine’ or ‘this does what??!!??’ So I’d write the copy like I was explaining it to myself, or a friend who was approaching parenthood for the first time. This approach I believe is refreshing in the industry where there is a ton of assumed knowledge but limited commitment to actually meeting the needs, concerns or confusion of the customer. So zero judgement and clear education with the tone of a trusted friend is a top priority for us and I hope is felt by you. Because we got this, and you got this.

How did you two meet?

Kate: we knew each other from beauty, I was a buyer at Myer when Phoebe was the marketing director for Benefit Cosmetics. We got along so well and have complementing skills and personalities, so it was a match made in retail heaven!

Was it very tricky having conversations about the brand and products when Phe wasn’t a parent but Kate was?

Phoebe: oh my god so many! We had a big laugh the other day about how to use a perineum wash bottle, seriously, how was I to know you wouldn’t insert it?!?!

When did you realise you were onto something really good?

Kate: we’ve had a lot of pinch me moments but in particular feedback from customers, even from early on, is what really brings us joy and motivates our hard work. From an expectant parent who tells us how easy our Gift Registry service was to set up and navigate, to a new parent who tells us that the Hussh White Noise Machine has saved her sleep (and her sanity), it makes everything so worthwhile.

What has been the biggest hurdle to date?

Kate: Keeping up with demand! We’ve been so lucky to grow so fast, but as a small business with big ambitions and a million things we want to do, fast, it’s been a challenge to prioritise and plan for stock (amidst global shortages and supply chain delays), expansion, warehousing and logistics.

What’s been your biggest achievement to date?

Phoebe: being able to go live with our bespoke Gift Registry tech was a big deal, we’d spent over 15 months developing it, determined to deliver a seamless experience for the register and their family and friends shopping from it. We worked really hard to get this right and we’re thrilled with the response. Opening the boutique is also hugely exciting and being able to add services to our offering.

Kate: but I guess above all else, it’s being able to grow our business, and our team, amidst so much uncertainty over the last three years, and all the challenges that come with starting your own business. It’s incredibly rewarding and we’re grateful for all the support our community has given us.

What have you learnt about parenting while running The Memo?

Phoebe: literally everything, because the launch of The Memo coincided with me starting my own family a few months later! For me, it’s learning that you have to ask for help, and to lean on those around you.

Kate: you don’t need all the stuff! For my first baby, I found it so easy to get carried away while shopping, and it’s fun to do, but it can also be expensive. I learnt to be smarter with what I bought (longevity FTW) and borrowed where I could. It’s better for everyone.

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