Republished with permission from Unapparenthood an Evio Community Partner
We met Joyce and Josh at The Baby Show back in April when I was just 13 weeks pregnant with no bump to be seen. I saw a rack of beautiful clothes, said ‘there’s no way those are maternity’ and the rest was history. You subscribe to Sprout, choose 4 garments a month, send it back and the end of the 30 days and pick 4 more garments. They have a mix of trendy pieces, classics, all way too expensive to buy outright. Learn more about The Sprout Collection Maternity Clothing Rental Service Here . They’ve been launched for more than 5 months now and as I write this article, I’m sitting in some very expensive maternity j-brands that I basically wear everyday. Well, for the next 30 days at least. Let’s get to know the mama behind the brand, Joyce Lim.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE SPROUT - HOW DID IT HELP YOU ON YOUR ENTREPRENEURSHIP JOURNEY?
I was a corporate lawyer (I’m on my mat leave currently). I help companies finance their business operations and ventures like working on their IPOs or dealing with mergers and acquisitions. Now I work primarily in the private equity space, at a pension fund dealing with international investments and transactions.
It’s funny because as a lawyer, I’m always the one assessing and helping my client manage their risks and it was easier on the other side of the table laying out their options, detailing the potential consequences that may occur and letting the client make that decision. With Sprout, I was client and lawyer all rolled in one and I very nearly didn’t start it because I was going over and over in my mind all the risks and potential bad outcomes and fearing to take that leap of faith. Luckily I had a very supportive husband who encouraged me to just take the plunge. What I do draw from my previous legal experience to help me along this journey is the work ethic that I’ve had the privilege of honing over the years and the ability to learn and think very quickly on my feet.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT START-UP LIFE SO FAR?
Having a never-ending to-do list with an employee of one. I am admin, customer service, delivery girl, marketing person, social media blogger/instagrammer, president, fashion buyer, inventory manager and more all rolled into one.
“NO MATTER HOW HARD I WORKED, I WAS ALWAYS IN CONTROL OF MY TIME. IF I WANTED TO WORK LATE I COULD. IF I WANTED TO SHUT OFF MY LAPTOP AND JUST GO TO BED AND FINISH UP MY WORK LATER, I COULD. THERE IS NO SUCH THING WHEN YOU’RE CARING FOR A CHILD. YOUR 24 HOURS ARE NOT YOURS TO CONTROL ANYMORE.”
— JOYCE, FOUNDER OF SPROUT COLLECTION
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START SPROUT?
I was pregnant with my firstborn, Georgia, last fall and had difficulty finding good quality and stylish clothes for both work and play that wouldn’t break the bank.
I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, but I prefer well-made clothing that can sustain long-term wear and usage to fast-fashion that falls apart and ends up in landfills. I also didn’t want to splurge on stuff I wouldn’t wear again. I did buy a few cheap basics, but that wasn’t really enough to get me by, especially as the seasons changed.
I decided to purchase a few quality maternity pieces from a maternity boutique store online and I was horrified by how much it cost. I decided there had to be a better way for pregnant women like me and that was how Sprout was born!
DO YOU PLAN ON RETURNING TO YOUR 9-5?
Yes, I love the law and I love the work I do as a lawyer. On the other hand, I don’t think I can ever not be involved with Sprout (it’s my baby! It shares the same birth date as Georgia). So we are in the process of creating and executing an operations plan that involves hiring staff so that we can keep Sprout growing and running when I go back to work.
HOW HAS MAT-LEAVE PROVED TO BE THE PERFECT TIME TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?
It has been the most perfect imperfect time. Perfect because I have 12 months to test run this business to see if it will prove viable. Perfect because I’m literally in the throes of raising a little human and it’s given me wonderful perspective of how other moms grow their business while raising a family at the same time and being able to gain some insight from them.
Imperfect because being a mother (especially a first time mom) is the toughest job in the world and I’ve had my fair share of late nights/months in my previous legal life. Motherhood is a job (a privilege) that goes on in perpetuity. No matter how hard I worked, I was always in control of my time. If I wanted to work late I could. If I wanted to shut off my laptop and just go to bed and finish up my work later, I could. There is no such thing when you’re caring for a child. Your 24 hours are not yours to control anymore.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST WIN SO FAR WITH SPROUT?
When random strangers who have absolutely no incentive or obligation to reach out to me to tell me how much they love our service and our clothes. We’ve been known to make a few mamas cry 😉
WHERE DO YOU WANT SPROUT TO...WELL SPROUT TO IN 5 YEARS TIME?
I’d love to offer non-maternity options for non-pregnant women. I’d like us to be Canada’s Rent the Runway.
ANY ADVICE FOR PARENTS WANTING A START-UP OF THEIR OWN?
It’s impossible until you start doing it.