Maximising your inner circle

Necessity is often the mother of invention, and so it was when Melanie Grant launched her business. 

When her second child arrived she became frustrated with the kids’ sleepwear choices available locally.

Grant received a gift of some pyjamas from a friend living in Europe. They were a perfect fit and inspired her to develop her own range of sleepwear and loungewear.

On leave from her marketing job, she took tentative steps developing what was to become Snugglebum. Grant road-tested the ideas with her mums’ group and inner circle.

Too busy with her business and her children to attend networking events, her mums’ group was the perfect sounding board – especially as they were the end users of her proposed product.

She also turned to members of the group for additional business support. Matt Walker – one of the dads in the group and a creative director of The Key Branding agency – designed the cheeky hippopotamus logo and branding.

“The hippo was hand drawn from scratch and he nailed it in one,” Grant says.

Walker continues to work with Grant on this product brand and another planned for release early next year.

More than a decade on, Grant says the input from her inner circle was invaluable.


When naming the business she was throwing around words such as “snuggle”, but it was her brother who suggested Snugglebum.

“It was perfect. It described our snug, comfy-fitting pyjamas,” she said.

While she proceeded on gut feel she needed that feedback.

Tactile soft packaging added to the feeling of comfort. Grant says the packaging, which was part of the aesthetic to support the product, has since been replaced with more sustainable options.

Her friends and family also helped her to price the garments, which are at the higher end of offerings.

The product was initially pitched at younger children but as her three children have grown so has the range, with roomy size 16 the biggest size.

The brand has evolved as the kids from her mother’s group have grown. The group has also been the inspiration for her new range of loungewear, which will launch next year.

“It has been important to go out to people in my local network and to keep in touch,” she says.

Grant says her inner circle also boasted a lot of talent she could tap into to help grow her business.

“A lot of people went off and had kids but they hadn’t lost those skills they had in the workforce and their input was important,” she says.

Snugglebum director Melanie Grant

Carolyn Tate, founder of the Slow School of Business, says she has bounced ideas about forming the school off many people in her personal networks.

She has based her business out of a number of co-working spaces such as the Hub in central Melbourne, and says the shared activity areas and hosted events such as communal dinners, have provided a fantastic forum to workshop ideas and to come up with solutions.

Tate says she is always running ideas by her extended group of friends and colleagues, and for her it is better than attending formal networking events.

“Most people take a very ad hoc approach to networking and waste lots of time attending events and activities that are not focused or that helpful,” she says.

“It’s also about giving and not going to take something. Be in the right spot at the right time with the right people and ask the right questions,” she says.

Tate uses her social media networks to reach out to her wide following of friends and colleagues and ask their advice.

She is launching a book in June called The Purpose Project and was looking for a venue. She posted on her Facebook page and was swamped by friends suggesting venues.

Tate uses the forums to ask advice about projects she is working on, inviting people to social gatherings and updating people. She says the wisdom and feedback she gets from people she met through her business, who are now friends, is invaluable.