‘Grotty’ idea that made Queensland mum a fortune
Stay-at-home mum Laura Klein never thought her side hustle would turn her into a millionaire - but fast-forward six years and the Brisbane local is now earning a comfortable $3 million.
She launched her unique e-commerce business selling battery-powered snot suckers back in 2013.
And while Ms Klein admitted it was a bit of a "grotty" concept, she quickly realised there was a huge gap in the market for it.
"Everyone laughs at our business name - Snotty Noses - but jeez it's memorable, and it does what it says," Mrs Klein said.
"It was simply a product I had used as a mother. I bought it thinking it probably wouldn't work, but it saved me."
The mother-of-three, who took time off work as a full-time teacher, was using the product for her children at the time.
"It was amazing," she told news.com.au, adding she had previously had difficulty extracting snot from her sick kids' noses.
She contacted the distributer six months later when she needed a new nozzle for her Snotty Noses aspirator - and he offered her to be a rep for the product.
Mrs Klein, 44, who was on leave from her day job at the time, took up the offer.
"I bought a box of stock and sold it to my friends within a week, with no website or anything," she said.
She knew she was onto something and launched her own website with the name Snotty Noses weeks later.
"I thought I would just sell a few, but you don't realise what you are capable of until you start doing it - now I have five staff in Brisbane and doing thousands of orders a month," Mrs Klein told news.com.au.
"There's 1000 babies born a day in Australia, so our target market is never running out."
She said while there were other, similar products, there was nothing quite like her battery-powered "sucker".
"You can get a manual rubber suction where you have to squeeze and release with your own hand, but this one is electric. You just need to press a button, the suction comes on, it's steady, strong and safe," Mrs Klein said. "It's also waterproof, so you can rinse it under the tap.
"Once the blockage in the nose is removed, it also means babies are less likely to develop a secondary ear, adenoid or respiratory infection."
Mrs Klein said the reason her business had grown so rapidly was mainly because of word-of-mouth from online mothers' groups.
"Mums networks are gold. If they find that something has worked, they tell everyone about it. Similar if you pedal a product that doesn't - they will tear you down."
WHEN SHE MADE HER FIRST MILLION
Mrs Klein made her first million in 2017, saying the last 18 months have been insane.
"When I first started it was a part-time gig because I had three little kids (who are now 10, eight and seven)," she said.
"I was still teaching part-time, so this was my side hustle - packing a few orders a week."
But then Mrs Klein gave up on her teaching career to focus on her business full-time, and that's when things took a whole new turn.
"I got a business coach, as I don't have a business degree and needed guidance (and still do)."
In the last six years she has managed to turn over $3.3 million, with last year alone hitting $1.7 million in sales.
"I am looking at doubling that $1.7 million figure in the next 12 months," she said.
Mrs Klein, who launched the business from her kitchen bench, still works from home.
"We could potentially move to a warehouse, but that's additional overheads. The whole reason to start a business was to fit it in with my lifestyle," she said.
"We can still double the business in the next 12 months and function from home easily. I may need additional storage, but it's still doable from here."
Mrs Klein stocks her signature Snotty Noses aspirator, along with other products for good health and sleep at the bottom of her double-storey home in Brisbane.
"It's completely separate from my life. Upstairs is living, so it's a great arrangement," Mrs Klein said.
SCARY LEAVING HER DAY JOB
Mrs Klein admitted it was scary leaving her teaching job to take a punt as a small-business owner.
"A lot of women my age have a renewed creativity and desire to make a difference whether that's through a particular product or service they have a passion for," she said.
"You just need to make sure it is something you are passionate about, and the product has a place in the market."
She said people wanted to deal with a small business with heart, rather than a big corporation.
"There's great days and days of rejection. There's days when you get delivered the wrong stock,' Mrs Klein said.
"I had a batch of stock that was all faulty, and the whole lot was printed incorrectly, but those things happen, that's business. You just have to keep going."
Mrs Klein said the benefit was being your own boss and in control of your own lifestyle - which she couldn't do in her previous job.
"I decided to take a break from teaching in 2008. My third child was born in 2012. I was a
full-time stay-at-home mum with no work and no business," she explained.
"In 2013, when the kids were little, I started the business but couldn't go full-time until 2017 when the kids were older and in school.
"The first 3½ years were very much a part-time side hustle selling a few aspirators which I was wrapping on my kitchen bench."
Mrs Klein's side hustle has now turned her into a millionaire mum, as she continues to make it her mission to help every congested baby breathe easier.
The Snotty Noses aspirator sells for $59. Mrs Klein says it can last up to five years.