This week, our Mompreneur Series focuses on Emma Lovell, founder of CoziGo, a multipurpose sleep and sun cover for strollers, prams, and airline bassinets. Emma, who has relocated to Australia from London, is a mom, an entrepreneur, and an avid traveler.
Q: Congratulations on launching CoziGo! What inspired you to create this business?
A: My daughter was just five months old when I decided to take her to see my mum in the U.K. for the first time. It was an awful flight; Aimée didn’t sleep the whole time. I remember telling my mum that I wouldn’t do that again. Sadly, during that visit my mum was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I made the difficult decision to look after her. During that year, I flew back and forth from Sydney to London four times. Each flight was terrible; Aimée never slept. The airline provided us with a bassinet, but it was directly under a TV, right next to the toilet, and subject to the distraction of passerby, overhead reading lights, and cabin lights. I found it really difficult to remove those distractions in order to get the baby to sleep.
I searched unsuccessfully for a product to help overcome these difficulties. After my mum passed away and I started to heal, I began doodling pictures of a product that could overcome this problem. That’s where the CoziGo journey started!
Q: Where do you live? Do you recommend your city as a family travel destination?
A: I’m originally from London, England, but I have chosen to spend the last 20 years in Manly on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia. I can totally recommend my little slice of paradise for family travel. The weather is fab all year round, it’s super friendly, and there’s lots to do!
Q: What’s your insider tip for families coming to your hometown?
A: There are so many! Firstly, you’ve got to start with a ferry ride. Check out the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge at Circular Quay. Then, take a ferry through the harbor to arrive at Manly Wharf. The views are gorgeous, and the smell of the crisp sea air is soul cleansing. Once you’re in Manly, you can stroll the long, golden, sandy beach. Try to spot some little “fairy” penguins that nest under the harbor, have fun on the Water Slides, and check out the art gallery before choosing somewhere amazing to eat lunch. You are spoiled for choice.
Q: What are your favorite family-friendly hidden gems?
To discover one of our hidden gems, head up to North Head to check out the old military base, walk around the Quarantine Station (now a hotel in the National Park), and seek out Manly’s hidden nook, Collins Flat Beach. You’ll find no tourists here. It is beautiful, a great spot for a picnic, a refreshing swim, or rock hopping.
Q: Is family travel part of your life?
A: The one thing my husband and I vowed we would not give up on when our kids came along was travel. As a result, our kids have been dragged to every corner of the world, no matter their ages. We have explored many parts of Europe, America, the Pacific Islands, and Asia. We love the sun, sea and sand. We’re all keen skiers too!
Q: What is the most memorable trip you took with your kids?
A: We have had so many trips together, this is a hard question to answer. It would have to be Telluride, CO, where 13 of the Lovell Clan spent Christmas and New Year’s together skiing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling. It was like spending two weeks in a fantasy snow globe that says on the side: “To have fun, just shake.” The other front runner was our month in Sri Lanka. There, we spent no more than two nights in each destination. That was very tiring, but every day was a mega adventure. The kids’ eyes were wide open every single second of each day!
Q: What’s your best advice for traveling parents?
A: Pick adventures that will suit the ages of your kids. My husband and I absolutely love hiking. But we decided to put this on hold until our kids were older and their legs were a little bit stronger. Instead, we spent time doing beach activities. We also went skiing. The kids could go at their own pace in ski school while we could go harder during those hours.
Remember, you need more time with kids. You can’t set the pace of a backpacker when the kids are in tow. Instead, choose fewer stops and take your time exploring at a slower pace to allow for naps, pit stops, and the inevitable tantrums.
Q: What is your favorite family travel product or service?
A: This changes as the kids grow up. When ours were babies, I loved having a really good baby carrier. At the time, my choice was Ergo Baby. It was essential to have a fabulous travel pram. I had a Maclaren Umbrella stroller 10 years ago, but the choices are much better now. My pick today would be the Mountain Buggy Nano or the Babyzen YoYo.
Nowadays, we don’t need much. My kids are six and nine. As long as they have their toothbrush and a travel pillow, we’re pretty much set to go!
Q: What item do you always pack in your carry-on?
A: Vaseline for my lips, they get so dry! Panadol for headaches when everyone is dehydrated from travel, an eye mask, and a fab travel pillow.
Q: How do you tackle the work/life balance (e.g., day care, babysitting, and schools)?
A: Running your own start-up with young children is no mean feat. There are times when you feel like you’re not doing your job properly because you’re looking after your children and when you’re looking after your kids, you’re abandoning your business. I always remember why I am doing this. I work passionately but I work to live. It’s not ideal if you miss out on the joys of your kids while establishing your business. So, striking a balance, although difficult, is essential. You have to schedule family time in the same way as you do work time. I have had to outsource a few of my mummy duties in the same way I’ve had to outsource aspects of my business. The upside is that my kids have grown up with my product. Even when they were very young, they were passionate about it. In a recent talk at school when Aimée was asked what she wanted to be when she was older, she proudly said “I want to run CoziGo when my mom is too old to do it!”
I worry that technology makes it very hard to switch off. My phone became my mobile office as soon as I stepped away from my desk. This often meant that I was not spending any quality time with the kids. One small way we are attempting to achieve balance is by limiting screen time. We’ve set some house rules for every family member to switch off and shut down. Our reliance on 24/7 technology is a grave concern to me. I’m trying to be proactive in beating this modern-day problem.
Q: What are the advantages of being a Mompreneur while raising children vs. working for an outside entity? Disadvantages?
A: There are definitely pros and cons to both. Due to my level of flexibility, my kids don’t do before and after school care. I’ve never missed a swim carnival, assembly, or Parents’ Day. I’m involved in literacy and math groups as well as volunteering for the school canteen. I’m very aware that my kids won’t always want me around as much as they do right now. I don’t want to blink and miss it all.
The disadvantages are really never being able to switch off. An entrepreneur’s job is never done and it’s not always possible to guarantee income. I really do like not having to answer to a boss though.
Q: What’s your shameless plug?
A: I’ll unashamedly plug my product–I’m sure almost all traveling mums of little ones would find it useful.
CoziGo (formerly Fly Babee), is the world’s first Multi-Purpose Sleep & Sun Cover for all strollers and prams that also covers airline bassinets to help a baby sleep when flying. This makes CoziGo an essential item for getting out and about every day with a baby and makes flying with a baby easier than ever before.
Interested in the best strollers for flying? Check out our roundup of some amazing strollers that will make your flight a breeze!
Worried about how to get your little one asleep once you land in a totally different time zone!? We have advice for you on that as well!
Trying to decide whether you should buy a seat for your infant? Check out our article on why you should!