What started out as a Facebook group of women who wanted to exercise has since evolved into an online platform filled with information about health and wellness that attracts 50,000 visits a month. Mummyfique speaks to the woman behind this successful online destination, mummy of one and Aussie expat Natalie Dau.
Mummyfique: How did Urban Remedy Asia come about?
Natalie Dau: I have always been involved in sport so it made sense that I was in that field. I am the fittest I’ve ever been now, so my job certainly has its perks too.
Urban Remedy Asia started out as an expat movement but quickly became unmanageable as a Facebook group, so we knew we had to build something to meet the demand. In fact, our readers are now about 90 per cent local and we grew purely by word of mouth.
Though Urban Remedy Asia is a one-stop source of information on fitness, nutrition, beauty and wellness, we’re essentially a content publisher providing information and choices for our readers: they decide what content to read and what events they want to know about. It’s crazy really as we have no public relations (PR) or sales people, and do very little networking. It’s been all about the partnerships and relationships, and tailoring the experience to what people want.
It is for everyone, regardless if you’re just starting out, or advanced in your wellness journey — we have tools and information for all levels. And budget isn’t an excuse either, as we have a dedicated free section on the website offering all sorts of amazing things at no cost.
What was it like in the early days of starting out?
Not much has changed to be honest, as when you start a business, it’s all hands on deck and you get involved in all tasks, no matter how big or small. It’s pretyty much still the same set-up, just that now I need to be more mindful of how I spend my time to get maximum benefit for the business. And we have an amazing team, which helps a lot.
When did you realise it was much bigger than a Facebook group?
It was when the private Facebook group started growing by the thousands and taking up about 16 hours a day that I decided that enough was enough. Running it as-is wasn’t sustainable so I had to either shut it down and get a job, or explore how to make it into a business and help more people.
Once we got the foundation right, things then moved very quickly from that point. Singapore is a great testing market for Asia but it’s not very big. Currently, our second-biggest readership is Indonesia so we’re now looking for other opportunities with our partners.
What’s been the secret to your staying power?
I think we have never lost sight of being genuine to our members. There just wasn’t anything else around at the time when we started. We offered something that wasn’t available anywhere else and we made the experience really personal.
What are your best tips for staying motivated in business?
The best thing is hearing about how someone has transformed their life through some sort of motivation they found on Urban Remedy. Engaging with your readers is the key, so you know what is working.
If you could start again, what would you do differently?
In a perfect world I would have all the functions I wanted on the website from day one, but this would have set us back another three months from launch date. I am a great believer in 80 per cent is good enough — just get started as it’s never going to be perfect.
How do you balance the demands of being a mum and an entrepreneur?
My motto is ‘quality not quantity’ when it comes to time. When I’m with my daughter I’m fully engaged and she gets 100 per cent of my attention. I usually work once she has gone to bed, so it’s about balancing and being smart with time. And I live what I preach: exercise is really important to me and it’s normal for my daughter to see mum and dad go for a run. I’ll put her on the bus in the morning and then go for a run and, if I have time, I’ll try to squeeze in another workout in the afternoon.
What is the best piece of advice for other mumpreneurs thinking about starting their own business?
Plan and budget. Don’t start anything without knowing all the costs involved, and how your business will scale. And be honest with yourself around what amount of time you really are prepared to spend on it. What seems like fun at the beginning can turn into hard work a month or so later.
Do you have any must-have accessory?
My Swell water bottle is my ‘can’t-live-without’ item. It goes everywhere with me. And I use the excuse of being in the wellness industry to dress a bit more casually for meetings, so I am usually wearing a pair of Reebok shoes so I’m ready to run.