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In good company! Three mums up for Local Business Awards

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Michie Haley and her son, Sam
Michie Haley and her son, Sam

We’re delighted that North Shore Mums is a finalist in the Local Business Awards for Specialised Business, but we’re not alone! We decided to take this opportunity to introduce you to some amazing local mums running their own businesses, who are also in the running for a prize. Meet the next three nominees we are profiling for the awards! 


Michie Haley from Xchange Air (Lane Cove)

Michie Haley and her son, Sam

Michie Haley and her son, Sam

Why did you start the business? My husband started the business in 2003 (and has been in the industry for 20 years). I joined in 2010 when my son was 18 months old (my children are now 5 and 7 years old). I joined the business because when I became a mum I realised the importance of homes being healthy – living in a home that is damp, has mould, musty smells or is wet from condensation is something no one should be living in, especially someone with little babies and children.

What’s been your biggest challenge? Working as a husband and wife team! Once we clearly split out our two roles it really helped. Also learning to switch off from the business in the evening (still working on this one though!)

What do you love about running your business? I love that it gives me a huge amount of flexibility. I can still take my kids to school every day and pick them up after school. I can also work from home or go into the office so I love that flexibility. I am also as passionate as my husband about families living in homes that are free from damp, mould, musty smells and condensation! It’s very unhealthy to live in a home with these things!

How do you balance work and family? I work part time. I “try” to turn off in the evenings and focus on family only. I always drop off my kids at school and pick them up. I hired a very competent Office Manager (a divine mum who I found through North Shore Mums!) to help run the office and I have 18 years experience in Recruitment and HR so I make sure all hires in the business fit our culture.

What advice do you have for any mums thinking about starting their own business? Just do it! Go for it! If you believe in your product and are passionate then you have nothing to lose! Always hire like-minded people who are honest, loyal and passionate about your business.

Why does your company deserve to win at the Local Business Awards? Because we are a small specialist family business who really believe in working hard to achieve our goals, hiring fantastic staff, rewarding staff with a great culture to work in, caring about our clients, being passionate about what we do and providing top quality and service at all times.

Website: XChange Air


Candice Arnold, Footloose Performance Studios (Turramurra, South Turramurra & Berowra)

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Candice Arnold from Footloose Studios

Why did you start the business? As a child I participated in many activities, but it was dance I loved the most. At 16 I became a student dance teacher, and I loved seeing the joy on the student’s faces as I taught them. I knew then that my ultimate dream was to run my own studio so I could inspire younger generations through my passion and love for dance. In 2010, after two years studying performing arts, I opened my own studio.

What’s been your biggest challenge? My biggest challenge is delegation. I love every part of the business from teaching, talking to parents, managing the finances, writing newsletters, organising events, the list goes on and letting go of even a small part of the business for someone else to manage I find very challenging. I’m a perfectionist and I want to do everything myself but I am learning that this is not physically possible.

What do you love about running your business? I love giving our students confidence and enriching their lives through dance. It is rewarding to see them grow both as dancers and as young individuals. Seeing the happy and excited faces of students, especially those who started dance with little confidence, perform on stage for their friends and family fills me with pride. I have also met so many wonderful and amazing people doing what I love.

How do you balance work and family? I’ll admit it can be really difficult. Over the past few years not only has my business grown, which has required more commitment, but I now have two beautiful children who also require and deserve my attention. At times I feel like my work / family balance is challenged but I am working hard so neither suffers and I make sure I take time out to focus on my little ones and limit weekend work.

What advice do you have for any mums thinking about starting their own business? Make sure you have a great support network, either in your friends or your family. Starting your own business is not easy. It is emotionally, mentally and financially exhausting and it’s so important to have people around you who believe in you and what you are doing and who support and encourage you during those tough times.

Why does your company deserve to win at the Local Business Awards? At Footloose we value community and we are dedicated to providing our students and their families with an inspiring, encouraging and positive dance experience that they will remember for years to come. Regardless of the result, I am extremely proud and honoured that our small studio has been recognised in the local community and nominated as a finalist for these awards. 

Website:  Footloose Studios


Michelle Desmarchelier from TravelManagers Australia (Berowra)

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Michelle Desmarchelier

Why did you start the business? I had been considering joining TravelManagers for a number of years, but the crossroads came in late 2014 after we nearly lost our daughter and my then-boss called me constantly whilst we were in ICU asking when I was coming back to work. At that time I knew what I needed to do. I love working in travel but I also needed to be more available for my family and I have not looked back since I launched. I now have two children, nine-year-old Jack and seven-year-old Erin.

What’s been your biggest challenge? My biggest challenge was walking away from a guaranteed income and but having ZERO clients to start with. Trying to market myself with a limited budget, I had to come up with unique ways of getting my name and the TravelManagers brand to the forefront of people’s minds as their first choice when it came to booking holidays. I have had huge community support and now have many repeat and referred clients.

What do you love about running your business? I love working with my clients to tailor the perfect holiday for them! I am 100% mobile, so I am able to meet with them at home, in cafes or even local parks to talk through their plans. Being my own boss means I’m flexible and can make appointments after-hours to fit in with the needs of other working parents.

How do you balance work and family? I thrive on routine, so each morning I put the kids on the school bus, walk the dog and use that time to plan my day. I am very strict with my working hours and when the kids walk through the gate each afternoon that’s the end of my working day and then I put my ‘mum hat’ on for the various after-school activities. Once the kids are in bed, then I catch up on emails and phone calls.

What advice do you have for any mums thinking about starting their own business? Hold on tight and don’t try to do too much too soon. Be kind to yourself! If you’re working alone like I am, make time to network with likeminded people. Have a plan, but also be flexible. Enjoy the ride and learn something new each day.

Why does your company deserve to win at the Local Business Awards? I pride myself on being truly local, I live and work locally and also support many other local businesses in my community. I genuinely care about my clients and will go the extra mile to ensure their holiday has been 100% tailored for their specific needs rather than selling from a brochure. I manage the booking process from start to finish and am available 24/7 whilst they are travelling.

Website: TravelManagers


The winners will be announced at the prestigious Local Business Awards Gala Presentation Evening attended by local business people, sponsors and dignitaries on Wednesday 9 November. We’ll be sure to keep you updated! 

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