Lightening the mental load
Beautifully-crafted, magnetic, timber visual aids that help kids learn and complete their routines and responsibilities without the need for parental nagging.
The Best Part
“Success is the balance between work and home. Success looks like my two girls knowing they can do anything.”
“Because my product comes in a pretty box and the website looks nice and the social media looks very curated, people think there’s this big team over here. It’s just me doing everything.”
“I’ve always had this niggling feeling that I wanted to start something on my own.”
Megan Pollock had a problem faced by thousands of parents worldwide.
Why was every morning spent nagging her three-year-old to get ready as she raced around the house preparing for her own corporate marketing job?
“Brush your hair!” “Do your teeth!” It felt as though her daughter needed to be told 100 times a day to do the same things. Perhaps a list would help her daughter keep on track, she thought.
“I just went on the computer and made little laminated pictures that my daughter needed to do and we had them on a chart,” Pollock says. “I used that concept for years with her and because she couldn’t read, I had the pictures on there and she just knew what to do and it was just so much easier.
“It was a good way for her to build independence and transfer some of that mental load as a parent.”
It wasn’t until later – when Pollock had signed up to a startup course and was casting around for an entrepreneurial idea – that her husband suggested she monetise one of her parental ‘life hacks’. “I just went full steam ahead. That’s when the passion really lit up and I just loved it,” she said.
Pollock laments the frequently “ugly and overwhelming” resources designed for children and parents and so she designs all of her products from her Brisbane office. They are beautifully crafted in timber, with magnets subtly and safely hidden inside. That allows each task to be flipped over once completed to reveal a ‘good-work’ star.
But it isn’t just stylish parents who snap up her products, and the former marketing professional was initially surprised to discover how her products were being embraced by the neurodiverse community.
Pollock had noticed many of her customers were requesting tax invoices, which she found strange. But then one told her it was for their NDIS plan manager.
“I realised the huge reliance the NDIS community have on visual aids and how much it helps children and adults with all of those daily routines. So that has been an area I stumbled into that I didn’t expect, or even have any knowledge about, to be honest,” she says. Now one of her biggest stockists is a sensory and additional needs supplier.
After more than two years of successfully growing Second Scout, disaster was as sudden as it was devastating in January 2023.
“Overnight, and without warning, I lost my factory,” Pollock says. “They’d been in business for 25 years and worked with some big toy brands. They said it was an irrecoverable financial position post Covid-19.”
Unable to get another order in, Pollock had, in effect, lost her business overnight and her hopes to capitalise on the US back-to-school market after having launched there.
What followed were dark times as she spent nine months searching for a new factory. There were five failed attempts as prototypes continued to come back with problems.
“I’m pretty resilient, and I’m pretty determined, and I kind of just push through, but it broke me,” she says. “It was the hardest thing, just going backwards financially. I had the space that I’m renting, I still had to pay insurance, phone bills, I still had to keep the lights on but I had no product to sell.”
She remembers sitting at her desk and drawing up a to-do list. It was a list of the things that needed to be done to close up the business.
But as Pollock put pen to paper, an email came through. It was from a customer who said she’d been meaning to write for a while. Her child was non-verbal, she wrote, and the Second Scout products she’d purchased were allowing her child to communicate. She wanted to reach out and thank Pollock for the difference her products had made.
“It was so heartwarming,” Pollock says. “And then literally 10 minutes later my phone rang and it was Australia Post and they said that I’d won their Local Business Heroes award and I just thought to myself – I’ve got to give it one more shot. As crazy as it sounds, I thought if that’s not a sign that I’ve got to keep going … so I tried again with one more factory and they were the one.”
Through the hard times, including having her product ripped off, Pollock says the support of her online community has been uplifting and motivating.
But she says she’s also learned from the tough year that was 2023. “It forced me to look at myself,” she says. “I have never been that burnt out and that unwell. I thought I worked hard when the business was running but when the business was slipping through my fingers, I worked day and night to save it to the detriment of myself and the detriment of my family.”
Eventually, she learned to put things into perspective. “Hitting rock bottom and having no business and looking around, I realised what I did have and how my priorities perhaps needed to be adjusted.”
Pollock says growing a business is like parenting a child: It’s rewarding, it’s challenging, it’s nourishing, but it’s downright hard, so “just be prepared”.