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Pilanky: How a single mom made $1.1 million from her side hustle

A single mom’s idea for an all-in-one children’s travel cot led to a business that generated over $1.1 million.

Johanna Constable, from Tweed Coast in New South Wales, started Pilanky in March 2009 after listening to parents’ needs while selling handmade products at local monthly markets.

The folding bed is the “flagship product” of the brand and includes a comfortable mattress, a pillow, a detachable double-wide sheet and a blanket.

From humble beginnings, the 50-year-old earned just $5,000 in her first year and now the brand brings in over $200,000 a year.

Single mother Johanna Constable, from Tweed Coast in New South Wales, (pictured) launched Pilanky in March 2009 after listening to parents’ needs while selling handmade goods at local monthly markets

The folding bed is the

The folding bed is the “flagship product” of the brand and includes a comfortable mattress, a pillow, a removable double-wide sheet and a blanket (photo).

The brand also sells a portable diaper bag (pictured), which includes a waterproof liner, two hand towels and washers, Paw Paw ointment, baby wipes and disposable diaper bags.

The brand also sells a portable diaper bag (pictured), which includes a waterproof liner, two hand towels and washers, Paw Paw ointment, baby wipes and disposable diaper bags.

“I thought it would be great to have an all-in-one bed with a detachable sheet and machine washable cover to make it easier for parents to carry everything around,” Johanna told Daily Mail Australia.

Before taking the plunge, Johanna knew she wanted to avoid returning to her corporate job and support her daughter, Rosana.

“More than anything, I wanted to spend quality time with my daughter and keep a roof over our heads. I also loved to sew,” Johanna said and quickly started working on creating the product.

Being a non-working single mother, she relied on Centrelink payments and said the start was a ‘struggle’.

She bought fabric from Spotlight and only invested a few hundred dollars to start the business because that was all she could afford.

Before launching the brand, Johanna knew she wanted to avoid returning to her corporate job and support her daughter, Rosana (pictured together)

Before launching the brand, Johanna knew she wanted to avoid returning to her corporate job and support her daughter, Rosana (pictured together)

The busy mother made the practical blankets while her daughter slept and sold the products at the monthly markets.

“It was a struggle at first and I had to live extremely frugally,” she said, adding, “It’s been a long and hard road.”

The first year she only made $5,000 as the markets were infrequent, but the second year she made $15,000 and by 2012 she was making $50,000 a year after moving to the Gold Coast.

“I was selling in the markets three times a week versus once a month,” she said.

In 2017, she launched a TV ad to show exactly what the product is and how it works, which raised $150,000.

She has since been selling the products exclusively online and word has spread.

“I’m a pretty positive person, so I never thought about giving up,” she said.

In 2017 she launched a TV ad to show exactly what the product is and how it works and made $150,000 (pictured, her daughter on one of the beds)

In 2017 she launched a TV ad to show exactly what the product is and how it works and made $150,000 (pictured, her daughter on one of the beds)

“More than anything, I wanted to spend quality time with my daughter and keep a roof over our heads.  I also liked to sew,' Johanna (pictured) said

“More than anything, I wanted to spend quality time with my daughter and keep a roof over our heads. I also liked to sew,’ Johanna (pictured) said

Today, Johanna continues to make the products by hand using her beloved sewing machine with the help of two part-time women who help prepare the fabric.

“I work 12 hours a day, 80 hours a week, but I love what I do and I can structure my days around my daughter,” she said.

Johanna has expanded the product line and now manufactures Miniature Pilanky Blankets, Pet Pilanky Blankets and more.

In 2019, the brand won silver at the AusMumpreneur regional awards and was a gold runner-up in 2020.

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