If you have ever travelled with babies and young children, you will know all of the difficulties you can face in dealing with prams, car seats, cots and all the paraphernalia that goes along with it! It can also be hard to know what is on offer locally for babysitting, activities, medical help and more. Eva Wintersberger, founder of Tree Hut Village, is on a mission to make travelling with kids more enjoyable and less wasteful by making it possible for you to:
– Rent equipment from local parents
– Connect with local parents for advice
– Re-home used prams (selling 2nd hand)
– Discourage use of “throw away” baby equipment like $20 strollers
– Try before you buy to reduce “one time use” waste
Based in Melbourne, Tree Hut Village operates Australia-wide and have recently also launched in New Zealand. Eva says they are an online peer to peer marketplace where parents can list their baby equipment and others can rent this from them.
Eva grew up in Austria, where sustainability and an eco-friendly way of living is the norm. Now living in Australia, she has always admired the entrepreneurial mind of Australians, and how everyone would encourage you to “give it a go”. “My husband was of the same mindset (being a Kiwi). He is the financial brain of the company and makes sure that we spend our budgets appropriately! We both feel very strongly about creating something that is solving a problem and a win-win for all parties,” says Eva.
Initially the idea for the business was sparked when the couple had family visit from overseas.
“Because we didn’t have children and we didn’t know anyone who did, we had nowhere where we could just rent a car seat or a pram for a few weeks – no rental places were close to us,” explains Eva. Once the couple did have their first baby, they travelled to the Whitsundays, and thought again that travelling with babies should be easier, and not reliant on buying “throw-away” equipment. “We wanted to connect with a local parent who would share their insider tips, and who we could also give a few dollars to for their trouble,” says Eva and the idea for starting Tree Hut Village became reality.
Eva says that as soon as they got their first bookings, she was in love with the business straight away. “I knew I needed to tell people about it, but with limited funds I wasn’t sure how I could do that. There’s so many upsides to it: you connect with other parents, which is my favourite aspect of it, as I love a good chat! It means you can get on with enjoying your trip with your family, which is such an important part of building memories and family time together.”
Then there’s so many other points:
- you get more use out of your baby equipment;
- fewer items go to landfills;
- you get to test what you want to purchase prior to committing;
- other parents get some money for it; and
- often get to make the purchase price back with little effort.
Eva believes that we owe it to ourselves and our families to make sustainability part of our lives. “It’s not optional anymore. We caused many problems and it’s our obligation to solve some of them. I think the Zeigeist generally goes into the right direction and I admire everyone who is being part of it.”
If you want to be more sustainable at home, Eva suggests you start small. For example she has started making simple changes like replacing toothbrushes with bamboo ones, and plastic straws with metal ones. “We try to not accumulate things anymore (this “minimalist” sentiment has probably come from me travelling and moving a lot),” she explains. Renting items when you don’t want to use them for a long time is a great idea. However, if it’s more permanent, researching the sustainability factor of products is really so important. “I would want to rest assured that my home is a safe place,” she says.
In terms of running a business for yourself, Eva advises that in the beginning everything is such a steep learning curve. “Even just the set-up of it all and finding the right people to work with. Developers, designers, lawyers, accountants etc – and then the need for a mentor who can support you with your decision making. I think that’s the biggest challenge: to push through when things are not going exactly as you’d like them to go. Tenacity is what makes a business I believe.”
The fact that her customers enjoy using Tree House Village so much is a good indication that her business skills are on track. The positive aspects are that it is simple to use, it’s online and they are adding a delivery option very soon too. One reviewer says “Tree hut village is the best invention ever!! What a great idea Eva. The perfect way to borrow equipment, whether it be for travel or other short use rather then forking out hundreds of dollars on equipment you may only need for a week or two!’
Eva is very proud of their new website design which you can visit here and check out the fantastic options on offer – such a clever business idea!
Would you hire baby equipment on your next trip?