When she tried – and failed – to buy a Silver Cross pram in Australia for her first baby, Sharnie Skene offered to work with the brand so Aussies could get their hands on the high-profile prams that are loved the world over.
Originally founded in the UK in 1877, Silver Cross prams have a reputation for high-quality craftsmanship. Often referred to as the “Rolls Royce of prams”, the royal family are big fans of the prestigious brand; King George VI famously sat in one when he was a baby, and Kate Middleton chose one for her children, too.
So how does a Melbourne mum end up being the distributor in Australia and New Zealand for this famous British product?
“When our first child was born in 2006, my husband Stuart and I were desperate for a Silver Cross heritage pram – but there weren’t any available in Australia,” explains Sharnie Skene. “I was working as a financial analyst and realised that the long hours weren’t going to be conducive to having a young family. So I pulled together a proposal and sent it to Silver Cross, asking to become their Australian and New Zealand distributor. It paid off, and my husband, a former boat-builder, and I set up a small team in 2007. Eleven years and four children later, we work with hundreds of retailers across the Trans-Tasman. The best bit is we can now spend quality time with our gorgeous kids, Aspen, Alastair, Clementine and Max, when we want to.”
Skene admits running a family business and being parents to four children requires some juggling. “It’s a finely balanced tightrope of work and family,” she says. “We’re up early to get them ready for school while I try to get through as many emails as I can. There’s quite a bit of travel involved in the job, so after the school drop-off I’ll either go straight in to meetings, trade shows or if I’m lucky in to our office or showroom in Braeside (Vic). Then it’s briefings with the teams, liaising with my retailers, exploring new product ranges, researching and learning about what parents want, need and think. At the end of the day I like to pick the kids up from school and spend some quality time with them. It’s so important to be present in those little moments – they grow up so fast. It’s busy, but the benefits of running a family business far outweigh the challenges.”
What's Important in a Pram
As a mum of four, Skene knows what’s important in a pram. “What sets us apart is our quality and finer details,” she says. “We have a huge shopping basket with our prams – and it’s durable. Our materials are all Scotchguarded three times to withstand weather conditions and our bassinets are bamboo lined with breathable anti-bacterial fabric - all these features make for one very happy baby!
Our prams come standard with a rain cover and cup holder – so people don’t need to purchase additional extras. Our strollers can also be used from newborn right up to 25kgs.” The Wave pram is their most popular product and is Skene’s favourite, too. “It takes you from baby number one to your second really easily – and has up to 16 different configurations,” she says.
A Cult Following
Silver Cross also make nursery furniture and bedding, teddy bears and traditional rag dolls, as well as hand-made doll prams that have a cult following. “Our heritage doll prams have been seen in the homes of royalty and rockstars – they’re a childhood heirloom that’s treasured forever,” says Skene. “They’re not just bought for children either; there are pram and vintage collectors from around the world who purchase our prams!”
As well as honouring the brand’s strong heritage, Skene believes it’s important to look forward and understand what parents want today. “This year we are bringing out several new prams, models and styles,” she says. “We know and understand what parents want - so watch this space!”
Shop the Silver Cross prams & nursery collection at The Myer Market...
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