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The Little Lunch Box Co: A mum-powered bento box business

Whether it’s dealing with nasty social media comments or integrating a simple shipping solution, Chantal always taps into her Mum network for support.

With the help of Sendle and ShipStation, she can easily streamline her operations to serve her growing customer base. All from the comfort of her home.


The small biz quiz

*Note: ShipStation's Sendle integration is currently only available in Australia.


Name and location:

Chantal | Gold Coast, Queensland


What does your business do, in a nutshell?

We make colourful bento-style lunch boxes.


How long have you been operating? 

Just over 3 years!


How and why did you start Little Lunch Box Co? 

I became a Mum and was looking for something to do with time flexibility. I wanted to be around for my kids, pick them up from swimming, go to their concerts. I also quite liked the idea of working for myself. 

The Little Lunch Box Co

Photo courtesy: The Little Lunch Box Co

I discovered these compartment lunch boxes were selling out all over Australia, but they weren’t that easy to use and were annoying to clean. 

So I just decided to design one myself, and that’s how this little company got going.


How long did it take from designing your swish, new lunchbox to selling one?

About two years.

My accountant suggested I speak with some of the manufacturing companies on Alibaba. I would love to manufacture in Australia, but there’s no way we can be price competitive. 

So I found a guy in Brisbane who does technical drawings, and together we designed the right lunchbox.

If I had known the whole process would take two years, I probably wouldn’t have started this whole business! That time frame would have really turned me off. 

But I’m so glad I stuck with it.


Did you ever want to just throw in the towel?

Many times. But I’d already spent all this money, and I just couldn’t end up with nothing at the end. I had to make something!

The Little Lunch Box Co

Photo courtesy: The Little Lunch Box Co

The other thing is, I just had this feeling that once we made these lunch boxes people would buy them. These other awkward ones were just flying off the shelves, so I just had to stick with my gut that mine would too.


What was your business background?

I had absolutely none at all. 

I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve fallen in with some other Mums who run businesses and we all share ideas and help each other. 

One Mum has really mentored me and our brands support each other and cross-market. It’s blown me away how great this community is. Mums are so good at helping other Mums. 

This particular Mum is great with IT, and she’s the one that got me on to Sendle and ShipStation. 


And did Sendle and ShipStation make much of a difference? 

Oh, yes!

Learning to use Sendle and ShipStation was one of the most valuable tricks of the trade I’ve learned from other Mums.

The fact you guys integrate into my online store and can mass produce all my labels instantly saves me so much time and effort. 

The Little Lunch Box Co

The Little Lunch Box Co The Little Lunch Box Co

Before that, I was manually typing out each and every label, which meant more business equalled a lot more work. My busiest period is between December and February, when everyone is getting ready to go back to school. 

Before Sendle and ShipStation, I was so nervous about how I was going to keep up with all the orders and get them sent. I was already staying up hours after my kids went to bed to pack and prepare my orders.

My plan was to employ someone throughout that period because I was only just managing during the down season. I had no idea how it would work when it was super busy!

After I set up with Sendle and ShipStation and saw how refreshing the process and the dispatch was, I was so happy I didn’t have to hire somebody. Probably not great for the economy, but great for my overheads!


Streamline with Sendle + ShipStation*

*ShipStation’s Sendle integration is currently only available in Australia


Sounds like a relief! What’s one thing you just wish would go away?

There’s not too much, I’m really enjoying myself. But I could definitely do without the negativity on social media. 

Instagram has never been a real problem, but Facebook attracts people who are really quick to be mean and rude. 

If something’s broken or faulty, some people will post a picture straight away and begin broadcasting how dissatisfied they are. They don’t even try to contact you and give you a chance to help.

That can really ruin your day, and it’s hard not to take it personally. 

If people have bought my product from another stockist, they often assume I’m a big corporation. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain that I'm a Mum, who works from her house. 

The Little Lunch Box Co

Photo courtesy: The Little Lunch Box Co

And that person you’ve been arguing with on social media? That’s another Mum, working from her home! And even that stockist where you bought the lunchbox? That’s run by another Mum.

That’s one of the struggles of trying to keep your personal life away from your brand. I don’t always want to let people into my life and tell them about it. But it’s something that’s cropping up more and more.

I guess that’s why I’m chatting with you! Seeing what it’s like to let my personality out there.


Well, thank you for the exclusive!

I’m coming out from behind the lunchbox!


What’s the plan now, how much bigger do you want to grow? 

I hope to grow a bit more this year. But I really don’t want to turn into a corporation or anything like that. I always think about why I started this business, so I could have flexibility and time with my kids. 


Sendle + ShipStation

For our Australian Sendlers, get your ShipStation Starter account for free!



And lastly, what advice would you give someone wanting to start their own small business?

Really believe in your product and that you have something unique with a point of difference. It doesn’t have to be something nobody’s ever seen before, but there are going to be many ups and downs, so that belief keeps you going.

Also, working for yourself can be a bit lonely. So make sure you check in with your friends or become part of a community!


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