What made you start your own business?
I started babye in 2004 after having my first baby in 2002 – like lots of mums, I decided that I didn’t want to go back to work full time. I had been a Creative Director in a kids marketing agency – I didn’t want to work part time for anyone else and decided to start my own business after finding that my local area had no baby gift shops. I wanted to create the type of shop I love – personal service with staff who care about their customers, beautiful products and nice surroundings.
What do you love about working for yourself?
I love the fact that I don’t have a boss, that I can set my own goals and that my business is family friendly. I love that babye has built up a strong identity and a high profile and that we have been recognised for our efforts through various awards. I also love the way I live my life not having to ask ‘what if’ – if it all goes terribly wrong and fails, then at least I gave it my best shot.
Is there anything you do not like about working for yourself?
Although I do employ staff, it can be lonely being an employer! You don’t have the infrastructure and support that you get working for a large company. You also don’t get sick pay or holiday pay! You have to be willing and ready to sort anything out yourself! My shop was recently looted and trashed in the Riots – this truly tested my resilience and having to sort everything out was an absolute nightmare and I had dark moments where I thought ‘ why on earth am I doing this?’
Is there anything you would go back and do differently if you could?
Where do I start! Yes there are lots of things I would do differently – choice of shop location, purchasing decisions eg buying too much of some products and not enough of others, not going with my instinct over some staff choices, the list is endless- I think when you run your own business, you experience a learning curve every day and you have to be comfortable making a decision and living with it.
What advice would you give to a Mum considering starting her own business?
You have to LOVE your business.
Don’t enter into it half-heartedly as you need to put in 100% effort.
Definitely do as much research as you can.
Take as much advice from your peers and think about joining a networking group – I have found particularly that ‘ladies only’ groups have been really supportive, providing both business support and friendships with likeminded women eg. Athena, LadiesAt11 and Motivating Mum