The lovely Tamsin from Tamsin’s Toys in on the blog this morning to tell you all about herself and her business and she also has a fab giveaway for you which can be found at the bottom of the post! Thanks for your time Tamsin x
Who are you?
I’m Tamsin Morris, I live in Cheadle which is in South Manchester/Cheshire. I have two little boys aged 2 and a half and 8 months.
What do you do? When did you establish your business? What made you start your own business?
I have recently founded my own business ‘Tamsin’s Toys’ selling a range of hand-sewn bandana bibs, comforters, bunting, quilts and scarves. I use vintage & repurposed fabrics, where possible, and mix these with statement and designer fabrics to create a look which is unique and stylish as well as environmentally aware. Just like you and your child!
I’m actually a Solicitor specialising in Medical Law but when I had my first son I was unable to work flexibly and was unwilling to go back to work full-time. I think this is a dilemma which a lot of highly-qualified professional women find themselves facing. A high-flying career is not always compatible with family life and, for me, my children had to come first. However, I still wanted to combine looking after my children full-time with something else which kept my brain active. I became a Governor in a local Primary School, which is a role I really enjoy but I wanted to do something creative as well.
I’d always been really interested in fashion and clothes and started sewing toys and clothes for my little boy and friend’s children. These attracted admiring comments from friends and relatives and soon I was being asked to make things for other people. Things just grew from there and in March this year I decided to try and make a proper business of my sewing.
Tamsin’s Toys is still very much in its infancy but I am really proud of what I have achieved in a short space of time. I have designed and set up my own website www.tamsinstoys.com, secured 4 retail stockists in the South Manchester area, attended craft fairs and baby events and am continually designing and creating new products. Everything is, at present, sewn by me and I love the creative energy and the satisfaction of seeing children wearing or enjoying something which I’ve made.
I think what sets Tamsin’s Toys products apart is that I use patterns and fabrics that are not always used in kid’s products – such as repurposed denim or funky colours (not just following the babies like garish colours mantra) as I think parents like their children to reflect their own personal style and, setting the current colour blocking trend aside, not many adults wear bright yellow, red, green etc at the same time! I think my products are stylish and contemporary yet bring traditional values of handcrafting and attention to detail that are not present in mass produced products. I am conscious that we are still in difficult economic times but I have found that parents are happy to buy something beautiful for their children which is supporting the local community and is not too damaging to the environment.
There is a real trend towards ‘make do and mend’ and all things crafty. My products re-use existing fabric and turn them into something new and durable. I create lovely memory quilts – using treasured baby clothes that have been outgrown and incorporating them into a quilt that the child can use and treasure as they grow (and make mummy forever go ‘ahhhhhhh, I remember when you were tiny and wore that’!)
I source a lot of my vintage fabrics from charity shops so when you buy a Tamsin’s Toys product you are also helping to support local charities.
What do you love about working for yourself?
I love working for myself and having the freedom to decide in which direction my business should head. After the world of corporate law firms it is certainly refreshing to be able to wear what I want to work and I feel that I can express my personality far better. Without a doubt, the best thing is that I can work primarily from home and fit my hours around my children. I sew when they’re napping and at the weekends and have one child-free day a week when they’re at nursery. My husband is also very supportive of my business and without that I don’t think I could do it. I also take my 8 month old along to meetings with stockists too. As they’re primarily baby boutiques they don’t mind him playing on the shop floor whilst we discuss business!
Is there anything you do not like about working for yourself?
In some ways I miss the (reasonably) regular hours of office life and also the office banter and lunchtime shopping and lunches. Haring up the stairs to sew for half an hour while my baby naps, still with his lunch in my hair, is a long way from the glamour of Chancery Lane! Of course, there have been financial implications of my leaving my career in law as well.
Is there anything you would go back and do differently if you could?
It’s still very early days but I’m happy with how everything has gone so far. I’ve always been someone who has a very positive outlook, so if an event or product hasn’t worked out quite how I expected I try to see what i can learn from it and move on.
What advice would you give to a Mum considering starting her own business?
My main piece of advice would be to utilise your contacts, be it friends or family. I have received donations of vintage fabric and clothes, my friends’ children did a modelling session for me, another friend proof-read my website, an accountant friend helped me with costings, a lawyer friend looked into relevant legislation for me. I am lucky to have such lovely friends and family – but I’ve found that people have enjoyed being involved and I’ve certainly needed their support and encouragement.
Also, plan your business thoroughly before launching it. I spent a while tweaking and refining products to be confident I could fulfil orders and ensure customer satisfaction before I started properly. That said, I’m constantly evolving the business and the products I offer!
Tamzin is offering one of my readers a fab prize consisting of a matching bib and comforter for your child. The bandana bibs (RRP £6.50) are super-cute as well as practical. Perfect for both babies and toddlers and boys or girls, one size fits all children up to the age of around 30 months (have you ever noticed how those chubby baby necks slim down as baby turns into a toddler?!). They are made in cotton and backed in super-soft anti-pil fleece and fasten with a press-stud. They have been designed to be comfortable for baby to wear and also easy for you to care for. All Tamsin’s Toys products and machine washable and designed to be quick drying. The Patchwork & Ribbon Comforter (RRP £11.50) is hand sewn, backed with fleece and surrounded by gorgeous ribbons. They are a super-stylish way to stimulate your child’s senses and to provide comforter. Using one of the ribbons they can be attached to the straps of your stroller so that baby can snuggle on the go. Remember, every Tamsin’s Toys product is unique and the winner will be contacted by Tamsin to discuss your requirements. Different colourways are available for boys and girls and Tamsin has a large range of designs in stock.
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