Here's the short version of my story...
Mothers of Enterprise is my 4th business venture, and the one I'm most excited about.
In the last 11 years I've created 3 successful businesses, 1 service based, 1 online physical product based and 1 Amazon (private labelling) product business.
I'm married to that good looking man you can see in the photo and I have two spectacular little girls, Belle and Delilah. They inspire and motivate (and exhaust!) me every day, and I love motherhood more than I knew possible.
I'm overwhelmingly passionate about business and the opportunities it has the ability to create when done successfully.
My mission is to help and support mothers in their journey building their own business to create the life they desire and deserve.
If you really want my whole story and how Mothers of Enterprise came about, my full story, and I mean FULL story is below...
Ok, if you’re reading this then you must really want to know about the ins and outs of why and how Mother of Enterprises has come about.
So get comfy, get a tasty beverage and sit tight…
Before we begin, I was told by the ‘experts’ to write this in the third person, as really all the super important people of the world have 'other' people doing their write ups.. but not me, at least not yet. So I’m not going to write about myself in the third person, I find it slightly weird and unnerving… so here’s a little about me and my business history, as written by me.
I was the tender age of 19 when I started my very first ‘official’ business (apparently I can’t include selling homemade scrunchies in the playground at school a REAL business). Anyway, that first business was called Prime Body Fitness, and as you can probably guess by the name, it was all about fitness. I was (technically still am) a Personal Trainer.
I spent 60 hours a week in gyms with clients and teaching all matter of weird and wonderful exercise classes… yes I was one of those annoying instructors with the mic that shouted way too loudly and was much too enthusiastic about exercise.
The business grew quickly and soon I was able to charge some pretty decent hourly fees and I had a really good client base all around Oxfordshire.
Not long into the business I met my future husband who just happened to be a Physiotherapist (coincidence.. I think not!). We decided to ‘upgrade’ the business to make it all about fitness, rehabilitation and of course Physio. The business continued to grow and we were able to start employing a team of Personal Trainers and Physio’s.
A year later that dashing Physiotherapist became my husband. Then things took an unexpected turn… an opportunity presented itself for my lovely husband to join the Royal Air Force. Although it wasn’t exactly a part of our life plan at the time, it was a decision we both felt was right for us and his career (I'm not going to lie it took me a while to come around to this decision! I was an Air Force kid growing up in South Africa and I NEVER expected to be an Air Force wife!).
Thankfully as we already had a team in place for the business, they took over all the clients and we were free to move to our first official posting in Portsmouth.
I was able to sit back and relax for a few months, running the business remotely and leaving my lovely team to look after our clients. As much as I enjoyed the good life for a while, not working and not having any challenges to get stuck into left me bored and unfulfilled.
Knowing all our postings were only going to be 2 years or less, starting a whole new business seemed slightly pointless… but seeing as I had literally NOTHING else to do, I did it anyway. Within a couple of weeks I had a few regular weekly clients, and a gym I was renting space in asked me to head up their Personal Training team.
All was going well, I was working the hours I wanted and the business in Oxford was ticking along nicely. Which apparently for me wasn’t exciting enough, so we decided it was time to start trying for our first baby!
Thankfully not too long afterwards I was pregnant… and not too long after that my hubby returned home to tell me that we were unexpectedly moving to the south of Wales with 8 weeks notice!
So our posting in Portsmouth was cut drastically short and off we went to Wales. As the business in Portsmouth was just a few months in, I didn’t feel I wanted the hassle of running 2 businesses remotely, so I waved good bye to my clients and team and focused again only on the Oxford business.
A few months later our beautiful daughter Annabelle (AKA Belle) arrived. Thankfully I had systems in place for Prime Body Fitness, so during those first few months after her birth I was able to just focus on her and not worry too much about the daily running on the business.
Once both Belle and I had settled into our new lives together, I realised I really missed business. I missed the excitement of it, the challenges, the wins, the people and the sense of accomplishment it gave me.
Now that my little Belle was here, I knew that I wasn’t interested in starting another PT business. I wanted to be at home with her all day everyday, not worrying about childcare and how to work her feeding schedule around clients. I wanted a product, a real physical product that could allow me the luxury of being a stay at home mum that’s still earning.
I spent a while wracking my brain for possible ideas and inventions that I could make my new business about. Then through what I can only call divine intervention I saw it… chewable jewellery. I didn’t realise at the time that teething jewellery was a huge market in the USA and Australia (to be honest I didn’t even know that teething jewellery was a thing!), and it hadn’t really made it’s way to the UK yet.
Instantly I knew this was it. I was going to create stylish teething jewellery that women (regardless of their mothering status) would love to wear. Then the bang on the head came with the big question, “but hang on… how on earth do you start creating a product you have no experience with in an industry you’ve never worked in before?!”.
I knew all there was to know regarding the fitness industry and running a service based business. But where on earth do people source physical products from? How do you find the factories? Not to mention how expensive e-commerce websites are… plus it’ll need branding, product photography, safety testing, some pretty decent insurance considering the product is destined for babies mouths… I’d need packaging, labelling, packing slips, social media, lifestyle photography… and so my list grew and grew and grew.
I guess this is the point that many logical people scrap the idea and move onto the next. But I knew in my heart (yes I know that sounds cheesy) that this was my business, this was my BIG idea!
I began my journey of figuring all of that out. Once again through pure divine intervention, I made contact with a silicone factory that were able to do exactly what I was after. They required some significant sweet talking, but thankfully they agreed to drastically reduce their minimum quantity order, and allowed me to place my first little sample order.
I’ve always loved design (of any kind) and was determined to do the branding myself. So I did… thanks to many YouTube tutorials on how to use various design software (that I had on free trials) and I learnt lots of sneaky ways you can create things with good old Pages (Mac’s version of Word).
I learnt to take and edit product photos, all the lifestyle photos in the beginning were selfies of Belle and I (though well edited so it wasn’t obvious!) and the rest I just figured out through lots and lots and lots of trial and error.
It took me just short of 3 months to design and build the website myself, and by July 2014 I was ready to launch, Mama + Belle® was ready to meet the world (the business that is, the actual people were happy chilling at home).
Thinking back I did the launch ALL wrong, but I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and was pretty much making it all up as I went along.
Despite my less than perfect text book launch, a few minutes after pressing the ‘go live’ button, I had my first sale. I HAD JUST MADE MONEY AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO LEAVE MY COMFY SOFA! I remember the feeling like it was yesterday, I was so excited and so motivated to grow my brand new little business.
Just 4 days after launching I had retailers getting in touch wanting to stock Mama + Belle… I remember reading their emails and their questions and feeling like it was a different language! They wanted my wholesale price list, MOQ’s, units per carton, carriage info etc etc. Now if you’re a seasoned professional in the retail industry those terms are every day common sense, but for me I HAD NO IDEA what I needed to do. Once again, thanks to good old Google and some good friends, I translated their emails, put together the info and voila.. Mama + Belle Wholesale division was born.
Mama + Belle continued to grow (as did baby Belle!) and things got busier and busier. Being in Wales and away from all family and friends didn’t make things any easier as I had no support structure.
I soon realised that if I was going to keep up with Mama + Belle, that something would have to go. Seeing as the baby wasn’t planning on changing her own nappies, and Mama + Belle had no signs of slowing down, my good old faithful Prime Body Fitness had run it’s course with me. So I said adieu to that business that had been with me for 8 years and focused all my energy on Mama + Belle.
Over the next 1.5 years the business grew, our products developed, and we had baby daughter no.2, our sweet Delilah and of course another house move.
When Delilah arrived, I took my foot off the peddle slightly with the business so I could enjoy her without stressing about orders and stock etc.
Though when she was around 8 months old, I realised it was time to get back in the saddle.
I decided to rebrand Mama + Belle (I had changed and learnt a lot since starting out and the business had evolved too, so it was time for a change), a new website and new updated style of products. In September 2016 Mama + Belle 2.0 was launched (it wasn’t actually called 2.0!)… and what a successful reception it had!
At the end of that year Delilah and I had come to the end of our feeding journey together. Which for me was a total of 3.5 years of constantly feeding a small person! I loved every second of it, but the time was right for both of us and I was free to wear dresses with no secret boob compartments and decent bras again! This also meant I was able to leave the house sans children for the first time since starting Mama + Belle… I was now finally able to attend my first trade show!
So in January 2017, I attended Bubble London. I had the tiniest of stands, but I poured my heart and soul into making it look great, and with insane nerves the husband and I went off to London for the weekend… which was also my first night away from my babies (😭).
To say the show was a huge success would be an understatement. Not least because I was approached by the John Lewis buying team who decided they wanted to stock Mama + Belle in their stores and online! I was advised not to get my hopes up as they almost never take on brand new product concepts so it most likely won’t happen. Thankfully the neigh-sayers were all wrong, and in July 2017 my products were available for sale in John Lewis and have been ever since. Just typing that out even now fills me with off the charts excitement and unbelievable gratitude for that opportunity.
Despite the world of teething jewellery being VERY well established now in the UK, with HUNDREDS of businesses and more popping up daily, Mama + Belle has remained on course and continues to grow. For that I can’t express enough how thankful I am for the business, my customers, the retailers that sell my products, the friends (virtual and real!) that support the business and the good Mama + Belle has been able to do through our monthly 10% of profits donations to charity (we currently support Stella's Voice in Moldova).
Since launching Mama + Belle I’ve dabbled in private labelling products for sale exclusively on Amazon. This has been a very random selection of products from cake piping nozzles to phone cases. Each product I branded myself, created a website and social media accounts, wrote the sales copy and conquered the advertising.
All have been successful and while it was a lot of fun selling products that I didn’t need to carry the stock for, or deal with the customer service side of things, I personally didn’t find this a very fulfilling way to make money. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a business of this nature at all. There’s a lot of people making A LOT of money from doing this, but it just wasn’t for me.
Over the last few years, I’ve been receiving emails, messages and phone calls from mums that resonate with my story and need some guidance on how to set up a business of their own. I try and reply when I can, but running a busy business, a household and keeping up with 2 kiddies means my time is extremely limited.
Though this made me realise a passion and mission I had in me that I wasn’t aware of before. My business has allowed me the privilege of being a full time stay at home mum, and I know of SO many others mums who would love to do the same but their finances simply don’t allow them to.
That’s when I realised that I want to start a mission that was about empowering and educating mothers with the tools they need to start their own business, or level up their existing business to help them achieve the lifestyle they and their families deserve. Now don't get me wrong, I certainly don't consider myself some all knowing business godness, far from it. I've got a lot to learn, and one of the joys of business, especially online business, is that it's constantly changing and evolving, so I'll be learning and improving for life. But I know I can and want to teach those who are a few steps behind me on their business journey and learn from those who are a few steps ahead. I know that my overwhelming passion and drive for business and all it has to offer will spur me on in creating this business, (through my own knowledge and the amazingly successful ladies who will feature on MOE) into a thriving information and inspirational hub for mothers in business.
So that's how I made my way here, to Mothers of Enterprise®. I'm so excited and hopeful for what this business is going to bring to the world. What it's going to help amazing mothers, just like you achieve. I hope it's going to help bring families back together and allow mums one of the ultimate joys of being at home to raise their children.
If you read this far, wow, thank you. Thank you for taking such an interest in how this business has come about, and thank you for reading my story. I hope, in some way it helps to show that success can be achieved even when you're starting from ground zero with no experience. I hope it provides hope that things can turn around in an instant, and that with some hard work and determination, you can achieve your dreams (yes, I know that also sounds cheesy, but it's true ya'll!).
I hope this is just the beginning of our relationship and we'd love to stay in touch with you and learn more about you. The best way to for us do to that is to join the Mothers of Enterprise Society emails, which you can do so right here.
I truly believe everyone has a gift/ passion/ purpose that only they can bring to this world, and the world needs more goodness. If I can be apart of helping even just one person bring that out to the world, then I'd count myself and this business a success.
P.S. Since launching MoE, I've had the huge honour making it to the final of the Women in Business Awards for 'Start Up of the Year' for MoE, followed by winning the 'Military Partner in Business' award by Heropreneurs, and got the surprise of my life when the BBC called asking for an interview when I was announced as a finalist for the Soldiering On Awards 'Business of the Year'... it's been a pretty spectacular few months!