Please tell us a bit about the nature of your business...
We sell thoughtful gift packages, for new mums, get well, bereavement, birthdays and any occasion when someone deserves some TLC in the post. All of our packages have options and add ons so they can be tailored to make them perfect for the recipient, and they are beautifully get wrapped with a handwritten tag.
What inspired you to start your business?
When I had my first baby eight years ago, I received eight beautiful bouquets. They were well-meant but I was exhausted and overwhelmed and it struck me as bizarre that at a time when I was doing more caring than I'd ever done in my life, I was being given another thing to care for. From that point, if a friend had a baby I'd send something that was for them and let them know it was going to be ok, and they were always so grateful that it seemed odd no-one was doing something like this. The core idea was something that offered TLC, and encouraged the recipient to take ten minutes for themselves. We started as gifts for new mums and since then have evolved to cover every and any occasion, but the core idea remains the same - that it's all about the recipient.
What was the most challenging aspect of building your business in the beginning?
I think just getting started. Starting a business is huge - the list of things to 'do' before you can start, from working out couriers and packaging to getting an alcohol licence to ordering products, building a website, and all this before you even find your customers - it all felt massive. I wrote lists and tried to stay focused on one thing at a time. It was the only way to feel like I was moving towards launching without feeling in a frenzy of overwhelm.
If you were to launch your business again, would you do anything differently?
Do you know, I don't think I would. We started the business from home and I did everything myself, right through from ordering products and packing to marketing, which was hard work but meant the overheads were low and also I knew the business inside out. We now have a team and everyone has more defined roles, but I needed to prove the concept and bring some money in before I could invest in more people.
What keeps you motivated?
The feedback we get is motivating - often it's emotional because our packages are all around offering thoughtfulness. When someone knows that someone is thinking of them - whether they've just had a baby or they're having a shitty week - they know they're loved. It's a massive privilege to be a part of those exchanges of care every day, and it is motivating for us because it's where the core idea came from and how we wanted people to feel. It also hugely helps that we've doubled year on year since launch. That growth really drives me on as it means we're getting it right, and also that we can try new things and involve more people, which is exciting.
How do you balance work and family life?
Ha! Well, I'm a bit better at it than I used to be. Sometimes I strike the balance and sometimes I don't, and I'm more accepting of that. Those first two years were particularly hard because I ran the business from home so couldn't escape it. Packages were still leaving us at the weekend, plus the physicality of having it in the house was tricky with two small children. I also didn't have anyone I could pass work on to at that point. BUT we survived it and now we have a warehouse and a team so operationally, the business runs without me, which was crucial when I had another baby last year. At the moment I'm trying to fit work in to three days when everyone is in school and childcare and that's challenging, which can mean work creeps in to nap times, weekends and evenings, but I'm not willing to put Frank in nursery for more days at the moment so it's a choice, which I know I am lucky to have. Running a business also gives me flexibility to be at drop offs and school plays without having to ask anyone's permission. I've never worked harder in my life than running a business, but it is on my terms. I think the important thing is to remember that you are in charge. I'm never going to be 'done' as there is always more to do when you're running a business, so you have to be able to stop and say 'enough'.
What’s your proudest business moment?
I think when we moved the business to a warehouse in Gloucestershire in 2016. That was a huge change and has allowed us to grow and become 'proper'. Building a team is also pretty mega.
What’s been your most successful form of marketing and/ or brand awareness?
For us it's a combination of social media, PR, networking and Facebook ads. They all contribute. The big spikes tend to come when someone with a big following talks about us - not because they're being paid to, but because they've genuinely sent or received one of our packages and they get the sentiment. When Sarah Turner AKA The Unmumsy Mum posted about us on Facebook when we were still pretty new, it went absolutely nuts. Her audience are bang on our target, so they got what we do.
Do you have any positive habits or routines that you feel have attributed to your success?
Erm... I get more done when I leave my phone in another room! I also invested in a clock radio and leave the phone downstairs at night. It's grim times when you wake up and you're in your emails before you've even said hi to your family, and the only way to break that habit for me has been to remove the phone from sight!
What's your favourite business app/ tool/ book/ podcast etc?
I love the Adam Buxton and Scummy Mummies podcasts. In no way related to business but they both make me laugh a lot and take my mind away from things I'm worrying about.
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs just starting out?
Work out what success looks like for you before you get started and write it down. Once you're going, there are so many distractions and tangents you can go off on, but if you know what your success is - and that could be financial, holidays, being available to your kids, raising money for charity or a combination of the above - it'll help you make the right decisions. One of mine was to be available for my children and sometimes - when I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day and I need to finish X, Y and Z before I can relax, I need to go back to why I started. Also, know that it's going to be hard work to get started but in time your confidence grows and hopefully your business and your team does too, and with that life becomes a bit more steady. It's totally worth the hard work..
If you want to get in touch or see more of Steph's adventure, head over to her website or social media:
As always, if you're not already a member of our Mothers of Enterprise Society FREE FB Group, we'd love to have you! Simply click here to request to join.