I Started a Business with a Baby: Louise Guinda of Safe Dreams

Tell us a little about your business

I designed a product called the Safe Dreams Breathable Cot Wrap which is a safe alternative to cot bumpers.  It is made from breathable padded mesh, covers all four sides of the cot and is perfect for keeping arms, legs and dummies in.

What was your job before starting your business?

I was an accountant.  It wasn’t a job which I really enjoyed but I had passed lots of exams and was earning good money so it was hard to leave and start all over again.

How did you go from your old career to your new business?

I didn’t have a job to go back to as I had been living in Argentina and came back to the UK while I was pregnant and just did a bit of temping.

What were your reasons for starting a business?

I had always wanted to, my dad is an entrepreneur so it probably runs in my blood.  I just could never decide what kind of business to start.  I also couldn’t face putting my son in nursery to go back to working in a profession which I didn’t really enjoy and this gave me the kick I needed.

Did you use any childcare?

My son has been going to nursery for two afternoons a week for around a year now and he is just about to start going three full days a week.   Up until now it has been very tough fitting everything in; I have been mainly working during his nap times and after he has gone to bed.  Its only now when I find myself having to work when he is around that I decided its time to put him in nursery for three full days.  He has recently dropped his daytime nap which has been a huge disaster for me!

How did you get your business idea?

I got the idea after I had a scary experience with my son when he was very young, I found him blue in the face and struggling to breathe as a result of sleeping with his face buried into his cot bumper.  After I had stopped using the bumper he would wake up many times through the night with his arms stuck between the cot bars.  I spoke to lots of people and found that they were having the same problem, they were doing crazy things like sticking cardboard onto the cot bars.  I found that there were breathable bumpers available in the USA and I had one sent over, it solved the problem but was incredibly ugly.  I decided to design a safe but stylish product that would look good in the cot.

What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge has been lack of knowledge: I knew nothing about bringing a product to market.  I couldn’t even sew to make a prototype, I had no idea about manufacturing and spent six months trying to get my product made in the UK when it is just too labour intensive and is much more suited to being made in China.  I didn’t understand how marketing and PR work and had very little experience of selling.

What training, information or advice did you need to get started?

I went to Business Link but to be honest they didn’t really know what to do with me.  My biggest challenge at the beginning was finding a manufacturer and they couldn’t help with that.  The best advice I’ve had has been from other mum inventors whom I’ve met on Twitter and forums like Mumsclub and She’s Ingenious.

If you could give one  piece of advice to a mum of a baby or toddler starting a business, what would it be?

The most important advice I have been given is to believe in yourself.  When you are trying to promote your business, you really have to shout about your achievements and how great you are which is very difficult when you have been brought up to be modest and not too cocky.  It is uncomfortable at first but, as they say, ‘fake it until you make it’.

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