I started a business when pregnant: Anna Ridgway of WaterBaby

Here at Business Plus Baby I have a regular feature called ‘I started a business with a baby’. A few weeks ago I heard about Anna Ridgway who was inspired to start her business before her baby arrived! Anna will be just about at her due date as I publish this post, so good luck Anna and husband Ben, and we all hope you have a wonderful time with your new baby. Here’s the story of their business…

When Anna and her husband Benjamin decided that they wanted to start a family they knew that a regular supply of folic acid was really important for mums-to-be. Despite good intentions during the early stages of pregnancy, Anna found it difficult to take the tablets as recommended because of the  discomfort of swallowing the folic acid tablets, eating before taking every tablet and fitting the tablet into her daily routine. [Read more…]

I Started A Business With A Baby – Cara Sayer, inventor of SnoozeShade

Tell us a little about Cara Sayeryour business

I have started a company called Really Simple Ideas Ltd. I invented SnoozeShade – a product to help babies sleep in their prams and pushchairs as a simple and secure alternative to draping things over the pram when baby nods off and when they need help getting to sleep when over tired.

What was your job before starting your business?

I have spent most of my career working in PR, marketing and events. I have never worked in retail or product manufacturing so it’s been a real rollercoaster of a journey over the last few months.

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

I left my last job as the hours meant I was never going to get pregnant and went freelance which allowed me the time to relax and then we underwent IVF which was all much easier as I was working from home. We were very lucky and our daughter was born in October 2007. I wasn’t planning on returning to work before she went to school but was getting a bit bored and so was doing a bit of local consulting for free and volunteered with my local NCT. I only officially started the business a couple of months after I attended the Baby Products Association show in October 2009 – a nursery trade show – with an early SnoozeShade prototype and had orders placed on the spot so that meant I had a very hectic Christmas and New Year getting everything ready for launch in February.

What were your reasons for starting a business?

I didn’t really plan it to be honest, it’s just happened and snowballed and turned into a great business that I can operate from home spending maximum time with Holly whilst keeping the old brain cells ticking away.

Did you use any childcare?

My mum has been amazing looking after Holly whenever she can. I have to work a lot in the evenings and sometimes get up early before Holly wakes up to get a few bits done. She goes to nursery for morning s about 4 days a week during term time so holidays are a challenge now but everyone including friends and family are mucking in to help me which is much appreciated.

How did you get your business idea?

I started working on the idea when Holly was very small as I got frustrated with my useless attempts to cover the pram with blankets and coats that would get dislodged at every chance and so I said to a few friends that I wish someone had invented something to help and they said why don’t you do it. (and stop moaning about it). I looked everywhere online and couldn’t find anything that was purely aimed at helping babies sleep – all the sunshades out there prided themselves on the fact that baby could see ou which was not what I needed.

What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?

The main obstacle has been working around looking after a small child and also that fact that I have no experience in retail or product manufacturing. I have however  been very lucky with many kind people from the nursery world helping me and giving me advice which has been amazing.

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

I went to my local Business Link and they sent an advisor round who was great – she had actually worked on a baby magazine and so was particularly clued up on the industry. I also spent a lot of time on the phone to the Intellectual Property Office who were very helpful in helping me protect my rights, get started with the patent process, register a trademark etc.

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

I have a few pieces of advice I’m afraid – I would say do lots of research on your business idea to see if it has legs – this can be as basic as asking friends and family but ask them to ask relevant people they know who have no bias. Be prepared for criticism and use it as a positive thing, no idea is perfect and criticism can help you improve what you are doing and make it better. Do research on existing competitors or people who think they are your competitors so you have as much information available as possible. Believe in what you are doing, we all have bad days but I always say feel the fear and do it anyway. My final piece is to look at people you admire and ask for their help – you’d be surprised at how helpful people will be – they’ve all been where you are and I have had the most amazing support from some fantastic people.

Cara Sayer

www.snoozeshade.com

I Started a Business with a Baby: Elizabeth Geldart

Well, a toddler actually. But the challenges are much the same!

Welcome to my first profile of a mum who has succeeded in starting a business with a small child. Introducing Elizabeth Geldart of Chiggs Ltd…

Tell us a little about your business

My business, Chiggs Ltd, based in Harrogate, retails and wholesales my own inventions- the Baby Feed Wheel, Baby Medicine Wheel and the Get Well Wheel. These are parenting products, cards and gifts with rotating numbered dials to keep track of baby’s feed and everyone’s medicine times! I have been running my business since 2005, and now supply my products to online and bricks & mortar shops throughout the UK, and further afield!

What was your job before starting your business?

I used to be an Air Stewardess, but I was a stay-at-home Mum when I had the idea for my first product, the Baby Feed Wheel.

What were your reasons for starting a business?

I didn’t really sit down and plan to start a business, but I had an idea for a product that I thought would be useful for new parents- too good not to take further, so I set about designing and making it!


Did you use any childcare?

I mainly worked around my daughter, Holly, by working in the evenings or when my husband, who works shifts was around to help with childcare. Holly was just 2 when I had the idea and was doing all the initial research and design, and she had just started going to a local nursery for a couple of hours twice a week which was also small window of opportunity!

How did you get your business idea?

The inspiration for my first invention, the Baby Feed Wheel, came in October 2005 when I was visiting a friend who’d just had a baby. In the midst of sleep deprivation, she couldn’t remember her little boy’s last feed time, so I jokingly suggested she used a car parking disc to set the time whenever he had a feed. A couple of days later I took round a little ‘homemade’ version (covered in blue paper with a little picture stuck on the front!)

Remembering my own ‘hazy days’ after my daughter Holly’s birth, when I would write all her feed times down on pieces of paper, I realised what a useful idea this would be for new parents.


What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?

My main challenge was a lack of experience!  I had no experience of running a business, or of bringing a brand new product to market, and there were so many things to do:- product development, patents, production, branding, sales and marketing….

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

I did lots and lots of research on the internet, but it was mainly a case of learning by experience!

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

Go for it! Particularly if you have an idea for a new product- you’ll kick yourself if someone else invents ‘your’ product!

Did you start a business as mum to a baby or toddler? Would you like your story to appear on Business Plus Baby?

Mothers of Innovation

mother and baby with rockin hoodBeing a mum can be a real boost to your creativity. I have huge admiration for mums who spot a niche for a new product, then go ahead and bring it to market themselves.

Mothers Of Innovation was created by Sarah Dawnay to bring together mums who are selling a product they have developed themselves and parents who want to buy quirky, ethical and innovative items for their children.

Sarah is the inventor of the Rockin Hood, a fast alternative to a coat for babies who object to wearing sleeves! Having wrestled a wriggling child into a coat many times, I might just get one myself..

If you’re thinking of developing your own product, check out Sarah’s blog post Hints For Mumpreneurs where she shares her own experience of developing and manufacturing the Rockin Hood.