Today’s ‘I started a business with kids’ comes from Carey Conway and Fiona Haldenby (left) , directors and owners of Crafts4Kids, which sells crafts, educational toys and gifts for children.
They’ve also given Business Plus Baby readers a 15% discount of your first order at Crafts4Kids – just click this link: Crafts4Kids.co.uk and enter the code BPB15 (note: code can only be used once per person).
Tell us a little about your business
Crafts4Kids offers a stylish and contemporary range of Creative & Educational Children’s Toys, Games & Gifts that are both a pleasure to give and a pleasure to receive. Our products are selected to not only delight your children but to also help them learn. Crafts4kids range is selected from award winning brands and new inspirational brands with something just a little bit different to offer. With over 1000 products to choose from and excellent customer service, Crafts4kids is just perfect for the discerning online shopper – Great Gifts for Kids that you won’t easily find on the high street.
What was your job before starting your business?
Carey – HR and Business Process Consultant
Fiona – Director and Project Manager of commercial software solutions
How did you go from your old career to your new business?
Carey -Having nearly frazzled myself trying to be a full time professional in the corporate environment and wanting to be a brilliant Mum. I resigned from my job and dabbled on a part time basis in some freelance writing and project managing the start up of 3 after school clubs while taking some time to consider what business might provide the opportunity to ‘have the best of both worlds’.
Fiona – I was working part time and managing work/mum balance but wanted a change. I was able to support Carey on the technical and operational aspects of the business but kept up my other role for a couple of years.
What were your reasons for starting a business?
Definitely wanting to be able to work more flexibly and to be able to spend more time with the children.
Did you use any childcare?
Yes , it was important to have a few hours a day to be able do business when others were doing business so we supported this with childminders but apart from that it was a lot of evening work.
How did you get your business idea?
It was clear that ecommerce was a growing and attractive opportunity with relatively low cost of entry. Our decision to embark upon Crafts4kids was heavily influenced by the types of activities we liked to do with our own children and the awareness that good children’s toys were becoming increasingly difficult to get on the high street. Independent toy sellers were struggling. ToysRus and the Entertainer were the dominant players in many towns and character branded toys appeared to be taking over!
What were your challenges and how did you overcome them?
Well we knew very little about running an ecommerce business and very little about being retailers so it was a case of trusting our intuition on product range and making cautious investment decisions in areas where our knowledge was limited. There are so many people out there trying to sell you services that don’t achieve very much. Inevitably we made mistakes. It was a really steep learning curve (and still is) but keeping a cool head – learning from your mistakes and taking new things on board in bite size chunks has seen us make good steady growth in turnover and profitability over the last 5 years.
What training, information or advice did you need to get started?
Between us we had sufficient business knowledge to get started – our respective skills complimented one another’s. In terms of getting to understand ecommerce, seo and all other online marketing activities, we have read a lot, developed good relationships with suppliers and as a result learnt a lot from them, attended exhibitions and seminars.
If you could give one piece of advice to a mum starting a business, what would it be?
Do something you are passionate about – it’s easy to find that extra energy for a spot of late night work if you are buzzing about something!
To get your 15% discount of your first order at Crafts4Kids just click this link: Crafts4Kids.co.uk and enter the code BPB15.
(note: code can only be used once per person).
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