I Started a Business With a Baby: Viv Smith of Poppy Sparkles

I’ve made jewellery since my early teens, and as stay at home mum on a career break from teaching English in a secondary school full-time, decided that this was my now or never time to take my hobby craft business further. I have always loved creating jewellery and dreamed about running my own business.  With the additional motivation of wanting to be with my young family longer than I might otherwise without an additional income to my husband’s, I launched Poppy Sparkles in March 2010, creating special occasion jewellery from Swarovski crystal, Freshwater Pearls and sterling silver.

I soon learnt a business lesson about being flexible and realised that my small range of charm style jewellery for little girls was most popular. Then I had a few ‘eureka!’ moments as I discovered my niche with birthstone jewellery and my USP (unique selling point) with my charm system. So, now I specialise in Birthstone Charm Jewellery.

A lot of my challenges I share in common with other women who are juggling motherhood with a business – fitting things in around children is hard.  Beads and babies do not mix, so all jewellery creation has to take place in the evening.  And, whilst some tasks can be slotted in around my children in the day, such as a spot of tweeting on twitter or a blog post draft, a lot of tasks require full concentration.

I’ve established Poppy Sparkles with no funding.  It’s been a challenge, but I’ve harnessed the power of Social media for free advertising, as well as valuable networking. Unable to out-source things, I’ve had to learn lots of different things from writing a press release to basic web design.  However, having no money does make you think very carefully about business decisions and how to re-invest income from sales.

Establishing a business is hard, but factor in establishing a business whilst also fulfilling the demanding role of being a mum, it can become quite a challenge.  Surrounding yourself with supportive people is important.  Having support from family and friends is essential, as at times you may need to call on them to help manage childcare, but support from other business mums or people in your chosen field is also very valuable.  Twitter has been an excellent resource for me and helped me create a supportive network around me – there are people that share my interests (eg handmade items, Etsy etc), as well as other mums seeking to establish a business and it’s great to share tips and encourage each other.

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