I Started a Business With a Baby: Julia Odgers of KidsTravel2 (Part 2)

You can read part 1 of this article here: I Started a Business With a Baby:Julia Odgers of KidsTravel2 (Part 1). Back now to Julia…

I try really hard to balance work and family life and remind myself constantly that it is important I do this as this was my primary objective for going down this route.  Continue reading “I Started a Business With a Baby: Julia Odgers of KidsTravel2 (Part 2)”

How Theresa Started J&M Baby Equipment Hire

I sometimes kick myself for not starting a business before I had my babies. It would have had some free time in the evenings to get a little business started and money wouldn’t have been so tight. But I know that I simply didn’t have the push I needed to get me started until I had my first baby.

Often it takes a major life change to nudge us into self employment. For some, being a mum is the change that does it, but there are mums who have faced other challenges and made the jump into self-employment too. Jen Sargeant who I wrote about a couple of weeks ago was one of them. Today I’m handing over to Theresa Lodge of J&M Baby Equipment Hire, who started her business when she became a single parent…

“I am 37 and mum of two boys Jack aged 6 and Max aged 4.  I was a part-time time stay at home mum with three small time part time jobs to help our finances – they were Medical Secretary, Legal Secretary and a Dinner Lady.  I have always wanted to “work for myself” but never really had the nerve to actually do anything about it.  However last year me and the boys’ father separated.

After I initially got over the shock of being a single parent it gave me the boost I needed to actually do something about my dream.  I knew from previous experience of taking our two boys on holiday what an ordeal travelling with two young children and all the equipment you needed to take with you was so decided to start a company hiring baby and toddler equipment.

The first problem I came across was a name but after lots of umming and arrhing I decided what better name than to call it after my two boys “J&M”.  I spent every spare minute that I wasn’t being a mum and doing mummy chores and playing with the boys researching, setting up a website etc even thought this meant spending lots of sitting at the laptop until the early hours of the morning and then still being up bright and cheerful for the school run the next day.

In June this year my website went live and I cannot believe how well it is going already.  The feedback I have got from customers is great and it really makes me proud that I am helping them as well as fulfilling my dream of working for myself.

At the moment I still have my three small part time jobs as a Legal Secretary, Medical Secretary and Dinner Lady just so I still have a regular income to rely on but if my business keeps going the way I am hoping it will I may have to give these up to concentrate full time.

I would love your readers to read my story as it would inspire them to go for starting up their own business.  Its a shame it took such a drastic action as my relationship breakdown for me to actually get the nerve to do it and I wish I had done it years ago but I am up and running now and plan to keep going from strength to strength.”

With your energy and determination, I’m sure you will. Good luck Theresa!

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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