Tag Archives: business

Inspirational mum Sally from Mum’s back

If you read our blog regularly you will know we have a monthly Inspirational Mum slot. May’s Inspirational mum is Sally Bunkham, the founder of mumsback.com, a company that provides hamper gifts for new mums; full of the things they’ve not been allowed whilst pregnant (wine, pâté, cheese, etc.). £1 from every hamper sold goes to PANDAS Foundation to help with their amazing work supporting families going through perinatal mental health issues. 

 

Can you tell us little about yourself.

I grew up in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and moved to Brighton when I became a university student, back in 1999. I loved it there and pretty much never left (until 2015). I worked at the University of Sussex for nearly 10 years. My job involved providing events for students to get them interested in entrepreneurship. A lot of it rubbed off on me! I met my lovely husband, Paul, in 2007 at Bestival and we got married in 2013. Our daughter Daisy was born in 2014. When Daisy was just over 2 months old we discovered I was pregnant again. Oops! So in 2015 we had 2 babies under the age of 2. That was hard work! Before our second daughter, Ruby, was born, we temporarily relocated to my home town of Stamford in order to get some extra childcare support from my parents. As it turned out, that was a really good idea, as it was not an easy ride! Things are slowly getting easier now and we are heading back to our home in Brighton in September.

How did you come up with the idea for your current business? 

I didn’t quite realise how much I’d miss things like wine, pâté, cheese, beer etc. etc., until I was pregnant and wasn’t allowed it! My other pregnant pals and I used to joke about how we’d do anything for a rare steak or a brie sandwich or similar. When my first daughter was born I got some really beautiful gifts, but it dawned on me that they were all focussed on the baby. It was then I realised there was a gap in the market for something purely for Mum. After all, she is the one that has just grown a tiny human being and gone through childbirth! My second pregnancy, so soon after my first, really magnified the absence of all the things I wasn’t allowed once more, and helped solidify the concept for Mum’s Back!

Sadly I suffered from a bad bout of postnatal depression after Ruby was born. She developed an undiagnosed medical condition (we are still not sure what it was) which meant that from around 4 months to 16 months old she would be incredibly unsettled, day and (especially) night. We tried cutting out various foods, had allergy testing, tried different drugs for silent reflux, and had specialist paediatric care, but nobody could get to the bottom of it. We were getting by on scraps of sleep and the strain of the acute sleep deprivation mixed with the stress of trying to care for 2 babies under 2 became too much for me. I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms (sadly involving self harm) and became quite unwell. I was diagnosed with PND. Thankfully, my daughter started to grow out of the undiagnosed condition and her sleep improved. Once she was on the road to recovery, so was I (this is cutting a long story short!). The experience gave me a deep empathy with anybody going through any kind of mental health issue, especially perinatal conditions. That helped me to realise that my business could actually help make a difference. I decided to try and raise awareness about these conditions by blogging and I also donate £1 from every hamper sold to PANDAS Foundation, who help support families going through perinatal mental health issues.    

 

 

How do you manage to balance your work around your family?

This is definitely the hardest thing about running a business! My two girls are now coming up to 3 and 2 years old and are still very dependent on me. I have to be incredibly focused when I work. I have a lot of prioritised to-do lists. I work in fits and starts when I can, which I actually find is quite good for concentration. I get 2 mornings a week when I am child-free, so I work then, and most evenings and weekends. Both my children still have a midday nap which is handy, but I know that won’t last forever! I find that actually working on my business is good for my mental health. It gives me a really good balance and helps me feel really productive, so that’s a real benefit. My business has to be agile enough that it can still keep ticking over if I have to down tools and do nothing for a few days, though. If my children are poorly, for example, I have to be able to look after them. In that instance, I can function. As long as the orders go out, that is fine. In times like that, I tend to focus on all the things I AM doing (like keeping my children comfortable and loved!) and not on the things I’m NOT doing. Mind-set is really important during those periods, or else it’s quite easy to get lost in a sea of negativity.  

 

Do you have any words of wisdom for other mums starting in business?

I do love the variety running my own business brings, although it can be a bit of a rollercoaster! I find one day I can be questioning if it was all a good idea at all, and then suddenly something great will happen and it will all be positive again. I think resilience is really important. You’ve got to be able to get back up and shake yourself off if you get knocked down, and keep on trucking. I’d definitely say it’s really important to find something you are passionate about. I hadn’t quite appreciated how fabulous the social enterprise element of my business would be when I decided to do it. It was just something I thought would be nice to do but, actually, it gives me such fire in my belly to know that the more I succeed in my business, the more I can help others. So, if you can find an angle like that for yourself, then go for it! It’s also very empowering to turn such a negative thing in my life into something positive. It’s great that I now own that part of my life, it doesn’t own me! 

 

Anything else you would like to tell our readers?

I love connecting with people, so please do come and say hi on my facebook page or on Twitter. 

And watch this space! We had the fabulous news recently that notonthehighstreet.com would like us to be a partner for them, so you should also see us appearing on there, soon. 

Finally, we have 2 cool offers on at the moment. There’s our launch offer, where you can get 20% off a classic Mum’s Back hamper. If you are getting a hamper for somebody but do not want it to be delivered until later, that is fine. You can buy now for delivery at a later date. 

We are also running a competition at the moment (last day to enter is 24th May), where you have the chance to win a hamper! All you have to do is answer the (pretty damn easy!) question.

Sally’s story really inspired me. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Inspirational mum Fiona from Bitzbags

Fiona Gowing

Fiona Gowing

As a mum in business I love to celebrate the successes of other mums in business. This week we have an interview with the inspirational mum Fiona from Bitzbags.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your family?
My name is Fiona Gowing, I have been a qualified Occupational Therapist (OT) for 17 years and have worked both in the UK and internationally. However, when I had my children, Ben & Ella, I decided to have a career break. It was while I was a stay at home mum that I decided to set up a childminding business and that’s when I had my light bulb moment: a new children’s product idea.

Why did you decide to launch your business?
Inspired by my children Ben and Ella and while running my childminding business I was looking for a play to pack away solution for fiddly kids toys. I dreaded the noise of a full box of Lego being tipped out onto the floor as it was time consuming to tidy up and the kids often wanted to go from one activity to the next, as fast as possible! The only products that were on the market were plastic storage boxes (which the kids loved to just tip out onto the floor), and mats with lengthy pull cord (which isn’t suitable for a child due to safety reasons). So I had to design something new.

Mess with NO stress (twitter)
Could you tell us a little about your business?
I designed Bitzbags a new 2 in 1 portable storage solution. It’s made up of a square mat, with detachable bag. The drawstring free design on the bag is what makes the Bitzbags design different.
I started the business from home, making my first batch of Bitzbags from my kitchen table to test the market at local fairs. Then, outsourcing the manufacturing enabled me to launch the product nationally in August of last year. We have exhibited at large Childcare Expo events in Edinburgh & London, and we are stocked in local retail shops. We are also available online through www.bitzbags.com and an early years resources website www.imagido.co.uk.

How are you finding it fits in with your family?
Owning your own business is hard work and I have been fortunate to have a very supportive husband and also to have the support from business start-up services such as Entrepreneurial Spark www.entrepreneurial-spark.com, Bright Ideas Scotland and Business Gateway. In regards to family life I am able to run my business around school pick-ups and drop offs and even get my children to be involved in the business! For example, they loved being involved in the photoshoot for our marketing materials and packaging, telling me that they “feel famous”, aww…

Anything else you wish to tell our readers?
I would encourage anyone out there, thinking of starting a business, to give it a go! This is the decade of the female entrepreneur, there has never been a better time for women to start their own businesses’ with a vast array of start up support specifically tailored for female businesswomen. So give it a go, dream big, and make it happen today.

At my Lingotastic classes I use a similar idea of wrapping up ducks in blue fabric ready to pull out as we start the song, or all the stuffed animals we use in story, wrapped in fabric so I can quickly get them out when we read the story.

Fiona kindly sent us a bitzbag to trial. My daughters were really pleased, I found my son’s outgrown Lego so they could play with it. I’d been meaning to do it for a while.
As she has said earlier it is brilliant for Lego and the brilliant storage bag is great if you want to put it away quickly to play later or take out with you.
If we’ve inspired you to buy your own (I’m not on commission) visit www.bitzbags.com

If you would like to see more of the Bitzbags products (including the new outdoor bitzbags visit www.bitzbags.com and follow them on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin.

You’ll never guess what happened on Friday!

On Saturday I went along to Mumsnet workfest 2016. I was still very surprised to be going along. Twenty two hours before I did not know I was going! I got a tweet from Barclays to say I’d won a pair of tickets. I looked at the website and was so excited about the line up. Just a quick call to my hubby to chat about childcare and I was all set to go. The Mumsnet workfest looked to be aimed as mums returning to work after maternity leave. I figured there were a couple of seminars that looked really good and it was a great opportunity to network.

The most surprisingCath andMe part of the day was when I met Cath. I arrived early and got chatting to another he. She had an awful lot in common with me. I’m from Bradford, and she lives there now. We both LOVE languages, especially German, so we chatted about that, about our families, and the Lingotastic classes I run. Anyone who has read my blogs, or met me in the flesh will know that family language learning is my passion, so another mum looking to bring more language learning into her family life and maybe run classes like mine is an absolute joy to me. Cath said this was something she’d like to do so discussed my journey and ideas for her to work towards something similar.

The first event was with the keynote panel of Karen Blackett OBE, Jo Whiley, Jess Phillips MP and Kirstie Mackey. It was awesome to hear them share their stories and “How they do it all.”Panel speaking
Karen is a truly inspirational women who has created a culture in her company which includes and celebrates family. Jo Whiley shared how through her radio career she has worked with supportive people who have allowed her to be a mum as well as an employee. The two shining light pearls of wisdom from this session were “One good parent is enough”- Jess, and “Bring the whole of you to work” – Karen. If the day had stopped there, this would have been brilliant already.

I’m self employed, so the break out session on The Key to building your business was just what I wanted to hear. It was so great to hear others stories. I heard what I know now to be true, “Starting your own business is not the easy option”. I also had the time to reflect on how lucky I am to have a hubby who has let me run a selfie2business which did not make any money for the first two years.
For the second breakout session I walked in, and the lovely Esther Stanhope was bouncing around with excitement. It was titled “How to network when you hate small talk” There were lots of brilliant little tips I could quickly put into practice. We had to break into pairs and speed network. I found out that Katie loves Bradford (where I’m from) and writing and blogging. I was so excited I took a silly selfie. She confessed that prior to this she was a selfie virgin!

Lunch was delicious restaurant quality food and great chance to network. I chatted with a bilingual Russian & English mum about what they do at home, and she said advice and support would make a massive difference to her as her daughter grows. This was a massive encouragement to me and something I am considering I how to work in practice.

 

I went along to the self esteem workshop with Kim Morgan from Barefoot Coaching. The room was pretty full. It was a high speed session including many ideas and a couple of group exercises. I came away with a revelation that as women we all struggle with similar issues which was a real eyeopener to me. Her book The Coach’s Casebook looked a good way to follow up on the session.

We were so fortunate to be able to find out “What we did next”-inspiring stories with five awesome women who were inspired to launch their own business by Workfest 2015.

I was so excited that the guest speaker this year was Matthew Syed. My hubby has been reading his book “Bounce”, so I was excited I could hear him speak. He presented so clearly. This was a real lightbulb moment, to see my own growth mindset and fixed mindset. It was a real eyeopener as a mum, to help me to encourage my own children to see that if things go wrong, failure is not final, and though failing we learn how to do it better next time.
MattSyed If you want to buy his books Black box thinking and Bounce for yourself, click through.

It was an awesome day and I came away feeling comfortable in my own skin and that I’m not doing a bad job as a mum. Not bad at all for an event I’d not heard about before the Friday.

This blog is the first in a monthly series celebrating women in business and the workplace. I believe that if something is not celebrated it can die, so I want to take the chance to celebrate some awesome women. If you’d like to write a guest blog for us get in touch.