Tag Archives: London

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.

Immigration, Emigration and the European Day of Languages

Sprachen verbindenHappy European Day of Languages! We’re lucky to have another blog from Maik Barrett. Over to you Maik…

The 26th September is a significant day. Not only is it my brother’s birthday, but ever since 2001’s “European Year of Languages”, this was the day set with the objective to encourage language learning across Europe. Of course multilingualism and cultural diversity is a fact of life for a lot of people already, considering that according to the Evening Standard there are 300 languages spoken in London alone. As has often been observed, you can easily walk down Oxford Street and not catch sight of a single native English speaker. And with so many multinational companies headquartered in and around London, people from across Europe, and sometimes even further afield, come to work in the UK. Add to that the increase in immigration, whether it is those fleeing war, or those coming to find work, and you end up with what is probably the most ethnically and linguistically diverse part of the whole of Europe. Which adds to the irony of the European Day of Languages sharing its hashtag #EDL with the English Defence League!

Of course I myself am I migrant, having come to the UK to work after marrying the lovely Sarah Barrett, whose Yorkshire dialect took a bit of getting used to, even after being multilingual already. Most Eastern Europeans living in the UK are multilingual as well, for example our Bulgarian friends who also speak Russian and English. (Check out our blog on “Language learning is a great way to make friends ‎”)

It works the other way too. Particularly in recent weeks, a lot has been said and written about increases in immigration, but not so much about emigration, i.e. the over 300,000 Brits who chose to leave old Blighty for (presumably) warmer climes in Spain, France and other countries. One would hope they speak the local language!

Not that all this migration is new. Our family went to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich a few weekends ago, and Britain’s seafaring past is certainly, among other things, a story of migration. In fact the museum currently has a special exhibition, open until 15th November, in collaboration with The Migration Museum Project, which is well worth seeing, and highly interactive. The Migration Museum Project’s aim is to reflect the important role that migrants have played in the making of Britain. It tells the story of migration to and from Britain in an engaging and non-political way. Most people have a migration story somewhere in their family history.

So on this European Day of Languages, let’s celebrate the cultural and linguistic diversity brought by migration. If you live somewhere as diverse as London, I would challenge you to count today how many different languages and nationalities you recognise around you, and let us know in the comments or on Twitter @lingotasticuk #Europeandayoflanguages .