Itchy Baby – An Online Forum for Parents of Children with Eczema

Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?

I’m Andrea, I live with my partner Ian who is an Artist and our 3 children Fay, Josh and Zak.

I became a Mum almost 10 years ago to our first daughter Fay, 2 years later there was Josh, and now we have Zak as well who is almost two and a half.

What’s your business called?

My business is called ‘Itchy Baby’

Can you describe it in one sentence?

Itchy Baby is a parent to parent website aimed at bringing together and helping parents who’s infants are suffering with eczema.

When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?

It all happened by accident when my 2nd baby Josh developed atopic eczema at 4 months old.
It turned our lives upside down; I had no idea what distressing and frustrating condition eczema in babies could be.

Sleep deprived and going a little bit crazy I took matters into my own hands and got to the bottom of what was making my baby so itchy (mainly contact reaction to detergents we were using in our home).
As I got his skin back to normal it occurred to me that my experience and knowledge was worth sharing so that inspired the first Itchy baby website.

The itchy baby shop came about from the website as more and more parents contacted me asking what products I had used and were I had got them from.

I was pretty lucky to have a group of mum friends that I had met on an online birth forum with my first daughter, we had become firm and supportive if somewhat distant friends. We chatted daily and freely bounced ideas of each other, and shared experiences of parenting, work and life in general. Without their support I’m not sure I would have had the confidence or know how to accomplish what I did.

How did you fund your start up?

I started off on a very tight budget, and my total set up money was £600! £200 of which was my own money, £200 my partners and my Dad put in £200 🙂

I built my first website myself, with a hand from Goggle and a how-to website and I had a friend host it for me.

When I expanded to incorporate our shop I was lucky one of my friends had already set up a shop and knew a small company (now sadly closed down) called WHAM which offered very competitive shopping cart set ups and advise to Mums starting their own business.

How do you manage working around your children?

This is always a challenge and it definitely has its ups and downs. I’m still a small company and do as much as I can myself.
My PC lives in our front room and I work around playing children! When my eldest 2 were young they would play together and this gave me the time to work while still being in the room watching them. This kind of worked OK till baby number 3!

Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?

I don’t think there is a typical day!
An ideal ‘working’ day is kids at school, dog walked by 10, an hr or so sorting web stuff, emails and wholesale orders then order packing and Post Office trips before pick up, play dates, after school clubs, homework and house work.

A more typical day is a mish-mash of website emergencies, tripping over toys, being late for everything and trying to have telephone conversations over the top of ‘Blaze and the Monster machines ‘ vs a toddler tantrum. 😉

What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?

Time! That and having my 3rd wonderful but crazy baby. Things were going great until I changed my shop website back in the Autumn of 2013, my sales instantly plummeted and my hits dropped a little too…. but I was fairly heavily pregnant at the time, and my main focus was on getting ready for Baby and coping with SPD (hips falling apart due to baby in tummy!) I knew thing were not right with the business but it was too painful to sit still long enough to do anything about it.

It turned into a bit of a blessing in disguise as there is no way I could have continued to run my business as busy as it was an also look after my new baby, but the down side was…. I lost what I’d built up over the years as there was none to step into my role and take control of what I had been doing. So the business was very much on the back burner for 2 and half years while I became mainly a full time mum to a toddler who’s siblings were at school.

Overcome, well – I’m not quite there yet, Time will tell… Zak (baby 3) starts nursery in September so my current aim is to try and get back to where I was in 2013 – the internet moves fast so I have a lot of learning and catching up to do.

What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?

When everything goes well 🙂 House is clean, I’m on top of all my work and I can spend fun time with the kids!

It’s also really lovely to get feedback from parents I’ve helped, to hear their thanks and know you have helped to make a difference for a baby and their family makes everything all very worthwhile.

What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to see Itchy Baby doing well again, the shop turning over enough to give me a working wage and the site and information being available to everyone who needs it. I’d love for the business to continue to grow and I would like to be able to add our own range of organic sleep suits and bedding.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?

It’s not always glamorous but if you believe in something and enjoy doing it then it’s worth putting in the effort to make it work and look for support net-works it really helps to have people you can go to with questions.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I think what you are doing is great. It’s not easy for Mums to go out to work and cover the costs of child care and it’s not easy to set yourself up in business either. Being self-employed can be quite insular and very hard work and having a network of people who have had similar experiences can be a real life line.