What’s your business called?
Eleven o One Bebe
Can you describe it in one sentence?
Beautiful, unique, handmade dolls and accessories for the little people in your life.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
I started in the summer of 2013, I was on maternity leave and quite bored. I decided that I wanted to make my daughter a quiet book. I hadn’t sewn before, that was a challenge in itself but I come from a very creative family and my day job never allowed me to use my creative side. That summer I opened my page on facebook a bit blindly not knowing where I wanted it to go. I was doing name banners, frames and hair accessories. Even though I enjoyed it I knew that it just wasn’t what I wanted Eleven o One Bebe to be. I took a break, bought a sewing machine and threw myself in the deep end not knowing how to use it but made my first doll – can proudly say it was awful but I did it without having previous knowledge of using a sewing machine, and best part? My daughter loved the doll with ALL its faults!. Since then I have created my own patterns for my dolls, clothes and bags for them. Constantly adding new items – when I get the time! My little girl is my constant inspiration behind many of the dolls and ideas.
How did you fund your start up?
I didn’t need much funding. The biggest purchase I made was my sewing machine which I saved up for over 3 months from the wages of my current job. Fabrics, stuffing etc I have gone along buying as I get orders.
How do you manage working around your children?
I think that when you really want something you find a way to just make it work, whether it is missing a nap you normally have with them, or not doing the washing that is piling up! Also late nights, or simply getting my little one involved with what I am doing. I now have a table for her next to my work table so that when I need to work she can ‘work’ to and we do it together side by side.
Can you describe a typical day?
Busy! I work full time too, so mornings are a mad rush of getting my toddler and I ready and grabbing any orders that I need to post that day. I then drop her to nursery and do my “day job”, in which I sometimes sneak the odd online fabric shopping or designing items! I then pick up my daughter and head home. Depending on the time she might fall asleep in the car which leaves me the whole evening to myself – to myself meaning cleaning, cooking, and Eleven o One Bebe orders. If she doesn’t fall asleep then I get to have dinner with her, bath time, a bit of playing then put her to bed…and as above I get on with ‘me’ time. My other half works really late which helps and doesn’t always stay at my place due to the distance from his work…which I’m not going to lie can help as I get more done!
What have you found hardest?
Keeping my sanity?! Am I allowed to say that!? I love love love what I do, Eleven o One Bebe wise, however as it is yet not established I have to work full time to pay the bills etc so it’s trying to juggle a working life with my daughter and the love for my business. I haven’t mentioned that I also run the Mum2mum Market franchise for Harrow? Somehow that gets done in between all that I’ve mentioned already!
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
Unfortunately I am not yet fully self employed but working towards it.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to grow Eleven o One Bebe to be a full fletched brand for little ones, not just including dolls but still keeping it all a handmade brand. Hopefully allowing me to make it my only job and spend more time with my daughter who is growing up so so quick.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
I tend to be a person that jumps in at the deep end and then figures it out, mainly because I have very little patience! But it is good to know your market. Don’t compare yourself to others, their pricing or how well/bad they do, as you are your own person and your own brand. Networking also helps a lot – I do this mostly on facebook due to lack of time but it’s totally free. Set goals, big ones and small ones, that way you are working towards something rather than just ‘floating’ around.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Just to never doubt yourself! Even if other people do – and that tend to be people who know you! You will be surprised as to how supportive and helpful people that don’t know you will be.