What’s your business called?
Orchard Green Parenting
Can you describe it in one sentence?
Throwing a lifeline to overwhelmed Mums, whether that’s learning to care for a newborn or dealing with sleep or fussy eating.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
I was a nanny for many years then moved into maternity nursing and started studying lots of specific topics like breastfeeding and sleep. As I got more and more experience people started asking me for help with difficult situations, I had families ask me to sleep train their children, suggest I write books or spend a day teaching the mother to cook. Several families suggested that I visit them every six months to give them some pointers as their children grew and changed.
I loved nannying but I knew that the long hours and lowish hourly rate wouldn’t suit me forever, and one of my favourite things was to see a struggling family make the changes they wanted to see and become so much happier and more settled. So I set up Orchard Green to let me do exactly that!
How did you fund your start up?
I started as low cost as I possibly could, finding the money in our household budget. I didn’t need any stock which really helped to keep the costs down and a few friends and family members helped out, my brother built my first website and was paid in home cured bacon! I did waste money in the beginning, mostly on marketing or advertising that didn’t pay off but I have learnt better now and still get by without spending too much.
How do you manage working around your children?
One of the main reasons for starting the business was that it wouldn’t require the 60 hour week that’s typical for most nannies. Instead I can work flexible hours. The advantage is, of course, that I can fit work in whenever it suits me, like nap times evenings and weekends. The disadvantage is that without clear working hours it’s easy to forget to stop!
Up until now I’ve been working a part time job alongside Orchard Green but that is due to come to an end in a few weeks and I’m very excited to make my business more “full time.” The plan is for my baby to attend nursery one or perhaps two days a week, which will give me time to schedule phone calls or client visits without the risk of being disturbed when nap times goes wrong. Other work, like writing blog posts and keeping up with social media are easier to fit into odd moments.
My biggest challenge right now is that I’m about to go on maternity leave. I will need some time off but I obviously can’t just abandon the business for a few months and expect it to still be there when I want to go back! As a “one woman band” the logistics of keeping things going have been a bit complicated but I think I have it all sorted now and my clients shouldn’t notice much difference.
Can you describe a typical day?
I don’t have typical days! One day I might be at home, perhaps writing a blog post or two, answering emails and drawing up action plans for clients then the next could involve an early morning start and long drive to do a day long home visit, or maybe an evening workshop held in a local nursery.
What have you found hardest?
Getting known, you can be the best in the business but it’s no good if nobody has every heard of you!
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
Being in charge of my own life. You still have to work hard but at least you get to choose when and where you want to do the work.
What are your plans for the future?
To help as many mums and dads as possible to be the best parents they can be. More than anything I love to get those emails from a mum who was tearing her hair out, but is now enjoying life with her children again.
I’m in the middle of developing some online courses which will let me reach many more parents, not just those who want to work one to one, and I’m really excited about launching those over the next year or so.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Don’t think that you can just set up a pretty website, distribute a few flyers and watch the money roll in while you play with your little one at the park. It takes lots of hours of hard work, and you have to keep working at things like marketing and accounts – not just your passion. But it’s worth it!