Tell us your name and a bit about your family? When did you become a Mum and to whom?
My name is Kate Jenkins and I am a mammy to Nancy, who is 3. She was born in Buckinghamshire, but we moved back north when she was 6 months old.
What’s your business called?
The Pretty Lovely Company
Can you describe it in one sentence?
I make and sell kits containing everything that you need to quickly and easily make girl’s dresses.
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I started work on the Pretty Lovely Company about a year ago. I had the idea several years before I had my daugther when I was in full time work, but I never had the time to kick it off. I had always enjoyed making and sewing but didn’t have time or resources to make more ambitious things such as clothes and, speaking to peers it appeared that there are many people in the same boat. When I looked around crafting shops or haberdashery departments in the larger stores they were full of kits, aiming to simplify a particular craft, but none contained kits to make actual clothing. After a bit of research on the internet I identified the gap in the market I wanted to fill but I still lacked the confidence to make it happen. The final push was when I bought a ‘make your own toy’ kit from John Lewis to see what was involved, and when I pulled it apart I started to think that I could do something just as well – so I started work on the Pretty Lovely Company
How did you fund your start up?
I had set aside £1000, so I am using that, supported by general household income.
How do you manage working around your children?
My daughter is in part time nursery at the moment, so I work around her hours and also a little in the evenings. Once, when I had a big glut of work I was also able to call on my mother’s support.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
I start the day doing housework whilst getting my daughter to nursery and then come home and give our dog a long walk and finish any jobs or errands. My days are varied but, as I am a start up, I typically get any orders packed then spend the rest of the day developing my business. This week I am focusing on improving my knowledge of Instagram so I am doing a lot of work on that, as well as looking at press and PR opportunities and on-line market places I can work with. I collect my daughter at either lunchtime or 3.15 and take her to any after school classes she in enrolled in. I spend more time in the evenings on social media – the majority of my market are mothers too, so their first real chance to engage is often in the evenings when their children are in bed too! My husband is very supportive and a great, positive, sounding board so I usually have a lot to chat through with him when he is home. No two days are the same so far but I try and write a to do list every night before bed to help me plan for the following day including what I must do and then ‘nice to dos’ if I get the time.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
A big challenge for me was having the self belief and confidence to invest time and effort in the business, and also being brave enough to put my own name out there on social media. A big part of me is afraid of failure and its hard knowing that, if it happens, my friends and family will see it.
Now my main challenge is building brand awareness and driving visitors to my site, hence the amount of time I am investing in social media, press and PR and business development. I only have a small amount to spend on advertising so I am thinking long and hard about where that goes. I believe 100% in my offering, but I need to get others to see it so that I can convert them into sales.
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
It is so, so, exciting! I’ve worked in a variety of roles before having my daughter but I have never felt so in control.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment I am simply working on building awareness and driving sales. In the medium term I want to add to my range, to include other designs and boy’s clothing, and build partnerships with other businesses. In the long term I would like to talk to some of the major stores with a view to them listing my product, and add to my website with more complementary products, such as tights, accessories and toys.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
Do you truly believe that you have a great offering that holds it own in the market? It’s great if it is unique but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to be able to hand-on-heart think that consumers will choose to spend their money on your product or service. If you do, and can explain why, go for it, and tell as many people about it as you can. I have found some really useful contacts purely by chance.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I don’t know if my business is going to be a long term success but I have thought about it for so long, it feels great giving it a go.