When did you become a Mum and to whom?
I have two sons aged 4 and 6.
What’s your business called?
Can you describe it in one sentence?
I have developed a unique reward system for 2-6 year olds, comprising a 3D magnetic reward chart and accompanying iOS app. TOTSUP – the reward chart tots love lots.
When did you become a Mumpreneur and what inspired you?
I have been self-employed for 15 years, working as a Graphic Designer and I also lecture part time on a Graphic Design Degree course. I came up with the idea for my reward chart product to use with my eldest son when he was two but didn’t really begin developing it until 2013, when a couple of friends saw it and asked where I’d bought it from – that inspired me to explore the possibility of it becoming a viable business venture.
How did you fund your start up?
I have financed the majority of the business myself and continued my other work alongside it. I was lucky enough to receive some funding for the materials feasibility study from CALMARE (The Centre for Alternative Materials and Recycling) at Exeter University and some further funding to assist with prototyping from The Engineering Innovation Network at Wiltshire College. This was a huge help and also gave me access to considerable expertise within the field of product development.
I will be launching a Crowdfunding campaign on 15th March to fund the next stage of the project, which is the development of the iOS app and the packaging.
How do you manage working around your children?
A lot of my work is done once my little ones have gone to bed. I sometimes think I got so used to existing on minimal sleep when they were babies that I now need far less! My eldest son is at school and my younger son at pre-school, so I currently have two mornings each week that I use for phone calls and meetings. The rest of my work is done in the evening once the boys are in bed.
Can you describe a typical day, what tasks do you have to get done, how do you manage your time?
The two mornings I am ‘home alone’ I generally dash back from the school run and work through a ‘to do’ list. If I need to attend meetings or make phone calls I usually do them then.
In the evenings I start work once I have cooked dinner and put my sons to bed this will include the design work associated with the project, updating social media, and email correspondence. I usually work until around 11pm.
What challenges have you faced in your business and how have you overcome them?
It is definitely a challenge fitting everything in! I try to be disciplined and make sure I separate work and family time but when you work from home that’s not always easy.
I also had no previous experience in product development, so navigating my way around intellectual property was quite a challenge as were the complexities of materials selection and technical specifications.
What’s the best thing about being Mumpreneur?
The support and friendship from other Mumpreneurs. I have been so surprised at the number of networking events and Facebook groups now exist and how supportive and encouraging they are. I have used the services of lots of other Mumpreneurs and we have all worked really well together sharing skills, contacts and expertise.
What are your plans for the future?
I have other products in early stage development and I hope to launch the second one later this year.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out in business?
I read a quote when I was just starting out on the project, which really struck a chord with me. “If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it”. If you’ve got an idea, do your research, talk to anyone who will listen and go for it!
I really believe if you’re passionate and determined about what you’re setting out to do you can achieve it.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
I am launching my Crowdfunding campaign via Crowdfunder on 15th March and have a selection of rewards and the opportunity to pre-order products. I am hoping to raise £6000 to fund the next stage of the project. Check it out at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/totsup