Balancing business and babies is no easy feat. In the coming weeks we’ll be interviewing Mums from all walks of life, who have started a whole range of business’ from their kitchen table.
We love supporting Mumpreneurs here at Life Unexpected and are so excited to share this new interview series with you. We’ve really enjoyed hearing how these mamas raise families and run their business’, and we think that they will all inspire you as much as they have done us!
If you missed our first interview with Lucy from Lala & Pom, you can go back and catch it here.
Today we are interviewing the lovely Esther from Jumbo and Friends.
Tell us a bit about your business? Why and when did you start it?
Jumbo & Friends is a new children’s furniture brand based in London, whose aim is to create original, beautiful and exciting furniture for families with a taste for contemporary design. So far we’ve got a small but beautiful range starting with Jumbo, the cot (with available bed conversion kit); Zorro and Jumbito, the toy cots and Tui, the king of tidy, our stylish storage box.
I never thought I’d set up a company; I’ve never been a business minded person, I am more the creative type so the decision of starting a company was really surprising for everyone around me and even more so for myself. But when I fell pregnant around 3 years ago and started looking for a cot I felt so uninspired that I decided to make one that would really excite me.
I’m a film editor by trade but furniture design has been a hobby for a long time so it was a challenge I was happy to take on, little did I know! It took me rather a long time to get to the point of producing the first prototype and when I had it finally assembled it felt so special and beautiful! So I started showing it to people I know and to other mums (especially my NCT mums gang!) and that’s when I realised it was actually something unique and the idea of developing it into a business started to arise. So I would say Jumbo & Friends as a company was officially born around 2 years ago and we launched this past February so it’s all very new and exciting!
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have a 2 and a half year young beautiful little boy called Tomas.
Where do you like to work from?
I love working from home especially since Tomas arrived. I’ve been a freelance all my life but the nature of my editing work often requires me going out to specialised facilities to carry out the work. It means I don’t get to spend much time with my little one whilst on a project as it involves longer hours and travelling time. Since he arrived I try as much as possible to get jobs that allow me to stay at home which means I can go and pick him up from nursery and spend more quality time with him.
It’s funny though because 2 and half years on I still haven’t fully sorted my workspace, my old study is now Tomas’ room but still going through a office-storage-bedroom metamorphosis and I still haven’t fully cracked it! We live in a small 2 bedroom flat so it’s all a bit tight but I love it here, the light is fantastic and it’s very quiet and yet really close to the heart of Islington and its lively atmosphere.
How do you balance both work and family life?
If I’m honest I still haven’t cracked that one either. I think it’s fairly understandable to struggle ‘a little’ with the balance when you have a 2 ½ year old, a partner, a mostly normal job as an editor and then you practically loose your mind and decide that’s not enough and you add establishing a furniture brand as an extra curricular activity (I like to call it that…;-) But I try my best to force myself to take time off: I try to not work much over the weekends, we go visiting family and friends back home in Spain as often as possible and we also organise ‘proper’ holidays every now and again. But I have to admit: I always travel with my laptop… to my partner’s dismay!
What is your vision/dream for your business?
My vision is for Jumbo & Friends to become a leading children’s furniture brand with a reputation for producing original, exciting, beautifully designed and crafted pieces with a difference. I’d feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to achieve if all this ends up having a truly meaningful contribution to the children’s furniture landscape.
Personally and very much following on the previous question, I’d like to be able to achieve a good balance between what I enjoy out of this business and everything else in life really. My dream would be for this business to reach a sustainable level whereby I can concentrate on designing and developing the pieces and be able to trust someone to support me with the business side of things, specially the sales part.
What have been your biggest challenges so far and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge for me was to be so acutely aware that I had no idea of what was involved in setting up and running a furniture business. The sheer volume of learning, decision-making and understanding ahead of me was pretty terrifying to start with and it kept me awake at night. But as soon as I realised that 1. I was going to do it the best I could, not more nor less 2. I can break it all up in bite size elements that are more manageable to deal with so they don’t seem as scary 3. No one is going to die if I don’t succeed! Then I started enjoying the whole process and really digging deep and finding what it was I wanted to do and where I wanted to go with this adventure. This is an on-going process of course, but one I still really enjoy so I think laying the foundations over very solid ground has been essential for me.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
Realising people actually liked, appreciated and were willing to pay for what I was doing! During our launch week pop up shop in Islington I talked to many people who came in and genuinely commented on the furniture, it really made me feel I had accomplished something extraordinary, it felt really fantastic.
How did you fund your business?
I funded it with my savings and with invaluable help from my family, both financial and emotional. This is another reason why the process has had a pretty leisurely pace; I’ve had to keep going back to editing work in order to keep things happening with Jumbo & Friends and that’s absolutely perfect. This is the way I want Jumbo & Friends to be for now: small, manageable and beautiful.
What advice would you give to other mums starting a business?
I think it is very important to have a clear idea of what you want to do and how you are going to achieve it. Things change, in my case things have changed massively from that early concept but having that original idea is hugely helpful to have as a reference, precisely because you know things will change. I suppose it gives you the naïve focus, the idea before you start facing the realities of running a business.
And then patience. Lots of patience. In my experience things have taken around 3 times longer than I’d planned for. That’s partly because I depend on other people to produce my pieces and then also because I’m new at running a business so everything takes me a lot longer!
And definitely enjoy what you’re doing. That’s the most important part in my opinion.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
It totally changes from one day to the next, it’s never the same. The past couple of weeks I’ve had a focus on editing the content and structure of the website to make it more enjoyable and easier to use for the end user. Also I’ve officially released a new toy cot character, Jumbito and the toy cots’ interchangeable faces feature. So I’ve had to take some extra photographs, edit them and place them. And finally I’ve been concentrating on finishing the edit of our new promo video, which has slightly been left behind for quite a while. I was really looking forward to seeing it finished actually and I’m really happy with how it looks.
But then as I’m sure many mums would be able to relate to, the early mornings and evenings are my little one’s domain, he’s boss then and that never changes!
Do you have any tips to banish the mum guilt we all feel?
I wish I had but no, I am as guilty as anyone else of feeling guilty. I try and remind myself that all this I’m doing will hopefully make him proud of me one day. It makes it a little easier, but it doesn’t banish it at all.
Do you ever get the chance to have time off for yourself? If so, what do you like to do?
Time off is a rare occurrence but time off for myself? Practically non-existent! But in those rare occasions when this happens I like reading, making music, watching films and photography and art and anything that inspires me really. But most times when I’m on that rare idle estate I usually end up finding myself thinking about what other exciting new things I could be doing… It is pretty relentless really, it never stops.
Thank you so much Esther for this inspiring interview! We love your unpredictable working day. It sounds full of creative goodness! It’s also nice to know that we’re not the only ones that find time off a rare occurrence. Be sure to check out Esther’s gorgeous website Jumbo and Friends here and don’t forget to check out our review of Zorro the cot here!
What did you think about our interview with Mumpreneur Esther from Jumbo and Friends? Let us know in the comments below