For the past few weeks we’ve been interviewing Mumpreneurs, finding out how they balance business and babies and what it takes to start a business from scratch from home.
These women have been such an inspiration and have opened up to us about their challenges, the highlights of running their own business and how they deal with that annoying thing called mum guilt.
If you missed last weeks interview with Mumpreneur Kate from Myweeteepee, you can catch it here.
This week we’re so excited to interview the beautiful Carrie, founder of Jewel Box Cornwall, and a fellow Cornish Mumpreneur.
Tell us a bit about your business? Why and when did you start it?
I’m Carrie, the mum behind Jewel Box Cornwall. I’m a Cornish born-and-bred mother of two very young and beautiful boys.
I started out creating delicate necklaces, earrings and bracelets as gifts for friends and family, but in May 2015 when going through some of my old jewellery, a thought came to me. Why were these beautiful items sat in a box at the back of the cupboard? Yes, some of them may not have fit or suited me anymore, but they were each so unique and meaningful that I felt they should be on display, not hidden away!
And so the idea of the Jewel Box was born!
I now sell these signature display boxes so that you can mount your special/occasion jewellery, and show them off to the world (or indeed to yourself to bring back fond memories)! I also felt it was important that every box should be as unique as the jewels inside them, so each one is completely customisable to you, making them the perfect personal gift or keepsake.
How many children do you have and what are their ages?
My two troublemakers are Eden 3 ½ years and River who’s almost 2, they are both incredibly fun and mischievous little boys, I love them dearly. Without these cheeky chaps coming along I wouldn’t have pushed myself to start my own business, I would still be too scared to take a gamble on my dream career.
Where do you like to work from?
I work from home, I use my workshop/office in the loft especially in the summer or on evenings where I don’t want any distractions. I have everything I need up in my workshop; all my jewellery supplies, frames and packaging, even my printer so I can print and pack orders quickly.
I don’t spend every evening up in my workshop, I write my social media campaigns and newsletters downstairs so I’m not totally neglecting my husband every night – oops! Sometimes I bring my supplies downstairs and work from the breakfast bar or kitchen table to work on Jewel Box designs as often I feel more inspired or in need of extra space.
How do you balance both work and family life?
That is a very tricky question that I’m still trying to figure out. As I’m still employed 3 days per week I mostly work on building my business in the evenings, once the boys are snuggled up in bed. I keep my ‘days-off’ free to play and cherish my children. If I need to post orders or get supplies then I either order it online or I bring the boys along, they love a shopping trip (although mummy can find it hard with them running around).
I write plenty of ‘to do’ lists to keep me on track, daily/weekly and now I set myself a overall monthly goal. It helps me to write everything down or log everything on Trello, I find it helps to minimise the feeling of overwhelm. To really address my work/life balance I aim to ultimately have everything done by the weekend so I can spend the days with my kids and hubby as ‘family time’ (and maybe use a Saturday night to make up some bubblegum jewellery whilst watching a film).
What is your vision/dream for your business?
My BIG dream is for my Jewel Boxes to become a well known in the UK giftware market and for my jewellery to be loved by those who wear them. I feel there is a gap in the market for displaying sentimental jewellery so I would love for people to think of my Jewel Boxes when deciding what gifts to buy for their ones.
I aspire for Jewel Box to enable me to work full-time on my jewellery business when my children start school. My goal over the next year is to raise my profile and brand awareness, create gorgeous jewellery and Jewel Boxes that my customers will want to buy, and with that the sales should hopefully increase too.
What have been your biggest challenges so far and how did you overcome them?
Biggest challenges so far, I would say is dealing with mum guilt – those mixed emotions and pulls! Yes without any doubt managing finances and trying to ‘fit everything into everyday life’ are challenges in themselves, but what I really find challenging is my ‘should I be doing this?’ moments.
My family is everything to me and I hate wasting time, so if Jewel Box errands take over most of a day where I should be focusing on my boys, this torn feeling rears its head, and that’s when things can ‘wobble’. I keep reminding myself of why I’m doing this.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
My highlights of running my own business is making contacts and joining forces with like-minded creative people in the blogging, design world and working with small independent shops and businesses.
Being a Mumpreneur can be very lonely and you will find that networking and meeting someone for a working afternoon tea is the most wonderful thing EVER – finding out that everyone is in a similar boat to you with the same dreams and struggles is reassuring.
I have achieved my first annual sales target which is ace (yay), but I try not to place the whole ‘validation’ of my business on sales as there are so many little successes you can celebrate as there are so many different aspects to running a business and they all need to work together to move forwards so I keep a log of all the accomplishments I’m proud of, which really helps when I’m having a mum guilt ‘wobble’ as I can remind myself of all my successes.
How did you fund your business?
I haven’t applied for funding, I wanted to give it a go without having the worry of having a business loan over my head. I’ve managed by invested a little money each month and reinvested all sales back into the business.
For me, I want to build a sustainable and realistic business. I’ve invested in materials, a kick-ass website and copywriting. I’ve outsourced elements of my business where I believe it’s worth it for time efficiency and for professional in areas where I’m not too confident. Outsourcing has actually increased my confidence as I know I have given my business the opportunity to shine.
What advice would you give to other mums starting a business?
Do something you are passionate about, your business will become part of your life so make sure you love it! Make the most of naptime and working in the evenings. I have time to work (at my 9-5 job) and play during the day and get to work on my business in the evenings.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to be a one-man band, outsource when you can – your weaknesses are others strengths. It gives you time to get one with the elements of your business that you are good at!
Keep a log of all of your accomplishments (big and small) for all of those mum guilt wobbles that we all have.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
In the mornings I squeeze a 5 minute social media blitz or read a blog post with my morning coffee (I need a coffee to wake myself up and to keep up with the boys!).
I must say I make the most out of my Wednesdays with housework/Jewel Box. It’s my one day of having a good two hours to myself in the afternoon (thank god for preschool and naptime!) so I set myself a goal for the ‘daytime’ and make sure I’ve got EV-E-RY-THING ready to go as soon as River’s goes for his nap.
I block out evenings to dedicate myself to achievable tasks, such as scheduling social media posts and emarketing campaigns which is a great feeling knowing that I’m on top of my marketing throughout the week. And I always have a long list of ‘things to do’ for the rest of the week from making up orders, painting, jewellery making, uploading new items onto the website, ordering supplies, bookkeeping.
Even on ‘slow days’ as a mum/solopreneur you are never short of things to do but you always feel like you are short of time. This is something I struggle with, I want to do everything now but I have to pace myself otherwise I can feel overwhelmed and adding more pressure on myself than I need to.
Do you have any tips to banish the mum guilt we all feel?
To overcome the mum guilt I’ve become fairly fixed on the times I have to spend working on Jewel Box. This helps manage my expectations of what I can do in a week and I feel happy that if I focus on the boys during the day, I can focus on building my dream when they are asleep.
I plan my days to make sure I don’t forget anything and make sure I have fun with the boys. I plan not to do very much business stuff when the boys are around and save anything big for the evenings. I schedule as much as possible – using an evening to schedule a week’s worth of social media posts is great, then I can quickly reply to any comments during the days and have reassurance that I’m on-top of my marketing. And weekends are for spending with family so I try to keep that as a strict ruling for myself.
Do you ever get the chance to have time off for yourself? If so, what do you like to do?
I don’t really find that I have time off to myself. When I’m not making jewellery and Jewel Boxes or working on building my business, I’m likely to be out at the beach, sailing with the husband and kids or recovering lost toy cars from the back of the sofa – oops!
Jewel Box is my passion and my creative outlet, I absolutely love working on my business and when I do have an evening or afternoon to myself I usually have a very specific ‘goal’ I want to work towards on my business, it’s my ‘me’ time and I love it! I think this is the same for many creatives and I think we do struggle to ‘take time off’. I get so much pleasure and pride when I learn new skills, launch a new product or collection, that I just want to do more!
Thank you so much Carrie for this beautiful insight into Jewel Box. We love that your advice to mums wanting to start their own business’ and we’re sure that your boxes are going to be a complete success! Be sure to check out Carrie’s gorgeous website here and read Life Unexpected’s review of one of her stunning jewellery gift sets.
What did you think about our interview with Mumpreneur Carrie from Jewel Box? Let us know in the comments below.