Welcome back to ‘Interview With A Mum In Business‘. Today I’m introducing to you Kate and Lucy, the two Mums behind the genius children’s birthday gifting company Not Another Birthday. They are also kindly giving away one of their ‘Not Another Birthday’ gift bundle to a very lucky reader. You can enter the competition at the bottom of this post.
Interview With A Mum In Business Featuring: Not Another Birthday
How many of you get inundated with kids party invitations and then have the stress of trying to find them a gift that doesn’t cost too much, but is unique enough that they won’t get it twice? Now my daughter is at school I’ve started to really feel the stress of ‘class birthdays’ (I swear there are more invitations now than when she was at nursery). It was this stress that made me stumble across the most genius company; Not Another Birthday, when I was looking for easy, unique gifts for one of Evie’s friends.
When I found out that it was run by two Mums, Kate and Lucy, I just knew I had to interview them for this series and introduce them to all you other fellow parents who get a little bit ‘ahh’ when the next party invitation comes home in the school bag. One thing you are going to LOVE about Not Another Birthday is that they know your stresses and they’ve cleverly put together a solution for it.
Before I give too much away, I’m going to hand over the reigns to Kate and Lucy. They are going to share with us a little bit more about ‘Not Another Birthday’ and how they run their business around the chaos of family life.
Tell us a bit about your business? Why and when did you start it?
Not Another Birthday is designed to be the busy mum’s answer to finding the perfect children’s gifts. We sell themed gift boxes and bundles, full of carefully selected presents for children aged 3-8.
Each gift is beautifully wrapped and comes in either our signature ‘Not Another Birthday’ box, covered in our doodle design and made for the child to colour in and keep, or tied in a bundle for the birthday boy or girl to unwrap. Each box or bundle has a focus on activity and creativity, each gift is designed to be thoughtful and unique, and everything is carefully packaged to make your life easier! We started the business in July 2018, to find the solution to a problem that we regularly face!
We are best friends and mums to two young children each. Having grown extremely close over the years, as part of our close knit circle of friends, we both felt in recent years that we’d like to build a business together, based on our shared passions and interests. Our children have grown up together and we share the challenges and passions of all mums, so knew there would be something we could work on to connect with fellow mums and offer a solution to a commonly faced problem.
Not Another Birthday was born!
How did you get the idea for your business?
We have four children between us, all at primary school. We both found that as soon as they started nursery, we began to be inundated with birthday party invitations – often for children we didn’t even really know. Then we found that often we would be dashing to Tesco, The Works, or going straight to Amazon to find presents. Often things that were fairly bland, expensive, or something the child may receive a few times. It struck us that this could be something that people may really appreciate help with.
We’re very different mums in terms of organisation. Kate is something of a domestic goddess and thrives on order and planning. Lucy is a bit of a whirlwind, always trying to achieve far more in a day than is humanly possible and therefore continually chases her tail. It soon became clear to us that we were both the target market. We would both appreciate the ease and convenience of a business like ours, to help us with the regular hunt for birthday gifts.
For Kate, it provides a trusted place to go to stock up on presents that kids will love throughout the year. For Lucy, it is a quick and affordable solution to parties that pop up that you’d forgotten about, and ensures that a lovely, thoughtful present can be found, without lots of time to think about it!
We had been inspired by lots of the Mumpreneurs we follow on Instagram, who are successfully running businesses selling wonderful products and we’re really passionate about following in their footsteps. We take particular inspiration from businesses such as Scamp and Dude and Don’t Buy her Flowers.
Where do you like to work from?
We both work from home and have finessed the art of cloud-based working. We have shared documents which we work from and a dedicated Whatsapp chat!
Many long evenings are spent on the computer in either house whilst the kids are asleep and Kate’s garage is fondly known as ‘the warehouse’. We both have ‘normal’ jobs as well as families so we have to fit this in around everything else.
How do you balance both work and family life?
It’s tough! And something we both struggle with. Lucy is a freelance PR consultant, working from home with a 10 month old baby and a 7-year-old son. Kate is a part-time civil servant with a 4-year old daughter and a 6-year-old son.
We don’t think there is a perfect balance to doing this kind of thing but we’re extremely proud to be role models for our children, showing them that you can and should be passionate about your work and that you can involve your family in this. We’re really lucky to be friends as well as partners – our children often model for our product photography and we sometimes bring all the kids together for some house-trashing chaos whilst we get on with some work!
We’re pretty shattered but then isn’t every parent??
What is your vision/dream for your business?
We would love to be able to leave our other jobs and work on NAB full-time. We’d like to grow the business so that we can become the retailer of choice when it comes to children’s gifts.
We have so many ideas for the business in terms of new products and associated brands but we need to learn, grow and develop and we have a long way to go yet.
What have been your biggest challenges so far and how did you overcome them?
Finances and time! We are both very conscious that we could have achieved an awful lot more for the business already if it wasn’t for family life and our other jobs. But, we see this as a very privileged position to be in. We’re busy because we’re building a business we’re passionate about whilst doing the best job in the world – parenting.
It’s also been hard to keep on top of finances. It’s not cheap setting up a business and the old adage of ‘you have to speculate to accumulate’ is certainly true. Sadly this means you need some speculative cash to begin with! We’re being very careful with every penny, doing absolutely everything possible for ourselves, and pulling on our own talents and expertise to drive the business forward.
How Did You Fund Your Business?
It’s all our own money so far, so we have had to start very small, but believe us when we say we dream big.
We had originally planned to employ a web designer to build our site, but soon knew we were so particular about what we wanted that we decided to do it ourselves. Kate spent hours learning how to use our web platform and slowly but surely built the site with no previous experience.
We visited a photographer friend who gave us a masterclass in product photography, we spent days and days researching for product suppliers, and we use Lucy’s skills in PR and marketing to drive forward our social media activity.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
We literally squeal with delight every time we receive an order. It’s an incredible feeling and really does show you how much passion goes into a small business. People don’t realise that with one simple purchase they are making someone’s day. Every time someone buys from us, it’s that reassurance that we’ve got this right, that we know what we’re doing and that we’ve built something that people love.
What advice would you give to other mums starting a business?
Go for it! Don’t be afraid. Most people question themselves, which is a good thing. You need a constant sanity check, but don’t be hampered by the worry that you won’t succeed. Everything is worth a try and if you are passionate about it and put the work in, you can do it.
We were given some great advice by Steph from Don’t Buy her Flowers. She told us that we shouldn’t launch our business as everything we want it to be. Always have something new to launch, something in your back pocket to produce and always look to develop and grow. You don’t have to be everything all at once. That was so useful for us and helped us rationalise our ideas into something that could realistically be launched now.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I don’t think we have a typical day! Every day is based around our kids and whatever our work schedules will be. Each day is punctuated by regular messages on our Whatsapp chat, checking in with each other, agreeing tasks, celebrating over orders and making plans for the week ahead.
Do you have any tips to banish the mum guilt we all feel?
You’ll never banish it! I think we have both been guilty of severe mum guilt at every stage of parenting. Whether it’s questioning your decisions around your newborn, or weighing up when to go back to work. We all think we’re doing it wrong at some point.! Whenever we get a bit crazy, we’re great at reminding each other about perspective. To calm down, take stock, stand back and take a look at what you’re actually doing, and what you’re really dealing with.
We both know that our priority at all times is our family. There is nothing we wouldn’t do for our children, and the majority of our decisions are grounded in this. We are extremely lucky to be in a super tight-knit group of friends that are there for each other through thick and thin. There isn’t a single worry that one of us hasn’t had, that someone else can help us with. It’s like gold dust and we wouldn’t be without each other. We’re also supported by our wonderful husbands who regularly put up with their vanishing wives who are off on ‘NAB’ business!
Do you ever get the chance to have time off for yourself? If so, what do you like to do?
We both love holidays and have been lucky enough to jet off with our families this year for some real quality time. Kate headed to Mexico and Lucy had a couple of European beach breaks. We’ve also enjoyed some weekends away together with our friends. Time away from the struggles and strains of every day is so important and for us. It’ll always be a part of the year, even if it’s a really local, super-cheap couple of nights away from home. When the kids are a bit bigger and money isn’t tight, we’re planning to take all the kids away to the slopes for some skiing – something we’ve had the best time doing as friends.
What is your favourite thing about the products that you create?
They’re beautiful, thoughtful and affordable. There’s no ‘tat’ in our bundles or boxes. Every item is either based around creativity and activity or make-believe. We also pride ourselves on the attention to detail in our packaging.
We’ve spent a lot of time working on our branding so that our boxes would be super-appealing to the children receiving them, but also really attractive to the mums and dads buying them. We wanted to create something we would love our children to receive and do you know what? We think we’ve done it.
Thank you so much Kate and Lucy for letting me interview you! Kate and Lucy are also kindly giving away one of their gift bundles to a lucky winner. The winner can choose their favourite from her website. To enter, simply fill in the rafflecopter below…
a Rafflecopter giveaway
How unique and helpful are Not Another Birthday’s boxes?
I cannot tell you how much I love this business. It’s so incredibly helpful for parents everywhere and I’m definitely going to be using them a lot over the next ten years. I also think its incredible that they’re both not just juggling this business, but also full time jobs and family life! How amazing are they? Their little business has so much potential too and I can really see it being a number one, one stop shop for parents everywhere in the future. I can’t wait to watch them grow and blossom!
You can find out more about Kate and Lucy and Not Another Birthday here:
That’s it for today’s interview. If you missed last weeks interview with Anne-Clare from ‘Cotton Twist’, you can catch up with it here: