I am so excited to be bringing back the ‘Interview With A Mum In Business‘ feature to Life Unexpected. I ran this series a year ago and it not only was it incredibly popular, but it was also so amazing to get a rare insight into these amazing Mums lives, who have started businesses around the juggle of family life.
It’s no easy feat, getting a business off the ground. Throw babies, toddlers and lack of sleep into the mix and it’s a wonder any of these Mums manage to get anything done.
Today, I am re-launching the series starting with an interview with an incredible woman called Sally, who will be your new best friend if you’ve just had a baby.
You know all those things you really missed during pregnancy? Sally lovingly puts them together into a little hamper especially designed with new mums in mind.
What’s even more amazing is that Sally created this business on the back of not one, but two very close knit pregnancies. In our interview I’m going to get down to the nitty gritty of what makes ‘Mums Back’ an amazing business and how Sally balances it all with not one, but two pre-schoolers at home!
Tell us a bit about your business?
I started mumsback.com following 2 back to back pregnancies. I really missed all the stuff I wasn’t allowed when pregnant. When I got pregnant again when my first was only just 3 months and and was confined to another 9 months abstinence it really hit home!
My NCT gang and I often joked about how the first thing we’d do after having the baby would be to have a glass of wine and some unpasteurised cheese. It started off as a bit of a joke, but my husband actually got me wine and pate as a gift not long after having my first baby and it was actually a really lovely gift.
All the other new mum gifts I received were really lovely, but I realised they were all quite baby focussed…
I noticed a bit of a gap in the market. I thought there should be more that recognised the journey of the mum. After all, pregnancy and childbirth ain’t no walk in the park! So the concept for mumsback.com was born – luxury hamper gifts for new mums, focussing on the yummy stuff you’re not allowed whilst pregnant. Luckily my husband is a web developer, so it made sense to create an online business. The social aim of my business didn’t come till later on.
Sadly, following the birth of my second baby, I suffered a terrible late onset of postnatal depression. It was hideous and for far too long I had no idea I had the condition. So now mumsback.com also raises awareness about perinatal mental health. £1 from every hamper also goes to PANDAS Foundation too, who help and support families going through perinatal mental health issues.
We now have a range of different hampers including products like high end prosecco, wine, pate, cheese, crackers, chutney, chocolate, energy balls, gin, tonic, books and teething jewellery. We are also now a partner with Not On The High Street.
Where do you like to work from?
I actually have 3 places I work from. I do a lot of the admin side from home in the evenings, but I also work from an office in Brighton called “Entrepreneurial Spark”. It’s a hub for entrepreneurs and a business incubator run and funded by Natwest. It’s a fantastic place to meet like minded business people and they offer fantastic support and training.
The third place I work from, bizarrely, is a pub! All of my stock is stored at a community pub in Brighton called The Bevy. It’s a fab place that supports and owned by the community. I rent space there, which is fantastic. Because I sell alcoholic products in my hampers it’s essential that they are fulfilled from a licensed premises, so the pub works great for me. It’s also a really fun and supportive environment to be in.
How do you balance both work and family life?
Really….with difficulty! This is always the number one issue. My kids are 2 and 3 at the moment, so it’s really hard balancing it all. They go to preschool 2 days a week, plus 1 other morning. So it’s a case of getting as much done as possible then, as well as working most evenings quite late. It’s a real juggle, but it’s worth it.
What is your vision/dream for your business?
I’d love for mumsback.com to become the number 1 gift for new mums within the next 4-5 years, whilst raising as much awareness around perinatal mental health as possible. That’s the big dream.
What have been your biggest challenges so far and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge so far has definitely been that terrible period of postnatal depression. It came on because my second daughter developed a horrible undiagnosed medical condition which meant she was incredibly unsettled and in pain for much of the time. Sleep deprivation became a real problem for me (& my husband).
The stress of hearing my baby cry so much and not being able to do anything about it, mixed with no sleep and the guilt of not giving enough attention to my other baby was awful and led to me breaking down. It took a long time to get a diagnosis and sadly I began to self harm before doing so.
Once I had the diagnosis I gradually began to get better, and thankfully so did my daughter. Bizarrely setting up mumsback.com actually aided my recovery. It gave me a fantastic focus and a sense of ambition and drive (though there’s no way I could have started it until I was well on the road to recovery). I am so grateful I am now able to turn such a bleak experience into something quite positive. I’m also very grateful for all my family and friend’s support during those dark days, especially my husband who was my total rock.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
There’s been a few highlights! It’s hard to choose just one. Every time I get an order I get a real high. It feels amazing to know I am helping cheer up all those mums during those crazy, exhausting rollercoaster days of new motherhood. It was great when I got the call from Not On The High Street asking if I’d like to be a partner because they loved my concept.
I felt like it was a real testament to my hard work. I’ve also been lucky enough to be on the television and radio a few times speaking about issues around parenthood. I have been interviewed on live TV on both The Victoria Derbyshire show and Channel 5 news, and also had a few features in the national press, and that always gives me a real buzz.
How did you fund your business?
I was very lucky in that I just needed money for initial stock, some initial design work (which a very talented friend did) and some printing. My husband was able to do all the technical web side, so it was quite easy to fund myself from the off. I didn’t need thousands of pounds to get off the ground or anything.
What advice would you give to other mums starting a business?
I’d say to go easy on yourself. It’s hard work. I just wouldn’t even attempt it in the first year of motherhood, life is tough enough! But if you do want to start something yourself, then make sure it’s something you are really passionate about. It’s hard to keep motivated sometimes, and triply hard if you are not super passionate.
That’s why I’m so pleased I have the social aim to my business too. It’s what keeps me going when the going gets tough. I’d also say to make sure you connect with like minded people. I love The Talented Ladies Club, who support women/mothers who are passionate about their careers and businesses.
They are an amazing resource and have fab blogs and info, as well as training courses. I am completing one called “Kick Start” which is for people wanting to set up their business and it’s been amazing for me. They also have a free facebook group (TLC business club) which is a great place to get support and meet other mums in business.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
Firstly I have to get the kids to preschool. Once that’s done next on the list is dropping off my orders to the depot to be sent off. I then walk to the office to crack on with work. It could be a blog or newsletter I’m writing, or perhaps a feature for a magazine. It depends what is going on at the time. I sometimes get asked to be on podcasts, so I really enjoy recording those.
I’m also asked to speak at events, so can often be found practising a talk. I have to make sure I keep on top of stock levels so I spend a lot of time dealing with all my lovely suppliers. If I’m at the Entrepreneurial Spark office there are often workshops going on, like ‘pitch club’, where I get to practise my elevator pitch. All good fun! Before I know it it’s usually time to pick up the girls again. The days go so fast!
Do you have any tips to banish the mum guilt we all feel?
It’s so hard! Well, I know it’s said a lot but it is SO TRUE – you cannot pour from an empty cup. So it really is important to look after yourself. So don’t feel guilty for having a bit of “me time” or having some ambition.
It’s healthy. And try not to feel guilty for occasionally losing it…shouting at the kids or thinking “I cannot do this any more!”…I think that’s totally normal and you get through it.
Do you ever get the chance to have time off for yourself? If so, what do you like to do?
I do try and have a bit of time off, especially at weekends. I love seeing my friends and drinking wine mainly. I’m also a closet raver, and I recently had the chance to go and watch Leftfield which was amazing.
My husband and I have tickets to go and see Orbital in a few months and I can’t wait for that. I am also a big fan of the spa day. I’ve done one alone and LOVED it. I really recommend it if you can.
What is your favourite thing about the products that you create?
I love that it’s a pretty unique concept and that they are purely and solely for mum. Something just for her to recognise that crazy journey motherhood takes you on. I feel it’s really needed and I’m so proud to be providing it.
I myself would be so chuffed to receive one, and that’s what makes it so lovely for me to send them and I also love writing the handwritten gift cards that accompany the hampers. It feels like a real privilege to be privy to that information, and I have been known to shed a few tears at the beautiful heartfelt messages that go in them.
Thank you so much Sally for this wonderful insight into your business. Sally is also kindly giving away one of her ‘Classic Hampers’ to one of you lovely readers. It would make such a gorgeous, perfect gift for a new Mum, or even a lovely treat for yourself. This is what a Classic Hamper contains…
To be in with a chance to win, simply enter via the rafflecopter below…
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please note that all e-mail addresses collected on entry, will be added to both Mums Back and Life Unexpected’s e-mail database.
How amazing is Sally?
Thank you so much Sally for this lovely interview. I completely agree with her that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Taking a break is so important and she is also so right in saying that you shouldn’t feel guilty for me time or having ambition. A happy, fulfilled parent equals happy, fulfilled kids!
If you do work from home and you’re struggling to find the balance, I have two posts for you to check out. The first is ‘5 Ways To Find The Balance As A Working Mum‘ and the second is ‘10 Ways To Survive As A Work At Home Mum‘ This year Life Unexpected is on a mission, not only to showcase amazing Mums like Sally, who have launched their own businesses. But, I’m also on a mission to help all Mums to find the balance in life. Keep your eyes on Life Unexpected for lots more tips and tricks this year. At the end of the year I’m also launching a planner that is designed for busy Mums, that I hope will help all of you to find a more balanced you!