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Meet the community

ALL by MAMA supports mothers who are running a business alongside raising a family. 

In celebration of International Women's Day and the theme #ChooseToChallenge, we asked our members some questions about owning a business as woman in today’s society and the challenges they may have faced.

 

“Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

 

 

Tanya Datta, Founder of Lily & Ribbon

Why did you start Lily & Ribbon?

I was really struggling buying maternity clothing and had an award ceremony to attend with nothing to wear - I wore a blue spotty dress spent a fortune on it and just felt like a whale! 

Then my husband booked for us to go to Dubai and I couldn’t find maternity swimwear, and this is how it really started. I just couldn’t find maternity wear that was good quality and well priced. I then faced the same problem when I was postpartum and starting my breastfeeding journey. I told my husband about the frustration and he told me to do something about it! So, I did and that’s how Lily and Ribbon was born.

 

What are the highs and lows of running a business?

Having worked in senior management in the corporate environment for a number of years - the highs were to develop the values and environment of my own business. 

I was so use to managing a team of 100s of employees so I initially struggled to balance all the work load on my own as when you start the business you should try and juggle everything yourself the first year to know what your strengths and what area your first hire needs to be in.

The highs are extreme and out of this world and mine have been seeing the business grow, my team grow: and the amazing accolades we have received for being the best maternity newcomer In the Evening standard as well as The Independent and Women’s Health. 

 

Lows 

I was used to running large teams so it can be lonely place as you need to manage your energy as you don’t have a team around you which was always my pickup!

A tip I recently learnt from an online entrepreneur panels discussion by Bina Metha and Addie Pinkster talks about having a ‘personal board’ people who are experts / phone a friend in certain areas so then it’s not as lonely and you then you also know they are the best people you can speak to about the subject matter.

I believe you should Celebrate your wins as the lows, e.g. supplier problems or freight problems should not define you! 

 

Is there anything you have done, that has helped you to grow your business?

Going against the grain and tried to tackle imposter syndrome head on. Showed up and taken part in public speaking about my business journey and this led me to deliver a keynote at the American Embassy. 

Road mapped and visualised what success means to me; I won Asian women achievement award back in 2015 which was a pivotal moment as I met lots of women who were entrepreneurs and professionals and thought I would love to have my own business. My judge was Xavier Rolet (former CEO of the London stock exchange) he told me to reach for the moon because if I fall, I’ll end up in the stars and this has led me to aim really high for the business.

Always relied on my network to help sometimes it’s not immediately but some of the conversations I had 4 years ago are blooming now. I am never be afraid to ask someone for their expertise or help.

 

What’s next for you?

  • Currently expanding the range and reviewing our categories to ensure we have the best products for mums to be and launching some exciting new products next quarter so watch this space! 
  • Embarking on a new charity collaboration which is really close to my heart from next month

 

What is the one piece of advice you would give for other women, who are starting a business alongside family life?

The business will be like another baby - It will be the best and the worst for you! 

Like babies fall when they start to walk you will fall in your business, but you have to pick yourself up and carry on and learn to refine with every step.

When you get your first sale or press coverage it will feel like when your baby said ‘mummy’ an unforgettable moment! 

 

Katie Angotti, Founder of Katie Angotti Nutrition

Why did you start Katie Angotti Nutrition?

The idea for my business started last year, whilst on maternity leave with my first baby. My job was being made redundant and we were well in the midst of the first lockdown, and I was slowly coming to terms with what it meant to be a mother, no longer with the same freedom that afforded me the ability to travel for work that I had previously.

I wanted to find a way that I could combine all the aspects of work that I loved, with the freedom of being able to manage my own time and be there for my son when he needed me. I couldn’t see myself going back to work full time, but I really missed having something that was just me, separate from being ‘mum’.

I set up my nutrition consultancy business, to help busy working mums to be take control of their health during pregnancy, in a way that they take control of the rest of their life! I’ve always been incredibly passionate about introducing food to babies, so I started running weaning workshops for new parents, who were missing out on connecting with other parents with baby groups being closed. I’ve worked in this area for over 10 years, so I have been able to bring together my expertise as a nutritionist, with my new ‘practical’ mum experience to give parents realistic support with the challenges they are facing.

 

What are the highs and lows of running a business?

The best aspect for me has been being able to support parents who really need it and see the results in the photos of the happy smiling babies. Being able to work this closely with clients, and give them the time they need, which I could never do when I worked in the NHS. The challenges are definitely finding the time to switch off, and keeping work separate from being mum. When my son is at home, I want to give him my full attention, not be distracted by emails. The more my business is growing, the more I want to do with it, and it is so easy to want to spend every hour of the day working on it.

 

Is there anything you have done, that has helped you to grow your business?

I’ve sought out a lot of support with getting my business up and running – mainly through networking groups of other mums, like ALL by MAMA, and my local Freelance Mums group in Bristol. I’ve learnt so much about the different aspects of running a business, and really valued the support from other mums in a similar position – that comradery and genuine care that they give makes it feel like you are part of a big team.

 

What’s next for you?

My next focus for 2021, is to develop my online offering for parents and pregnant women. At some point I’d like to be able to take a holiday or think about growing our family, so looking at how my business can continue to run without me is a priority. I have lots of ideas!

 

What is the one piece of advice you would give for other women, who are starting a business alongside family life?

A piece of advice I would offer someone starting a business alongside a family, is to reach out and speak to other women who are doing the same thing, at different stages in their business.  It is so easy to look at someone else’s business and only see what is going well for them, but they will be able to tell you all the challenges that they’ve faced and overcome, which makes you realise that you are not alone!”

 

 

Marnie Wills, Founding Director of SportyMinis Limited

Why did you start SportyMinis Limited?

I wanted to be a full-time athlete, so I started my business SportyMinis to make an impact in the world of early years sports and physical education as well as have the flexibility to be a dual international athlete.  

 

What are the highs and lows of running a business?

Highs are the constant buzz when you collaborate or win new business and or read the parent testimonials about how their child's favourite day at nursery is SportyMinis day. The low's - hiring coaches, endless admin, when a pandemic hits!

 

Is there anything you have done, that has helped you to grow your business?

Being consistent on our chosen social channels, collaborations, and giving free value to parents and early years settings. 

 

What’s next for you?

Franchising and more on demand Physical Education Lessons. 

 

What is the one piece of advice you would give for other women, who are starting a business alongside family life?

Block your work time, as trying to juggle mum time with the admin of running your business is exhausting and mummy guilt can kick in.  And celebrate every little win on a daily and weekly basis not just with yourself but your family, friends and business connections. 

 

Catriona Bateman, Founder of Little Folks Nursery Rhymes

Why did you start Little Folks Nursery Rhymes?

I started my business to earn a few pennies around my boys growing up, they were 4 & 2 when I started. And I have always been passionate about music & singing for everyone, I helped run a voluntary singsong for a couple of years and some of the Mums said I should do it and earn some money! So, it started with me singing with guitar to customers in one small venue. And then numbers grew, I needed more venues and added more weekly, well attended sessions. And it has just steadily grown over the years, with me trying to steer it in all the different but relevant ways I can think to do that!

 

What are the highs and lows of running a business?

HIGHS – I utterly love having my own business, every single ounce of energy I have goes into pushing it forward and trying to make it grow and grow – I love the challenge of it all and knowing that the buck stops with me and I can put all my creative juices into it -  hugely rewarding spreading music and singing – it’s a complete joy!

LOWS – Hilariously and simultaneously, many of the above ha ha! It is a never-ending mission; I do find it hard to not work late every night; the buck stopping with me is sometimes really daunting! BUT OVERALL I WOULDN’T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY!

 

Is there anything you have done, that has helped you to grow your business?

I think paying attention to as many aspects as possible of running your own business helps you grow – now, not everyone will agree with this scatter-gun approach, but I have always had oodles of energy and I just felt I had to throw myself at everything! And I have never really had a budget to do it in any other way. In the early days the first thing that helped me expand was as simple as getting a website built, customers came knocking at my door. 

Specific to my sector, I then employed an on-line bookings partner to facilitate further growth. I then branched out into doing Children's parties/Private events. 

I always listen to my customers, who have given me brilliant ideas over the years - countless customers said they wished they could take me home to calm their little ones, the idea of a CD album was born, I recently launched it on iTunes and it’s selling in many territories. Still early days but I’ve worked on other high-quality nursery-rhymes related products for my website shop, released a gorgeous colouring book this year to great reviews. I hope to keep growing this retail side to my business. 

Taking up opportunities that come your way can also help you grow, and even more importantly, seeking them out yourself!  I’ve played at large festivals and collaborated with many other businesses performing on their Social Media channels through being chatty, persistent and using my networks. 

My YouTube Channel is helping my business grow outside of my local area, it's now getting thousands of views & is growing all the time through marketing & being tenacious with Social Media Instagram 'influencers'. 

And finally, the biggest propeller to date has been pivoting my whole business online due to COVID – this act has taken little folk nursery rhymes to another level reaching parts of the UK and abroad, France, Germany, Spain and last week Zimbabwe! Places that I’d only dreamed of reaching!

 

What’s next for you?

I am so excited to keep pushing my little folk nursery rhymes further  - I am working on offering a monthly subscription service so families can have fun sing-songs with me online wherever they are in the world, I am really passionate about having a kind of little folk family across the globe, all singing and having fun! It blows my mind the possibilities of being able to reach people by the power of all these new platforms springing up! 

 

What is the one piece of advice you would give for other women, who are starting a business alongside family life?

I am terrible at just saying one thing! NEVER, EVER, EVER, GIVE UP – if it is your passion to do what you do, then that will see you through – network, network, be with the amazing ALL by MAMA! BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. But I think the best thing I have ever learned over these last 9 years is MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE TO SOMEONE YOU RESPECT - I WISH SO MUCH I HAD DONE THIS FOR THE FIRST 8 YEARS OF MY BUSINESS! It really is transformative.

 

Hannah Saunders, Founder & Managing Director of Toddle

Why did you tart Toddle?

My son got chapped lips and I found nothing worked. I started making my own, and others started asking about it, as it worked on baby dribble! The dribble proof ® lip balm was born! I also came to a point in my career in the armed forces where I didn’t want to be away from my family anymore. 

 

What are the highs and lows of running a business?

High, would be winning ‘Pitch it Wales’ a Dragon’s Den style competition in front of 100 people; I was super nervous, but I won and that was my first 50k investment into the company. Low would be having to fire people, absolutely hate it, but for the survival of the company it was a necessity. 

 

Is there anything you have done, that has helped you to grow your business?

For me, real growth came when I stopped being a busy fool. I was doing everything I could to grow the business, I was spreading myself thin with a tiny team looking into export, big retail, e-commerce… and the tasks that come with those behemoths. I have started working smarter, based on strategic aims followed up with clear objectives. I now focus my efforts where the bigger gains will come from. So, for us, retail is super important, but we were spending loads of time growing our Instagram following. Why? It felt like it was maybe an ego thing. We don’t need it, so we stepped back from that and put out efforts into real revenue making activity and are seeing great results.

What’s next for you?

For us 2021 is about retail, we’ve started strong with a drop shipping model on Friends of Joules and are now up to 25 retailers. We’re looking to grow this channel, with our main aim being a large grocer. We’ve also started working with the DIT to export to China and the US and are launching into PAN EU on Amazon and Amazon USA. 

 

What is the one piece of advice you would give for other women, who are starting a business alongside family life?

Just don’t give up! It will get hard, you will make sacrifices, but keep going. I’ve seen people with better business ideas that mine give up, simply because it got tough. But I’m a big believer that every problem can be overcome, you can always rebrand, or change your product range/service by tweaking it… there’s just no such thing as failure. Family pressure will become hard, but if you give up then the sacrifice won’t have been worth it! 

 

Christina Patrick, Founder of Ara & Obi

Why did you start Ara & Obi?

Ara and Obi is an ethically sourced, eco and vegan-friendly bedroom and bathroom linen brand for babies and toddlers. 

As a mum of two eczema sufferers, I found it really difficult to find bedding, sheets in particular that did not irritate their skin further. Add the fact that they were both dribbled and posited lots, I spent so much money on trying to find the perfect sheets and I never found any. I wanted to create a brand that worked not just for my family, but for families everywhere. 

We specialise in bamboo bedding, blankets and towels. Perfect for those with delicate, sensitive and eczema prone skin. 

What are the highs and lows of running a business?

I really enjoy working for myself and seeing something I have invested so much time and energy into grow. It's one of my proudest achievements. Watching Ara and Obi go from idea to a bona-fide business has been so much fun. 

On the flip side there has also been lots of anxiety, which I guess is normal when it comes to running your own business, especially when you have put so much time, money and energy into it. When things don't go to plan, I always have to remind myself that this is a learning experience. 

Is there anything you have done, that has helped you to grow your business?
Joining business networks and collaborating with other brands has done wonders for helping me grow Ara and Obi. I have met so many amazing other business owners and have learnt so much from them. I now find myself in a position where I am able to encourage and share my learnings with others and I love that! I'm all about paying it forward. If someone can learn from my mistakes so they don't have to make the same ones or use my experiences as a shortcut to getting somewhere faster then I'm all for it. 

What’s next for you?

Continue to grow the brand. I have so many exciting plans for Ara and Obi, expanding the product range, building a community. The core of our business is helping children with sensitive and eczema prone skin. Our products are by no means a cure, but they go a long way in making their situation easier to manage. 

We are also on a mission to become carbon neutral by 2023 and are looking into other environmental certifications. Sustainability is really important to me, so it had to be a core value for any business I run. 


What is the one piece of advice you would give for other women, who are starting a business alongside family life?

Just do it and don't worry. You are being an amazing role model for your children, and you are teaching them valuable life skills that they will not learn in school. It's hard now when you are trying to juggle raising little ones finding you time and trying to run a business but keep at it, grow your business baby and your family will be all the better for it.

 

Karen Hudson, Founder of Hudini Coaching

Why did you start Hudini Coaching?

I became a coach as I wanted to help creative freelancers navigate their careers with confidence. I wanted people to feel focused, driven and motivated to achieve their dreams but not to the detriment of their life outside of work either. Balance is the wrong word as it generally sparks the suggestion that both parts are equal, but it's literally helping people to find the sweet spot where all aspects of their life are fulfilled.   

 

Is there anything you have done, that has helped you to grow your business?

The highs are definitely seeing the transformation in my clients, the lightbulb moments of sheer clarity on what they want to be doing and focused on how to get there. Unblocking anything holding them back so they are ready to tackle anything with a real 'can do' attitude. It's so rewarding and makes my heart burst seeing the smiles after the sessions especially if they have started at a place of sheer confusion and brain fog. Or receiving a message that they are in a really good place at work. 

If I'm honest I love everything about running a business so wouldn't use the word low. But the tough part can be wearing all the hats at first (marketing, admin, finances, sales, IT) as some of them may not suit your skillset and definitely won't be a reason you even wanted to start running a business. Key is to always assess where these are. Eventually you can build teams/outsource those jobs but when you start up it's worth noting what you enjoy and what you don't.

 

Is there anything you have done, that has helped you to grow your business?

I talk about it - a lot (!!) and let everyone know what I'm doing. Sorry friends!  Networking doesn't have to be attending events with strangers. Even telling your friends, family, previous colleagues etc can lead to you growing your name/brand.

 

What’s next for you?

I'm on maternity at the moment and building up my online courses. I only work with a few people on a 1:1 basis at a time so they get my full attention but the online courses mean that people can work at a self-paced style and still get some input from me when they're ready, in the form of workbooks, group zooms etc. It allows people to invest in themselves in a manageable and enjoyable way without the big price tag or time commitment. I love writing them too as my Mum is my proof-reader, so it prompts discussions about motherhood from mother and daughter perspective. 

 

What is the one piece of advice you would give for other women, who are starting a business alongside family life?

Start by writing your WHY. Why do you want to start a business in the first place and be really clear, write down all the reasons. And then ask yourself HOW you like to work and identify the SKILLS you have. Just because you don't like one aspect of running the business doesn't mean you won't succeed, or you should give up. Join/meet other like-minded Mamas and suddenly even the areas you don't enjoy feel OK as you will have people to bounce ideas off and support you. Women are brilliant at supporting other women so go find your tribe!  

 

We hope you enjoy the interviews, if you are interested in joining the community then head here

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