Parentpreneur story Alexandra Atkins, The Ultimate Baby Shower

“It’s not at all easy coping with being a mum and starting your own business. You need to be realistic and think about what you can achieve with the time you’ve got. It’s no fun at all if the children suffer because your mind is on your business and you stress because you can’t get things done. Just be realistic and take it from there. If you go ahead then believe in yourself and what you can achieve because at times you may be the only one who does.”

 

Names and ages of children: Maddy age 7 and Miranda age 4

Name of Business: The Ultimate Baby Shower Ltd (TUBS)

Geographical Location: Online business with warehousing in Herts

Website: www.theultimatebabyshower.co.uk

 

Tell us about your background

I went to university in Exeter and studied Environmental Science and Technology for 4 years. I’d always wanted to be an Environmental Consultant. After graduating I moved to Aberdeen and worked as an Environmental Scientist for 3 years. After that I moved to London and worked as an Environmental Consultant for 3 years. I travelled abroad frequently because I was working on environmental action plans for oil and gas companies. I met my husband whilst working in London and became pregnant with my first daughter. I always thought I’d employ a nanny and go back to work because I’d been doing the career I’d always wanted. Once my daughter arrived my heart literally melted and I couldn’t face leaving her with a nanny while I worked my way up the career ladder. I made the difficult decision to leave.

How and why did you start TUBS?

Over the next few months I saw many new mums struggling to cope with motherhood and felt there was a lack of support and celebration for these ladies whose lives had recently been changed forever. I have many family members in America and saw them celebrating / being celebrated by friends and family and the wealth of support that went with it by way of baby showers. I didn’t like the American image of baby showers as they were portrayed over here ie tacky and rather embarrassing but I loved the support element of it. I decided to begin a company which took all the good parts of baby showers ie the celebration, the support and the advice and wound them together with a British baby shower element ie afternoon teas and girlie gatherings.

Were there any challenges, either when starting up or now?

My main challenge has been support and having to get my head down and truly believe in myself and what I can achieve. Baby showers were a concept that many people in this country barely knew about 6 years ago, including my own family. It was very hard to justify the time I was spending on the business even though I never allowed it to impact the children. Now the business is doing well its much easier to justify where my time is spent but to begin with it was incredibly hard. I’d always ensure the children were my top priority and took a year out when my second daughter was born so I could focus on both of my girls. After that I would split my time, just working as and when I could – mainly in the evenings.

As a small business, do you have employees or do you hire Freelancers?

I set up the business on my own and work alone on a daily basis, but I do need to hire Freelancers on an adhoc basis.  I wouldn’t be able to organise baby shower events without the help of freelancers. My time is spent managing the website and dealing with orders and customers. I arrange baby shower events for people if needed and use freelancers to manage the actual event for me.

How do you manage your working day with your childcare arrangements?

My children are both now at school so I have far more time available. I drop the children off and pick them up. Once school is finished my time is devoted to my children until they are in bed. Then I often get on with my work and sort out the enquiries I’ve had since 3pm. My customers are happy because I always answer any queries the same day and deal with all orders within 24 hours. It’s a very personal service, which customers are looking for much more these days.

What projects are you working on now/ have you worked on recently?

I’ve just set up a children’s party section to the website because people loved my ranges so much they wanted a high-end range of birthday party themes as a follow on. I’ve personally selected everything that appears on the website and if any products are poor quality then I won’t stock them. I feel that this sort of service should be more widespread in the UK but unfortunately it isn’t.

Who or what inspires you?

My children inspire me on a daily basis and my husband is my rock – he’s the person I speak to if I need to put my level head on. Its not to say I therefore won’t follow my idea but it makes me stop and think before I commit. I’m very head strong, very determined and have faith in myself. It’s always possible to achieve your dream. Thankfully I don’t feel the need to seek others for assurance – if I did then my business would be a memory.

What do you hope to be doing in five years’ time?

I’d like to keep doing exactly what I’m doing but on a much larger scale. I’d like to expand in to Europe.

What advice would you give other mums thinking of starting a business?

It’s not at all easy coping with being a mum and starting your own business. You need to be realistic and think about what you can achieve with the time you’ve got. It’s no fun at all if the children suffer because your mind is on your business and you stress because you can’t get things done. Just be realistic and take it from there. If you go ahead then believe in yourself and what you can achieve because at times you may be the only one who does.

Author:

I’m Mary Cummings, a ghostwriter, collaborator and all round word doctor. I help business owners write and publish business books; I'm also passionate about helping creative freelancers find work that they love - their work sweet spot with work on their terms, projects they love and clients who are a dream to work for.

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