Give it a go and ask other people for help and advice. Although people are busy, the majority will take the time to respond
Name of Business: Mama To Me
Founder: Kerry Lister and Amanda Waring
Children: Kerri is mum of a four year old, and Amanda has two boys aged 4 and 2
1. What was the inspiration behind you founding MamaToMe?
My business partner Amanda Waring and I originally met at a conference and quickly struck up a friendship and supported each other weekly on a phone call and often on emails and as we both have products in the nursery industry (Tidy Trays high chair covers for me, and Mama Jewels for Amanda) and we realised that word of mouth is so important in getting the word out there on new products and we conceived the idea of Mama To Me.
Mama To Me sells new parent inspired baby products through account managers, not only do we support the mum and dad inventors, we supports mums and dads who want to earn extra money around their lives with children.
2. Were there any challenges in starting up?
The biggest challenge I would say was distance, we live 150 miles away so we met up half way in between us a few times and worked a lot on Skype and on the phone, but we found this pretty easy, although not perfect.
We used a lot of the contacts we already had in the business, and used lessons we had already learnt with our businesses to not make the same mistakes again
3. How did you fund your business, and what advice would you give to others about funding?
We started the business on a very small budget but we accomplished this by designing and building our own website, which is often the biggest expense for a start-up.
I would say try everything yourself, we based our website on a free piece of software, we use social media and have not had to outsource anything as yet. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost you time, but you do get an amazing sense of achievement and save pennies in the bank!
4. What would you say is the ‘secret’ to maintaining a good work life balance?
I don’t think we know the secret and don’t think we have achieved it, but working in a partnership is something neither of us have done before, so we concentrate on parts of the business which fit our skills. We both have days off when we don’t work (although smartphones mean you can always check your emails). I tend to catch up when my son is at school or in bed, its Friday at 10pm when I am writing this!
5. What projects are you working on now/ have you worked on recently?
I also run BuyStudentArt.co.uk which is an online art gallery and Tidy Trays. I also organise the free Surrey Business Mums networking event, which takes place monthly in Addlestone. Amanda owns Mama Jewels and runs the Nottingham Mums Club
6. Who or what inspires you?
My inspiration is the late Anita Roddick, I read about her when I was in my teens and I saw how someone who was a mum could also be an empowered business woman, who literally started at her kitchen table.
7. What do you hope to be doing in five years’ time?
I would like to be doing what I am now, loving my job and having a bigger team to work with me. I am a control freak and have to learn how to delegate better!
8. What advice would you give other mums thinking of starting a business?
- To give it a go and ask other people for help and advice. Although people are busy, if you ask the right questions then the majority of people will take the time to respond.
- Have a go at everything and if you fail then outsource, but shop about and ask for personal recommendations
- Don’t believe everything people say there is often a lot of “false information” that people broadcast about themselves and their companies, just worry about yourself!
- Network when you can, see if you can find a local group, like Surrey Business Mums which runs at a Sure Start Centre so children are more than welcome, its nice to find people in the same situation as you; if you cant get to a networking event, then network online at places like www.mumsclub.co.uk
- Barter your skills, if you need professional headshots then trade something you can do in exchange, baby sitting or a birthday cake? I trade some of my printing with baby sitting for our local printer!
- Enter awards, as soon as you are up and running find awards to enter. If you get through to the final then this can be amazing PR and free. It raises the profile of your company and many of them are free to enter.