Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Mother's Day Guest Blogger - Melanie from Pretty Special

Hi there everyone,
Todays Mother's Day guest blogger is Melanie from Pretty Special. Today Melanie is talking about how she started up in business and how she runs it with all the demands of family life. There's some great advice in here for any mums that are thinking about starting a business. This is what she had to say.
Pretty Special - Lovely Clothes for Little People at Sensible Prices
How I Juggled Starting a Family and a Business
We had a baby in June 2011 and whilst on my glorious extended maternity leave of 14 months, I realised that returning to work for someone else just didn't suit us in the long term.  My husband is in his final year of University so returning to work on a 4 day week was inevitable so after a long hard think, I hatched my Plan B.

Finley had just turned 1 and Plan B became a reality.  I had found a designer baby and children's clothes website business that was for sale and set about making a go of running it.  My initial research showed that setting up a bricks and mortar store was a little beyond my capabilities and cash flow.  Nonetheless within what felt like a very short period of time, I had secured a bank loan, designed the look and feel of the website and was standing in a trade show buying 2 season's worth of stock!

So in summary, new baby, new business, a 4 day a week job and a husband in his final year at University...
It sounds like a lot to juggle, well because it is but I am nothing short of determined to make it all work.  And the light at the end of the tunnel will be to focus solely on the website in the not too distant future and be a mum that can fit her work around her family.
So, how do I juggle everything?  I've learnt to delegate things I'm not good at.  For instance, my accounting skills are nonexistent so finding an affordable accountant was the first thing I did.  
Being in business on your own is scary so attending free business events to keep you on top of things you should be considering such as marketing strategies and social media.  Locally I'm lucky as Outset Bristol provide all sorts of support  and training to small business owners and I recent joined Mumprenuer UK who are a mums in business support group they have given me an unlimited resource of advice and mentoring. 
Not being afraid to ask your friends for help has been a good lesson to learn.  From a friend who's job entailed reviewing business plans to holding a coffee morning so that the ardous task of posting out 250 client christmas cards was done in minutes via my very patient friends rather than a whole week by myself.  Another friend is a photographer and we've used our boys as models for my stock!  Its a win-win for both of us as it helps her promote her family photography business.  The thing to remember is that if you don't ask, no one will know that you need help.

I have taken great pleasure in sourcing new and exciting brands for baby and childrens clothes.  My newest find is a company called Jack and Ava who was started by Mum of two.  Her amazing crafting skills and imagination has developed into a brilliant company who create unique and vintage inspired body suits for babies and toddlers.

 My learning curve has been steep and I'm sure to make more mistakes as the business grows.  Having just won a Silver Website Award from Mumpreneur has given me the boost in confidence realise that what I have achieved in 6 months is actually very worthwhile and been recognised.


Having a goal in sight and a clear business vision is great but ignoring the fear factor is the key to success.  Do I regret taking on so much?  Sometimes.   Is it all worth it? Definitely, and well, if you don't have a go, how are you going to find out?
Thanks Melanie. You're definitely right - running your own business is hard work but the rewards are fantastic! And well done on our Mumpreneur Silver award - that's brilliant news! Totally deserved - the Pretty Special website is just that.
Don't forget about our fantastic Mother's Day bags. These come with fabric pens so your children can make them a truly unique present. At only £9.99 they're an absolute steal. Drop me a line to pre-order!
Speak soon.

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