Every Wednesday we run our ‘Mums That Mean Business’ series. Each week we feature a work from home mum, who has started their own business. It not only helps people get their products noticed, but gives others inspiration who are thinking of starting up on their own, and gives a selection of new places to shop!
Last Weeks Work From Home Mum
Just incase you missed our last feature you can catch up here with Sam and Owl On A Twig
This week we are featuring Joanne and her lovely business Cherry Blossom Gifts.
1. TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU AND YOURS.
My name is Joanne. I live in South Wales with my husband, 5 children, 2 dogs, 2 Guinea pigs and several fish. My children range in age from 20 down to 5 yrs and as you can imagine there is never a dull moment in our household. We are lucky enough to live 10 mins from the coast and are surrounded by beautiful countryside, so I count myself very lucky. I originally trained as a Nurse and it was my profession for 17 yrs, but juggling shift work with a large family proved too difficult and didn’t leave much time for family.
2. WHAT MADE YOU START A HOME BUSINESS?
I loved being a full time Mum but after a few yrs I felt the need to do something for me. I didn’t relish the thought of juggling going out to work and the children all over again, so decided to try working from home. I had always been creative and knew my way around a sewing machine so Cherry Blossom Gifts was born . I set up a Facebook page nearly 3 yrs ago and learnt as I went along. I had a small business course under my belt so knew the basics, but I knew nothing of Facebook land and how to get started, so it was a steep learning curve.
3. TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS, WHEN YOU STARTED, WHAT YOU MAKE ETC.
I started out making simple oilcloth bags, then cushion covers. I taught myself from Youtube tutorials mostly. It’s surprising what you can learn online! I then branched out into nursery decor using my own experience as Mum to gauge what would be popular. And make things that I as a parent would like to buy for my children. I made cot quilts etc and was lucky in that I was getting regular orders within 3 mths of starting up. The real breakthrough came when I discovered The Whimsy woo Pattern for Hobby Horses. I knew I had to make one so in April 2014 I made my first for my Nephews birthday . It was a huge success. I then discovered the world of CE testing to ensure my toys were safe for use, it was complicated at first but its essential and it got easier . Now all Cherry Blossom Gifts toys are Ce certified. The Hobby Horses led me down the route of toy making and that is now the mainstay of CB Gifts. So much so that I was delighted earlier this year to be made a Member of The British Toy Makers Guild and as such can display the logo on my products etc. I make a variety of soft toys and still do nursery decor but My Hobby Horses remain my best seller. I am working on horse number 322 at present.
4. WHAT IS YOUR TYPICAL DAY LIKE?
My day starts like most Mums, with a chaotic morning of breakfast, lunch bags, PE kits, lost right shoes and generally mad school runs. Then its home to tidy up and a cup of tea. I am fuelled by cups of tea! I usually spend an hour on the computer sending invoices answering my inbox , ordering supplies and doing a bit of networking on Facebook. I do have a website that will be open very soon I am just struggling to find the time to finish building it at the moment, but it will be up and running eventually. 90% of my orders come through my Facebook page so its important to network to keep the page visible and advertise the business. It’s essential to make the time to do this. I usually head into my work room about 10.30. My work room is our second lounge it has plenty of room for all my essential supplies. I started out on the dining room table then in a space under the stairs but I outgrew that space as the business grew.
I work on the days orders until school run time then it’s a post office dash and time off to get the children’s tea , listen to their chatter and generally be a Mum. If I have a very busy week then I will do cutting out prep for the following day from 7-8 pm . Most of my customers are busy mums themselves so I tend to get a lot of evening msgs so my working day generally ends at 9pm . Working from home does entail long hours but the upside is I can do alongside being with my children I am not separate from them so if someone needs a cuddle or a chat I am there for them 24/7.
5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MUMS CONSIDERING WORKING FROM HOME?
Working from home was the perfect choice for me. I am here when the children get up and I am here when they go to bed. I am here if they are ill and during school holidays. I no longer have to worry about childcare or phone in for time off when one of them is sick or has a show or a parents evening. It does however have its downsides. You need self discipline to be able to manage your time effectively and not be sidetracked by catch up Tv or your latest magazine. You will work long hours. It’s hard to ‘close up’ and leave at the end of the day. If it’s just you, the orders still have to be fulfilled whether you are ill etc. I am often up at 5am to finish an outstanding order as something has eaten into my work time and thrown my schedule into chaos!
A business, especially a new one, takes a lot of time and effort to get off the ground and you have to put that time and effort in alongside actually running the business, you need to be realistic in what you can achieve and factor in how much child free time you have. Be firm with family and friends as working from home sometimes reads as ‘pop in anytime as I am always at home not doing very much’. You are at home working, make sure they understand. All that said I love working for myself despite the long hours and responsibility of being a one woman show I wouldn’t have it any other way. If it’s something you are considering I would say to set realistic goals. Be strict with your time management, allow for the unexpected and be prepared to work hard then give it a try, what have you got to lose.
Thank you for sharing your lovely business with us Joanne. You can connect with Cherry Blossom Gifts on the channels below. Please do pop by to check out these lovely items.
Website (Coming Soon)
Are you a Mum that runs your own business and would like to feature on Mums That Mean Business? Or perhaps you know somebody who does? Then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.