By: Anna Stocks
I was a University student in 2003 and didn’t consider myself to be the sharpest tool in the box, I managed to just pass my A levels to be able do a degree in Fashion Marketing. Meeting my prince charming in my last year at university we were both passionate and had dreams of life in the fast lane and had our sights set on high flying careers. However a surprise at the young age of 23 years old meant that in nine months time we would have a beautiful baby boy. I realised that I had to put my career on hold as I didn’t want to leave my precious children to be brought up by a nursery. I wanted to be there to pick them up from school, cuddle them when they had had a bad day and make their tea when they got home.
In a way I partly envied my husband, he was on the path he always wanted to go down in his career. He came home happy, fulfilled and valued the time he spent with the children. I loved my children but I so desperately wanted to try something new and get on the first rung of the ladder towards a career. I got a part time job in a lovely retail store, a relaxed environment, the freedom to enjoy other adult company and the excitement of starting a new career. I couldn’t wait to pick my son up after a four hour shift and I felt refreshed, we enjoyed each other’s company. However the nursery fees were taking 40% of my wages and the career path that I was going down was not fulfilling me. I felt as If I had to ask to go to the toilet, when my son was poorly and I needed time off I would be reprimanded and felt very awkward.
After 4 years and another son later I decided I wanted to strive to get my career back on track. I realised I had a loving supportive family and now I was going to start my own business. I wanted to do something that I enjoyed, that I was passionate about and most of all feel I had my identity back. I was more than just a mummy.
I had an idea one night that I would start my own company, financially we were struggling and had no money to put in to it. All I had was an old laptop and myself! I did however have my degree in marketing and there was my first step. I was also encouraged as I had won many certificates in Customer Service and I was always praised by my manager in work for my excellent communications skills.
One night I started writing a business plan. I wanted to use my own attributes and started an events company. I went to my friends and family and told them my idea. I was so disappointed with their reaction.
‘Don’t be daft you have two small children, how could you start your own company with two small children, you are always up to something?’
‘Oh right that’s nice, I would just stick with your job its safe and you know where your working’
‘Where will you get money to do that? I’ve never heard such a load of nonsense?’
‘Give me a job I will work for you in your office? Do you have an office or is it just on the end of the bed?’
These comments hurt, I know I am a mummy to two beautiful boys but my life just wasn’t fulfilled. Everyone would patronise me, laugh at me and had concerns regarding my new business. I named it R.D.A Events and once I’d given it a name it became real. The taunts and jibes from family only gave me the drive to work hard.
There were huge baby shows in the city centres that I just didn’t want to attend. The ticket prices were extortionate, the transport into the centre was either pricey or inconvenient and as a mum suffering from Post Natal Depression I really wanted to avoid busy city centres and the hard sales techniques that are prevalent at these big commercial shows. This just wasn’t the environment for me. I wanted to find a safe luxurious hotel on the outskirts of the city where I could go and view products and services in my local area and shop for quirky baby products and support local companies.
I decided that R.D.A Events were going to present baby in a way not before seen in my area and I wanted to name the event something that mothers could relate to, a brand that would catch on. After a brain storming session Mothers Instinct was born. Even though I was a student with very little experiences of babies and children my Mothers instinct would always kick in.
My front room was my office, I bought a second had desk for £20.00 sat my laptop on it and I got to work. I looked at different venues to host my baby show in and decided to reserve a room in a beautiful hotel, however the cost of the room was quite pricey, but the feel was right and the staff were exceptionally helpful and supportive. Now I had the venue I needed the exhibitors and the customers to attend.
Off I went in the evening as soon as my boys were asleep, I looked for local companies that would potentially join the show. I wanted to get huge sponsorship but in my mind who was I? A women with a computer, but I was a business a thriving business and I had to believe in myself. In the back of my mind were the jokes and the jibes and they spurred me on. I sent out a mail shot to local baby and pregnancy related companies and when I woke up in the morning I had an email from Baby Premier enquiring about the show.
I had made an exhibitors pack along with a friend who had marketing experiences with statistics, information and prices. I was ecstatic that a company was enquiring to attend one of my shows and even more excited when an email came through to say that they would love to offer me a sponsorship. That really spurred me on, it took a lot of work though. What started as a couple of hours in an evening soon became working into the night. Of course I had companies saying no but when we were fully booked I started to advertise to the public through social media and thousand of leaflets.
On the day of my first show I was a wreck, tired and so nervous that customers would not come! When the doors opened it was like a sea of pregnant mums and babies all looking at the products and services that I had brought together. Mums were thrilled with the goodie bags and thoroughly enjoyed the day. I spoke to both mums and exhibitors at the show and had a fantastic time myself. I realised I had done it but had a long way to go!
My family and friends also realised that I was determined and had succeeded and all wanted to share in the enjoyment. It reminded me of the story of The Little Red Hen when she looked for support and enthusiasm in helping her plant the seeds to make her bread and when it was a lovely crispy loaf they all wanted a share in it. Of course I let my family and friends celebrate with me!
The shows went on and they got bigger and better, at on the beginning of August I received a double page spread with my boys in The Manchester Evening News followed by an interview with the BBC in the same week. The Longer I worked on the baby shows the more I realised that most of my exhibitors were all mums. Eve Belle from Baba and Boo also showed the world that she has thrived in her business and we had a lot in common and realised we both followed the same path and had the passion, drive and determination to succeed. Of course the day before the radio interview I was on in the morning and Eve was in the afternoon we were both so nervous and the range of emotions were unbelievable. We both did it and had a giggle with each other how nervous we were.
I am proud to have Eve exhibiting at my show along with other mumpreneurs all making a success and sharing ideas on how we grew both as people and in business. If you are a mummy and you feel ready to work More Than Mummies are here to support you along with thousands of other companies run by mums that would be happy to talk about their experiences.
Attending the Mothers Instinct is not just a baby show, but somewhere that you can go and be inspired by mums in business!
Images and photography kindly supplied by
LindaPellingPhotography, South Wirrall
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