It’s a beautiful sunny Monday morning, and I am pleased to publish another wonderful interview for our spring interview series. This interview is with Lisa Moments who has been running her own keepsake business for 8 years.
Tell us a little bit about you and your business. When did you start and what made you decide to start your own business?
I am a mother of five, three grown up, one 14 year old and a ten year old. I have always had an artistic side to me and love creating things. I saw a picture in a magazine of 3d casts and thought “Wow, my Mum would love those” I rang to enquire how much for a cast of my youngest two children and was shocked by how expensive they were, they were way out of my price range; after a little more investigation I found out that you could actually create similar casts at home, I found some materials (my daughter was a dental nurse and they use the moulding material) and I started experimenting, I was amazed by the brilliant detail that could be captured and wanted to tell everyone that they could create these amazing 3D keepsakes of their baby’s hands and feet, I was so impressed that I convinced my husband that everyone would want them done and he rented me an office to work from, my daughter was 2 years old and had a chair next to my desk where she watched DVD’s and slept whilst I got things done, I waiting for the masses to flock to me, but they didn’t as no-one knew I was there or what I was doing.
How did you decide on the name?
I wanted something that would mean happy moments and as my surname is Moments, this quickly developed into Borrowed Moments; this seemed to sum up having a baby, because time with them being little is gone so fast.
What did you do before starting your business?
I worked for the job centre as a civil servant. I had no relevant experience and I thought setting up my own business would be the easy option, in fact I spent the first 2 months playing Sudoku on my computer as I had hardly any customers, I really didn’t have a clue and was waiting for them to come to me, when in reality no-one knew I was there!
How did you feel when you had just launched your business?
A bit lost if I’m honest, I really didn’t know how to build a business, I hadn’t a clue about marketing or even how to price things, also because I had been a stay at home Mum, I found it really hard speaking to people or being in strange situations, I had lost my confidence and found starting out quite hard.
What were the main challenges or most important things to learn when you first started?
I thought that with running my own business, I would dictate what hours I worked and I could just shuffle everything around to suit me, how wrong that was! My work/life balance is completely wrong, working for yourself (if you really want to make it work) is really hard, work takes over so much of your life and there are always so many things that need doing all the time, a hobby works around you, a flourishing business is a beast and takes a lot of dedication to succeed if you want to be really successful and grow.
Did you get lots of support from family and friends?
I don’t live near any of my extended family, but friends were great and offered me their children to use as models as I grew the business and brought on new items, I could always rely on them for their honesty too, which was great and they helped me spread the word about what I was doing. My husband is really supportive and helps out a lot, I really couldn’t of done any of it without him, my children just view work as their second home now, they have bikes and games here and spend more of the working week in the office, rather than at home.
Once you had started how long did it take for you to feel that it was an established business?
I still feel that I have so much more to achieve before I feel like I’ve established my business, after almost 8 years I am still learning all the time, I am still branching out and the business is still evolving in so many ways, I don’t know that I will ever be able to sit back and be happy that there is nothing else to be improved on, so I guess as a successful business always has to evolve, I may never feel that I have made it!
What was the first item that you sold? And how did it feel?
My first sale of baby casting kits (in fact the lady bought two), was surprisingly stressful, she came in knowing pretty much what she wanted and I got really flustered, I didn’t have any ready and had to make them up under pressure, thankfully the lady was patient and didn’t rush me, but I still panicked, she was pleased with them though as she later bought another!
What items do you sell and what are your favourite products to make or that you sell?
I love making the personalised items, I love creating the 3D casts for people as I love seeing the parents faces when they come in to collect them, I had one Mum crying and hugging me, she was so pleased with her casts, that was a really lovely moment. I also love creating prints from hand and footprints and making the engraved photo jewellery, again it’s because I can make these look amazing and when the Mum’s come in to collect them (or even when they get posted out as I get some lovely emails), they are so pleased and that is a lovely feeling to know you’ve created something that someone is going to treasure for years to come.
What are the best things about running your own business?
I can take my dog to work, also if the children are off ill they just come up to work with me.
What are the worst?
Dealing with staff, I still struggle with ‘being the boss’ and find it hard taking on people and to discipline people or be boss-like! Also dealing with the endless sales calls; gas, electricity, insurance, telephone supply, card machines, they just call and call every week, it is really annoying!
Is there anything you wished you’d known before you started?
I definitely wish I’d known how to cost items and what prices I should sell items for wholesale at. I wish I’d known how much work was involved doing tax, VAT, wages and accounts, this for me is so boring and yet takes so much of my time to do, this has to be the biggest gripe of running your own business, running a business is not all about doing what you love; at least as much time (probably more) is spent keeping the books in order, planning and marketing.
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement so far?
I am still going in the current economic climate and growing as a company 8 years on, even in the current climate, we are still expanding. I employ 4 people now which is great. Also when people come back to buy from me again when they have their 2nd, 3rd and even 4th children, which feels great that they love our products and come back time and again!
If you weren’t running your own business what do you think you would be doing?
I’d probably be a counsellor, I have a degree in psychology so would love to have gone into this area.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Just spending time with my children, doing simple things like playing games, watching films, walking the dogs or baking, I like shopping too.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about starting up their own business?
Don’t think it’s the easy choice, running your own business means you are on call 24/7 and the buck stops with you, you have to be prepared to make tough decisions and you will spend a lot of your time doing jobs that you may not like very much in order to do the one part that you love.
What plans do you have for your business in the future?
We have just re-launched our website with lots of new and improved products, we have some amazing crafty gift items now and a new range of personalised prints, we have also recently started doing engraved photo jewellery which is amazing; the detail is incredible, making lovely keepsakes. We are still adding new items and are working on our gift range as well as improving our keepsake range; we have built up our reputation for personal keepsakes and are now hoping to build our reputation for our range of unique baby gifts too.
Where can we find out more about Borrowed Moments?
Borrowed Moments Baby Gifts & Keepsakes
Unit 12 Trevol Business Park
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