A wonderful Friday to all! If you need a little inspiration to take you into the weekend here is the latest post in our spring interview series. Today’s interview is with Heather Tarrant, an Independent Director and Recruiter for The Pampered Chef, who wanted a more flexible work balance so started a career with The Pampered Chef.
Tell us a little bit about you and your business. When did you start and what made you decide you wanted to work for yourself?
I’m a married mum of 2 children – George who is nearly 7 and Scarlett who is 4. I started my Pampered Chef business in January 2011 as I wanted more flexibility with my work, I thought the products were great and the extra money would be very handy. A few months after starting with The Pampered Chef, I left my part-time employed role as I wanted more flexibility as George was starting school and it was important to me that I would be able to attend his sports days, events and assemblies as required. At the same time I started my own Training business, running training courses in First Aid, Health and Safety and Customer Care. Both roles, gave me the freedom to work when I wanted and the ability to take time off in the school holidays without being answerable to anyone apart from myself!
Where in the UK are you based?
I’m based in Hampshire, just outside Southampton; however we need new Independent Consultants across the whole of the UK.
What did you do before starting your business?
My background is Hotel Management and more recently, as Training and Development Manager at a local visitor attraction.
Have you ever worked with a direct selling company before?
How did you feel when you had just launched your business?
Excited, nervous, and I wondered whether I had made the right decision in leaving the relative safety of an employed position. I was also worried that I would miss the feeling of being part of a big team of people as I had always had that security when I worked in Hotels. I needn’t have worried as I love my jobs and I haven’t looked back since; as The Pampered Chef is very social you meet people all the time and I have made some great friends. I am part of a great Team who meet regularly and actively reward, support and encourage each other – something you don’t always get in other jobs!
What were the main challenges or most important things to learn when you first started?
Probably the most challenging part for me was balancing my work and home life and setting working hours. I needed to be structured in my approach and treat my new venture as a business from the outset.
Did you get lots of support from family and friends when you first told them of your plans to work for yourself? What was their initial reaction?
I was very lucky that my family were very supportive of my decision, my husband especially. People understood that I wanted to spend more time with my children, but some wondered why I was doing a “little cooking job” instead of staying in a good employed job for a well-known local employer. Once they realised that this was a ‘proper job’ and that I would be managing my own team of Pampered Chef Consultants and earning good money for working part-time hours, I found everyone was even more supportive.
Once you had started how long did it take for you to feel that it was an established business? Or if you’re still building your business at what point/milestone will you feel like you’ve established a successful business?
I think I started treating my business as a proper business after I attended my first Pampered Chef National Conference in July 2011. As a direct result my business improved dramatically. I became a Team Leader or as we call it in Pampered Chef World – an Independent Director in March 2012 and that is when I felt my business was growing. 2013 was the best year I have had so far with The Pampered Chef; my team has grown in size and they are building their own teams, and I finished off the year by being nominated for the Spirit of Leadership Award at our Leadership Conference in January 2014. I didn’t win the Award but was very proud to have been amongst the 8 Leaders nominated for the Award. 2014 has already started off well and I am looking forward to helping my team develop their full potential.
What products or services do you offer?
We sell high quality kitchen tools and gadgets from the comfort of your own home via Cooking Show parties. As a host you get well rewarded for inviting your friends to try innovative kitchen products whilst learning to make a simple but spectacular recipe. Once cooked you have the opportunity to taste the recipe and then shop from our catalogue. The parties are great fun, very informative and include cooking tips and hints. My sales pitch is very relaxed as the products are so good they sell themselves and guests never feel that I have been pushy in any way!
What are the best things about running your own business?
Having the flexibility to work as much or as little as I want, taking holidays when I want to and getting to spend more time with my family. I am also lucky that I can use the skills I have learned in previous jobs to help, coach and mentor my team of Independent Consultants.
What are the worst?
The washing up afterwards! When I see people’s stunning kitchens there is often a slight pang of jealousy as we need a new kitchen at home! As it is your business you have to be motivated to keep going however the rewards are totally worth it.
Is there anything you wished you’d known before you started?
I wish I’d done it sooner!
What support or training did you get when you started your business?
We are very lucky to have a fantastic support system within The Pampered Chef and when I started I was coached and mentored by my Team Leader. We have a download area on the Consultants Website where we can find useful documents, flyers and other paperwork can be ordered so you don’t even have to create your own documents it’s all done for you! When you start you go into New Consultant Training and we run monthly Team Meetings which include training and networking opportunities. We also have a National Conference once a year which is a great way to improve your business by picking up essential skills and ideas.
What do you feel has been your greatest achievement so far?
My biggest achievements to date have been promoting to Independent Director and looking after my own team, and getting nominated for the Spirit of Leadership Award.
Any memorable stories you would like to share with us?
I have been lucky enough to go to Dubai with The Pampered Chef. Later this year I am going to Istanbul and hopefully to South Africa next year.
If you weren’t running your own business what do you think you would be doing?
I would probably be a trainer somewhere possibly back in the Hotel Industry which was something that I really enjoyed.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I love spending time with my family, I enjoy socialising with my friends, the countryside and eating out. I am also a keen sports fan and am a season ticket holder for one of my local football clubs.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about starting up their own business or becoming part of a direct sales company?
Just do it! You have nothing to lose as the start-up costs are normally very affordable and you have everything to gain!
Do you think running your own business has had a positive effect on your children and how they view you as a working mum?
Yes I am sure it has as they both know that my Husband and I work hard to make our lives better and more enjoyable. I would like to think that we are both good role models for them and I know George in particular loves the fact that I can help out at school and attend the theme-work exhibitions they have at school, like I did yesterday. If I was employed it would be difficult to get the time off mid-way through the working day to attend something like that and the children really appreciate you being there.
What plans do you have for your business in the future?
I plan to continue growing my Pampered Chef business and to help members of my team become Team Leaders in their own right as well. I would like 2014 to be even better than 2013!
Where can we find out more about The Pampered Chef?
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