Article by Joanna Rowlands,
Owner of Piccolo Gifts
There are a multitude of “firsts” when you become a parent and the less talked about are sometimes the most significant. We change and evolve, sometimes becoming more confident, self-assured, driven, protective, multi-skilled and multi-faceted. This, I hear you cry, is not the haggered, frazzled, vomit spattered wreck of a zombie we all recognise and have probably been at some point, but it may well be the end result of the life lesson known as parenting and some of the many traits that managing these very small and amazingly wondrous little people can enhance.
I am the proud parent of two very small and wondrous people and the proud owner of a business called Piccolo Gifts. Piccolo was my outlet, my sense of self held on to tightly like my daughter’s favourite bunny in a whirlwind of chaos and baby themed regalia. Often vomit spattered, regularly frazzled, glamour exempt – I have embraced Mummy hood but I refuse to surrender myself completely – I want to be a role model now more than ever before, a success and an inspiration for my children.
Also, Piccolo Gifts has been a long and steep learning curve, from the conception to the launch there have been hurdles and hard work, the plan has always been to offer more for less, quality AND quantity. To provide colours and comfort, luxury and love – choosing fabulous and perfect gifts for the Mum to be or new parent. A gift I would love to given!”
The idea of Piccolo Gifts came from the many whip rounds for maternity leaving gifts at work (we were a very fertile company it seemed…..) and friendship groups, as well as baby showers or a present when baby finally arrived, I would scour shops and websites trying to find the perfect gift. This in part led me the Piccolo Gifts idea – keeping it simple without sacrificing the sensational. This is not a new concept or a marvellous, never -before -thought -of invention; it is simply a beautiful creation at a truly special time and it gives me enormous pleasure to be part of the delight a parent deserves at this moment.
Piccolo Gifts mixes the vintage and classical style of wooden toys with vibrant and colourful cuddliness, stripy horses, floral bunnies, beautifully designed clothing. The gifts needed to be accessible for smaller spends as well as larger, group gifts so the range was designed to cater for mini budgets to mighty extravagances, there is a gift for everyone, even bespoke if required. Keen to promote organic, fair trade items and working conditions and to provide a box that parents can keep and use as a keepsake box to store little treasures and memories for years to come – a gift that keeps on giving.
Our online store gives us flexibility and opportunity – open to all, day and night. Social media has been a great meeting place for us to communicate – after launching our website we jumped headfirst into the social media market. Our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages are a fabulous forum to communicate, share and bond with our customers and potential customers, gain feedback, ideas and offer more of what customers want and need. They are perfect for letting “Followers” know what Piccolo is offering, promoting and doing every step of the way, for example, this summer we are offering free delivery on all of our items and with one post – everyone knows!
There is a Mumpreneur movement, a revolution moving away from the traditional perceptions of Mums. We are bombarded with media telling us that we can have it all and this is an enormous pressure at times, but put in perspective it can be a driving force, a reassurance that our identity is not lost when we enter parenthood, it is in fact magnified and we know that magnification shows all to all – the good and the bad.
I have three tokens of advice for any budding start-ups. Firstly, make sure you plan in a way that works for you so that you move forward with your idea. I write reams of lists and cross out jobs and ideas before re-writing, this keeps me ordered and makes me feel progressive.
Secondly, be fluid with your ideas and plans. Piccolo Gifts began with a different name and a different business plan; it was a different project entirely. As time and financial projections progressed, so Piccolo evolved because some of the previous concepts were simply not viable.
Finally, adopt a mentor. These are wonderful people who often have little idea of their worth but are in fact, invaluable. They need not be geniuses or even first time success stories, rather those with real life business experience and knowledge who can bring you back to earth with a healthy dose of reality and guide you carefully through the many obstacles along the way. I was very fortunate to have access to several experienced business minds, the most prevalent being my older brother – his advice, humour and guidance was integral in the creation of my business.
I launched a business because the time was right for me to fulfil a long held ambition, to provide an outlet and have an identity of my own – a semblance of Jo in a world of Wife and Mother. Piccolo is Italian and means “little” which is in keeping with the theme of the business; lots of little’s make a lot and this is the true meaning of the wonderful fun and journey that is Piccolo Gifts.
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