Although I worked in retail whilst at University I’ve spent the last ten years working in the corporate world for an international professional services firm. It’s the career that my University degree always had on the cards for me and I have truly enjoyed everything I have learnt, the people I have met and the experiences I have had. However, career disappointment just before maternity leave left me feeling somewhat unmotivated to return to the corporate world. Sadly, and all too often, employers don’t provide the flexibility that parents need to allow them to truly fulfil their potential at home and in their careers. It was time for me to take a look at my own priorities and begin planning for the dream of running my own business and working in a flexible way to suit my new mama lifestyle.
So, how on earth did I get to running an online store? Well, it all started on a trip to Copenhagen with our then bump. I had already ventured into the baby departments of UK stores and a few high-street shops, only to feel a sense of disappointment at the products available. Everything seemed quite dated, and everything seemed to be baby pink, baby blue and lemon yellow. Everything was going to look so out of place in our minimalist Scandi home.
I was hopeful that our trip to Copenhagen might provide some inspiration for our soon to be decorated nursery and I wasn’t disappointed. The independent shops and department stores were such a revelation, filled with beautiful, contemporary and modern products of the highest quality. I returned to Scotland armed with a list of all the brands and products I’d set my heart on, excited about the internet shopping that lay ahead. Sourcing the products proved much harder than I had first expected…… and the idea for mamatot was born.
Starting a business from scratch has been one of the most interesting and exciting challenges I’ve undertaken. Learning about web platforms, social media influences, postage services, business banking and working with independent international brands has been a steep learning curve, but also rewarding and fulfilling. Leaving my secure corporate job was a big decision but I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the love and support of those around me. People have suggested that taking the leap away from the corporate world is brave or scary but I’ve not looked back once.
So here are my top 5 bits of advice so far;
- Follow YOUR heart (and your gut). There will be those around you whose advice & guidance casts doubt in your mind. However, if you think it’s a great idea then it is likely others will too.
- Speak to as many people as you can about starting your business, about their experiences, and seek their nuggets of advice (whilst always bearing in mind number 1).
- Admit when you need help – if that is with building a website/setting up a company/sorting out banking. There are plenty people out there with the skills and expertise that can help and although they may come at a price it is often so, so worth it.
- Don’t aim for perfection. Nothing is ever perfect and it certainly isn’t when you start out. It’s better to do something rather than nothing.
- A little quote from Maya Angelou that I have on the wall in mamatot HQ: “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”.
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