We hear more and more stories these days of stay at home mums starting their own businesses; running successful enterprises from their kitchen, all the while with babies in tow. When I became a parent, I never considered that this could be me (ok, at least not seriously).
I was made redundant from my job as a receptionist / marketing type two days before I found out I was pregnant with Bobby. As it would probably take me a while to get back into work and would be leaving for maternity leave not long after that, it didn't seem worthwhile finding another job until the 'maternity leave period' was over (I know that I was very lucky to have had the choice, particularly with how bad my morning sickness was). I went back to university to complete my degree during this time (and will be starting a Masters in September), but was still left feeling a little flat. I didn't have a job to go back to even if I wanted to. I needed to earn some money in the meantime, if not just to feel a sense of independence and of being able to stand on my own two feet. I have always felt better when I am contributing to the bills at least.
I had been toying with the idea of starting a craft business for a while, especially while I was pregnant and wondering what I would do with myself once Bobby was older. I bought quite a few materials and made some bits and bobs, but it didn't go much further. Over the last few months, especially since I have finished university for the summer I have found that I now have a lot of craft materials lying around the house and nothing much to do with them. I knew that I had a year of education left and getting a job outside of this would not be ideal, partly because I was looking after Bobby and partly because I wanted to have some free time to take any work experience opportunities that came up (especially important in media.) A craft business was something I had always wanted to try and had been considering in the previous year, so I thought why not?
For the last couple of months I have been using what spare time I have to make things that I can potentially sell, everything from cards and jewellery, to artwork and even photographs that I planned to have printed onto canvases. It was still only an idea during this time, but I felt like I was getting closer to wanting to do it for real. I signed up to have a stall at my WI's Trade Fair in October and found that I became very focused on creating items for it. Time flew by when I was crafting and I thought that I was maybe onto something. But it was still only an idea - one that I could abandon any time if I lost my nerve. But over the last few days I have been taking steps that have made this venture very real. I have registered as a sole trader, opened a business current and savings account and registered with a wholesale company (I will be placing my first materials order over the next couple of days.)
There is no going back now. As scary as it seems there are a lot of positives to this - it is something that I am genuinely enjoying doing and as well as hopefully earning me some extra pennies while I am at university, I am also hoping that it will prove to be a good backup for me when I am looking for work on the other side of my degree. It might just look good on my CV and I think that small businesses and shopping locally are important, so I feel like I am contributing.
In terms of keeping the business green, which is a big priority for me, I will be ensuring that paper materials and packaging that I use are FSC approved and recycled whenever possible.
Although I am registered, I haven't put anything up for sale yet as I intend to launch the business at the trade fair in October - however I haven't completely made my mind up yet and may add some things to the Etsy shop before then. You can keep up with developments on my business website, Little Raincloud which you can find here. There are links to my business Facebook and Twitter accounts on the site as well. If you want to check out my Etsy profile, you can do so here and I will hopefully be adding items soon. I am hoping to do some special blog posts on how I am getting on as a parent running a business, so keep an eye out for those on this blog. If I have any success, I may start a mini-series giving advice to mums on setting up in business.
Are you a mum (or dad) who has set up a successful business venture from home? I would love to hear your stories.