Tell us about your family: I’ve been married for 18 years to Sheni, we have a daughter aged 9, and a son who’s 7. We live in Wiltshire in a quiet village.
When did you launch? and How did you go about getting started?
I made my first nativity costumes in 2004 for my daughter and her friend for their school play. By 2005, word had got about that I had made some costumes and I was asked by other Mums at the school gate to make several Shepherds, three Sheep and a Cow. I enjoyed sewing them so much I made a few extra costumes and sold them on eBay. In 2006, to cope with the extra demand, I launched the ‘While Shepherds Watched’ website. Business has grown each year since!
The easiest part of my business is that so far I haven’t had to advertise, with the exception of using Google Adwords. I think I stumbled upon a niche business that was very much in demand. I certainly didn’t realise it would be so popular when I started it!
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
The biggest challenge I have is coping with incredibly long and stressful hours from early October through to the start of December. Every year I realise I should have invested more time earlier in the year in the business. However, every year these has been *something else* taking up my time – OU studies, other projects, the family etc.
How do you fit in work with the family?
As my children are both at school that gives me a good few hours each day of peace and quiet. Last year I invested in a laptop so that when they are home from school I can try and work on the website in the living room whilst they do their homework, watch TV or play. Most of the time I just have to put things ‘on hold’ until the children go to bed, and then start again.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Be prepared to live in a chaotic house from the beginning of October through to December. My house is full of rolls of fabric, sewing machines, threads, head dresses etc at the moment, and we just have to live around it. You must be calm, because as well as coping with other parents’ panics about costumes, and your own late nights and busy days you have to put off most of your Christmas preparations until the middle of December when sales die down and you can get your life back again.
Your website link – and last order date: My website is www.WhileShepherdsWatched.co.uk We guarantee costumes will be posted out within 3 working days. However if ordered before 12 noon I try and post that day. People can always e-mail me for advice as to their needs – I am sympathetic to panicking parents! My costumes are available until they sell out – last year this was 10th December. This year I have more fabric and I’m still sewing in preparation.