Tell us about your family:
I live in sunny Dorset with my husband, Chris, and our 2 gorgeous children Will, aged 3 ¾ and Rosie, just over 1.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I worked as a marketing communications manager for Inchcape UK before I went on maternity leave with my son. My husband had the opportunity to change job so we relocated to Poole. When Will was about a year and half I set up as a freelance marketing consultant and web designer offering affordable web design and marketing solutions to small businesses and individuals. I love helping new businesses get up and running and putting my experience to work for them. This is how I first met Gervase who originally set up KidsTravel2 and was looking for some marketing advice to give her business an extra boost.
After the birth of my daughter I returned to my freelancing but found myself increasingly wanting to get more involved with the businesses and take things further – something you can’t always do as a consultant! I had started to mull over the idea of setting up my own online business to enable me to do this. Then, it was while doing some last minute Christmas shopping for my son that my path crossed with KidsTravel2 again. I dropped them a friendly hello while ordering something from the website. Gervase got back to me and told me she was hanging up her travelling boots and moving onto pastures new. ‘Oh no, what a shame!’, I said, ‘ and what will happen to KidsTravel2?’. A few conversations later and here I am the owner of a fun monkey travel neck pillow and KidsTravel2!
When did you launch?
The takeover was pretty quick – by January 5th we met at a service station to have a coffee, actually get to meet face to face, and handover all the stock! So our ‘launch’ was that same day.
How did you get started?
The business has not stopped trading and luckily Gervase and I already had a good working relationship so between us we liaised to sort out payment accounts, stock transfer, and the other day to day working tools of the job. Our first task has been to review the look and feel of the site and get some serious promotional campaigns going to attract interest in a competitive market, difficult economic climate, and difficult time of year.
What research did you do before launching?
I felt like I knew the business pretty well having worked with KidsTravel2 as a client. I knew that I had already achieved good keyword positions on Google eg number 1 for children’s luggage. Having worked with KidsTravel2. I was already aware of the competition so I just revisited all this to see how KidsTravel2 were positioned. I spent some time looking at historic sales analysis and web traffic.
How have you funded the business?
I am using my freelance web design and marketing work to fund this business.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
It is early days but it will be continuing with search engine optimisation, networking with a lot of the ‘mum’ websites and offering good deals to them, building up a relationship with the loyal, returning customers, viral marketing.
What has worked well about your business?
Combining skills acquired through my professional life to date (marketing, web design) with a long standing passion and interest in travel, and my new life as a mum. It’s brilliant!
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
Taking over the running of an existing business has been like taking the reins of a moving horse and hopping straight into the saddle without falling off. For me the challenges have been the issues I have not had to deal with before such as stock management, liaising with companies house and running the books. I have dealt with this by gleaning as much information as I could from the previous business owner, trusting my gut instinct on issues such as what will sell/not sell, and making use of the wealth of freely available resource out there eg I have found some of the business start up online support forums brilliant – I can advise on marketing issues and in return get advice back on my ‘weak’ areas. Also support offered via bank included free consultant with accountant & solicitor.
How do you fit in work with the family?
This is a tough one! I am usually up by 6am – so log on to check orders/pick up email. My priority is being with the children as this is why I wanted to go down the flexible working route in the first place. I have childcare 1 day a week (my brilliant parents in law) so get 1 day full time dedicated to the business. My focus is on being with the children and spending time with them, so I slot work in around them. I tend to do a couple of hours each evening, and if my daughter falls asleep while my son is at playschool then I make the most of it and use that time too!
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Be focused, have a plan, join the business networks and make the most of free resource, including the expertise and contacts of your friends! Above all – go for it – you only have one life so give it a go and don’t look back thinking ‘I wonder what would have happened if….’
Your website link: www.kidstravel2.co.uk