In the beginning…
I deserve no credit for this at all. In fact when I became pregnant with our second son and my husband’s new job relocated us 200 miles across the country, to my hometown of Carlisle, I felt decidedly miffed at the idea of becoming a fulltime mum. That’s not living the Supermum dream I was promised! Career, family, toothpaste-ad smile? Ha! I was hunting for jobs like Rikki Tikki Tavi in a snake pit when Josh was born.
Ben, our firstborn, was going through the ‘terrible twos’, but it was as nothing until Josh taught us the meaning of ‘high maintenance baby’. He cried constantly and for the first three months I couldn’t put him down.
At seven months old Josh took his first holiday with us and I decided to try him in a mei tai style baby carrier. Mainly we didn’t want to have to cart pushchairs round in already cramped hire cars (You know what it’s like – you order a 747-size people carrier, and end up with a Sinclair C5 at twice the price.)
Josh loved being “cuddled” constantly, although the sling we’d chosen didn’t seem very comfortable for him. But, having revelled in the use of my hands for a week, I started to wonder if a better designed sling might be the answer. I played around with some bits of material on a sewing machine and eventually came up with a design that was comfortable, functional and stylish enough to grace a catwalk (I could even use it wearing heels!)
A couple of friends asked me to make carriers for them, which I gladly did. Lo and behold, their babies like them too – I started to think I could be on to something.
Prep, Prep, Prep
After receiving many admiring glances while trundling round town, I got half serious about actually making something from my little “hobby”. Deciding that an Internet business was probably the way to go, I got to thinking about names for a potential business, but searching revealed that all the good ones were already taken (including by some pretty dubious sites – don’t ask!)
Ben and I did some brainstorming. He was a brutally honest 3-year old and ruled out my suggestions as being too long, too boring or just plain weird.
Then again, I wasn’t so impressed with his first suggestions – he really liked www.ben.com and his attempts at typing out suggestions didn’t really do it for me. After a couple of humdingers, he suggested www.snugbaby.co.uk and that was that.
It all seemed beautifully easy; I’d make millions of pounds, breezing through life with daily “business meetings” in Costa Coffee, with just the occasional bit of stitching.
Then reality kicked in – I’d thought that being “just” a full time mum was difficult…
My days are now spent jiggling Josh in a sling or distracting him with toys to stop him climbing on the dining-cum-sewing table, whilst trying to conduct business telephone calls, and simultaneously trying to placate Ben with food, CBeebies, promises of treats, or threats of a sticker embargo.
My evenings are spent putting the children to bed, then sewing, sewing, sewing. I have tried to convince Ben to bath Josh, but it all fell down when Ben pointed out that he can’t read bedtime stories. My husband, bless him, doesn’t complain, but he has lost over a stone on the new “get it yourself there might be something in the fridge” diet.
The good news is that I am getting somewhere. I am now a bona fide self employed “Work at home mum”. I have a website, orders, stock, accounts, business assets and a continuous fixation for new marketing opportunities. I’ve had stands at shows, and take an active part in promoting babywearing online, and in my home county of Cumbria. In amongst the nappies, trips to the park, and chocolate stains on the sofa, I have the pleasure of making some of the most comfortable, beautiful baby carriers. Dragon’s Den? Forget it, I’m not cutting them in on it!
There is nothing quite like the buzz when someone in the street asks me where I got my sling, and I beam back that I make them. Now I just have to pluck up the courage to offer them a card!
It has been a hard slog to get where I am, and I know I still have a long way to go, but already it has been more than worth it! My advice to other mums in a similar position would be, “Don’t give up – if you have a great idea, you will find a way to make it work!” Good luck!
SnugBaby For Trendy Tots and Caring Parents www.snugbaby.co.uk