Mumpreneur Profile: Libby of Bare Knees

My name is Libby Young. I’m 27, and I run Bare Knees. Bare Knees is a kilt making business, producing bespoke, hand made kilts, using traditional kilt making skills.

I am married, and have two beautiful boys, Struan and Angus. Struan has just turned 2, and Angus is 15 weeks old. We live just north of Glasgow, and I have set up the business in order to be able to work from home.

Prior to setting up the business, I was a solicitor, dealing with conveyancing, family law matters, and other general legal matters. I am currently on maternity leave from that job, but I have set up the business as a means to stay at home with my boys full time. As soon as I had my first boy, I knew that I really wanted to stay at home with him, and therefore racked my brains to come up with something that I could earn money with, from home. I grew up in Keith, in the North East of Scotland, and there is a kilt school there that I was aware of, and the idea for my business grew from there. During my first maternity leave, I attended the kilt school, learning the traditional hand sewing skills required to make kilts.

I launched my business during this current maternity leave, and it quickly became clear that one of the most popular sides of the business was child kilt hire, and baby kilts. I have found launching the business during maternity leave a relatively safe way to do it, as I still have the safety net of returning to employment at the end of the leave, if the business does not take off. I am determined to make it work however.

I am aware of the number of large kilt firms on the high street, however when you are purchasing a kilt and accessories for a wedding, or 21st birthday present for example, many people prefer the personal touch that an individual kiltmaker can provide. I have the time to spend with each client, discussing their requirements, and showing them the huge range of accessories and tartans that are available.

The business has required a relatively small amount of investment, and so I have provided all the start up costs from our own savings. I intended to properly launch the business with an event, and a mail shot etc, but through mumsnet.com, I obtained several orders for child kilt hire and purchase, just from chatting to people, and therefore the business almost launched itself. I have advertised on localmole.co.uk, but finding the right way to advertise is definitely the biggest challenge that I face at the moment.

I am very lucky that my husband is a youth worker, and therefore works in the evenings and at weekends at times, so is able to take at least one day off during the week. This allows me a definite day each week to dedicate to the business. With a very young second child, who is still exclusively breastfed, it means I dont get to disappear into my work space and just get on with it, but I love the flexibility of being able to work for a while, and still feed my little boy when he needs it.

Once Angus goes to sleep a little earlier, I will also have time in the evenings to sew. My husband is still getting used to looking after 2 children at once, so thats another challenge, but he’s a great Dad, so I think it will all settle down before long.

If I can get enough advertising to generate enough business, I would hope in the future to be able to provide flexible working for other people. Ideally, I would either work with another kiltmaker, or train a kiltmaker up, and then have one or more additional kiltmakers to cope with an increase in orders. Kiltmaking can be done in a person’s own home and in their own free time, as long as it’s produced within a set time scale, but thats all for the future. I need to ensure that I can generate enough work for myself, before I can think about taking on other people.

My website can be viewed at www.bareknees.co.uk. Photographs can be viewed on the site. I will offer a 10% discount on any adult kilt package to Family Friendly Working readers.

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