Your Name and Age: Fiona Morris, aged 36
Tell us about your family: I have a very supportive husband and 2 gorgeous children – a son who is nearly 6 and a daughter who is counting sleeps until her 4th birthday! We live in Solihull, West Midlands
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
Immediately prior to running my own business I was a stay at home mum. After having baby number 2 I didn’t go back to my old job as a solicitor for a number of reasons. Primarily I wanted to stay at home with the children and it simply wasn’t practical with the cost of childcare being in excess of my salary – there I go shattering the myth that all solicitors are paid highly!! Even when I still working in my legal career I always dreamed of running my own business but at that stage felt it would never become a reality.
When did you launch?
I launched my business in January 2008.
How did you get started?
I enjoy crafts and before Christmas 2007 my husband asked me for some present ideas! I set about looking for a new craft so I could have materials as my Christmas present. I stumbled across pyrography (wood burning) and decided I would buy myself the pyrography iron in advance of Christmas as I had in mind to make the children personalised Christmas decorations. After several attempts at teaching myself how not to burn the wood so much it just looked like a blobby mess I felt happy enough with the completed decorations to make for friends’ children as well. The idea came about that there was a commercial venture in the decorations and I started to sell them on auction sites. To begin with my children were my inspiration and I made gifts that were ideal for my own children – such as an artwork hanger for the kitchen, and door name plaques. Now, there are over 90 different gifts to choose from!
What research did you do before launching?
After christmas I turned my mind to what else I could come up with. I had a look round craft sites to see prices of stock for the wood, and price ranges of similar gifts sold online. That gave me a gauge of whether I would be able to make any money out of it at all. I also contacted the tax office for advice who were very helpful and sent self-employment literature.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
I promote the business online mainly on social networking sites, although being naturally quite shy I do find this side of the business quite hard.
What has worked well about your business?
It has fitted in around the children and my husbands work hours. For example, school fete’s etc where I book a stall tend to be on a saturday so childcare hasn’t ever really been an issue. I have managed to fulfill orders in the evenings when the children are in bed. My husband is very supportive and is more than happy to occupy the children at weekends if there is a lot of orders to make up. As my youngest starts nursery school this year and as the business is getting busier I am going to be very grateful for a day-time 2 hours or so to work as well!
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
Learning to juggle so many things at once! Luckily my previous job as a solicitor gave me a lot of time management experience, but it’s different being in an office to working at home. I shut myself away in my little study to work either crafting or website tweaking or trying to promote the business but when I hear the children having so much fun with daddy it’s hard not to get distracted!
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Take the plunge and go for it. It’s great doing a craft you enjoy and making something out of it as well. Don’t expect success overnight, and don’t give up at the lack of immediate success! It took about a year before my business really started picking up, but during that time I spent time searching for better suppliers, working on improving my overall pyrography technique etc
Your website: www.samigailsgifts.co.uk
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