Falling victim to the recession enabled former conference producer Mindy Emsley to launch her online baby, gift and maternity store Mera Baby. “I think the sudden economic decline has really brought out the survival instinct in people and generated opportunities that being stuck in the ‘day job’ wouldn’t normally permit. If it wasn’t for losing my contract, I would never have got the much-needed push to finally pursue my dream of developing Indian-inspired baby, gift and maternity wear for the UK market’, says Brighton-based Mindy.
Mindy is not alone and is now part of over one million self- employed women in the UK; a number reflecting a rise of 17% since 2000. Add to this the prediction that by that by 2025 60% of the nation’s millionaires will be female and it is easy to see why; women-run businesses are a powerful and positive force within the slowly-recovering UK economy.
At a time when men are worst affected by recession-induced job losses, more and more women are becoming the sole wage earners for their households. The so-called ‘mancession’ has necessitated many mothers to return to work and to encourage women generally to be more aggressive in pursuit of their business ambitions. ‘The Rise of Lipstick Entrepreneurs’ report recently commissioned by Avon UK, found that the current economic climate “has proven to be a catalyst for driving female progression and success”. It reports that the past 12 months have seen a significant growth in the number of women starting their own businesses, through desire and necessity.
A first generation British-born Indian, Mindy is not only inspired by successful business women, but also by the experience of being raised within one of the UK’s most entrepreneurial ethnic minorities. Labelling herself as the product of the hard-working Indian culture and atypical multi-tasking mother, she grew up in North West London in what she calls a typical Indian household, with entrepreneurial parents who held down multiple jobs to provide the education and start in life that all mothers and fathers want to give their children. Mindy says “Clichéd as it might sound; my mum is the definition of the multitasking mother and has been my inspiration throughout my life”. Where others would have seen losing a job as an excuse “to panic, hideaway and wallow in self-pity”, exactly like her mother, Mindy saw it as an opportunity and as a sign that she “should be doing something more meaningful” with her life. Commenting further, she said “my parents endured a lot of obstacles and challenges when they came to the UK, but despite what they went through they always taught us that if you work hard enough and have confidence in yourself, you can achieve anything”.
The idea for ‘Mera Baby’ was the result of Mindy’s experience of shopping for Christmas presents in December 2007. ‘I was searching for gifts for my family on behalf of my son Jayen. I wanted to get a little something for the grandparents, aunties and uncles and also wanted to get Jayen some bits and pieces that would help him start to be aware of his part-Indian background. I didn’t find anything and it finally made me realise that I had, for quite some time, been extremely frustrated at not having any child-friendly ways in which to start sharing my son’s Indian heritage with him’. So the idea for Mera Baby was born and Mindy set about designing baby essentials, slogan t-shirts, gift items and a capsule maternity collection with a contemporary Indian twist.
Already a mother of one and expecting her second child in February, Mindy has quite literally experienced it all in the last few months; from losing her job, to setting up her business, coping with her husband’s redundancy, not to mention a surprise pregnancy (which she initially mistook for Delhi Belly from a supplier sourcing trip to India!). She nevertheless remains optimistic and fully focused on the busy year ahead of her. ‘Despite the positives I’ve doggedly salvaged from it, 2009 is definitely a year I’m happy to see the back of. I truly believe that 2010 will be a better year all round, especially with so many inspirational people – especially women and ethnic minorities – passionately and whole-heartedly forging ahead with their business ambitions and personal aspirations’.