I am developing two children’s brands Pixie and Punk (a children’s t-shirt in a bag gift range) and Eric and Rufus Children’s Books (Story Photo Books)
Your Name and Age:
Tagore Ramoutar (44 years old)
Tell us about your family:
I am married to Rachel and have two little girls Francesca and Indira or Indi who are 6 and 4 years old respectively. We live in Twickenham. Whilst I am full time working on the businesses, my family are very much involved supporting me at the shows and helping me with the creative process.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
Before setting up by myself I worked for Vertu (the luxury Mobile phone brand of Nokia). In fact it was the business travel and time away from home that inspired me and prompted me to start up my own business.
Making the transition from being a director of company that was part of a huge organisation to be being self-employed has been easier and more enjoyable than I ever thought. From the minute I decided to change my life and leave I suddenly was full of new ideas and inspiration. It is easy to be enthusiastic when it is your name on the book and your ideas behind the t-shirt design.
When did you launch?
I started the process of research, designing the t-shirts and writing the books in January 2011. I launched my range of books (Eric and Rufus Children’s books, written and illustrated by me) at the very end of September 2010 to a group of mums from my eldest’s school class and then did school fairs in November and December. Pixie and Punk the children’s t-shirt in a bag gifting range was launch at the end of January 2011 at Bubble the Kids wear trade show and at the Baby Show in ExCel, London in February 2011 – it was nerve-wracking but because I knew children liked the product it was a bit easier to be confident.
How did you get started?
To a certain extent I have spent years thinking about the idea, though not always formally. The characters were developed out of making-up stories for my children. The t-shirt idea came out of my business trips to Japan, where I would buy lovely t-shirts for my kids that made great presents.
The first thing I did after having the ideas was sit down a write a detailed business plan / concept document, setting out concept, target customer and including project plan. Did a lot of research and also just started (writing, designing etc). The project plan is key and making small scale deliverables so progress can be gauged. Also I tried to work in parallel on the plan and the more creative ideas.
What research did you do before launching?
Did lots of informal research connected with my own kids, family and friends. Plus also walked round lots of shops to understand the market, then did massive amounts of internet research. In fact I continue to do lots of research to continue to validate the ideas and products – it is a continual learning process.
Also did a start your own business course and read a few books. Working with my network was invaluable in both getting feedback and also access to learnings – things like the software I use to create my websites came from a friends recommendation.
In addition I try and make sure that I spend time talking to children (usually family or friends) or reading the stories to people at shows to make sure I have the widest feedback as possible.
How have you funded the business?
The start-up is funded from our savings
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
I am in the process of testing many different channels and partners to work out the best for my business. The two shows/exhibitions I did (The Baby Show and Excel) generated a lot of new promotion opportunities that I might not have found by myself.
At this stage I would certainly say that having your own website is crucial. Also generating PR there are free PR sites that are great for creating business awareness so people come to you rather than you always chasing. Kids4media is great and PRlog is good as it allows you to embed the content on your own website.
Note When doing shows be careful on the cost as it can get out of hand.
What has worked well about your business?
I think the products have turned out very well, the books are even better received than I thought. Free PR has worked well as has doing shows/ exhibitions right from school fairs to the big commercial fairs.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
Biggest challenge is developing sales outlets and converting the interest. So far the books have been very well received as have the t-shirts but getting them in front of buying customers is a difficult and slow process that I am still trying to manage.
One of the other big challenges is moving from the creation phase (intensely rewarding) to the sales phase. It is easy to keep creating but you need sales
How do you fit in work with the family?
Setting up the business and working from home has allowed me to spend much more time with my kids. I now walk them to school every day and am at home when they get home. It has transformed my life.
In fact my girls help me with the creation process, they are both my inspiration and best reviewers/ critics. They request characters and designs and give me invaluable feedback
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
DO IT!!! It is very much a great way of life but make sure you have funding, I am half way through my set up process and I think it will take anywhere between 2 years and 5 years to make a real return.
If you have a flexible working business opportunity, please explain briefly what you offer and how people find out more.
I am about to offer a mums selling/ party selling opportunity. For people to sell the full range from home to friends and family. If you are interested in getting more details once it is launched please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . In addition I am looking to appoint some commission only sales people would have prior sales experience in the independent gift store or independent baby and toddler store areas.
Your website link.
If you can offer a discount or special promotion for Family Friendly Working readers, please write it here:
I am happy to offer a special deal for your readers of an extra book for every purchase of a Pixie and Punk T-shirt in a bag (with a book)