I began Adventure Togs nine years ago when my children were 1 and 4 yrs. I was working part-time as a community pharmacist but always enjoyed the buzz of retail and enjoyed the outdoors…we lived a short distance from a wonderful forest and spent many of our weekend out walking in the woods.
One day we were trying to find some new outdoor clothing for the children and after trailing around all the shops in Cardiff and coming away with nothing, I hit upon the idea of starting an outdoor clothing business specialising in childrens outdoor wear. I took a few months to research my idea which was difficult with slow dial-up Internet connections … broadband was fairly new and expensive at the time.
I launched with a simple eCommerce store in October 2013, followed by an eBay shop. The eCommerce store has gone through several incarnations since then, our latest is built on the Magento platform which will hopefully future-proof us in the ever changing world of online shopping and social media.
An essential requirement of my business has been to “make it” fit in with family life. An office away from home would never have worked, neither would a dedicated warehousing team. Instead I set out to create a business which could be run from anywhere, at any time, outsourcing as much as possible.
I often work early mornings and sometimes into the evening, sometimes I take chunks of time off during the typical working day and I am always around to cook dinner and to take my children to after school activities.
Creating a business from nothing is never easy, a steep learning curve. I still struggle with spreadsheets and I am a slow typist, but I get through what I need to, hand over figures to my accountant and my fulfilment warehouse does all the stock handling, deals with returns and more.
My advice to other mothers wanting to follow a similar path is:
- Don’t try to be Supermum – If you are planning on starting a business, look at ways you can make shortcuts in other areas of your life to allow yourself time to develop your ideas.
- Be realistic about start-up costs and how long it will take before you start seeing a profit. If you can start developing your ideas whilst still in employment or on maternity leave, you can at least test ideas before committing to it full-time.
- Take advice, but don’t bombard yourself with information – there is lots of business advice available freely online, but who do you listen to? Choose a few experts you admire and don’t try everything at once.
- Get your family and friends on your side early on – you will need all the support you can get during the tough times and others to take over the childcare when necessary.
- Plan, plan, plan – try to give your day some structure even if you are at home with the kids. The Pomodoro Technique is great for setting yourself time limits and for getting the most out of your day.