Mumpreneur profile: Elspeth of Yummikeys

Your Name and Age: Elspeth Fawcett 35

Your business: Yummikeys, www.yummikeys.com

Tell us about your family

I’ve been married to my husband Sam for 8 years and we have 3 children – Rebecca 5, Hamish 3 and Sebastian 1. We also have a springer spaniel and 5 chickens.

What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?

I worked as a chartered accountant for a life insurance company in Edinburgh before starting Yummikeys. I have a degree in Environmental Science and after finishing without a clear direction, applied for a variety of graduate schemes and was accepted into one in accountancy.

I had a period of 18 months where I was employed in my day job and also working on Yummikeys to ensure it would be viable; also because we needed my salary, as at first I couldn’t pay myself from Yummikeys. This was an exhausting period, especially with a young family. But since handing in my notice I’ve not once missed my previous role. Although I do miss my ex colleagues and having a team of people working with me towards the same goal.

When did you launch?

I launched Yummikeys toys in their finished form 18 months ago, but worked on the business for 2 years before that, developing prototypes, building the website and undertaking market research.

How did you get started?

I spent a lot of time researching baby toys and discussing my ideas with fellow parents and small business owners. I then sketched a large number of designs and a friend of mine helped me make some very crude prototypes. After this I conducted a huge amount of research and contacted a long list of potential manufacturers. I’m pretty persistent, which came in handy here!

Once I eventually found a suitable manufacturer I then arranged prototypes and worked closely with a safety consultant, which for me was essential. From there my first batch was manufactured, which lead to a soft launch into the market to learn more from those early customers.

What’s your favourite thing about running your own business

I love that working on Yummikeys rarely feels like work. I look forward to having a quiet few hours working on my business and I now genuinely love what I do, which I never in my previous role. I can work when and where I want, and if needs be, drop a lot of work one day to take care of a sick child or attend a school trip.

What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business

I find it very hard to turn off my brain, which can be overwhelming and exhausting, as It’s very hard to take proper down time. I’ve not had any proper time off from Yummikeys for 2 years for that exact reason and most of the time it’s fine, but it can take me near to burning out sometimes.

What has worked well about your business?

I set up Yummikeys with the model that the vast majority of our sales would be direct to customers and we currently have 90% direct sales. I want customers to feel they know the brand, the story of Yummikeys, what we believe in and also to know me as the founder of the business. I put this information out through videos, photography and a very active and genuine social media presence. I believe customers want to know who they’re buying from and to have a relationship with that business.

What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it? 

In the first batch of Yummirings teething rings I had manufactured in 2017, which was a small batch of 100, one of the rings came apart and therefore there was a chance that a bead could come off. This wasn’t a risk I could take, not knowing if it could happen again and cause actual harm so I immediately recalled every single set of Yummirings I’d sold.

We did some further safety testing and had every set remade with a much stronger weld to ensue that this could never happen and it never has recurred in thousands of sets that I’ve now sold.

How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business?

It’s a constant juggle as any parent will agree. For me personally I want my children to be with me as much as possible, so I try to structure work around them. My mum lives close by and she now has the littlest two for 3 mornings a week. Other than this I have a variety of meetings I need to attend, but a lot of these are also with mums who own businesses, so we try to meet in child friendly surroundings. I do also end up working almost every evening and nap time so I don’t have much down time, but I get a lot of time with my children having fun in the day.

My partner really supports Yummikeys and has been assembling toys, packing up orders, organising stock and doing most of the accounting for me too.

Would you ever give up your business to do something else?

I’d never say never. At the moment I adore working on Yummikeys and it fits into my life and allows me to prioritise my young family. As my family grows and leaves home one day, in all honesty I don’t know what work I will want to do and what will make me happy, but I could see it being another kind of business potentially.

Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come?

My ‘I’ve made it’ moment will be seeing my toys stocked in John Lewis, one of my very favourite British shops. This hasn’t happened yet but I believe it will in the next 2 years.

Where do you hope to be in five years time?

I hope that Yummikeys is an established brand within the UK and Europe and are stocked in flagship stores. I also hope that they are distributed globally. I have many more designs at various stages of development, so I hope that these have been launched and are well received too.

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