Parents in business: Katherine and Cecily of PomPom

Your name and age: Katherine Rhodes / Cecily Henderson (37)

Tell us about your family: Katherine and Cecily are old friends, both brought up in and around Purbeck, Dorset but we met at university, trotting late to lectures and much too late home.  We shared hopes, lectures and Ribena. We have a collective love of travel, books, theatre, art, design, and now, children.

Katherine has two small girls and Cecily two small boys, one of which arrives imminently.  Sounds more like a matchmaking service than a business venture to me!

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

We both worked in London for 15 years in the arts and design worlds. As is often the case, having children makes you re-evaluate every aspect of your life; home, work, relationships, self and lifestyle.  We both looked around our children and realised that we were drowning in plastic and it was far from the model that we wanted to be for our children, let alone ourselves. 

However, finding the alternatives that were truly plastic free and looked good was time consuming –there is so much out there that is plastic free but yet wrapped in non-recyclable plastic!   We wanted to do the Right Thing and yet it is difficult.  It seemed that it was down to us to make that transition easier.  

The transition was as much about the way we were living our own lives, as it was starting a new business.  A young baby and non-disposable nappies seemed such a huge mental hurdle with too little sleep and yet, once bought, it couldn’t have been easier!

How did you get started?    Courage.  A deep breath.  An email. Then another.  Then a phone call. Then multiple calls, whatsapps, a website, a launch!

What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?  Freedom, fun, responsibility.  If something works well, it’s on you, enjoy it, revel in it.   If it doesn’t – fix it.  That is also on you. 

What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business? Technology.  No interest. We like reading, we like culture, we like art not computers and yet …  httppsssssss keeps creeping back in.  We are having conversations about SEO, user experience, back end, coding.  It is often mind boggling, it takes patience and persistence, much like a second language, I fear it will take years of confused conversations before the A*!   

What has worked well about your business?  The enthusiasm and interest from brands, customers and press, it has been such a welcoming response.  Plastic is very much on the cultural and political agenda currently and that is trickling down daily to consumers.

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

The techie side of the website.  We scrimped, paid peanuts, got monkeys and paid again.  Surely we should have learnt from our own messaging, buy less but more consciously!

How do you fit in work with the family?  Part time help, naps, evenings, husbands, mothers, mothers-in-law.   

Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?    I hope so.  Accountancy, like technology, is another difficult aspect of running your own business! 

Where do you hope to be in five years time?  With a thriving online boutique that truly offers the opportunity for families to easily access beautifully designed, plastic free products for themselves, boys and girls and friends, that don’t cost the earth. A world in which sophistication is not lost and the environment is saved.

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