I am Cathy Wassell and I am 50. I’m married to a chartered accountant and we have two children who are 18 & 15. We live in Stratford upon Avon and everyone in the family other than me is autistic, so I’m the different one in this family.
I most recently set up Teen Calm with my daughter, Freya.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
When Teen Calm was created, I already ran two other businesses. One is a digital marketing agency called Socially Contented and I also have a social media content agency, called Go with the Pro. I have worked in marketing for 25 years, with 19 of that spent at an international bookseller, so have a wide range of experience and expertise in both business and multi-tasking.
When did you launch?
Teen Calm is a really new business as we only start in January, and three months in and we are doing well. This is an exciting time for us, even if we are operating in a slightly uncertain marketplace.
How did you get started?
My daughter was diagnosed as having autism very suddenly at a time of mental health struggles a couple of years, and she didn’t want other teens to be anxious like her. We needed a project to get her involved in as she has been off school for a long time, and Teen Calm, a subscription box for anxious teens, was born! This is something that she can really get involved in, have a say with making decisions as well as a connection that is so important to her.
What research did you do before launching?
We had already been involved a lot in Facebook groups around autism, mental health and school anxiety. I knew there were an awful lot of children around the country, and indeed the world who were struggling with anxiety, especially around school. This seemed to not only tick the ‘need’ boxes for others, but also gave us something to do together and to make a difference.
How have you funded the business?
Teen Calm has been completely self-funded so far.
How do you promote your business? What has worked best?
Everyone has been very kind to share social media posts, I’ve shared in some relevant groups and I will do some Facebook Ads – that’s my main business after all!
What has worked well about your business?
The message of ‘you are not alone’ has resonated a lot with people – obviously we are all feeling rather anxious at the moment which was not anything we imagined when we started to build Teen Calm. We have had lots of interest from social media and with the whole coronavirus pandemic, that has become even more of a reason for us to be out there, offering help and support.
What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?
Running three businesses from home while also having a teenage daughter at home because she is too anxious for mainstream school has been challenging, as has been fighting for her EHCP and specialist school provision for this year, but the biggest challenge is probably my son needing to self-isolate because he is in the high risk category because of asthma. We know that this is a tough time for many people, but we are determined to offer support and ideas to others, so they know that aren’t alone.
How do you fit in work with the family?
I work whenever I am able, it completely fits around family life and I make sure that it works for us as a family, as well as ensuring clients are happy.
Both Freya and I are looking forward to seeing where Teen Calm takes us in the future.
What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?
Do your research well – don’t just assume your product will sell. And build your audience before launching so that you at least have some people to sell to. You might think that you have a really great idea, but if there is no one out there who wants it, it won’t work. Take your time and see what people really need, asking them if you need to. Get it right and you can really go places.
You can find out more about Cathy and Freya’s business at www.teencalm.com Add FamilyFriendly20 at the checkout for a discount.