Parents in business: Sophia of Munchy Play

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

Prior to launching my own business, I was in PR and marketing, working for big name brands. I never expected that I would start my own business – a series of events led me to it. Back in 2017, I had recently returned from maternity leave to find myself facing redundancy. At the same time, I stumbled across an idea too good to pass up. My son (then two) is a terrible eater, so one day I put a train track around his plate and voila he was interested! I instantly went online to find one. When I couldn’t, I thought I would try it myself – I was ready for a new challenge and this was it.

When did you launch?

This month. Yes, we are box fresh. Behind the scenes, it has been three years’ of planning, research and development to bring the idea to life, and market. Don’t let the simple design tell you otherwise, it was an engineering feat.

What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?

I’ve always been a natural leader, which I think some previous bosses have struggled with. Being agile enough to make decisions is a great freedom. It has also empowered me to trust my decision making, something that isn’t always cultivated in the corporate world.

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

On the flip side, it can be isolating. But that’s why it’s important to connect with other likeminded business owners, and try and bounce ideas off them. They will share your frustrations and give you strength. An ex-colleague of mine runs the Big London Bake, and always understands where I’m coming from.

What has worked well about your business?

Being a British brand. Right from the start I knew I wanted our product to be made in Britain – to support our manufacturing economy and because of the high-quality we stand for. Now, in a post-lockdown world, it seems it was a smart choice. I don’t have to worry about delayed imports, and parents can be confident in our credentials.

How do you fit in work with the family?

Like many parents, this is something I’m still working on. My working day runs from 6am-10pm, any free time I have I try and spend with my boy. But the reality is that I need to invest time in my business. Although I often feel guilty about this, I try to remind myself that it’s important for my son to see how hard I work, and be a positive strong female role model to him.

Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?

I launched this business because I truly believe it will transform the way children dine. It sounds ambitious, and it is. To me, that’s the greatest goal or achievement I could aim for. 

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

This really depends what you measure success by. For me, my goal was to create a product I truly believe would make a difference and solve a major problem that parent’s battle every day. Getting the final product in my hands was such a triumph. But now I’ve got to focus on growing the brand and sharing it with the world.

Do you have any advice for other start-ups launching in lockdown?

It’s a challenging time no doubt, but this is the ‘new normal’ and you can’t put your life on hold. If you have a burning passion for something, you must do it. And the good news is people are really compassionate and want to help. Amazon have been incredibly supportive, and their free small business accelerator programme through Enterprise Nation is a tool I recommend to others.

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