Says Jessica: I never intended to start up a business. It just kind of happened.
After having my second child Fred, I suffered from a terrible bout of insomnia. As most mothers will know, the minute your newborn drops off you should sleep too, so having insomnia was unbearable. I’d be cleaning the house at four in the morning!
I decided I may as well do something useful with all these spare hours. So Poppy and Ned was born. I set out to produce the finest collection of baby clothes, simple yet trendy and without a slogan in sight.
Before I became a mum I was a model (no, not glamorous at all) and a TV presenter for a sports channel (very boring unless you’re into football). Designing my own collection of clothes is exhilarating and gave me a new lease of life. I had found something which I loved to do and truly believed in.
www.poppyandned.com is a luxury website featuring a new collection of classic yet trendy clothes and accessories for 0-4 year old children.
I’m a mum of two boys, Albert and Fred, and I was tired of the same old clothes on the high street. Everything seemed to have a train or a car on it.
Don’t get me wrong, my boys are often ‘mummy’s little monsters’, ‘little hooligans’ even, but that doesn’t mean I want it emblazoned across their clothes.
My collection is far removed from the slogan, leaving children to look like children in the finest fabrics yet at affordable prices. I have made what I wanted to buy for my own children. I think that is the key: if you wouldn’t buy your own product then maybe others won’t too.
Once I was happy with the designs, I set about trying to find a manufacturer. That meant trailing the internet, requesting samples. I made many errors. But I believed in what I was doing, and found myself excited about waking up at 3am to get working.
Then came the scary part, laying down the money! I sold my car (which I loved) to fund the start of the business, but it was worth it. I felt totally invigorated designing my own range of clothes and despite the unsociable hours, loved working again.
Being a working mum is a bit like being a juggler. To begin with, I couldn’t afford to employ anyone else to help so it was a case of fitting it in around the boys. Getting up early to do a couple of hours’ work, another hour or so at lunchtime and then a bit more work once the boys were in bed.
It takes a lot of dedication, but on the flipside – all this working was a great way to lose the baby weight!
Starting your own business is tough, you want everything to look perfect, the website, the photos etc, and yet you don’t necessarily have the funds to do it when you’re just starting out.
One tip is to try and get help from others who are also taking their first steps in business.
I found a fantastic photographer, firstname.lastname@example.org, who was just starting out too, to do the shoot: great pictures for his book and likewise for me. The website was designed by a friend who has just started his own company, The Agency Brand Consultancy.
As my main outlet, it is important that the website portrays the essence of what Poppy and Ned is all about; without a professional, it’s hard to create that yourself.
I work part-time on Poppy and Ned and spend the rest of the time with my boys. I love my children more than anything else in the world, and yet I love working and designing my collections.
Finding the balance was the hardest thing about starting a business. You need to/want to work, yet you feel racked with guilt at the prospect. I don’t think the guilt will ever ease, but the satisfaction of setting up your own business in whatever area, and creating something you truly believe in feels so liberating.
It was never about the money for me, which I think is very important. Obviously I do want people to buy my clothes but I always felt even if I ended up with a garage full of jumpers it would have been worth it. I have got ‘me’ back, so to speak.
I have cured the insomnia and have created something I am immensely proud of. My first Poppy and Ned collection is all set for our very chilly winters. All of our knitwear is 100% lambswool which is not only a beautiful luxury wool that looks stunning on children but it is machine washable too.
It is all about letting children look like children, with a trendy edge. It is about dressing our children in the best quality fabrics yet at affordable prices without compromising on style. Every Poppy and Ned item is wrapped traditionally in brown paper tied with strings, which is all recyclable and biodegradable. They are special items for special little people.
So if you are stuck in a rut, and desperate to get your mind working on something other than what Noddy will be doing today, I can only advise that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
It needs to be something that you love and you can only make it a reality through sheer hard work, long hours, sacrifices and compromises but the end result of having your own successful business that you believe in and can share with others is truly fulfilling.
For more info on setting yourself up in business, visit www.motherswhowork.co.uk