1) Introduce yourself and your current family scenario?
I’m Lauren, and I’m a single mum to a rather lively three year old, Joshua. Despite the challenges and logistical nightmares, I have come to really love single parenthood – Joshua and I have a great bond, and I get to enjoy him all to myself! I currently work part-time during the week whilst he’s in childcare, and I’m just in the process of starting up my own business.
2) What was your work situation before you attended the show and what challenges were you battling with in terms of who you are as a person but also with work or business?
I have worked in Ambulance Control for SECAmb (South East Coast Ambulance Service) for 4 years now; the HQ has just been relocated to Crawley meaning I have a long commute that no longer works with my childcare arrangements. I am still trying to make it work, but it’s heavily impacting on my work-life balance. I have spent a lot of time over the last year reassessing my employment options, and fundamentally questioning what I wanted to do, for me. I found that since having Joshua, I’d rather lost my identity, along with my self-confidence – and it was about time to reclaim that back! A friend of mine had heard me talking endlessly about wanting to start my own business; finally doing something I loved and allowing me flexible working hours. She discovered the Mums Enterprise Roadshow and insisted that we go to explore some options, she accompanied me on the day (with our two boys in tow) and has been a huge support to me since.
3) What attracted you to the Mums Enterprise Roadshow and tell us about how you felt about coming?
The main attraction of the roadshow was the focus on giving mums, like me, advice and inspiration to turn their ideas into a reality. There were so many different aspects to the exhibition, to provide visitors at all stages of their business development, something valuable to take away. The day seemed very well planned out, and carefully thought through, allowing enough time for visitors to really benefit from the range of services and talks on offer. I was also taken by how much consideration had gone into entertaining the children attending; inevitably Mums are accompanied by babies/children, and there was so many resources available to keep them amused. Admittedly, I had had second thoughts about coming – I was nervous about not really knowing what I was going for, and at the time I was overwhelmed with the decisions I needed to face to get my business up and running. However, my friend refused to take no for an answer, and drove me there herself!
4) Did you know what you were coming to the show looking for?
Honestly, I had no idea where to start. I’d put this business off for months, and had become incredible at procrastinating! I knew that I needed some advice about forming a solid business idea and putting together a proper plan, but above and beyond that it was simply overwhelming. I was hoping to gain some sort of direction and focus from the Roadshow, and inspiration to actually get things started.
5) Who did you meet and what happened from there?
I took some time to look through the handbook, and see which exhibitors were at the Roadshow; two caught my eye in particular as they were promoting baking businesses, which is what my business idea related to. I made a beeline for Pia Cato (Making Money With Cakes), and Sue Burton (Homebaked Gift Company) and had a lengthy chat with both of them.
Immediately Sue and I clicked, we were looking for exactly the same thing! She was offering an opportunity to be a licensee for Homebaked Gift Company, providing a ‘business in a box’ package which would equip me with everything I needed to get up and running on my own. It meant all the decisions about how to start up that I was putting off would be taken care of. I could work autonomously and flexibly, but with the safety net of working with an established company. It seemed a perfect solution, and discussions commenced that evening. Just 6 weeks later, we signed contracts and I am now Homebaked Gift Company’s first licensee, operating in the Eastbourne & Lewes district!
6) Where are you now, a few months on, and what new challenges are you having to overcome?
I have now been running for 2 months, and it is going really well! I feel so motivated and empowered having made the leap of faith, and taking those first steps forward. It has been an enormous help having Sue by my side, assisting me with decisions and steering my focus. I have been selling HBGC products at local markets (Seaford and Eastbourne), which have gone down very well, and I am branching out to local retailers and supplying cafes/restaurants. The biggest challenge I am now facing is having to balance my part time job at Ambulance Control (and that awful commute!), the new business and being a parent. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, and I often find my ‘to do’ lists growing faster than I can keep up with. The hardest decision now is choosing the right time to quit the day job, to allow me more time to focus on Homebaked Gift Company. I still rely on the job for income, but with the extra time on my hands, I could make the business more profitable…perhaps another leap of faith is required!
7) For anybody thinking of attending the Mums Enterprise Roadshow do you have any advice or tips about attending and making the most of the show?
If you are anything like me, and have been putting things off and feel completely overwhelmed, then I strongly advise you to attend – you have nothing to lose! I had no idea what I really wanted to take away from the Roadshow, I was happy just to observe and perhaps pick up some ideas or tips….instead I ended up with a life-changing opportunity. I have been raving about this Roadshow to anyone that will listen, and I think it is a much needed resource for mums trying to empower themselves. The handbook itself is a really useful tool, and I still use mine now; read through it and utilise the Workshop Notes and Action Plan sections.
8) How can people help you on your mission now and how can people contact you?
I am currently looking for local retailers, i.e gift shops, florists, cafes etc to stock my products. I offer luxury, home-made baked goods, available for retail in your store, or packaged as gifts. Each month, new flavours and varieties are launched, with personalised products for occasions, holidays, and events. This month’s focus is our Brownie Club Subscription, where you (or a loved one) can receive a variety of flavoured Brownies, delivered to your door monthly. Perfect for any occasion – it’s a gift that keeps on giving!
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