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Tell us your business story to date...
While I was on maternity leave with my first child, a friend told me about teething jewellery. When I had a look, all I could find was either very expensive (and maternity pay does not afford you luxuries!) or nothing that suited my style. I decided I couldn't be the only one, so I started researching and had a go at making my own teething necklace. The first time I wore it I had two friends ask me to make them one too, and it literally went from there. So my USP is custom-made teething jewellery.
Parents can choose from over 28 colours to have exactly the combination they want, whether it's their football team's colours or something to match a specific outfit. There's something nice about having something that's just for you - and your baby.
What has been your biggest lesson from your startup journey...
Don't be afraid to tell people about your business. It doesn't always feel natural to talk about your achievements - but if you can't stand in front of someone and sell yourself, your product and make them feel as excited as you, then what chance have you got?
A friend of mine has a gift shop and I didn't want to ask her to stock my products in case it made the friendship awkward. With hindsight she should have been the first person I asked to collaborate with, I could have learned some valuable lessons much earlier on and ultimately it would have been financially profitable for both of us.
What tips or advice can you share for marketing your startup business?
In my line of work it's all about word of mouth and peer to peer recommendations, so the best way I do this is through social media and specifically Instagram. I know that in some companies social media is left to the intern, but I would urge any business to evaluate which platforms are best suited to their target audience and then really invest time and creativity into those channels.
As a sales tool I'd be lost without social media to allow my loyal customers to share feedback with me plus my news, messages and brand identity with their like-minded friends. Advocacy is key for so many sectors, don't let your social channels fade into obscurity.
What tools & resources have helped you in your startup journey?
I literally run my business from my smart phone so I recently upgraded to an iPhone SE with 64GB of space. It's honestly changed my life and I can now do everything on the move as I have storage of loads for apps. For Instagram some of my favourites include:
- Followers: helps me track who's followed or unfollowed me
- Whitagram: allows me to resize images to creat the illusion that there is a frame around them
- Repost: so I can 'regram' customers' pictures of my teething necklaces in action
- Over: allows you to write words over pictures as you would in Photoshop, but on your phone
- I'd also recommend using a Hash Tag generator to maximise the 30 hash tag limit.
And for managing sales:
- Sell on Etsy: does what it says but I get a lot of traffic through organic search on Etsy so this app allows me to manage day to day admin on the move
- iZettle: I can now take card payments anywhere such as craft fairs - another place where I get to meet customers, chat to them and get feedback
Is there anything you can offer to help other startup businesses?
If you have a good idea, do lots of research. Chances are you're not the first or the only company to be offering that product or service - but you can try to be the best at it. What are your competitors not doing well? What does your target customer really want? If you can find something to make you stand out it will put you in a much stronger position to succeed.
Never underestimate the power of networking. Don't think of 30 people in a room wearing name badges - networking can happen anywhere. For me it's usually a chance conversation at a bus stop, supermarket or kids' party. But I always have a few business cards in my handbag and wear my product. It's a great ice breaker and often leads to meeting other exciting 'mumpreneurs' and collaborations. The support and encouragement from both the Mums in Biz and Etsy communities has been overwhelming. I hope I've been as supportive to them too.
Is there any help that are you looking for?
I'm always up for collaborations and a mentor would be great. My approach is fairly fluid and I try to take on board feedback because I want my company to grow and succeed. Listening to ideas from outside by business is a really good way to achieve this.
I'd also benefit from some professional photography. All the shots so far are taken on my iPhone, and as a genuine kitchen table startup I'm proud of what I've achieved so far on zero investment - but to get to the next level some decent shots would certainly help with my new website and brand image.