What inspired you to set up Tatty Bumpkin?
I was a yoga teacher and lived on an organic farm – I was also teaching baby yoga, I breast fed for 18 months, and literally all that pent up creativity just exploded when I stopped feeding and I was taken over by the irrepressible Tatty Bumpkin!
What is your background?
Originally a graphic designer, and later a yoga teacher and organic farmer.
Did you have a good support network around you when you were setting the business up – in terms of childcare?
My family are very close, and my husband at that time was self-employed, so yes, I was lucky in that sense.
How does running the business fit round your family now?
Its hard – I don’t think women can have it all, something has to give, but working from home and Oscar at school within cycling distance, means I maximise time on the business and with him, but you always feel something is compromised. I think we women have too many choices to make.
What research did you do, to know the business would work?
Actually, I didn’t! It was a very intuitive thing, I just followed my heart and trusted it would work.
Financially, how did you set up Tatty Bumpkin – did you have any grants/funding?
We self funded from savings, and because I am a designer, a huge amount of start-up costs that would have been incurred in design and branding were negated. On-going, I have used a lot of friends to call in favours of work – I guess one advantage of starting business when a bit older, means you have the contacts already in place!
How did you launch the business (i.e. did you start in one location and branch out? did you run one class a week and expand?)
Probably that’s what I should have done, but in fact went for global domination from the start! I just totally believed it would work. I tested it locally and then started running nationwide training sessions. Working alongside Sue Cheveley – a pediatric physio, to develop the training gave me the confidence to believe in what we were offering.
When did you know it was time to get an employee?
I knew I needed one from the beginning if I wasn’t going to compromise my time with Oscar. Even now, I would prefer to take less money and employ someone until Oscar goes to full time school, rather than lose out on time together – but of course it has its downsides as the office is right next door to home, so its very hard to switch off.
You offer the fantastic franchise opportunity for Mums to work running Tatty Bumpkin classes – was this always the aim of the business, or did this element grow organically?
Yes we always knew that mums would make the best teachers as they have the connection with children, so that has always been our aim.
What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve faced in setting up Tatty Bumpkin?
I’m so into the creative side, that I really find the financial and sales side very difficult. Luckily I am in a position now to get help from those who know what they are doing! I know my strengths, but its my weaknesses that are the concern.
What has been the best bit of PR/Marketing you’ve had?
We had a 4 page feature in You magazine, but you won’t have seen it as they havent run it yet! That’s always a risk, but if it gets to print that would be amazing. Otherwise, our Tatty Bumpkin doll topped the Indpendents top 50 eco buys.
Also we’ve just won the bronze award for best national children’s activity for ages 2-5 years from What’s On For Little Ones (www.whatsonforlittleones.co.uk) and Organix, which we’re very proud of!’
Do you enjoy running your own business?
Love it. I have only ever had a full time job for 2 years and that involved travel and was for a start-up. I really thrive on the risk, and even if it all went wrong, I would never regret it.
What is the biggest benefit to your family of you being self-employed?
I’ve nearly always been self-employed, I’m very disorganised, so I couldn’t possibly imagine life where I had to be somewhere at a certain time, so I guess that I am totally flexible is a big advantage to everyone. If I have to do something or take a break, I will – nothing is so important it won’t wait.
Any advice for Mums who would like to set-up their own business?
Just do it. Think about all the people who have a good business and are far less talented/motivated/inspired than yourself, and what do you have to lose? If it goes wrong, at least you tried and will have learnt valuable lessons!