Happy Tracks in the Snow

sustainable parenting working from home children books yoga storytelling Woodcraft environment

Monday 11th Feb: Doing Business in Your Bathrobe Day ! February 10, 2008

Filed under: Running your own business — paulabrown @ 8:45 pm

mba0250l.jpg pr75635.jpg
Hey tomorrow is Doing Business in Your Bathrobe Day, a day to celebrate homeworkers
"Bathrobes aren’t just for lounging around anymore. In fact, they’ve become the emblem 
of freedom or a growing class of entrepreneurs—work-from-home 
(which includes us 'mumpreneurs') and business people around the globe. "



calm after the storm February 1, 2008


So the fifth birthday has come and gone, complete with 34 small boys dressed as pirates and 2 small princesses watching the antics of a grown man dressed as a pirate (aka Captain Barnacle / Mr Brown’s Pig). Turning 5 made Gabe question his own mortality with a lot of discussion about death and the apparent belief that he was now that much closer to his own…

This week also saw me jumping neatly out of my comfort zone to perform in the Bristol Storytelling Festival’s Storytelling Slam Competition thingy. No I didn’t win but I didn’t make a fool of myself either and was even voted for by real people and everything. I chose a Cuban folk tale from Barefoot’s ‘Riddle Me This’ by the wonderful Hugh Lupton – a brilliant book about riddles and puzzling tales.

I have to confess to being one of the transgressors who’s tangled up in the Inland Revenue’s website problems, still haven’t filed my return as it’s still down, painstakingly reconciling stock in and out for the books was fun, especially as I hadn’t kept my records up-to-date. I won’t even bother to say it won’t be like that next year!

Next week is Chinese New Year so I’ll be running all over Bristol doing special Tatty Bumpkin sessions at nurseries, schools and the like with my big papier mache dragon head… Some activities to come on that…


Please vote! January 21, 2008

Filed under: Running your own business,Tatty Bumpkin — paulabrown @ 5:20 pm
wo4lo bronze award Last year we won the What’s On 4 Little Ones 2007 Awards sponsored by Organix, bronze award for best national children’s activity for children aged 2-5 years.We need to win it again so if you know how brilliantTatty Bumpkin is then please click on the above link and vote…

Never a dull moment… January 16, 2008

Filed under: parenting articles,Running your own business — paulabrown @ 9:46 pm


I could have sworn I heard myself say ‘it’ll be much quieter after Christmas’. Well I was wrong. In the last two weeks we’ve:

  • started the New Year with a 60s party where we actually made it past midnight
  • climbed Glastonbury Tor
  • bought a bike trailer
  • started our new Woodcraft Folk group (quite manic and a bit disorganised on my part but lots of smiles!),
  • I’ve started two new Tatty Bumpkin classes (ditto),
  • done a big mailing to day nurseries,
  • sent two mailings to my Barefoot Books team and one to everyone I know about the Barefoot Books winter sale
  • settled Gabe back into school and resumed our childminding morning job (3 small boys bouncing around a small Victorian house for an hour…)
  • written half an operations manual
  • driven to Kent and back for a Christmas dinner
  • sent proposals to schools for a workshop for KS2 children on how books are made to local schools (a project with Barefoot Books Nige is doing)
  • organised Gabe’s 5 birthday party
  • booked a trip to see my folks near Barcelona
  • made some plans for our Talk like a Pirate day
  • booked Nige onto a Tatty Bumpkin course as well as him…
  • starting a new part-time job and an NVQ course and some involvement in a project called ‘Trading Places’ about men in carework / early years education and women in construction and the challenges therein
  • nearly-but-not-quite getting filmed by Channel 4 at the laughter workshop
  • plus all the usual activities, playdates, shopping etc and of course
  • the dreaded tax return which literally keeps me up at night (actually my latest stalling device was to try to find jokes about income tax returns but they were absolutely terrible)

I have to say that it’s been a brilliant but exhausting couple of weeks though…


Autumn news October 5, 2007

When I was little I lived in Western Canada and a fine place to grow up it was too. Autumn was a particularly beautiful time with feet-high piles of crispy leaves, unlike the soggy piles we often get here. But I can’t complain, one day the boys and a friend found 67 conkers in an afternoon and what a lovely afternoon it was too…Here is the news:
1) Barefoot have loads of great books out (www.mybarefootbooks.com/paulabrown) for Christmas, let me know if you fancy having a few friends round to look at the books and get some free yourself (or if you’re school is running a fundraising Christmas do). Barefoot’s ‘The Boy Who Grew Flowers’ is on at the Egg theatre in Bath shortly – a great book and will be a great play

2) I need some exercise and am looking for inspiring ways to get fit – please feed back on any groovy ways to shed pounds (I’ll publish them so we can share)
3) We’re starting a new Woodcraft Folk group for 4-6 year olds in North Bristol, let me know if you’re interested in this Woodchips group

4) If you are self-employed, not currently working or your office Christmas do is downright dull, email me at paulabrown@mybarefootbooks.com to join us on our not-employed Christmas do! A motley crue of full-time mums, lonely self-employed folk, peripatetic workers (a long, long way away from your head office) and those who tend to make a spectacle of themselves at their office do and need to give it a miss this year. Last year we went to the One Stop Thali cafe and were serenaded by a man playing a saw, yes a real saw. Where will it be this year? Who knows but it’ll be serene, we might even have that third glass of wine this year and maybe even dance… So do join the tired-mums-and-dads on their one and only night out of the year (well almost!)…

5) I may be expanding my Tatty Bumpkin business (cue maniacal laughter!) and may be looking for a business partner with a multitude of skills and a little bit of time. Email me if you love children, have boundless energy and a little bit of time…

Paula :o)


Interview with Sam Petter, founder of Tatty Bumpkin about starting a business May 27, 2007

Filed under: Running your own business,Tatty Bumpkin — paulabrown @ 4:12 pm



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!


Local mum provides job opportunities to Bristol parents and wins holiday to the South of France May 25, 2007

shop2.jpg Paula Brown, local mum and entrepreneur, wins a holiday to the south of France for helping Britol mums set up their own businesses.

Paula Brown is a local mum of 2 boys, Gabriel (4,see About) and Jude (22 months) who runs the Tatty Bumpkin sessions and also sells the brilliant Barefoot Books www.mybarefootbooks.com/PaulaBrown, children’s books with amazing artwork and stories from different cultures, to schools and families throughout Bristol.

Paula has recently won a trip to the South of France with Barefoot Books – a combined relaxation trip and conference – for her team development. Since having children she has been interested in the dilemma mums face regarding going back to work and wanted to find a better work/life balance. Starting the business only a year or so ago she has recruited over 30 people to her team, many of these mums in the Bristol area who want to combine motherhood with flexible work where they can still see their children and bring another skill to parenthood in the form of brilliant stories!

She also runs Tatty Bumpkin classes and helps to recruit mums to do this too www.paulabrown.tattybumpkin.com (featured in the Evening Post last year).