Hello and welcome back to another installment of Mama You Can, a series started to share inspirational stories of Mama’s who have changed career direction, started their own business or negotiated a more flexible role to fit in with family life.
This week we hear from Jo who runs her business Mini Maison a kids decor and lifestyle business which has the most gorgeous products! I’ll hand over to Jo to tell you more.
Mama You Can: Jo from Mini Maison
Hi, I’m Jo, mum to two little boys with another one on the way, and run a modern nursery and kids’ décor and lifestyle business, Mini Maison.
My background has nothing to do with retail or interiors but it is something I’ve got a passion for, having struggled to find what I was looking for to decorate my first baby’s nursery back in 2013 and ended up ordering lots from overseas and facing customs charges and long waits while things were stuck in customs. My background is in television production, making documentaries and commercials, so very different indeed!
When did you decide to change direction in your work life?
I did some very part-time, freelance work between my two boys, who were born 18 months apart but it wasn’t until I went back to work (3-4 days per week) after my second little boy that I realised I couldn’t make it work.
The projects that I wanted to work on demanded long hours and last-minute evenings working in the office, which would have been manageable if my husband had a local job with less hours, but he also works long hours in London. It was too much. Plus, the projects that I could fit around my children just didn’t fulfill me and it all felt a little bit pointless. Meanwhile, I had faced the same problems with nursery décor when planning for my second baby and I began putting the wheels in motion for Mini Maison when Sam, my second, was very tiny. It was very basic stuff to begin with – making notes on my phone during the night feeds and scouring Pinterest to find what I thought was missing from a UK online retailer, and it gradually turned into a passion, something I wanted to do every evening once the children were in bed and after dinner with my husband. It became apparent that it was something I HAD to do!
Sam was born in October 2014 and Mini Maison opened its virtual doors in February 2016, so 16 months from initial planning.
How did you feel in the lead up to the decision?
It felt HUGE! It’s such a big leap setting up your own business because it’s all on YOU. The success or failure rests solely on your shoulders and I was often struck by such huge fears that I regularly thought about not doing it at all. But running my own business was something I’d wanted to do for almost a decade and I’d had so many business ideas during that time, but this one felt like the ONE. Plus, my husband and family were so supportive and full of positivity and confidence in me that I couldn’t NOT do it.
And how did you feel after?
So nervous for the first few months because it’s SLOW. Things start so slowly and I now realise my expectations were way too high. It was all such a learning curve for me (especially as my background is not in retail – I’ve never even worked in a shop before!) and I’ve learnt so much along the way, so I’m constantly growing and adapting how things work.
Now you have taken the plunge how are things going?
Things are going so well. I love my business and I love how flexible it is. We are growing every single day, week and month, with sales going up and more brands joining and more categories on the site. I’ve got such big plans for the business but I’m forcing myself to stick to the plan and not get carried away with the end goals!
What advice would you give to other Mama’s who are thinking about making a change to their working life?
It’s sad but true that you really need to take stock of your personal finances first… what can you afford for you to do? How can you make changes to your lifestyle so you can make those changes to your working life? I had to carry on working in my day job for a year and a half (3 days per week) before I was able to leave and concentrate solely on Mini Maison. Setting up a business really isn’t for everyone, so think about what you love and what you dislike about your current job – perhaps it’s just a case of changing your hours or changing companies? Or maybe it really is a total career change you’re looking for, in which case you need to do the financial assessment thing and decide how you can achieve your goals. If you want to set up your own business then do the research and then just GO for it! It will be hard at first, but it is so rewarding. I couldn’t imagine not running Mini Maison, I really do love it.