Today Kerry Brown shares the story behind Elizabeth Brown Maternity. I love the husband-wife teamwork in this business startup story. What impresses me with Kerry’s story is her self-belief and determination to succeed. What helped her at the start was having a plan, even though she didn’t see the point of a business plan at the very start.
This is a guest post in my Business Startup series to share stories from business startup mums; stories that will inspire other mums to get started in business; stories that will give you confidence that YOU can do this too.
To find all the stories use Business Startup Story in the Categories drop-down.
If you have a business startup or career change story to share, I’d love to hear from you. Just click here to contact me. I am always delighted to receive guest posts on this subject, 500-800 words.
From Pregnant & Frustrated to Maternity Wear Designer
Kerry Brown shares how she became a maternity wear designer and manufacturer.
What prompted you to start your business?
I started Elizabeth Brown Maternity after I was pregnant, plus size and found nothing to wear. I went from shop to shop and came back in tears feeling like I was too fat to be pregnant. But as a member of various online forums for mums, I found that in fact I was not alone, far from it! So I decided that I would try and fill that gap in the market and give women of all shapes and sizes a choice.
How old is your business?
I started the company in September 2014 so it’s almost 2 years old. I did however have a year of designing, sampling, manufacturing etc before I launched.
Tell us about how you run your business
All the designing, sourcing fabrics, dealing with the manufacturers and arranging the photo shoots is down to me.
My husband designs and manages the website, lists our items through various online retail outlets and deals with the finances.
Together we process the orders and respond to emails and phone calls.
We find that we work well as a team and we each play to our strengths.
What do you love about having your own business?
I love running Elizabeth Brown Maternity, it’s my dream. It gives me a huge sense of achievement especially when I get responses from women thanking me for such comfortable clothing, or from ladies who have been struggling to find clothing that fits.
I also love the freedom that running my own business offers.
The business was and is my vision so I have the control, the ability to take the company where I believe it can go.
What are the challenges?
The biggest challenge for me is time. I wish I could add another few hours to each day (preferably once the kids were in bed!) My lists are forever growing and I do sometimes worry if I give my kids the time they need, for example when I have to answer the phone when I’m in the middle of playing with them.
Another one of my bigt challenges is having to compete with the larger stores with their huge marketing budgets and buying power. Being a small business it’s sometimes hard to compete with the big boys!
What do you wish you’d know at the start?
The biggest thing I was unprepared for was the level of time I would need to invest. So if I was able to go back to the old me and give her some advice it would be to get a schedule arranged from day one. Time for the business, time for the housework and chores, and time for the family.
Your top tips for other mums thinking about starting a business
A business plan is crucial. I was always reluctant to write one and didn’t see the point at first. Eventually I gave in and it took me a long time to get it right as I had to do a lot of research first. But doing this gave me a huge insight into my market and gave me a better idea of where to take the business. I now look back on my business plan and make amendments as I go. It’s a great way to see how far you’ve come and how far you can still take your business.
Your favourite inspirational quote
‘Believe you can and you’re halfway there’ Theodore Roosevelt.
Once I had sewn my first designs no-one believed I would actually take the business further. My husband actually laughed one day and said ‘how on earth will you find a factory?’ to which my response was ‘I will, just watch me’ and I did!
Believe in yourself even if no one else does.
How do you look after yourself?
Taking time for yourself is a must or you will crumble. Once the kids are in bed I try to make time to switch off for the day and either watch TV or have a hot bath, or both if I’m lucky!