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A little story of my brand

Here's a little visual summary of how my business has changed over the past 13 years.

Initially I was making products for my baby Angus, and selling extras.   I had a little stock pile in the cupboard in the spare room.  I was selling on Trademe,  and it was nice to have a little bit of pocket money while I was on maternity leave.  Trademe was a great way to learn about customer service - because I never wanted to get those red face feedback.

I had always been arty-crafty with my clever mum.   She gave me a sewing machine when I was pregnant with Angus.My-Shop

 

I started adding a few extra products, and found some suppliers.   Things like baby lotions and nipple creams, which I stored in cupboards.  I was dabbling into coding a very basic little website.  I bought a domain name for $40 and found free hosting (back when Yahoo Geo Cities was around).  I started selling Hotmilk when they first launched, they were one of my first big brands and stocking their bras really helped my business grow.

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I was working part-time at my old job, and dabbling with my hobby business, and being mum to my gorgeous son Angus.    We had another baby Lochie (great market research!)  and I went on maternity leave from my job.    The business kept going slowly, we had a couple of orders each day which was ok to handle with a baby and a toddler.  I would walk down to the post office each day with the buggy loaded up with kids and a few parcels!

 

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In 2009 my family relocated to Cambridge.    Buying a different house meant that I had separate office area where I could work, and held stock.  But moving away from Auckland also meant that I didn't have my old job to fall back on.  I resigned and decided that Breastmates would have to be my real job.    (Thanks to my husband for not pressuring me to find work in Cambridge).

FYI in my old job, I was an engineer..... but that's probably a whole other story.   I had always had strong entrepreneurial instincts - even when I was a kid I would be making cards and art and selling them, or organizing big garage sales etc.  Even though I had gone down the path of engineer, rather than business,  deep down I should have done creative art and design!  That's always what makes me happy..... fastforward to today and I'm combining business and creativity anyway!

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I kept adding products, developing a few bits'n'pieces myself, and needed to squeeze them into this same space.     My customer base was growing and I was reaching more people. It wasn't always about selling products - it was about making an impression on someone's day in terms of our delivery service, regardless of what a customer was buying or spending.   I was growing a community around me on Facebook etc,  which was good when I felt lonely at home doing this.

But things were getting too busy trying to have boys at home and giving kids/business my full attention at each moment.   So they went to daycare 1-2 days a week.... eventually they were going 5 days per week, but like everything we built up that change over time.

IMG_2025-(2)Eventually put shelving in the garage too, and took over that space.  Thank you to my husband for giving me that space, and kids growing up around the changes.

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IMG_2732So a few years went by.  (They went by so fast!!!)   I was working from a cosy creative home office with a shelving setup in the entire garage.  This is when I started getting other ladies working with me to help with packing parcels.  Still at my house.  I worked long hours, often until 10 or 11pm at night, as I was designing new clothing ranges.   Always drawing, doing specs, working on webpages etc.   Probably because my computer was so accessible.   I wish I hadn't worked like that..... it was part of the reason my marriage broke down.  I just had such a determination.

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As  I started increasing my own range of Breastmates branded products and people kept liking my designs, I decided to design bigger collections.  That was a big risk - so much more stock to carry.   I needed more space.    So I moved everything out of home and into a warehouse in Cambridge.

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IMG_3784I am strong, and have moved a lot of boxes.

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Now I get to come to work every day, and have a great little team around me.  I love every day.  It doesn't ever feel like work.     I can't believe 13 years have gone by - how did that happen!?     There are always new things to be doing, and every day is different.   I LOVE making a great impact on customers, and giving people a great experience with my brand - that is really what drives me.  I want people to feel great and get compliments when they wear  my clothes.     When I get home, I focus on my children (now 13 and 9) and do my own creative projects - very rarely work related!

Sure some days are hard, and very busy or very stressful.  It hasn't been easy.  I have worked really hard at this - but I DID IT, I  never gave up.  I started it from scratch - with no investment or funding - just working working working.   I often feel  a lot of pressure on my shoulders in terms of keeping customers happy, having the best products, making the right decisions, and providing for me and my boys.  But I am happy.

Its not often that I look back and reflect, as I am always looking forward.  But I am so proud.

Dreams do come true.

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