Whenever I meet someone new and tell them about Be So Baby, one of the first things they ask is why I decided to start my own business. There are usually three parts to this question:
So I thought I'd write this post to try to answer these questions, for myself as much as anyone else. I'd be lying if I claimed that I have never thought about these questions before, but I'm not sure I've ever written it all down in one place.
I guess Sorcha and I really started on our journey towards Be So Baby years ago, when our friends and family first began to have babies. New baby gifts are relatively easy to find and buy - baby blankets, babygrows, towels, soft toys etc.. and there are also many companies that sell beautiful bundles of gifts - bouquets with 'flowers' crafted out of babygrows and baby socks, cakes made of nappies, gifts for pampering the new mum.. the list is endless. But what about when those babies get a little older? If you don't have one yourself, who knows what a 2 year old wants for their birthday? What do you buy a 4 year old for Christmas? These are the sort of questions that troubled Sorcha and me back then.
Of course, there are lots of baby boutiques and shops out there, but to be honest as a 'non-Mum' I felt quite intimidated going into these small, quiet, tidy shops, with their carefully handpicked beautiful toys, mostly in pink or blue. None of my friend's kids were playing with beautifully hand-painted dolls or pastel knitted teddy bears anyway, so why should I buy them? The other option I thought was open to me was Amazon. A great place to buy anything you could possibly want.. but what if you don't even know where to start? We wanted to buy something that we knew our friends' toddlers would enjoy playing with, and that wouldn't just be looked at once then join the rest of the surplus birthday gifts. Asking parents what they thought didn't help much either. Obviously they kept the things that they knew their kids would actually love for themselves or grandparents to buy (everyone wants to win at gifting). And it is a scientific fact (maybe) that anything a child says that they really want before their birthday will immediately be their least favourite thing in the world as soon as they actually receive it.
That was a rambling way to say that Sorcha and I saw a problem. Surely it wasn't just us who struggled to buy thoughtful gifts for toddlers without putting in a Herculean effort?
But what actually pushed us to stop thinking about this issue and decide to do something about it?
As my sister-in-law always says (although usually in the context of having babies), if you waited until the timing was perfect you would never do anything. And this is very true. When Sorcha and I first started working on the idea for Be So Baby, Sorcha lived in Singapore and had a new small baby to look after, as well as a full time job. I had just moved back to London after a couple of years away and was trying to find my feet again after a pretty bad relationship breakup. So why, when we were living in totally different timezones, both trying to adjust to our new normals did we decide this was the perfect time to start working on a new business together?
If we waited until things had settled down, we would have got back into our comfort zones. It turns out that making one more change when you are in the midst of huge life shifts is easier than you might think. For me, starting a new business seemed a lot less daunting than moving back to London and moving into a flatshare for the first time in more than ten years.
It also helped that both Sorcha and I knew friends and family who had successfully started their own businesses. I think sometimes you have to actually see something firsthand to know that it is possible. I had spent years working with retailers, both on- and offline, to help them to understand their customers better and shape their strategies to grow and improve. While I enjoyed this work, I had always wondered if I actually had what it takes to have a go myself. I still don't know yet.. but I'm having a lot of fun trying to find out!
I guess as with any decision, when you are really not sure which way to go you have to just go with your gut feel, or in other words, just listen to whichever voice in your head shouts the loudest. Is it the fear telling you that you should just settle back and get a well paid job that you know you can do? Or is it the excited voice that says "what if..."
So for now, we are listening to the second voice.. and we will see where that voice takes us.
I can tell you for sure that if we started Be So Baby as a quick way of getting rich, we would be pretty upset right now. Unlike many 'startups', getting a big chunk of investment and rapid growth were never our goals for this business. Sorcha and I share a similar mindset. We want Be So Baby to be the best that it can be, of course. And we hope that it will be successful and grow over time. But we're also looking for a business that allows us to live our lives the way that we choose, whether that's Sorcha spending time with her children while they are still small, or me having the opportunity to travel and find more interesting products and brands to include in future boxes. Who knows if we will manage this?
One thing is for sure, no matter where it leads in the end, I know I will have had a lot of fun and learnt a huge amount to take forward with me for the rest of my life. This, above anything else, I will consider a win.
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