When I was pregnant with my first, I remember traveling to Stockholm and being completely taken aback by the choice of baby clothes and decorations, crafted using the most beautiful materials and stunning craftsmanship. I remember getting back and researching where on earth to get these beautiful things here. Large baby stores simply didn't stock them and google did no justice to the small shop owners, because I simply couldn't find them. Now (in large thanks to Instagram) shopping for stunning pieces is much easier. There are a lot of fantastic, small brands out there (and thank goodness!).
Today we are talking to Vicki Smith an investment banker, turned franchise owner, turned mama entrepreneur and the owner of www.fortheloveofmum.com. With so many brands out there FTLoM sells curated, stylish products for Mums to use in pregnancy and beyond. All. In. One. Place.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family?
Hello, I'm Vicki, founder and owner of For the Love of Mum (FTLoM). I'm married to Chris and we live in Kent with our three children, Millie (4), Arthur (2) and Oscar (7 months). I feel like the last 5 years have passed in an endless newborn daze of sleep deprivation! Chris and I always dreamt of having 3 children close together in age - we hope they will be good friends as they grow up together and experience similar stages of life at the same time. Its such an amazing feeling to look at our young and busy family and feel complete - no-one is missing, no-one yet to arrive, just the 5 of us, slowly growing older and experiencing life all together.
How did you come to set up your own business? What was your inspiration?
I've always worked hard. Before having children I spent 10 years working in investment banking and private equity. I was brought up to believe women could achieve anything and I loved the challenge of working in a competitive, male dominated environment. But once Millie was born, everything changed. I had no idea how motherhood would make me re-evaluate everything I thought I knew about myself and Chris and I were both surprised how much I hated leaving Millie when I returned to work. It didn't feel right. These early years are so short and intense and I couldn't bare to miss them. So after Arthur was born, I resigned.
I still wanted to work though. I'm ambitious and determined and I desperately needed an outlet to focus on. It had to sit alongside my new role as a mother and be flexible - something I could do on my own terms.
Whilst on maternity leave with Millie I had completely fallen in love with a magical multi-sensory baby class called Hartbeeps. So after I resigned, I decided to buy a Hartbeeps franchise, just over 2 years ago. I now manage over 50 Hartbeeps classes a week running in venues across South East London, Bromley and Bexley. I love this business and am proud of what we have achieved so far.
After Oscar was born, however, I was inspired to launch another business. During the many hours sat breastfeeding I started to think about how I felt about my body and lifestyle. I'd lost control of everything, once again. I didn't like how my body felt and looked. I didnt know when and how long I would next sleep for and I felt tied to Oscar whilst I exclusively breastfed. I loved being a new Mum but I also felt like I'd lost myself again to the all consuming role of newborn carer. I started to research practical products for use with Oscar that were also stylish and my first discovery was Etta Loves sensory muslins. I loved their monochrome animal print designs - I would buy their prints on a jumper or a scarf any day - so it was lovely to use their muslins and feel I had retained a little part of my independent, pre-baby style. It made me feel better.
And that was the beginning of For the Love of Mum. My final newborn experience has inspired me to curate an online store of carefully selected products that are practical and useful but also on-trend for the style-conscious Mum. I wanted to help Mums remember a little of their own independent style during a period of so much physical and emotional change. I absolutely love all the products we sell and hope you will too!
How do you juggle family life with working for yourself? What’s your best tip?
I often say Hartbeeps and FTLoM are hobbies rather than work. They're something I chose to do. Something I'm in control of. So I can fit them around my primary role of Mum. These businesses are very much meant to fit around our family and the needs of the kids. So most of my work is done in a two hour window every evening once the kids are in bed! Its not always possible, and you'll often find me on social media writing quick posts during the daytime. But any real work or admin is saved for the evenings.
I'm proud of what I'm creating, both as a Mum and also as a mumtreprenuer. I hope I'll look back one day and think I got the balance right between focusing on the kids whilst also fulfilling my own ambitions and work ethic - I'm not very good at sitting still and relaxing!
Whats your advice for parents who think they might want to set up their own business?
Oh, theres so many things! I think the most important thing is to pick something you're truly passionate about. There will definitely be times when you have to make sacrifices for your work. It wont always go to plan and it can often feel lonely and isolated. So make sure you really believe in the business - they'll be times when you need this belief to carry you through.
What is your best baby tip?
Trust yourself! Its taken me three babies to learn that I'm enough. I'm the best person for this "job". Be confident in yourself and follow your instincts. No book or advisor can touch a mother's intuition. You can do this, just believe in yourself and take every day as it comes! As they say, the days are long but the years are short.
How to find this mama
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