“My name is Joanne! I am a 30 something coffee lover living in rural Dorset with my partner Daddy Moo and our three children Charlie (aged 9), Megan (aged 7) and Olive (aged 4).”
I started my first business, Charlie Moo’s back in 2008 weeks before the arrival of Megan. Named after our son who we have always called Moo, although he’s heading into that awkward don’t kiss me in public stage so I’m guessing soon he’d rather be Charlie! Charlie Moo’s specialises in award winning handmade fabric party bags and a unique and electric range of party supplies.
In 2009 I met Laura Morris at our local toddler group we discussed the lack of facilities geared at mums in business and Networking Mummies was born. After nearly 3 years I decided to sell my half of the business. However by 2014 I missed networking with other mums in business and subsequently now cohost Lemur Link Up a monthly networking group meeting in Poole.
My first book ‘Crafting a Successful Small Business‘ was published in July 2012. I enjoy writing for various websites – including Sage UK where I am one of their Business Experts and until it’s demise regularly contributed to CraftSeller Magazine. I regularly do the paper review on BBC Radio Solent as well.
What inspired you to start Charlie Moo?
I started Charlie Moo’s after I was disheartened by the rubbish bags Charlie had received at parties. I decided I could do better and have been making fabric party bags since 2009. I started writing my small business blog in 2010 as a way to provide information, training and advice to mums in business.
How do you manage your time between running Charlie Moo and spending time with your family?
I write about this a lot! I have a few keep principles in place including scheduling, keeping your inbox organised and primarily not worrying about what other businesses are doing.
I set up Charlie Moo in order to provide the flexible work life balance I required. I wanted to be a full time mum but I also wanted to earn an income. Therefore the children always come first, just this morning I nipped out to watch my son play in the Samba band. I take pretty much the 8 weeks off for the summer holiday and spend my time eating chips on the beach and running round forests shooting bows and arrows at Robin Hood (no, really you can read all about this on my family blog)
Being heavily involved with mums and networking How important is it that mums build up other areas in their lives other than just being a parent?
Networking as a small business owner is vital. Mums in business I personally find are a super supportive bunch. Finding a group where you can go regularly and ask specific questions, learn new skills and just sometimes have a moan about things is key to keeping us productive, when working from home can be such a solitary, lonely environment. Networking groups can be a form of therapy and a great place to bounce ideas off others. There are more and more opportunities now for mums in business to network with like minded individuals but also bring their children with them.
As you know, running a business means taking on added responsibility. What key advice would you provide to a mum who wants to start a business?
Research, research, research. Who are your market? Who else will be doing/offer a similar thing? It’s important to ensure your market isn’t saturated. Test your market. Network and ultimately just do it! Also talk your ideas through with your family, ultimately they are the people who will help you juggle children and a home life so keep them involved.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future with Charlie Moo’s?
I’m always developing new stock ideas and I love talking ideas through with the children now they are older (9,7 and 4) and I enjoy seeing them take an active role in our business. I’m also working on that more difficult second book and hope to have it published in January 2017. More than anything I love what I do and I love learning new skills myself and hope to continue until this is no longer true.