Sophie Lilley — Munchkin & Bear

#SWMamasThatCan is all about mums supporting mums. It’s about celebrating and showcasing amazing #SWLondon mamas and their independent businesses as well as the amazing and talented ladies they are.

What inspired you to start your own business?

Growing up with both my parents self employed I guess I always knew I eventually wanted to do my own thing. And, after ten or so years as partner in a communications firm, advising and watching clients thriving, I was itching to finally be on the front line. So, after having the twins in 2017 I had to decide- head back to the job or spend more time with my 3 kids and start up my own venture and see where I could take it? Looking back, it felt like a tough decision but I now know it was absolutely the right one and I am so pleased I jumped in feet first!

What challenges / hurdles have you faced?

Where do I start? Once I’d made the decision to go it alone I remember feeling very overwhelmed by the reality of actually getting something started and the very long list of things I had to do just to get to the start line. Heading back after maternity leave is always scary but with a start up you set the pace and the blended roles of Mummy and ‘new business owner’ mean at first, everything just takes longer. But, as with most things, tackling one step at a time and adding a deadline to focus my mind I got there in the end!

Now Munchkin and Bear is up and running, taking orders and growing, there is always more I could do but I try and hold firm — moving at my pace rather than racing just because the ‘world’ never waits. I have to remind myself sometimes, I chose to be self employed to be flexible and still be a full time Mummy. That really is my most important job. Thankfully Alana, my business partner, has created a fabulous brand that believes that too, making it possible for me to finally do both!

What do you like best about your job?

It has to be hearing feedback from the customers. I genuinely love our padded playmats, my kids play on ours every day and my house no longer looks like a crèche. Hearing from other parents why they love them will never get boring for me — it makes me smile every time! Someone said to me yesterday that they “think it has made them a better parent” as they spend more time with their kids on the floor rather than observing from the chair — tricky to top that!

Tell me a Mama That Can story…

Hummm, tricky question… I think it has to be seeing the business so far through the eyes of my seven year old. Like many people who choose to stay at home to focus on the children, I’ve had moments of self-doubt, particularly as a woman, that I’m modelling a very traditional housewife and mother rather than a woman who can do anything she wants. But when she tells people about the business and starts selling them my mats (without realising she is selling!) I know I’ve done the right thing in modelling both a stay-at-home mum and the excitement (and yes the stress and anxiety) of an entrepreneur!

Top 3 tips for other SW Mamas That Can?

  1. Stay close to your customers and keep listening to them yourself but remember what you are trying to do.
  2. Break your to do list into small items with micro deadlines, that way you feel like you have moved something on 😉.
  3. Believe in your idea, if you do, others will jump on board more easily.

Do you have any Real Mama Moments to Share?

Oh mine has to be the reality of twins who don’t sleep… I’m woken regularly 4–5 times every night — an amazing night’s sleep is being woken only twice. Nearly two years into this I’m not sure I’ll ever write off the slept debt but if I keep busy and active everything is achievable!

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