Inspired by… Gemma Whates
Co-Founder of All By Mama
Two mums for the price of one this week! We have been chatting to Gemma Whates about the growing business she launched with her mother. All By Mama is “a unique marketplace featuring a beautiful range of products lovingly created by mums working from home whilst juggling the joys and demands of family life.”
What inspired you to start All By Mama?
I had the idea whilst on maternity leave with my son, Leonardo, now 2 ½. It really came from me spending a lot of time on social media (like many new mums during night feeds!) and joining mum networks as I searched for answers to my endless questions of why my son was doing this or not doing that. I found many mums on these networks that were making really cool things from home and selling them via social media. I enjoyed buying from other mums as I understood the struggles involved with trying to get things done around a young family, but it was hard to find them! When I went back to work after maternity leave I found the work / life balance challenging. I started to look for alternative options as I realised I wanted to work more flexibly. It was the combination of the two scenarios that led me to All By Mama. I then discussed the original idea with my Mum. We worked it through and made some changes before launching in November last year as Co-Founders.
What is the most challenging aspect of running your own business?
It’s still hard to manage the work / life balance but in a different way! It’s hard to not spend all day on my phone replying to emails when my son is around. My laptop is in our kitchen and sometimes I am told off for getting up from the dinner table to work half way through a meal by my fiancé! It isn’t an easy juggle. It’s certainly a struggle to try and dedicate enough of my time to both my son and the business. But it’s a happy problem! It can also be a challenge to prioritise — there is so much that we want to achieve sometimes I try and do too much at once when I should be focusing on our key objectives.
What do you love most about running your own business?
I love the flexibility, it works around my son’s life and whilst it is a juggle I can always be there for him when he needs me. That’s really important to me and I think it’s important that mums that want to be able to work in that way are enabled to so their talents aren’t lost as they take time out to raise children. I also love the passion and motivation I feel at the beginning of each day, I can’t wait to get to work and drive the business forward. It’s never a chore working and I genuinely love every minute. I love being able to meet new and inspiring people and I love that my destiny is in my own hands! I love the challenge and the endless possibilities. It’s great and I feel very lucky to be have been able to launch All By Mama.
What has made the biggest difference to your business?
Social media has made a big difference to our business. It’s been great for finding Mamas to work with, raising consumer awareness, developing our brand and connecting with key influencers. The PR and awards that we’ve received has also had a really positive impact. We have also recently had investment in to our business and that’s opened many doors.
What’s your secret to balancing a growing business while raising a family?
I’m not sure I know! I think there’s no easy answer and it’s about trial and error and setting your own boundaries, which might be different from others, everyone is different! For me, family day trips help me to disengage and switch off the computer. I think trying to not beat yourself up is important too, it’s so hard to feel guilty for not doing enough work or not spending enough time with your family, or not being able to cook fresh meals every day and have a perfectly tidy house but every working mum feels the same (from what I’ve seen). Take the good days and the bad days in your stride and try to see the overall picture. If the balance isn’t right disengage for a day, spend some time alone and work out your priorities. Personally, I think it’s great that my son sees me working hard, I hope it teaches him to be ambitious, just as long as he knows he will always be my priority.
If you were to blend the perfect business success, what would be the three ingredients?
Strategy, Profit and Ethos. Strategy to get the business where you want it to be and keep it on track, profit to keep it running and the ethos is what’s really at a heart of it all, the passion behind it and the emotional connection that your customers and your team have with your brand.
What tips do you have for other mums who want to start a business?
Make a list and pick something, anything, to get the ball rolling. Once that’s done, make a proper plan. Keep in mind your motivations, set your long term goal and make a backup plan. Understand the impact that it will have on your family and plan for it to take longer than you think! Then go for it, try it, you can always stop if it doesn’t work or isn’t right for you but you don’t want to regret not starting!
What’s next for All By Mama?
It’s been an exciting nine months since launch. For us now it’s all about continuing to find new Mamas to join us, increasing our customer base and building our product range.
Thanks for sharing your business journey and your top tips with us, Gemma. All By Mama is a brilliant initiative and a beautiful website (that we have spent far too many hours drooling over…)