Hi, my name is Rachel, I am 31 years old, a wife and mummy to the most gorgeous little girl called Brodie. I am also the owner of Belo & Me and this is my journey into becoming a mumpreneur.
I always wanted my own business. But I had the issue which I think a lot of people have; in that I just didn't know what I wanted to do. That had been my problem since leaving university. My degree and graduate diploma were both in psychology, and although I enjoyed my time in academia I felt that my love of psychology had come to an end. So I was stuck. I flitted round a few jobs over the next years; a couple of them entertained me for a while but were never really my passion.
I came across the idea of jute lunch bags when on a uk mini break with my (now) husband. I was looking for a bag to take my lunch to work in but couldn't find any I liked. I either didn't like the colour, the size or the design. When I got home I searched on the Internet but couldn't find quite what I was looking for. I found a gap in the market and realised that this was maybe something I could do. I was excited.
I firstly contacted suppliers. I was so surprised that some didn't even reply to my emails and some others were less than helpful. But I suppose that was my first lesson in business. Customer service is so important!!
At first I ordered just 1000 bags from a UK company. I knew the designs on the bags were one of the most important factors, so I spent a long time perfecting them. I started with 4 designs in various colours and waited until they arrived.
It was scary spending savings on 1000 jute bags. But I just kept thinking 'you will sell them eventually'!
The bags arrived and they looked better than I imagined. I loved them.
That first sale was so exciting. Definitely my proudest moment. Then the orders slowly continued dropping in. I was so happy that other people loved the bags as much as I did.
The business has been growing over the years. I now have the bags made in bulk in India and imported to the UK. The first time was a scary process, but I now have a great supplier who I work closely with. The first time an arctic lorry arrived at my house was a funny sight! We spent hours loading the boxes into my Mum & Dads garage, nervously laughing about where we were going to store them all. And more importantly sell them all! But we did! So we ordered more!
Belo & Me is still a work in progress and I will always be trying to improve it and make it better.
In summer 2012 I got married and by December we had a new addition in the form of a bump. September 2013 brought the arrival of the most beautiful little girl.
I found keeping up with orders a struggle with a little baby (along with things like finding time to get dressed and make anything more than a sandwich for tea), but I had a lot of support from family helping with the parceling and dispatching of orders.
The older my little girl got the easier it became and I realised that I didn't want to go back to my full time job after my maternity leave ended. I wanted to concentrate on Belo & Me and try and make it bigger and even better. Being my own boss and deciding my own hours would enable me to spend a lot more quality time with my little girl which is the most important thing to me.
With childcare costs having risen by over a fifth in the last year many mums are looking to quit the office and start up their own business working from home; which coined the phrase 'mumpreneur'.
Working from home will help me not only with childcare costs but also enable me to spend more time with Brodie.
So in the last few months I have been trying to expand the business. I have increased the product range, now sell to trade, and engaged in social media and marketing projects.
We now have a wide range of jute lunch bags and shopper bags and cooler bags for kids. We have all sorts of new jute products arriving in a few weeks, all designed by myself. Fingered crossed you all like them as much as the lunch bags!
You can find our website at www.beloandme.co.uk
Come and take a look at our bags and watch out for our new products coming soon.
We are offering all Raring2go! readers 20% off our bags using discount code 'R2G' at the checkout.