@barneyandwilf

It’s #MumBag and #MumBoss #Monday where some very talented and interesting women let us into their minds and their bags to see their inner workings.

This week we have a pair of Mums who have come up with one of those genius ideas that is also really simple, like the best ones always are.

Cat and Jen met at NCT and became good friends. When their kids started nursery they found themselves drowning in all the artistic creations they came home with.  Not having the heart to chuck them out and also not having the wall space to show it all, they started to scan and digitally reproduce the images and make stylish poster prints to show them off.

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At first they made them for family and friends and they were a real hit; so they decided to give it a go as a business and BarneyandWilf  (named after their boys) was born. Two years on and they are winning Design Awards and featuring in Tatler.

I caught up with these two inspiring ex City-girls to see how they got to this point:

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What does your business do in a nutshell?

Cat and I create poster prints out of children’s own artwork. We found ourselves in the position where we were being overloaded with lovely/ crazy things the kids had created each day at school and nursery, but having it stuck on the walls just created clutter and we had nowhere to store it all.  Plus we didn’t have the heart to throw it all out. So we came up with the idea of digitally reproducing the images into little squares, fitting 24 to up to 90 pieces onto a poster you would actually want on your walls, and then we could throw away or store the originals guilt free. Lucky for us the idea really caught on with parents as it’s something all Mums and Dads face. And the modern framed grid collage looks contemporary enough to have anywhere in your home.

When did you start it and why at that time?

Cat and I did NCT together and, as our youngest sons were about to turn 1, we had had so many comments about the prints we had made for friends and family we decided to give it a go selling them properly. With tiny children, it took another year to get going, and the boys, Barney and Wilf, have just now turned 3.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Fitting it in around the children who were so young when we started. We used nap times and evenings to get things done and relied on Cat’s husbands amazing IT skills to get a website going. Also as we both have backgrounds in the City so getting up to speed on digital marketing and the Instagram and Facebook world have been learning curves.

What has been your proudest moment?

Winning a Junior Design Award and being introduced at school as the mum at school with ‘that genius business idea’. It makes it really worthwhile (even if its really not as glamorous as it sounds!)

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What is your best mum hack for making it all work?

Wine! And working in the evenings. It’s not for everyone I know, but I’m used to working late from my banking days. I literally cant get anything done if my children are in the house, and now the naps are a distant memory it really is the only time I can get any work done. It’s quiet, you can drink wine and there’s nothing worth watching on the TV anymore.

You seemed to have found your ‘thing’ – do you see it that way?

Both Cat and I agree we have been really lucky to find a unique business idea which has taken off and addresses a gap in the market.  So, yes, to a certain extent we have found a niche, but I would also say we did stumble upon it during those hazy, sleep deprived baby years, and would be keen to try other businesses in the future now we have found our feet a bit.  But we are still very much a new business, and as the saying goes you get luckier the harder you work.  It has been quite a struggle getting up and running with such young children at home, so it’s not for the feint hearted.

What encouragement would you give a mum thinking of starting her own thing?

Give it a go and be brave.  Honestly, everyone is blagging to a certain degree. Coming from a background in Corporate Banking in the Middle East my skill set couldn’t have been more different, but Cat and I sent a few emails and genuinely loved our idea, which I think rubs off. Before we knew it people were ordering prints and featuring us in magazines and blogs.

Also something Anna Whitehouse (Mother Pukka) said which I really took on board, was keep the activity going, and I definitely find this works. If sales are quiet, just keep sending emails to people who could help you, posting on Instagram and generally interacting with people and building networks. We might not sell a print, but we will make a relationship, attend a function, make a new friend with great insights…its all part of building a business and makes you feel like its ticking along. Working alone can be lonely so expect quiet times and use friends or family as sounding boards.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t take it all so seriously!  In my previous career I was in such a rush to achieve achieve achieve, that I never took stock of where I was or asked enough questions of the people around me. Now I have been forced to slow down with 2 young children and working on my own small business I have realised what’s important in life. I moan about it at 7am but I really do like that I can take the children to school and be the one to pick them up most days.

Will you show us your #MumBag?

Number of items in your bag: 10

Mark your #MumBag out of 10 for:

Entertainment: 6  A Thomas train and a favourite book. We are never far from a train with Wilf around and he played with this very patiently waiting at the doctors surgery the other day (and probably picking up every germ possible!)

Food: 0  Complete snack fail today. Probably why my children are so awful in public! Must buy snacks.

Drugs: 8 Currently fighting the dreaded lurgy going around, Lemsip is my friend. And 8 hour cream for everything.

Clothing: 4 Spare monster pants for Wilf. Always. Bless him, always far to busy to be bothered to go to the loo. And always baby wipes, to assist in the aforementioned accidents.

Skank: 6 Receipts, hair ties and a dry cleaning ticket from 2015 (inside my wallet)

Actual nice things for you: My lovely Jem and Bea MAMA bag with a few bits of makeup. I always have a few bits for after the gym, when I ever get there. We met Jem and Bea at a Mums The Word meet up in Tunbridge Wells and it was great to chat to a business further down the line to us. They were generous with their time and contacts and make the miost beautiful bags.

What is the most comedy item you have found? Annie’s latest artwork handed to me the other day. Her face stuck to a bumble bee. However she is white blond and the way she has cut her head out makes her look completely bald. I did have a giggle.

What is the oldest item in there? A couple of those receipts probably. Oh and my coin purse from Marrakech. The blue leather is so old and battered but I love it and reminds me of fun travels.

What is the item you’re most proud of? Rich gave me my bag when I had Annie, and I’m most proud of the fact that despite it being cream I haven’t completely trashed it yet.

Describe your baggage-type:  I definitely err on the side of messy, but every now and then I get a bit OCD and have a big clear out. But yes, hoarder most of the time.

Let’s see it then:

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Thank you for reading x

Follow Mrs Yellow  on Instagram

Mrs Yellow supports PANDAS FOUNDATIOwho support mums with PND.

If you like what you’ve seen and want to help a good cause you can text PAND45 £3  (or £1, £2, £4, £5 or £10)to 70070. Text costs amount donated plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission.

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@minisettlondon

It’s #MumBag and #MumBoss #Monday where some very talented and interesting women let us into their minds and their bags to see their inner workings.

When Jess Bahia’s  baby daughter started to sit up by herself, she realised that Mala could do with a comfy little chair of her own to sit safely in for her bottle/ book/ snuggly time without falling off.  We’ve all heard that awful thud, let’s face it.

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After looking about for something suitable the only options she found were big, plastic, pink and covered in characters which was totally NOT what she was after.

Jess had an idea for a mini kids sofa, spotted a gap in the market and the idea of Mini Sett was born.

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They launched in 2016 with 3 mini ‘flip’ sofas that are made in stylish neutral colours, screen-printed in the UK with line-drawn animal illustrations (Badger, Swan and Kingfisher) and are 100% washable premium cotton.  They have a pocket to fit a favourite book and handle so they can be pulled around with ease and are designed for children aged 6 months to 7 years.

I caught up with Jess to find out how she got to this point:

What does your business do in a nutshell?

At Mini Sett, we design and create contemporary home-wares for children that complement any stylish modern home. Our first product that we launched in 2016 was our kid’s mini flip sofa; perfect for reading, resting and watching their favourite film that sits perfectly in any stylish living room or children’s bedroom. In 2017, we’re launching a new, beautiful children’s bedding range, featuring our unique animal designs in grey and white and monochrome.

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When did you start it and why at that time?

Summer 2016 was our initial launch at Dot to Dot London – but we started 9 months prior with extensive product development, testing and refinement. The timing seemed right, as my daughter was doing 3 full days of nursery, which finally gave me some uninterrupted time to think, plan, meet suppliers and work on my laptop – alone!

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Finding a screen printer in the UK who could deliver the print quality of our intricate hand-drawn Illustrations on soft cotton fabric that can be machine-washed, without losing the design detail.

What has been your proudest moment?

Featuring in Tatler magazine alongside other premium British brands.

You seemed to have found your ‘thing’ – how did you come across it?

I have worked in brand and product development for over 15 years for big branded companies and a few small ones and I love finding opportunities in the marketplace for new products, new consumers, new usages, and thought why not create my own products.

Why home-ware? I have also always loved home-wares (worked in home-ware retail for 5 years back in Australia when at University (20 years ago – yikes!), and have always loved beautiful products for the home.  Plus when I had my first child I felt that there was very little available in the way of modern, stylish home-wares for children.

What is your best mum hack for making it all work?

Work in small blocks of time – usually 2 hours. Allocate time for thinking and working on a key priority everyday. I tend to work best in the morning after the school drop off.

I also only check my emails first thing (before my daughter gets up, whilst in bed!), then again at lunchtime and before the school pick. I close down my email program otherwise I get too distracted and could just spend the day emailing  which is not very productive.

What encouragement would you give a mum thinking of starting her own thing?

Just go for it. Find something that you passionately believe in and are proud and enthused to tell people about everyday. You’ll never work as many hours and for as little money (at first) as you do your own business, so you have to love what you do.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Ask more questions. Find out more about how and why things are done when at work. When you’re young and inexperienced, you tend to think you know everything already (I know I did!) and that asking how or why, may seem stupid.

Be open to constantly learning and asking questions from your boss, more senior people around you and your parents. People love sharing their experience and imparting their knowledge with younger people. This is invaluable learning.

Will you show us your #MumBag?

Number of items in your bag: 20

Mark your #MumBag out of 10 for:

Entertainment: 10 – Usually just my phone.  My 4 year old daughter is obsessed with Snapchat, so that trumps any other form of entertainment

Food: 4 – muesli bar, fruit pouch, Mint polos, random sweets that have fallen out of their packet, bottle of water.

Drugs: 0 – I don’t have anything.

Clothing: 0 – I’ve never carried spare clothes – I’m an unrealistic optimist who is often cold or with a child with muddy clothes!

Skank: 3 – Always a dirty tissue or dried up used wipe, crushed biscuits or old raisins.

Actual nice things for you: 6 – concealer, red lipstick, hand cream, hairbrush, a small perfume

Work things: 7 – paper diary (I’m old school), felt-tip pen (I cannot write with a biro!), a notebook, business cards.

What is the most comedy item you have found?

Yesterday, I found the detachable mouse tail from my daughter’s One-sie, that she wears after swimming lessons – so random.

What is the oldest item in there?

My Mason & Pearson pink hairbrush that I was given by my mum, when I was 4!

What is the item you’re most proud of?

My notebook – it’s a little book of random ideas and creative inspiration.

Describe your baggage:

Unrealistic Optimist.

Let’s see it then:

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Thank you for reading x

Follow Mrs Yellow  on Instagram

Mrs Yellow supports PANDAS FOUNDATIOwho support mums with PND.

If you like what you’ve seen and want to help a good cause you can text PAND45 £3  (or £1, £2, £4, £5 or £10)to 70070. Text costs amount donated plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission.

@raising_women

It’s #MumBag and #MumBoss #Monday where some very talented and interesting women let us into their minds and their bags to see their inner workings.

Johanna Rossi is based in Monaco and lives there with her husband and two kids aged 8 and 4.

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She has started Raising Women as a way to support entrepreneurial mums to create a life they love.

Her website is a community of like-minded women sharing their stories of self discovery through motherhood via podcasts where she interviews her guests about their pasts and how they’ve got to where they are now.  They are an inspirational read and listen as well as being totally accessible as you realise that they are normal mums doing their thing. You can also read Johanna’s very honest personal story here.

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Johanna is also a Holistic Health Coach and mentor and offers 1:1 sessions to help women find their voice and some structure after being buried under everyone else’s needs in the early years.  She also supports Care International (who provide CARE packages to people recovering from war) through the sales of her awesome Tees and Tote in her shop.

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The #MumBoss Questions:

What does your business/ do you do in a nutshell?

I support women to balance motherhood with becoming who they were meant to be.

When did you start it and why at that time?

I launched in September in 2016 after refocusing, stripping back and rebranding my original business.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Self doubt.

What has been your proudest moment?

One day someone asked my son what my work was all about. He said that Mum helps people to stay healthy and happy – he got it!

What is your best mum hack for making it all work?

Forward thinking and pre-planning. And leave room in your schedule for the parenting curve ball.

What encouragement would you give a Mum thinking of starting her own thing?

You don’t have to climb the whole mountain at once. Do your best with the time you have, and step-by-step you’ll get a better view of the journey that you are on. The climb is the best bit and it is important to stop every once in a while and take in the view!

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t worry about looking for a job, think more about who you want to help, what changes you want to make and how you are going to do it.

You have found your thing, how did you come across it?

Actually through my journey I’ve come to believe that the ‘thing’ we look for doesn’t really exist. What does, however, is how our acceptance for our life and the path we are on.  Accepting who we are and what cards we were given.

The people who appear to have found their ‘thing’ haven’t arrived at a destination, they are like everyone else who is searching, yet they have accepted to embrace the path they are on, and focus on all the good stuff that is on their path.

I believe finding ‘your thing’ is all about seeing what is already there with a new outlook that comes with a change of mindset. Energy flows where focus goes, so when we focus on creating meaning in our life we automatically create an energy which causes us to shift in a fundamental way.

Will you show us your #MumBag?

Number of items in your bag: About 10

Mark your #MumBag out of 10 for:

Entertainment: 6

Food: 6

Drugs: 10 homeopathic kind! 😉

Clothing: 3

Skank: 7

Actual nice things for you: 3

What is the most comedy item you have found?

Not many laughs had from my bag, but definitely had some surprises in the form of squashed bananas and stolen lipgloss that one of my little people managed to negotiate out the shop under the radar!

What is the oldest item in there?

My keys!

What is the item you’re most proud of?

My polaroid camera

Describe your baggage-type:

Functional

Let’s see it then:

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Thank you for reading x

Follow Mrs Yellow  on Instagram

Mrs Yellow supports http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk who support mums with PND.  If you like what you’ve seen and want to help a good cause you can text PAND45 £3  (or £1, £2, £4, £5 or £10)to 70070. Text costs amount donated plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission.

@chloelovestoshop

It’s #MumBag and #MumBoss #Monday where some very talented and interesting women let us into their minds and their bags to see their inner workings.
 –
Today’s #MumBoss has probably got one of the best black books in the TV industry as she spent 17 years as an HR/Talent manager at Endemol, filling the production jobs on their iconic shows.
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A year ago she left the role to spend more time with her children (Now 11, 9 and 4) and started a blog and an Instagram account called @chloelovestoshop to give herself a reason to ‘keep making an effort’ in the mornings and to share her #OOTD and her amazing knack of finding high-end looking pieces on the high street.
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One year and TWENTY THOUSAND followers later and Chloe’s passion has turned into her job. She lets us in on how it’s all come about …

What do you do in a nutshell?

I am a mummy fashion blogger. I blog about fashion and lifestyle and collaborate with brands that I love to wear.  My plan is to design my own range of clothing one day.

When did you start it and why at that time?

I started it a year ago, when I decided that I needed to spend more time with the children at home. Three children and a full time office job was proving too difficult, and I wanted to find something that I could fit in around the children’s school hours and try something that would get my creative juices flowing. When you have done the same job for 17 years, it’s tricky to feel invigorated by what you do. I needed a change

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

I didn’t expect things to take off so quickly, so my biggest challenge has been trying to fit it all in. It’s turned into a fairly full time ‘job’ but I am also full time with the children, so I have to try and fit everything in while they are at school. When I worked in an office I switched off the minute I walked out of the door (most days) but when you live your life through social media, it never stops! (That’s not a complaint, I love it, it’s just tricky to find a balance sometimes)

What has been your proudest moment?

Hitting 20K followers on Instagram has been a very proud moment and being asked to collaborate with big brands that I love has also made me proud. But I am probably most proud that I have not missed a single assembly, concert, netball match or competition this year. I have found a career that means that I can be there for the children whenever they need me.

What is your best #MumHack for making it all work?

Getting up an hour earlier than everyone else! When I do this, it makes a huge difference to my day. That hour of thinking through what I need to do without anyone asking something of me is golden. However, there are plenty of days that I don’t do this and I am very often chasing my tail and dropping balls!

What encouragement would you give someone thinking of starting their own thing?

Don’t be afraid to give it a go. I always think it’s better to look back on life and say ‘I can’t believe I did that’ than to say ‘I wish I had done that’.

We have one shot at this thing called life, and you have to do things that make you happy. Sometimes, that means taking a few risks. But when you take risks you feel alive and if they don’t work out, at least you will know you gave it your best shot. Be prepared to work really, really hard. But when it’s your own thing, you have all the energy and passion that you need to keep going, so it doesn’t always feel like hard work.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in yourself more. I am still full of self-doubt and it can hold you back sometimes.

 

Will you show us your #MumBag?

Number of items in your bag: about 25

Mark your #MumBag out of 10 for:

Entertainment: 8 (earphones and an iphone! Not pictured I was using it to take the photograph!)

Food:2 ( 2 polos!!)

Drugs:0

Clothing: 3 (1glove and a hat)

Skank: 6 (tons of old receipts)

Actual nice things for you: 6 (makeup and hand cream)

What is the most comedy item you have found?

A pair of pants that I had used to hold my hair up in the shower and realised just before I entered the school. I took them out and popped them in my bag and they stayed there for quite a few days…

What is the oldest item in there?

My nail clippers

What is the item you’re most proud of?

My Chloe purse. I treated myself to it with my (little) Christmas bonus at work a few years ago.

Describe your baggage-type:

Being a fashion blogger means that I change my bag most days. So every time I change it, I tend to clear it out so it is usually OCD. However, if I use the same bag for a few days I very very quickly become a hoarder.

Here it is:

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Thank you for reading x

Follow Mrs Yellow  on Instagram

Mrs Yellow supports http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk who support mums with PND.  If you like what you’ve seen and want to help a good cause you can text PAND45 £3 to 70070. Text costs £3 plus network charge. PANDAS Foundation receives 100% of your donation. Obtain bill payer’s permission.