Rachel Jones, 45, is mum to Freya and also runs Totseats (www.totseat.com). She tells www.motherswhowork.co.uk how she manages the tricky business of managing home family life with a flourishing business (that’s also big in Japan!)…and how she got through seeing her daughter lying lifeless in her room the day before she launched her business.
What work did you do before you set up your company?
I co-founded a marketing?consultancy called Great Circle and worked there full time.
How did you fund the business?
Using loans from family and friends, credit cards and eventually a Small Firms Loan from the bank.
How much profit did you make in your first year?
Not enough, due to UK-based manufacturing – but it’s much better now!
What was the motivating factor for staring your own business?
I was prompted into action having taken a prototype to John Lewis – who loved it! Before this just had 19 prototypes being used by friends and hadn’t considered turning it into a business.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
I like the fact that I am learning something new every day, and that two days are the same. I’ve also found a sense of joy from encouraging, nurturing and developing the team. One of the best things about setting up my business, though is that I have flexibility when I need it.
Running a business can be a mixed bag sometimes. What have been you highs and lows so far?
The lowest point, without doubt, being the most important. Freya had a febrile fit the day before the official launch.? I was working in wee room beside her bedroom, about 8pm, the night before we were heading for the trade show launch. I heard her make a funny noise and went immediately into her room to find her totally lifeless and not breathing, but absolutely boiling hot.? I had no idea what had happened, had never heard of a febrile fit and did what any mother would do which was give her mouth to mouth resuscitation.? (Thank goodness I’d been on the St Andrew’s ambulance course when I was pregnant!).
With the ambulance zinging its way towards us and the folk on 999 issuing instructions, we made it through. She started breathing again, was sick and I burst into tears. It’s never happened again but there was a moment when I held her lifeless in my arms, with Totseats all around on the floor, thinking this was all for you but for what point.
The highs – Gaining new distributors for new markets ( Totseat is now big in Japan!), winning lots of? product and design awards including Scottish Design Award, Practical Pre-School Award, Mumsnet Best Award, Baby World Mums Love Award and recently Gift of the Year for Outdoor Living Award. I was a finalist in ‘Inspirational Business Mum of the Year’ in 2008 and won a special award from the British Female Inventors & Innovators Network in 2007. I have also just scooped Red’s Hot Women award in the International category for overseas expansion and success.
How have you managed to stay on top of your career with the demands of motherhood while running a business?
It’s been tricky!
How has running your business impacted on your relationship with your partner and children?
My husband and the kids have been hugely supportive, encouraging, understanding and patient.
Any tips for expectant mums, or mothers who feel that you can’t have a successful career and a happy family life at the same time?
1. Every stage is over too quickly – each one being better than the last. If you can afford not to work, and you don’t want to work, then don’t! Enjoy your time off, however long it is,?while you can – babyhood will pass you by in an instant.
2. Whether you’re going back to work, starting your own business or being a full time mother it’ll be?hard work at times and you’ll wonder if life really is greener on the other side of the fence. It isn’t! Enjoy what you can, while you can. It’s?absolutely worth living every day to the full.