Behind the scenes at Popsy and Mama No. 1
Updated: Aug 21
The story behind Popsy and Mama and what it's really like to run your own business.
Popsy and Mama has been in business for 18 months now. I know I often say it, but my dreams of making children's clothes for other families would not have come true if it wasn't for all of you - my lovely customers.
I've got to know many of you over the past year and a half. However, I've never really spoken about the story behind Popsy and Mama. So, I thought it was time I gave you a behind the scenes insight. After all, I believe in keeping it real.
So, read on to find out more about the inspiration behind Popsy and Mama, what it's really like to run a business around a family, and my top tips if you're also thinking about launching your own company.
Here it goes...
A bit about me.
If you don't know yet, my name's Sam. I grew up in Maidenhead and then Wokingham. I'm a Berkshire girl through and through. I went on to study a degree in History and Geography, before meeting my husband, Simon.
I moved to West Berkshire nine years ago (as this is where Simon lived) and got a mad talkative cat. We then went on to have our wonderful daughter Poppy who is now 7.
The inspiration behind Popsy and Mama.
I've loved sewing ever since I was 8 years old. My Nana taught me. She loved sewing too. I found I was naturally very good at it and won awards at school. My first Saturday job was working in the local haberdashery shop!
My love of sewing followed through to my Uni days as I would make mine and my friend's ball gowns and outfits for special occasions. After I had Poppy I made clothes for her too. I loved seeing the pleasure and excitement my friends and Poppy got from wearing something I made.
I've always wanted to sew as a job, but it just never happened. I've worked for companies such as Disney, BA and then Three, but all of these roles have been in customer experience and service.
In June 2018, I took the plunge and launched Popsy and Mama. Poppy was of course the inspiration behind the brand. Her nickname is Popsy (if you hadn't guess that yet)!
The first year in business.
No-one can prepare you for the first year of building a new business. It's exciting, yet it can also be overwhelming and daunting. You have to put the hours in and your brain can become overloaded with information, ideas and frustrations. However, one of the biggest things I've learnt is you can, and should, adapt your business model whenever you need to.
Popsy and Mama originally launched with woven cotton party dresses, shorts, shirts and skirts. However, I then discovered the wonderful world of bespoke fabric designs and started making jersey items such as leggings and rompers. My customers instantly reacted to these positively, and now jersey outsells woven cotton by far.
What I'm trying to say is, if you're thinking about starting your own business, have a good plan and vision however be prepared to listen to your customers and change.
Sewing stretch fabrics was a new challenge for me and it wasn't what I'd put in my original plan. But, I've found a new love for jersey and it's something I've enjoyed learning about and working with.
A typical day at Popsy and Mama.
I get up nice and early before anyone else is awake to start cutting. Where I can, I cut the same fabric in the same styles so I can work in batches.
Once Poppy has gone to school, I'll switch the radio on (the radio is my companion) and start sewing. While, I must add, my mad cat sleeps!
I've often been told I'm a really tidy sewer. I have various containers for off-cuts, for example a small tub for threads and small fabric slices, a bag for small off-cuts and a big bag for bigger off-cuts.
When I'm not sewing I'm talking to customers, planning fabric orders, managing my website, posting on social media and working with brand reps. I spend at least an hour on social media every day. It's been a fantastic platform for growing my business.
It's then time to pick up my daughter from school, spend time with Poppy, manage homework, dinner, bath and bed, before I sit at the sewing machine again.
For the past 18 months I've also been juggling a day job alongside Popsy and Mama. However, I'm thrilled to say that from January 2020 I'll be running Popsy and Mama full-time. I can't wait!
The challenges of running your own business.
Running your own business can appear very glamorous. However, because it's your own business and you take it home with you, it can be difficult to switch off.
My biggest challenge has been spreading my time well between Popsy and Mama, my daughter, my husband, family and friends, my other job, and not forgetting the cat! However, I do my best and have had to make sacrifices to my sleep and social life.
All that said, there are many positives to running your own business and these definitely outweigh the challenges. I'm following my dream of sewing and know if my Nana was here, she'd love to be part of it too.
Advice for new business owners.
Plan your time. Allow more time than you think you'll need and invest in extra support. You can't do it all. Hire freelancers and experts to help with jobs that keep your business running, so you can spend your time working on the bits you love.
Schedule in down time for you too! Running your own business means it can be hard to switch off. You find yourself working early mornings and late evenings as you're motivated to make your business work. It's hard to stop thinking about what's coming next. However, plan relaxation time into your working week and stick to it, to get your balance right. I still need to get better at taking my own advice!
What to expect in 2020.
I'll be introducing more twinning options in 2020 and making more styles for older children. I also want to bring the Popsy and Mama brand closer to people by attending more events. I love the buzz I get from events and particularly enjoy talking to customers on a personal level. It's a nice way to meet other small business owners too.
I have also already starting designing Popsy and Mama's Spring / Summer collection 2020. I can't wait to share it with you!
A huge massive thank you.
Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to you all for supporting Popsy and Mama in 2019. I'm blown away by the love we have received. I want you to know for each and every order I am truly grateful and I really do perform a little happy dance when a new one comes in!
As this is my last blog post before Christmas, I want to wish you all a Happy Christmas with your gorgeous families. I hope you have a wonderful time and get to put your feet up with a cuppa (or something stronger)!
I'll be back at the end of December with some exciting places you can explore with your family in January.
P.S. If you've enjoyed my Behind the Scenes post you might be interested to read what I got up to in January here.
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