Small business spotlight on: All By Mama
Meet Gemma Whates, co-founder of All By Mama – a brand new online marketplace packed full of unique products created by super-talented mums.
All By Mama was launched by a mother and daughter team in November 2014, and Gemma is the daughter part! Prior to starting the business Gemma worked in marketing agencies, specialising in retail and shopper, for 10 years on clients such as Disney and Mars. Gemma’s mum Hilary, has worked in marketing for 30 years and also owns a children’s publishing company.
Here, Gemma generously shares the All by Mama start-up story so far.
Tell us a bit about All by Mama
We believe in supporting all mums (or as we affectionately call them, our Mamas) to follow their dreams of starting a creative business whilst working around their family routines. The business has grown rapidly since launch. We are now working with over 100 Mamas and welcoming more every day.
We’ve also won some fantastic awards, including a Jacqueline Gold #WOW award and a Mumpreneur website award.
What inspired you to start up All by Mama?
The idea for All By Mama came about when I was on maternity leave and spending far too much time on social media, following mum pages for advice and buying gifts for my son. Then when I returned to work on four days a week, I found the work-life balance really challenging. I felt like I wanted to spend more time at home. Almost immediately I realised that I wanted to try and find a way to work flexibly, without giving up my career.
I wanted to find a way to use the knowledge and skills I have. I ran my original idea past my mum, we made some changes and she agreed to come on board as a co-founder. I left my full time job shortly before we launched, much of the work pre-launch was done in the evenings after work was finished and my son was asleep.
So far, it’s been an incredible experience. We’ve both loved every minute. I have never worked so hard in all my life but I feel so passionate about driving the business forward that it doesn’t feel like work.
What sort of response have you received?
We are thrilled that we have received such a positive response from our Mamas, our customers and press since launch. We try to have a very open dialogue with our Mamas and customers to make sure what we are doing is working for them.
The concept has been incredibly well received and the support we have had from people we have met is overwhelming. We couldn’t have asked for more.
What do you find to be the main challenges of running your own business?
It’s only be three months but the main challenge for us at the moment is the financial insecurity as the business is in its infancy and the struggle to raise mass awareness on a limited budget.
Personally, the challenge of the work-life balance remains but it is on my own terms and I feel far more comfortable knowing I can prioritise as I feel appropriate.
And the highs?
The challenge, seeing your dreams turn to reality, the proof that hard work leads to good things, the flexibility to work around family life, the pride in every single sale, Mama that joins us and feature in press, the motivation to get out of bed and start the day, the possibilities for the future of the business… I could go on.
What do you consider to be your biggest success so far?
Getting the business launched! And receiving such positive feedback. Every time someone makes the effort to send us a nice email it really means a lot.
What’s next for All by Mama?
In our first year we hope to continue to raise awareness and build our community of Mamas. Long term, we hope to gain more advice and investment to allow us to reach a mass audience, open up our community internationally (we are already working with some American Mamas) and add a charitable element to the brand, supporting creative mums working in underprivileged parts of the world.
What advice would you give someone considering setting up in business?
Take small steps to get the idea off the ground, before you know it they will become one big step. Seek advice as much as you possibly can from as many people as possible. Remain single-minded about what you want to achieve and why.
If like me, you have a million and one ideas going round your head, set your objectives and stay focused. Take one step at a time (I am still trying with this one!). Don’t lose sight of your motivations. Write one line that summarises what your business is trying to achieve and run every decision past that one line.
How do you switch off from your work?
Day trips with all my family to new places and just spending time having fun with my son – I love doing arts and crafts activities with him, reading stories or taking him for baby chinos (I am addicted to hot chocolate!)