Name: Ally Atkins
Family members: 4
Previous Career: Marine Biologist
What is the name and nature of your business?
The Ultimate Baby Shower Ltd. A high end online retail company catering for celebrations / support for mother-to-be. http://www.theultimatebabyshower.co.uk/
What inspired you to start it?
During pregnancy I anticipated being back at work following the birth of my first daughter but once she arrived I couldn’t leave her to a nanny. I started my own business so I could work at home and spend as much time as possible with her. The reason for a baby shower business was that I struggled going from a full time career to motherhood and felt there wasn’t any advice / support. I’m trying to make baby showers more about friends and family coming together to offer advice and support to mum- to-be rather than presents.
How did you get everything up and running?
I started when my daughter was 8 months old and worked whenever she slept. I very slowly built up the business then had a break when our 2nd daughter arrived in 2007. Both girls are now at school so I have much more time to focus and business has grown hugely as a result.
How does it fit in with family life?
I often work evenings and also work while the children are at school. I always do school runs and general taxi services as most parents do. When I ended my career as a Marine Biologist I made thedecision that my children must always come first. It’s taken me a lot longer to get to where I am but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Biggest learning curve so far?
To be true to myself and have faith in my own decisions. I used to have little confidence as a business owner because marine science was what I had studied and what I knew best. I wasn’t sure whether I was doing the right thing or that I could create a business. I wasn’t an entrepreneur and didn’t know anything at all about the retail world. I started from scratch and picked everything up as I went along. All I knew was what I wanted to achieve. I have made mistakes and many of these have been a result of not believing in myself.
Most positive experience?
My most positive experience has been gaining recognition from Jacqueline Gold and Theo Paphitis. I have also been on television as the UK baby shower expert and have conducted numerous interviews about how to throw a British baby shower with a focus on mother-to-be. It’s lovely to be recognized as an expert in my field as well as an entrepreneur.
Where would you like to be in five years time?
I’ve always wanted to open a chain of shops. That’s my ambition.
What advice would you give to other mothers hoping to combine motherhood with a new business idea?
My advice is to go for it during any spare time you have, there is nothing to lose so long as it has minimal impact on the children. It’s incredibly tough when children are pre-school age, I have had some terribly tough times where I’ve tried to focus on both business and children but it’s impossible. I took a year break when my 2nd daughter was born because I was being pulled in too many directions and I had to focus on the business or the children. Children grow up so quickly I would never want to regret not spending time with them. I’d rather the business suffered than my relationship with my girls. Now they’re at school it’s easier but there is never enough time in a day. I don’t think there ever will be.