This week as part of my Mums in Business series I’m excited to be featuring Jo who created Thumbsie, and wow what a story this is. I love how the business was set-up to prevent her own daughter from sucking her thumb after exhausting all possible avenues to stop her from thumb sucking. Since then Thumbsie has gone from strength to strength, trading in over 40 countries and turning over £100,000 a year. I think Jo deserves a medal for this, plus also looking after her children at the same time.
So if your child is a thumb sucker and you would like to stop them, then you need a Thumbsie in your life. Take a read of Jo’s story to see how it can benefit you, and how her top tips can also provide inspiration to anyone who is thinking about setting up their own business.
Tell me a little bit about you, your background and Thumbsie?
I am a Mum to three girls and live in Wendover with my husband. I was juggling a London based Sales Director job with my family life before I founded Thumbsie® five years ago. Happily, because of the success of Thumbsie®, I have recently been able to realise my ambition to leave my substantial job in London. I now focus all my attention on building my brand and helping other people to help their children stop sucking their thumbs or fingers which can be a distressing and difficult process for many children.
I started talking to people about Thumbsie® at the school gate, on Facebook and then built a website, 5 years ago. I now have a very successful business, trading in over 40 countries and turning over £100,000 a year.
Online sales, retail and consumer business is a new venture for me, but in building my brand I have kept my customer at the centre of everything I do. Being a mum of a persistent and distressed thumb sucker, I had a very good understanding of my target market and a great empathy for families who struggle with the habit. I want to help other people who found themselves in the same situation and that has been so rewarding, and I want them to be happy and satisfied customers along that journey. I have developed a large online community of success stories so that people who want their child to stop sucking his or her thumb are supported and can be optimistic about their own child’s outcome.
What were your drivers and motivations for setting up Thumbsie?
My youngest daughter was the inspiration for my business as she had tremendous difficulty in giving up sucking her thumb. We couldn’t find a positive solution in the UK to help her to stop sucking her thumb. I decided that as I love sewing and creating, I would make my first fabric thumb guard. Within 3 weeks, she gave up sucking during the day and within 5 weeks, at nighttime too.
Compared with the traumas she had undergone trying to give up sucking using other methods, the thumb guard experience was very positive and painless. At this point I just wanted to help other people have the same gentle and effective experience that we had had with a thumb guard. I also realised that there was a gap in the market; if we were struggling so must other parents.
How do you balance the business around family and childcare?
Juggling a job and a family can be very difficult at times, so be prepared that when you add starting up your own business too life will get even harder for a while. I worked many weekends and evenings and naturally as a mum always felt guilty that I wasn’t paying enough attention to my children. Being able to stop being employed last year made a huge difference. I now walk my youngest to school every day and can pick up so I hear all her news from the day. I have been to school productions, parent’s evening and sports day!! I’m am not saying its easy but by working from home I get the opportunity to be here when they need me.
Since setting up the business what’s been your biggest success to date?
It is a great achievement that I have managed to engage and work with dentists and I am promoting an effective solution to so many dental problems which are associated with thumb and finger sucking. I am very excited about launching the first Thumb Sucking clinic which I plan to roll out nationally in time.
If with Thumbsie®, I can help prevent the problems caused by thumb sucking, such as protruding teeth, speech impediments and over bite, I will not only save the NHS millions of pounds, but also remove the need for children to have invasive and painful dental treatment. That makes me very proud and excited. However, my biggest sense of achievement comes from hearing from those I have helped and this sort of email, which I receive regularly, fills me with pride and a sense of fulfillment.
What’s your top tip for Mums who are thinking about setting up their own business?
My advice to anyone else who is thinking of setting up in business on their own is if you have a good idea then go with it. It’s hard at first to get things off the ground and you will probably feel totally engulfed with it and may not see any return for a while. Understand your target market, I read relevant trade press all the time to try and expand my knowledge and look for subjects to write about. Know what you want to achieve with your business, its great to have your own business that you are passionate about. Try to keep a balance, try to selects times when you are working on the business and stick to it so that the children don’t resent you working all the time. Above all – never stop learning!
If you would like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Mums in Business series then just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a nose at some of the other businesses I have featured in the series: Katie Colella Social, Halia Rose, and Rock The Bump.