This week on my Parents in Business series I’m delighted to introduce Leanne who created the business MuMar; an online marketplace where parents of twins, triplets and quads, and more, can buy and sell preloved clothes and toys.
Leanne created the business after finding the usual selling sites (eBay etc) frustrating and time-consuming with little reward. Since setting up the business Leanne has been juggling childcare and family life, and I love her idea of Twinkle Mode where she switches her phone to power saving mode disabling all the apps and notifications, to be able to spend quality time with her twin girls. I’m sure that many other parents are now thinking that they should do the same and have their own “Twinkle Mode”. Have a read of Leanne’s business story and her top tips below…..
Tell me a little bit about you, your background, and your business?
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a Wife and a Mum, and the pressure to have career goals never really changed that. So when we planned a family, the intention was always for me to be a stay-at-home-Mum and that’s exactly what I did when our twins were born. I appreciate that all sounds very 1950’s but if you knew me [or talked to my Husband] you would also find that I’m equally independent and my innate entrepreneurial tendencies (and a fairly varied job history), mean my brain doesn’t often stop coming up with new ideas and designs for products and services. So when our daughters were about 18 months old, I set myself up as a personal maths tutor to try and supplement my Husband’s income. Shortly after this was the idea for MuMar came to me – unrelated to tutoring but another business opportunity nonetheless.
We launched mumar.co.uk just shy of two years ago and are still in the early days really. MuMar is an online marketplace designed uniquely for parents of twins, triplets and more. With a background that includes teaching, flatbed lorry driving and a job title with the word “fellow” in it, you’ll see that I’m a fairly fast learner and am willing to give most things a try. This has proved invaluable for running a business from home and I now carry the responsibility of all business functions for MuMar – that equates to my days being filled with everything from web coding, marketing and accounts, to laundering and photographing products for sale.
What were your motivations for setting up your business?
It won’t be hard to make the connection that the inspiration for MuMar came from our experiences with our twin daughters. As a single salary family, saving money has been crucial to us and as bargain hunting seems to be in my genes, buying and selling second hand clothing, toys & equipment for our girls was something we were happy to do but I found that it wasn’t always straightforward or easy. The idea for MuMar came after our girls had a growth spurt and we had a wardrobe full of nearly new clothes that we needed to sell to be able to afford the next size. We tried every avenue possible – eBay, Facebook, preloved baby markets… and they all deemed to be time consuming with little reward and many frustrations. So in the early hours of one morning I literally thought “there must be a better way” and the concept of MuMar was born and somehow it kind of spiralled from there! This short video summarises the creation of MuMar better than I can in a few sentences.
How do you balance the business around family and childcare?
This has been a tricky one for me at times. First and foremost, my family come first. Our girls are always our first priority and I have learnt some hard lessons in what this really means over the past few years. It is much easier now they go to school because I have clear times I can allocate to working but as well as running MuMar, I still tutor which falls in the evenings, so we are always very mindful that the girls don’t miss out on the time and attention they need. The trickiness for me here is that I’m not a naturally routine person and MuMar is a 24 hr, 7 days a week, 365 days a year business. There are no closing times, so work can be more reactive than proactive, and as an online business I literally carry my business around in my pocket as it all comes through to my phone. So one way I have come up with to ensure our girls don’t have a Mummy with a piece of tech permanently in front of her face is to utilise the battery saving mode on my phone. It basically puts most of my phone to sleep other than the old-school basics of phone and text so I can’t get persuaded to respond to an important email or distracted by social media notifications. The girls and I call this ‘Twinkle Mode’, as we collectively call them our ‘Twinkles’ and they know it means they’ve got my undivided attention and this time is about them.
We have also tried to include them where possible in the business though, so they do understand a little about MuMar and what it means to us.
Since setting up your business what has been your biggest success to date?
It sounds cliché but every time someone uploads something for sale or buys something through MuMar, I get a little flutter of delight! The creation of mumar.co.uk was not an easy process for us and at times has been a personally painful one, so I think my biggest success has to include the self-teaching of some basic web development/coding in order to maintain and edit the website myself and probably the fact that I’m still going!
What are your top tips for parents who are thinking about setting up their own business?
I think it has to be: Have a clear bigger picture and reasons for it and believe that it is a good one. I think this can help with varying aspects of running a business from home. For instance, the family priorities I talked about above – if you don’t go to a place of work or have set hours, even the people closest to you can forget that you are actually a working person. It’s easy for you to be the one they’ll ask for a favour or even just a coffee. So sometimes you have to be strong in what you’re trying to achieve and remind others of that – and if you know what you’re working towards then I think that helps. It’s also a really good [and necessary] reason to ignore the laundry and dishes during working days! Of course, if some or all of these things are going to be inevitable and you’re happy for them to be part of your week (truth be told they can be one of the benefits of working flexibly from home) then just make sure you take account of this in your time planning – something I’m still learning to do!
It also helps in those moments when the smaller things go wrong and you have those inevitable “ what am I doing all this for” thought – the bigger picture can keep you going and keep it all making sense.
Thank you so much Leanne for letting me feature you and Mumar on my blog. What a brilliant business you have, keep up the good work and all the best for the future.
If you like what you’re reading and would love to be part of my Parents in Business series 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: Little Bundle Box, Space at 61, and Freshly Spiced.