A MOTHERS PERSPECTIVE - RAISING CHILDREN WHILE BUILDING A SMALL BIZ.
Wow what can I say? AMY & IVOR is FIVE!! This business started really with no plan at all. I left the world of corporate fashion to bring up my babies, knowing that the long hours I worked would never give me enough time/any time with them. If you asked me then if I wanted to start a business the answer would certainly have been no! It all started when I was looking for some nice plain traditional looking moccasins for my girls. Clementine was then just a few months old and starting to look like she would soon be on the move. Edie had some sweet moccasin slippers from Star Child the original UK maker of the baby shoes with motifs on the front in the UK. We loved them but I knew I wanted something plainer this time and more classic.
After searching online I found various traditional handmade baby moccasins on Etsy in the US and Australia but the quality looked poor which lead me to remember I had some leather from my fabric development days. I have made things my whole life so, with little thought, I set to and started making the girls some leather moccasins. They turned out rather well and they wore them everywhere, picking up compliments and requests after their shoes wherever we went. I still had no plan to start a business until a friend, who was particularly keen on the shoes, introduced me to the wonders of social media and the community of mums on Facebook buying and selling handmade products. She encouraged me to start a page, people started buying from me and the feedback was good. They came back and bought more, told their friends and the rest is history.
My professional background is in the fashion industry and that has certainly helped me. I made many decisions people find difficult with ease and I have not made the mistakes many do. I found my skills as a creative all-rounder really came into their own. I have made decisions for the business based on my personal judgement - a lot of which were not the normal route to take in a business like this. As things got busier I explored factory options, but rejected this idea in favour of keeping flexibility and creative control. So we continue to produce all of the shoes by hand ourselves - we are our own mini-factory. I have a fully transparent setup - it feels honest and true, and I do not have to fight with factories when something goes wrong. We set and maintained the benchmark for our quality and quickly this was recognised by customers. As we take orders we make them, we are organised, and it works really well. It is simple.
The biggest achievement in my eyes is that I managed it all while focussing on my children. I have managed to bring them up myself, as their main carer throughout their pre-school years, which after all was my reason for leaving work. Yes, I feel very proud of the business and quietly impressed we have achieved so much in these five years - especially with two children in tow! I have never experienced any guilt that the girls were so exposed to my work. Yes life is a bit chaotic (but isn’t that part of having kids anyway?), it has definitely not been the easiest juggle (I think maybe I took the hardest route) but I do think it has been good for them. They see exactly how hard I work with their own eyes, they understand what work means and they see what we can achieve when we work hard. They are interested and love being involved. So many of their preschool imaginary games involved dreaming up their own creative businesses! I have worked incredibly hard and made sacrifices in other areas of my life (sorry friends!) but I am also immensely proud of what we have achieved.
I really appreciate all of the support everyone has given me. My family, my team, my friends, customers, industry peers, supporters. Thank you all very much for cheering me along at all the various stages on this journey this far! Thank you for buying our shoes and keeping me going. It really is down to you guys that I have found the motivation to keep going and keep pushing forward in the right direction. Let’s see what’s in store for the next five!
To say a massive THANK YOU we are offering 20% off (until tomorrow, Friday 27th April) we and are running a series of giveaways on our site and social media. Please check it out.
Thanks a million!
As you can see I've raided our Instagram feed. I hope you like seeing these family pics from the early days - the girls, of course, have lived in Amy & Ivor! Most of my pics were taken on my iphone, in the moment, day to day, running to the post, or pre-school, taking a break, a snooze, cooking dinner, playing with shoot props, setting up tradeshows ... that sums up my five years. … it sure has been a crazy few years X