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Moms Doing It For Themselves: Catherine Daly

Many of our mompreneurs’ ideas for their businesses came from their own experiences. When she couldn’t find a fashionable and comfortable maternity dress for a wedding, Cork mum of three, Catherine Daly, saw a niche in the market and created ‘Bumps ’n’ Babies and her own brand ‘Bumps ’n’ Boobs’.

 

Tell us a little bit about your business

Bumps ‘n’ Babies is a maternity and kid's wear store. We’re based twenty minutes from Blackpool, Cork.

The maternity wear is for casual occasion wear and for occasion wear. It’s for pregnant ladies who want to find something that’s stylish and suits their individual shape. If they want to treat themselves to a high-quality dress or top they can order it online - or they can also visit the showroom, by appointment, to try it on in person.

On the kid's wear side we have high-quality brands like Hatley rainwear, Emilie et Rose, Lily & Sid and a brand called Kanz. We’re also adding two new brands at the end of the year/next year. I also have my own nursing wear brand ‘Bumps ‘n’ Boobs’, which is a fabulously comfortable range and gets amazing feedback.

What was your motivation to start up your business?

I had a wedding to go to when I was pregnant with my third little girl, Caoimhe. I went shopping for a dress and I couldn’t really find anything. I was in my early thirties at the time and everything looked like it would suit an older lady. It made me think about the possibilities.

After I had Caoimhe I started to think about it more and if I could set it up myself, and Bumps ‘n’ Babies came about.

Irish women wouldn’t really follow celebrity fashion when they’re pregnant. Maybe if they see someone like Lucy Kennedy or Anna Daly and they like it they’ll ask me if I’ve got anything like that as it’s down-to-earth or affordable. But I don’t think maternity wise Mums-to-be would be looking to be like a celebrity as they want to feel good but also comfortable.

What is your background?

I worked in bookkeeping. I have still kept it on part-time. I love accounts but this is just completely separate. Eventually, Bumps ’n’ Babies will be my full-time business. I need to have it standing on its own two feet - it’s just myself working on it.

What advice would you give other moms wanting to start up their own business?

Do lots of research to see if there is a market there. Definitely go for it then if they think there’s going to be a market for it and that it will work out for them. I set up Bumps ‘n’ Babies on my own and it was hard; I had to source suppliers on my own and set up the website.

There were little things that I had to go back over a year later. I should have done certain things correctly in the first place. I wouldn’t change an awful lot with what I have done, though.

What have been the highs and lows of setting up your business?

I love meeting customers and new mums. At the start, it was online only. Then after two years a lot of people were asking me if they could visit and try on the outfits. I needed a place for storage so I built it on to my house.

Customers ring me and book an appointment for a christening or wedding - I’ve had people from all over the country visiting me. I do late appointments for people who have to work late or who are travelling down to me.

I love meeting new moms-to-be and styling their bumps. If something doesn’t suit them I will tell them straight away. There’s no point in them going out the door and feeling that they shouldn’t have bought it afterwards. At times I will be brutally honest.

I send out packages that same day. My customers always get their orders two to three working days later. I think people really appreciate that. If they have an occasion in two weeks’ time they may need to change the size, etc.

The lows would be the workload, I am always ‘on’ with social media and promoting the business. I enjoy it - but it’s a lot of work.

Do you have any tips for balancing your work and family life?

It is so hard trying to balance kids and your own business. When they’re gone to bed at night time I answer emails, go on to social media and look after orders. When they’re in bed and at school, I work away, when they’re home it’s homework time and our time together. So it’s trying to balance everything, they're the most important - you have to give a 100% to them. You can’t say that just because you run your own business that your time is your own, it is not! Moms will find that out as they go along. There’s a lot that goes into the social media aspect and the other side of the business.

What would you say is your next step for 2016 / 2017?

I have the showroom and it’s on appointment basis only. I am going to open it up fully in the next six months. Even with the kid's wear, and definitely, the maternity wear, it’s getting busier. I am taking on another two brands in kid's wear in January.

It’s very heartening to see that breastfeeding maternity garments are coming into higher demand. I have seen nursing wear increase in demand by about 20 - 30 % in the last few years. A lot of ladies would be looking for something dressy that’s comfortable and easily worn for nursing.

If you were have three wishes granted for your business, what would they be?

  1. I would love to grow the business more and get someone in to do the social media and the website to grow the business. Even take on an intern.
  2. I would love to promote ‘Bumps ’n’ Boobs’ more.
  3. When I get Bumps ’n’ Babies 100% done, then I would love to take time out with my family after I get it to a profitable situation. I’m lucky to be doing what I do, working from home and having my family. Having a full-time office job wouldn’t be for me. It’s trying to find the right balance between family and work.

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About the Author

Lucy Earley works as an editor in the beauty and pharmacy-retail industries. She's a delighted recent convert to the maternal side with the birth of her daughter, Lara, in August 2014.

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