Moms Doing It For Themselves: Sophie Cafolla & Dr Vicky O’Dwyer
Tell us a little bit about your business:
The Stork Box is an online business that specialises in products for Mum and Baby including prepacked maternity hospital bags, helping parents get ready for their new arrival; a range of Gift Boxes for both Mum and Baby, which friends and family can ship directly to the recipient and a Kidswear clothing range for 0-4 years.
The company was set up by myself, Sophie Cafolla and my sister Dr Vicky O’Dwyer. I run the business on a day to day basis and Vicky consults on all of our range.
We are launching our first event on 14th October, The Stork Box presents Mummy & Me: Unboxed, a unique one-day event combining health, exercise, nutrition and wellness for expectant and new mums. We felt that there was a gap in the market for an event like this specifically target to pregnant women and new mums. People are so health conscious these days and are keen to learn top tips from industry experts so we have a great lineup of Doctors, Healthcare professionals, Fitness Instructors and Foodie Influencers for mummies and mummies-to-be to learn from.
We are excited to bring this event to the market and hope to grow it into a series in 2018. Tickets are available on Eventbrite but are limited so be sure to snap them up quickly! We also have a Stokke buggy to give away to one lucky attendee on the day worth €1299.
What was your motivation to start up your business?
We are both Mums ourselves and Vicky is a full-time Obstetrician and Gynaecologist so we know this market both personally as well as professionally. We had the idea for the hospital bag for some time now as Vicky was frequently asked ‘What should I bring in my hospital bag?’. This got us thinking about our own experiences, we had to go to 3 or 4 shops to get everything for both Mum and Baby which is tiring when you are heavily pregnant so we thought, why not create a service where you can buy your hospital bags essentials online and have it all shipped directly to you!
For us, it was about making life a little bit easier for expectant parents. The convenience of it coupled with the fact it is brought to you by a professional in the maternity sector I think is very comforting.
When it came to choosing a clothing brand for the baby bag we decided we would make the clothes ourselves. We both love fashion and had a clear vision of what we wanted to create so we said ‘let’s do it’!. What started out as just a newborn range as now developed into a range for up to 4 years. You can find our clothes in the baby hospital bag, our gift boxes or you can purchase them individually on our website.
What is your background?
Vicky has spent the last 11 years working in the maternity sector. She graduated from medicine in UCD. After completing her basic specialist training she went on to present and publish research during her time at the UCD Centre for Human Reproduction at the Coombe Hospital and was awarded a medical doctorate in 2012. During her higher specialist training scheme Vicky has worked in all 3 Dublin maternity hospitals, Limerick and Galway. She has just completed a fellowship in maternal medicine at the National Maternity Hospital Dublin.
I’ve worked in Events, Sponsorship and Marketing for the last 10 years on projects such as Taste of Dublin and Web Summit but in May of this year I left that all behind to focus solely on The Stork Box.ie. I thought I was leaving the event world to focus on products for Mum and Baby but then we decided to create our Mummy&Me: Unboxed event! It is nice to be able to use all my event experience though for something of our own and I do feel this style of event is missing in the Irish market.
What have been the highs and lows of setting up your own business?
As a startup everything is stretched; budgets, time, energy. Trying to manage it all between us is difficult but if we don’t do it no one will, so we just get through it. There have been some low points along the way like panicking on whether anyone will actually buy our products but thankfully they have and it’s all working out…
The benefits of creating something from scratch that make parents lives a little easier and that they can enjoy totally out ways those lows.
What advice would you give other moms wanting to start up their own business?
I would definitely advise people to do their research. It is so important to know your audience and your market. Talk to as many potential customers and retailers as you can. Understand that there is always room for growth and improvement so listen to feedback and adapt where necessary. You should be aware that setting up your own business can be stressful and is generally time-consuming to start, it isn’t easy but it is a fantastic experience and extremely rewarding. The best thing someone said to me is ‘luck comes after 2 years of hard work!. Honestly, nothing just happens, you need to get out there and make it happen so be sure you are prepared!
Do you have any tips for balancing your work and family life?
Try to prepare as much as possible beforehand, whether that means getting the lunches packed, dinners premade for the week or arranging the pick-ups monthly so it's booked in, it just means the time you have at home can be quality family time.
Did having children change how you feel about your career?
Not really. Of course, we get mum guilt when we are leaving for work but both of our parents worked when we were growing up so it is something we always knew. I totally believe it gave us the motivation and determination we have now. If anything I think having children motivated us more as we wanted to provide a great life for our own kids.
What would you say is your next step for 2017/2018?
We will be creating a series of our Mummy and Me: Unboxed events in 2018 so be sure to watch out for our dates. We will also be adding new clothing to our range over the coming months and hope to confirm a number of stockists across Ireland so that you can buy in stores as well as online. And we have a number of exciting additional boxes coming online in spring 2018…all will be revealed soon!
If you were to be granted three wishes for your business what would they be?
- A strong online presence as digital is the way of the world now
- And grow the business internationally