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Christina Pickworth founded THIS MAMA DOES in 2016. With a background in film & television she’d spent over a decade telling stories, but when she became a mother she felt suddenly invisible. Then she had an idea for funny parenting milestone cards that can help tell a story of not just the new baby, but the new parent too – and perhaps send a little SOS out into the world with a smile where there might otherwise be lonely meltdown. 

A chance to laugh with other parents in the solidarity of sleepless nights and s**tmageddons. Because the kids might be all kinds of wonderful, but the parents doing all the snot-wiping and tantrum negotiating on 3 hours of sleep and 4 cups of coffee are pretty fab too!

Listen in to hear Christina share:

  • An introduction to her and her businesses (1:15)
  • The inspiration for her parenting milestone cards and how she launched them in 3 weeks (1:40)
  • The process of creating her cards – and why who you know can help! (5:17)
  • How she got her first sales (7:44)
  • Some of the milestones on her cards (10:20)
  • How she expanded the range – by signing up with Not On The High Street (11:30)
  • The process of applying for NOTHS with a few top tips! (13:30)
  • How much time she spends on THIS MAMA DOES versus her main business – hint. It’s not a lot! (17:00)
  • Selling her cards wholesale and how she got her first orders (22:20)
  • Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (27:49)

USEFUL RESOURCES:

THIS MAMA DOES website

THIS MAMA DOES on Twitter

THIS MAMA DOES on Facebook

THIS MAMA DOES on Instagram

THIS MAMA DOES cards on Scribbler

LET’S CONNECT

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Work with me

Transcript
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Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast,

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practical advice and inspiration to help you create and sell

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your own physical products. He is your host Vicki Weinberg

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Hi. So today's guest has a great story to tell

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her she feels her products as a side business. Day-to-day

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she is a film and TV agent, but she's had

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success selling her products based to retail and wholesale. She

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still sells on a lot on the high street in

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Scribbler on-line today. And in fact, her Christmas cards are

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in Scribbler stores nationwide couple of years ago. So I

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won't say anymore instead, I'd like to introduce you to

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Christina Pickworth Hi Christina hello. Good morning warning. Thank you

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so much for being here.

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Thank you for having me very excited to be on

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stage. Thank you.

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So, can we start by you telling us a little

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bit about yourself and your business, and I know that

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you have your main business as well as THIS MAMA

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DOES so could you talk about them by for a

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bit Please yes.

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So I've been working in the film and television industry

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for a long time now, more than 15 years. And

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that's something that I, I still do is still my

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main business, but when I had my children, I don't

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know. I, I, I, I think has a, as a

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new mom, you can feel a bit invisible and everything

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is about the baby and the children. And while they

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are wonderful, you don't stop being a person in your

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own, right. Just because you become a mother and yeah,

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I just felt a little bit lost.

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And I think your perspective changes when you, when you

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have children. And my, my job in film and television

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has always been about storytelling, and I felt that my

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story was getting lost in, in all the motherhood stuff.

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So one day I'm I remember it was very tiring

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day. My eldest was two and a half. My youngest

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was about five months. We were potty training. He also

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had chicken pox. She wasn't sleeping. And I kind of

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sunk back on to the sofa, sort of four 50

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MC two at the clock of thought, you know, is

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it too early to have a wine?

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And that was when I just kind of had a

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bit of a light bulb moment. And, you know, I

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had seen baby milestone card where, you know, you see

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your, your people on Facebook, post a picture of their

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baby with a card saying, you know, I did XYZ

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today. And maybe you think that was cute or maybe

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roll your eyes. And I just thought, what about me?

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What about my story? And I wanted to come up

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with that was for parents and mothers initially, where you

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could just put a level SOS out into the world

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with a smile where they might otherwise be a bit

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of, a bit of a meltdown, to be honest, that

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was when I came up with my baby milestone range,

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which isn't for the babies it's for the moms.

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So that was when THIS, MAMA DOES started. Is that

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right? Is that the front of your first photo?

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That was my first idea. And I had the idea

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and I launched a three weeks later that night.

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That's amazingly quick. So how did you get in that

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frame in those three weeks? What did you actually do

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is to come up with it? So you had this

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idea to actually be able to have something to sell

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free weeks later. What did you do?

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So I came up with the first few cards very

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easily. I, I don't know. I just went through it

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really. I think there is a lot to be said

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for taking your time and thinking things through and getting

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things. Absolutely perfect. But also, I think there's a lot

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to be said by just diving headfirst in and getting

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something done, getting some in going, I came up with

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the name THIS MAMA DOES and yeah, I just sorta

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went for it. It just went for it. And I

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didn't know what was going to happen, how they'd be

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received, whether or not it'd be a flash in the

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pan or something bigger.

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But yeah, I just put myself out there and gave

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it a go. I don't know.

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Great. I think there was a lot to be said

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for actually just getting out there and doing something because

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you can do and I'm sure. And I'm sure you

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have changed Find things all of that can be done,

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but you need, you just need to start somewhere don't

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you?

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Yeah. And, and actually in that first pack, I did

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change one card, but that's but otherwise, and I changed

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a tiny piece of the design I'm on later iterations

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of it, but otherwise it's exactly the same as it

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is as it's always been. So you, you can get

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it pretty pretty right. First time sometimes.

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Yes, that's right there. That's amazing. And so practically, so

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let's go. So you buy it at all the cards

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I share them. So you write all of the text.

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What about things like design? Is that something you do

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as well? Or

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So I'm very lucky to have a husband who was

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a graphic designer. So he physically designs and everything, but

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to my instructions or not sometimes. And then, then it

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gets very frustrated with me because I'm like, could you

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just do it? Like I said, the first time. So

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yeah, he, he, you know, I don't know how to

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use the InDesign or in a thing. So he physically

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doesn't know me, but to quote from him instructions.

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Wow. And that also explains how you be able to

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do it so quickly as well, actually, partly because you

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have someone there that's, that's very handy. And then so

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you'd like them who designs them and then did you

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just go and find a local principal or something to

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get them actually print it?

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Yeah. So he had print connections anyway. So from that

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point, and if you're getting up and running was very

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quick and easy and you know, that, that was lucky

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for me, you know, I didn't have to source fabric

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or factories or anything like that. So yeah, mine was

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a very, very easy products to get off the ground

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quickly.

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Yeah. And I guess having sort of you having a

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Prince or your husband's or where the new and that

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sorta thing definitely helps. Yeah. I think it was fantastic.

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And how many, if you don't mind me asking, did

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you do like a big print run first of all?

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Or did you start quite small?

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That's a good question. I can't remember. I think I

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probably did a hundred packs. I think I probably did

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about a a hundred packs. You know, I didn't have

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any set up cash or other than paying for those,

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but yeah, just kind of went for it. I think,

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you know, it's always tricky, isn't it with currencies because

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there's always the balance of, you want to give it

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a go and you want to try something out, but

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equally things get very expensive if you don't order from

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a mini. So a a hundred was not very many

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really in the grand scheme of things, but it felt

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like a good starting point.

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Right? Yeah. And that's why I think you're right. I

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mean, its not so many that you are going to

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have an end and then not be alive as well.

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So many you are going to have boxes of books

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of sitting around, but yet it's a good is I

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think it was a good quantity set of tests, wherever,

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you know, wherever that the idea is got legs and

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wherever we are going to sell. So how did you

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get those first sales there?

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And so as soon as I had the idea, I,

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and had to come up with a name, I started

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social media accounts and that was how I, I sold

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them and in the beginning and still mainly sell them

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to be honest, although not very salesy on my social

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media. I'm not very good at that, but yeah, just

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maybe through Instagram was how I, how I started selling.

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And it was, I think it was, it felt like

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it was easier to grow on social media back then

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than it is now. I think it's, I think it

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can be a bit harder, but it, it seemed to

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do all right for me.

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So in those early days it was good.

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So yes, that's right. Yeah. It was four years ago.

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Yeah. I can't even think back like what social media

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was like back then. And I don't know about you.

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Like I can't even cost my mind back for years,

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but I'm not sure yet that it probably wasn't as

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busy as it is that I don't know. But I

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guess then you also a bit with disadvantages, did it

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work? Did you have an Instagram and shops and things

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then possibly not right away? No. Weren't any of those

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Kinds of gizmos and tools that then, I mean I'm

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a bit rubbish at it really. I don't really use

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any of those anyway, so I'm not sure I'm, I'm

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not sure that they would have made any difference to

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me at that point.

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That's interesting. So do you have a website? I presume

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as well when I know you have one, I know

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you have a website because you have your blog on,

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on there as well.

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Yeah. I have a website and yeah. I mean, occasionally

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I'll put some things on Instagram now, but I'm I'm,

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I don't really push the, the sales, which I should

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do, but its all time, isn't it, it's all creating

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content and trying to make it interesting and relevant for

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your audience. So it's something that I can definitely be

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better at.

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I'm assuming though, and this isn't an assumption. I don't

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know that it sounds like it's a source of funds

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where it possibly a lot, there was a lot of

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word of mouth are involved as well. So if somebody

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gets them, they post a picture on their Facebook and

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then somebody says, where did you get those? And then

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it goes from there.

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Yeah. I think that's a really true, they all are

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designed to be used on social media. So there's an

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actual, there certainly is a little bit of that, that

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they're sort of self advertising if you like.

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Wow. That's amazing. And I actually, before we move on,

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can you tell us just for fun we like, and

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because I'm very curious, can you tell us about some

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of the milestones you've got on your cards?

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Yes. So, so in their baby range I have things,

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like I said, Jen I'm, which is always a popular

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one, sponsored by coffee two. These are the ones that

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are kind of, I always use the most, there was

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a baby for sale one, which is very tongue in

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cheek. We will have those moments where you just want

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to put your baby on E-bay because they want to

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stop crying. Not really sure of course, but you know

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what I mean? Yeah. All sorts really This and there's

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lots of Rangers now, so I'm different things at different

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stages of parenting. I have a daddy range and then

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I there's a pregnancy range.

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So I miss booze. That's a fun one on that.

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I, I didn't really enjoy being pregnant for lots of

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reasons, but I definitely missed my wine. What should I

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say?

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Okay. So how did the Range expat and say, was

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it, were you coming up with new ideas or where

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people are sort of asking for the things, which way

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round did it come?

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So I, so I launched in the Mae and I

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did have some ideas for some other possible ranges, but

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it was actually not on the high street. That was

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the catalyst for me actually coming in, sitting down and

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coming up with the new ranges because I applied to

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them online. And initially I was actually knocked back. And

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the feedback that I had was the, you know, what,

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I only had one or two products and that's not

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enough to, for not on the high street. They don't

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need you to have a range of products. And so

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that really focused my mind into coming up with some

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others.

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So, and then I came up with the, well, now

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you're asking, I came up with the pregnancy range and

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the kid range, I think were the two that I

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came up with a and then I saw that they

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were advertising for a picture a day and I managed

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to get the last slot to go and pitch to

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them, which felt very serendipitous. And I went alone and

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I took my three Product and they signed me up

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within about three minutes, which was amazing. And they said

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that they would like me to do a daddy range.

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So, and I, I had had some ideas about doing

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that already, but it, it was them asking because there

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their main customers are women. So it makes sense because

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that's who is shopping. So, and the daddy Rangers, my

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most popular best selling range or not in the high

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street.

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That's amazing. And when you say about the pitch day,

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I almost asked the question, was it in person? Because

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of course now nothing's in person, but I'm assuming it

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was, you went along somewhere to meet them.

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It was, I went along to their offices and met

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someone roughly who signed me up straight away. All right.

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Is that part of a fair process or can you

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just apply online it because I'll be honest. I don't

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know much about it, not on the highest rate. And

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I'd love to learn a little bit more about that

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from you if that's okay.

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Yes. So you can apply online and I think lots

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of people can be successful that we round that it

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wasn't a way for me, but at the picture that

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day is I think they do. I don't know how

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often they do that. Maybe twice a year or something.

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Obviously it would be different right now and maybe they

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won't continue with them going forward, but there is something

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nice about getting to see our products in person. I

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think if you're applying online, then one thing to consider

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is your range because they really do look for that.

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And they also love to kind of personalization options, which

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I don't have a budget, which they are, is a

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big part of their business.

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So things to consider if you're thinking about applying

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And I guess as well, but it's the benefits of

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applying in-person whether it be, or, or maybe they did

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it online now, I don't know if it was also,

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I guess when you're writing an application that, you know,

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you need to include a character, how you word that

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as well, because they must get so many applications and

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because they can't see you or your product. Yeah. I

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guess that's something to really think about it before submitting.

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Yeah. And I, and I think even if you submit

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and you don't get in, then don't let that put

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you off because I didn't get it, put me off,

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you know, if the inside of a matter for four

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years now, so,

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And it sounds like they gave you the first time

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as well, or are they where they do give you

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like a constructive reason why they weren't taking on your

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products? Cause you say, they said you didn't have a

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big enough range. So that sounds really positive as well,

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but at least they were willing to give you a

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reason and then you then had something actionable where you

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can do, because you read it. If that was a

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channel, you really wanted to go for it. And at

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least you knew what you needed to do. Is that

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Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And you know, if you, if you

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are in a position to ask to feedback, do you

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ask the feedback and you know, if Some, there might

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be some things where there's nothing you can do, you

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know, if there are saturated with that particular kind of

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product or something like that, then you know, that's unfortunate.

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But if there is something you can do, then do

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you listen to the feedback and see if you can

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change their mind?

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And so how do you find Selling on the, on

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the high street? Is it a good channel for you?

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Is it somewhere that you'd recommend to others?

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Yeah. I mean, I always, I always, you know, kind

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of sell on there. I probably don't maximize everything that's

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available to me as a, not on the high street

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seller. They have all sorts of community groups for people

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local to you that are also not in the high

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street sellers. They also have various kind of information and

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tips and things that you can access, but I haven't

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really ever made the most of those, which I should

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know I shared, but there is just not enough hours

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in the day. And as you said at the start,

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and this is something that I do on the side,

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so, you know, it can be difficult to maximize your

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business when it's not your main.

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Yeah, absolutely. So while we are on the subject of

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that, so how is sort of the split between your

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two businesses? So what sort of percentage wise?

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So I would say it's probably a, I don't know,

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like nine to 9% not THIS MAMA, DOES the biggest

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amount of THIS MAMA DOES that I do is my

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social media, which I've already said I don't sell very

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much, so much anymore, so yeah, not very much. I

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don't focus much attention on it really, which is a

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shame because I enjoy it. But yeah, I mean, I

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did, I did throw a bit more time behind it

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in the beginning, but I mean, I've always my, my

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main businesses, my own business as well.

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So I always work really long hours anyway, and you

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fit things in and you'll get stuff done, but yeah,

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now I'm not very much. So you have to kind

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of really what it is that you are going to

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spend your time on when I am going to do

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some THIS MAMA DOES stuff. Yeah. It's hard.

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Yeah. It does sound like you've, you know, you put

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it in the work obviously to create your products and

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they are available to sell on and that we can

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talk about what about you say with them in a

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moment? So it sounds like If you, you know, the

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products or are there and they're, you know, you're selling

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them then presumably they know that you don't have to

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be putting in as much time as you did at

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the beginning anyway, because it sounds like, you know, you're

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set up on the various places. I'm the sales happen?

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I'm is that fair to say that you do, you

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probably don't need to spend as much time as you

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did in the beginning?

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Well, I mean, I think the more time you put

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it in, the more you sell is the reality, but

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you know, I just have to live with that. That's

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just the way it goes. That's just the way it

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goes. Yeah. And you know, when I do do a

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salesy post, you know, that helps sales. There's no two

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ways around it and I should do, I should do

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more, especially this year where finances are particularly bleak, but

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you can let, you can actually do what you can

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do. And then you'd just have to make your piece

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with that.

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Got it. And I guess it was my appointment here

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is not to give yourself too much of a hard

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time for it because one of the things about having

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a product or a business that is good is that

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as once you get to a certain point, you can

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be making sales about doing too much. And of course,

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to your point, if you decide to put in a

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bit more effort, whether that's with your marketing or social

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media, then your sales will go up. But if you

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haven't got the time to do that, hopefully you've still

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reached like a base level where it's, you know, it

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still worth having the business, it still taking over. You

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don't necessarily need to work on it every single day.

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Yeah. And I think, I think you're completely right, because

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then it becomes more of a passive income stream and

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that space at all, income streams are good, you know,

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and that can go up and down, but if it's

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a way to work happening, even if it's more down

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than up.

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So it sounds like that, like you enjoy this as

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well, which I think is another, another, another reason to

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do something it's as if you enjoy creating the products

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and then you know, why not?

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Yeah. I mean, I think I've really enjoyed the social

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media don't know I was quite late to Instagram. I

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kind of had started on Instagram just, just before I

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came up with the idea and I kind of wished

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I'd done it earlier because it makes complete sense for

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me and my background, my story telling background, because it,

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it is basically the words and pictures and I love

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that about it, but yeah, I don't know. I think

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it, for me, it's, it is fun and it has

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opened up my life to of other possibilities that I

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wouldn't have had.

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And I started out at a moment where I felt

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very lonely and lost as a new mom. And I

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really think it, it helps me so much in that

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respect that it, it's kind of a thing that if

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I never sold another product, then it, its done so

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much more for me than just being about the products

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in the sales.

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Oh, that was amazing. And by the way, I think

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your Instagram's brilliant because it was just, yeah, I like

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it. So lighthearted and fun. And is it really nice

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to come to the fall? I said I will link

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to it in the show notes because I think everyone

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would go and look at Christina as an Instagram account

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because it's just, yeah, it was a happy place.

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Oh, thank you. Thank you. I know I tried to

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be happy sometimes. I'll not always, but I'm always honest

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and I think that's why that's important.

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Yeah, I think so. And I think, I think you

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have both, but I think, yeah, even when things are

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our hearts, I don't know if there's something about just,

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I don't know if you can see things can be

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hard and you can be honest, but still be kind

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of what's the right word. Just, it just, I don't

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know, like maybe even when it comes to a happy,

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does that make sense? Yes, absolutely. And I think that's

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really, I think that's a really nice if we all

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need a bit of positivity or online at the moment,

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don't we? Yeah. Anyway, that was a bit of a,

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that was a digressed inside of me to have on-site.

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So let's go back to your products and talk a

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bit more about where you sell them other than not

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on the high street, because I know that you've mentioned

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that you've sold wholesale as well as directly to customers.

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So I'd be interested just to talk about that and

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how that came about Please

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Yes. So the way that I, I launched doing wholesale

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really was through a trade show. So I I think

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this would have been the trade show. You the first

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trade show I did was pulse, which now it doesn't

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happen anymore. Or its sort of being absorbed by a

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top drawer and a but I was in there. The

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source of the new maker is a section of pulse.

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And the year that I did that pulse was in

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may and also to sell my business and may. So

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I think it was when I was one-year-old what is

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the world?

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And yeah, I, I don't know. I know it's nerve

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wracking doing trade shows because they cost a really big

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chunk of money and you don't know how they're gonna

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go, but I, again, I just went for it, decided

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to give it a try and it went pretty well

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actually. I mean, it's, it can be quite difficult with

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trade shows because you know, you get, you'll get hopefully

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sale while you're there, but also hopefully more sales after

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it. And the first that was the first one I

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did. I've done a couple now and yeah, I got

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loads of, I've got loads of wholesale orders and it

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was a really good experience for me.

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So you mentioned that Scribbler were one of the places

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that were selling your products, is that right? So yeah.

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How did you, yeah, so tell me that. Well, they

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say that that first trade show was when they first

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sort of became aware of me. And then it was

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when I did my next trade show, which was top

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drawer that they can sort of came around to see

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me again. And it was after it was off the

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back of that one that they all did my Christmas

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cards for their shops.

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Oh, okay. So that, wasn't going to be my question.

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I was going to ask what came first, the Scribbler

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or the Christmas cards. So you'd already been selling Christmas

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cards at that point.

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So yeah, so I had, so that was top drawer,

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which was in the January. I don't know what year

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that was. It was a couple of years ago now.

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So I had done some Christmas cards and launched them

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and sold them in the December prior to that top

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drawer. And then the top drawer on January, they saw

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them and loved them and it, and it takes the

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ordering process can take a while. So I think it

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wasn't until sort of July or August that they actually

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ordered them. But that was off the back of that,

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that top drawer.

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That was amazing. So the festival you are selling them

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yourself and be like, yeah. Okay. And so where are

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you still selling? We have Scribbler now as well, or

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are they still taking the wholesale orders?

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So they, so I'm still selling online. Their business model

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has changed a little bit. So they're made me focus

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on online, but yet you can still buy my Christmas

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cards and I have a couple of other cards on,

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on the online site. So just search for THIS MAMA

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DOES and there I am.

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Yeah. Or I'll put a link to that as well.

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So people can find it super easily if they want

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to go and have a look at your Christmas cards

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or so this episode will be going out in January.

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So it might be late or maybe people can stick

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up for Christmas 20, 21. Okay. So how do you

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sell your products anyway? So other than this, on the

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high Street and Selling to wholesale, do you sell anywhere

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else? Any other marketplaces?

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Yes. So I sell them on Uber. I'm a MAMA,

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which is a market place for a parent run businesses.

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So if you're looking to support parents with their own

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businesses, then it's a great place to check out all

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sorts of lovely stuff on there.

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No, thank you. I sell that to Actually. I think

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it's a really nice marketplace and a really lovely community

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as a seller as well. So I think if you're

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a parent and you sell products, it's a really nice

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place to look up to you.

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Yeah. It is a really big kind of a aspect

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to it. So definitely one to check out if you're,

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as we say, if you're a seller or also if

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you are a customer do check act because you know

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that you are, you're contributing to the family basically by

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buying it from there.

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Yeah. I think I agree. It it's really nice to

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be able to spot small businesses, particularly now when we

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a sort of, so at the moment, small, business's having

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quite a hard time out and they say, it's nice

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that you can do that rather than buying everything on

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Amazon or wherever.

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Yeah, absolutely. But you know, it's not always possible to

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support small businesses, but when you can, it's a really

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important,

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Okay. Well thank you so much because they, you know,

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I've got one final question before we finish up, if

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that's okay. Which is what would your top advice be

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to someone else looking to start selling their own products

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and perhaps particularly someone maybe who is, who has a

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business or has a job and wants to, you know,

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wants to do something on the side. Because I think

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I've, as I said, we haven't had anyone on in

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that situation as yet. And I, but I know plenty

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of people who, who were kind of inspired, but perhaps

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a little bit put off by the fact they have

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a day job or they have another business. So I'd

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love for you to talk so that if that's okay.

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Yeah. I think really you just, if there's something that

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you want to do, just go for it, give her

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a try, you know, or maybe it won't work or

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maybe it will maybe its something that can sit along

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side, whatever you're doing or maybe it will overtake or

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whatever else it is that you are doing, but you

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can make those decisions and decide how it can serve

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you in the best way. And that might be just

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in that. It, it's just a little extra thing that

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you do because you love it. And you know, it

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likes you are in some way equally, or you might

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decide that it's too hard and too much work and

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it doesn't sit alongside of the things, but at least

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you've done it then.

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And you know, and it's not that thing of, Oh,

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I wish I'd given that a whirl. Just give it

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a try or do what you can do. Don't beat

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yourself up about how much time you're able to dedicate

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to it. Certainly don't compare yourself to other businesses because

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I think that's something that can be easy to do,

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but you've just got to remember if it's a side

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hustle, it's a side hustle, you know, you can't look

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at other people that are perhaps spending loads of money

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on PR or marketing or social media or you know,

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product development and think, Oh, you know, they're doing a

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much better than me.

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They're just doing something different to you. So I think

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you just have to go for it, to stay in

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your own lane and do it because you love it.

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And if you don't know of it, then just don't

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do it anymore. That's that's that? I think that that's

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what you can do real isn't it, it, you know,

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just give it a go and see where you end

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up with it.

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I think that's brilliant advice. Thank you. And I also

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think that if I think that there's also a, sort

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of a lot of pressure to have, you know, a

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side business side hustles, but actually you can just do

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it for fun. And of course, you know, hopefully you

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going to make some money, but it doesn't ever have

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to be a fully fledged business. It doesn't ever have

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to be a part time business, let alone a full

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time business. Yeah. I think that if you've got the

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passion to do it, it yes. Do it and, and,

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and enjoy doing it. And perhaps, you know, it, it

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doesn't matter if you don't want it to be, as

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I say, a, a huge business or even a small

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business, if you just do it for the fun of

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it,

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I think that's exactly right. I think you just have

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to work out what it is you want to do.

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There is, you know, perhaps it's a creative outlet that,

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that you need to, or perhaps its, you know, for

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us an extra, a little income stream, just figuring out

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why is that you want to do it. And then

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as long as it's serving wherever that need is then

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great.

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That's brilliant. Thank you. And thank you so much for

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everything you shared that I found your story really interesting.

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And I think that other people will as well because

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yeah, it's, it's, it's really nice to hear that. Even

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though you did this as a sort of a, as

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a small business, it seems like, you know, you've done

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some big things. Yeah. I think it's really inspiring. So

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thank you.

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Thank you so much for having me. It's always nice

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to have a little reflect on the journey as well

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for me from my point of view. So it's been

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really fun chatting,

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Are you okay? I might have to say that I'm

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really struck by the fact that you say that you

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don't spend much time on it, but when you look

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at everything that you've done and we, you shared a

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vast, you've done a lot. So yeah. I'm pleased that

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you are able to reflect on that because you don't

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sell yourself short. I think you've done an incredible amount.

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Thank you. Thank you. So I think when you're inside

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it, it doesn't always feel like it, but yeah, it's

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be nice to, to think. Oh yeah, I know I

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have. I have done some, some pretty cool stuff all

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along the way. I will. Thank you so much. Thank

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you for having me. It's been my pleasure.

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Hi, thank you so much for listening as always. I'd

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absolutely love to know what your thought on this episode,

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please. Do you remember to rate and review the show

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and also most importantly subscribed so you don't miss out

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in any future episodes. And as a reminder, I release

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a new episode every single Friday. So take care of,

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and forward to speaking to you again, then.