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Today I’m speaking to Liz Rawlinson, founder of gus + beau baby playmats about starting a business during maternity leave and why none of us can do it all…

Listen in to hear Liz share:

  • An introduction to her business, what she sells and why she created it (00:58)
  • Why she started a business during her maternity leave (4:18)
  • The steps she went through and the time it took to launch her products (7:57)
  • Why Instagram has been huge for her business (13:57)
  • Getting an endorsement from Stacey Solomon (16:27)
  • The (positive and negative) impacts of selling out of stock and what you can do during that time (20:22)
  • How she manages work and having a young family and why it’s important to have help (29:24)
  • The parts of her business she outsources and the importance of being able to delegate (35:56)
  • Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (41:19)


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Starting a business during maternity leave - with Liz Rawlinson, gus + beau

INTRO (00:00:08):

Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg.

Vicki Weinberg (00:00:21):

Liz Rawlinson is the founder of Gus and Beau baby play mats in simple patterns. And muted colors fits your home. This bounty tap is this one on maternity leave with her second son, Gus after 14 years working in retail say hi, Liz. Thank you so much for being here.

Liz Rawlinson (00:00:39):

Hi, how are you? Thank you so much for having me.

Vicki Weinberg (00:00:42):

I'm so excited that we've got to talk. Cause we tried to do this a few times. I'm so glad we're finally speaking. And I actually think it's maybe good. It's been a bit longer than we anticipated because so many exciting things have happened to you recently, which we are definitely going to talk about.

Liz Rawlinson (00:00:56):

Yeah, it's been a crazy year. So

Vicki Weinberg (00:00:59):

Let's start off. If you don't mind by talking about yourself, your business and what it is that you sell.

Liz Rawlinson (00:01:04):

Yeah. So my name's Liz and I am married to someone called Rolo, who has his own business as well. And we have three children. I have two sons at home, Gus and Jerry Gus is three and a half now. And Jerry is one and a half, not quite a lockdown baby. He was born in the December, 2019, but his maternity leave with me was during the global pandemic, which wasn't that wasn't the maternity leave I was expecting. And then my first son Beau, I had him in 2016.

Liz Rawlinson (00:01:44):

He was, he was devastated me still born when I was 38 weeks pregnant. So he, I mean, was the major inspiration for me being able to go on to start my own business. I was really lucky a year later after having Bo to have Gus a rainbow baby boy. And whilst I was on maternity leave with Gus, I was looking for a playmat for him. And one that would kind of fit in with our living room. I want it to have it in our living, living space. And I didn't really want one of the primary colored ones with the alphabet on, I was trying to look for something a bit different, a puzzle play, but in nicer colors.

Liz Rawlinson (00:02:26):

And I couldn't find one. So I thought I'll design and manufacture my own. And when I think back, I can't quite

believe that I just decided to go ahead and do it. I have always been quite a confident person, but I, I still am amazed that I just, I decided to go ahead and do that. I think when you're on maternity leave, your mind is so focused on your child and not on anything else that you do actually have time to think about other things and be creative. So Gustin Beau, my playmate business was born in 2019.

Liz Rawlinson (00:03:07):

It was launched in March, 2019. Yeah, sorry. I couldn't work out if that's the right dates, that time has just rapidly disappeared. So yeah, we sell jigsaw puzzle playmates in simple colors and patterns. And the whole idea is that they can fit into anywhere in your home and to match your interior design without kind of taking your spaces over and making them look like soft play areas. And since then we've sold 5,000 playmates in the last two years. So it's been incredible. It's been a real roller coaster, but it's been way more than I ever could've.

Liz Rawlinson (00:03:47):

Could've dreamed of. That's

Vicki Weinberg (00:03:49):

Absolutely amazing. And I really relate to what you said as well about starting when you want to tend to leave. Cause I did the same. I started my retail brands when my little one was six weeks old, but kind of similar reasons that I was all focused on the kids, but I also wanted to do something for me. And for once in my life, I actually have some space to do that because little ones. Yeah, the pens, you do have a bit strangely. I felt like I did have more Headspace and I had prior to having my second

Liz Rawlinson (00:04:19):

And I've worked for such a long time. I've always been a really ambitious person as well. And I've worked in retail for, for about 13 years now. I started off working at Liberty, which was amazing. And I was a PA as my first role to what was then called the head of internet. That's how long ago it was. And he ran the website and I got involved in e-commerce ever since then. And since then I worked at L'Oreal and then I went on to not on the highest street and then most recently at annual high March. But it think it was definitely when I was at not on the high street when I was surrounded by all these incredible small businesses that I really thought I want to run my own thing one day, run my own business.

Liz Rawlinson (00:05:03):

And because you just, all these incredible businesses, they put just creating such incredible things and working for themselves. I could see that it was difficult for them, but it's definitely something that I aspire to. And so when I was on maternity leave, I think I was so used to working constantly and my mind always being very, very busy that I wanted to fill my mind again with something else. And then you do have the time you do have the head space a bit more to start to think, think a bit more clearly about what you'd like to do.

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