At last week’s Little Black Dress dinner, about which I posted here, the topic of the ‘mumpreneur’ came up. For the uninitiated, mum + entrepreneur = mumpreneur. This label caused a reaction from some around the table, with quite a few women saying how much they disliked it on the grounds that it implied cottage industries focused on cupcakes and other domestic-oriented efforts.
I was a little surprised at this: to me a mumpreneur is someone who has started their business – be it in cupcakes, consulting or construction – as a result of the forced career break which motherhood and maternity leave imposes on your life. This is not a a new idea but part of the overall cost of being a woman – something I’ve written about for EnrichMe. A business mentor I met recently asked – “Would you have started StyleRocks 5 years ago?”. It was a good question and forced me to think about it. The answer was no: while I certainly had the passion for jewellery, I didn’t have the same business knowledge, particularly around bringing new products to market, that I do now.
Certainly, motherhood has been a driving force behind the StyleRocks concept:
a) My husband wanted to purchase some jewellery for me because of the babies’ impending arrival – I was forced to look online, rather than hitting the shops, because of my (ahem) advanced size. But it was because I was unable to find exactly what I wanted online that I started thinking of a ‘design your own jewellery’ website
b) when I was considering returning to work, I realised I could always go back to my marketing communications career – or, I could use this career break to change direction and enter the world of entrepreneurship.
Mumpreneurs had been out in force the previous evening, at the Heads over Heels portfolio evening. Heads over Heels is an organisation that supports high-potential women-based businesses, and I had been invited along to see how it all worked. As you would expect, there were some established business women in the room, such as Carla Zampatti and Naomi Simson of Red Balloon, and the up-and-coming ones such as Nikki Durkin of 99Dresses. Equally expected, there were many people representing the startup space, including Blue Chilli, ATP Innovations, Fishburners and Pollenizer.
We heard from Melanie Kansil of Customer Underground, Kate Cass of Scan2List and Mandy Sigaloff of Club QT. All women (although it is a requirement of being supported by Heads over Heels!) All starting very interesting businesses: Customer Underground is about a new system of tracking customer service satisfaction instore, Scan2List is about making the weekly shopping easier and efficient, and ClubQT is about providing a great shopping experience online, essentially bringing high street and luxury labels to your laptop.
All these women had conceived their ideas through the experience of being a mum, and the change that motherhood imposes on your lifestyle. More chores, less personal time, less space for rubbish service.
And in the case of StyleRocks: less tolerance for not being able to create exactly what you want for your jewellery!
What are your thoughts on mumpreneurs?