#SelfStarterStories: From being a stay-at-home mum to becoming and inventor and founder
This week's #selfstarterstory features Mel Wood, Founder of Fidgetbum™.
PickYourselfUK caught up with Mel to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey.
What was your last job?: My last job was as a stay-at-home mum, although I had previously worked in sales.
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?:
Seven years ago, I was a sleep deprived stay-at-home mum, with no desire to return to the work force. My youngest daughter’s frequent night-waking had left me exhausted. I was desperate for a solution to stop her kicking her covers off and waking cold throughout the night, but couldn’t find anything to help.
So, I took matters into my own hands and invented the Fidgetbum™, and began a journey to create and build a brand, promoting a product that I’ve put my heart and soul into and, in doing so, helping other sleep deprived families get some much needed rest.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?:
The whole process from patent to production, website creation, and sales and marketing, has been a steep learning curve with lots of twists and turns along the road.
Starting up a business with two young children was a huge challenge in itself, as well as finding funding and working ever but I have loved every minute of the journey so far and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
What is your favourite business book and why?: "Talk to strangers" - How everyday random encounters can expand your business, career, income and life. By David Topus
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?:
I am involved with every element of the product, at every stage in the process. I invented the product, market the product, provide customer service and advice for consumers, liaise with wholesalers etc etc.
My husband helps with the website and technical support and I have a small social media and PR team to help me manage enquiries and generate content across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I outsource production, but oversee everything, as it's very much my baby.
What is your favourite marketing tool ?:
The power of social media. We drive a lot of sales via word of mouth recommendations on Facebook Groups, especially within the sensory sector. Whilst the Fidgetbum™ was initially invented to help my toddler daughter transition into a bed and sleep through the night, we have also had incredible feedback from parents of children with additional sensory needs.
Sleep disturbances are often a major issue for children with autism and this can really take its toll on their families. We have had such a strong and positive response from families in this situation, that we are currently in the process of launching a double-bed Fidgetbum™ to cater specifically for older non-sleepers.
How do you market your business?:
We do a lot of online marketing via our social media platforms and Facebook is particularly active with enquiries from customers seeking information from us, having heard great reviews.
We are also stocked by some big retailers, such as Southpaw UK and Amazon.
We attend trade and consumer shows around the UK and bring our product direct to the consumer via specialist parenting and autism events, to showcase the Fidgetbum™ fully to those most in need of an effective, safe sleep aid.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?:
Our first paying customers were found via word of mouth. I had been a sleep deprived mum, with a night waking toddler and I was able to show other sleep deprived mums in my social circle how my product could help them.
Once the word got out, the reviews spoke for themselves, and sales grew organically. Eventually I set up a website and then social media pages (and finally sought out retailers to stock the product to a wider audience).
How did you get your first traffic to your website?:
We set up the website and directed traffic to it via our social media pages and via some press coverage in newspapers and online. I asked friends to share our site and product with their friends and gradually the word got out.
We ran competitions on social media and then offered entrants a discounted price when buying via the website.
Nominate one person/friend who believed in you from the start, and what would you like to say to them today?:
It's so hard to choose just one friend, as my friends are everything to me and they have all been with me every step of the way. They keep me sane, keep me grounded, and support me 100%.
I would like to say to all of them a huge thank you for putting up with my obsessional devotion to the brand and being my sounding board over the last seven years. You are all part of the Fidgetbum™ story and your patience and love is a huge key to my success.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?:
Do it! I’m a big believer in the mantra “what’s the worst that could happen?”: If you don’t try, you’ll never know.
Family is so important and so many women that I speak to have taken a career break or opted for flexible working or reduced hours to fit around their kids.
It’s the perfect time to take stock and reassess what you want from life, whether that’s a career change or returning to a job you loved. If it doesn’t work out, you can always change your mind.
Life is too short to live with “what if’s”. Follow your heart (and write a sound business plan).
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?:
Theo Paphitis. I was lucky enough to be selected as one of his Small Business Sunday winners on Twitter and I think he's a brilliant, brilliant man. He has a wonderful ability to turn a failing business around and make it a huge success and I really admire his tenacity and business skills.
I would love to be able to chat to him over dinner and really pick his brains. He's an inspirational business man and I'd love to hear his thoughts on our journey so far.
Mel Wood has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2018. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.