I had the pleasure of interviewing Jo Coombs & Robert Papworth the owners and founders of ‘Made By Mums’ which is a new marketplace for mums, dads and carers. It is a platform that was made by parents for parents. It is set up to help parents sell their creations and support their families while doing so.
I am a big supporter of small business so was excited to do this interview and find out more about Jo & Robert and how Made By Mums can help small business owners sell their products.
Made By Mums is filled full of amazing, unique gifts and the mantra for the site is ‘handmade for every occasion’ which it certainly provides.
Tell us a bit about yourselves?
Jo: We’re Jo and Robert, co-founders of Made By Mums, living on the currently-not-so sunny island of Jersey with our two daughters aged 6 and 3. We also have Penny, our little tortoise shell cat, who likes to photobomb when we’re trying to photograph my finished crochet projects! You may have seen her pop up on various posts.
Made By Mums is a handmade platform for mums and carers to sell their creations online, and for everyone else to find perfect and unique gifts for every occasion. I might have said that a few times, can you tell?
Robert: I spent about 2 minutes explaining what we’re doing to someone the other day, and after all that they just said “oh, Etsy for mums?”. So yeah, Etsy for mums…
Jo: But with lower costs!
Robert: Yeah there’s a bit more to it than I think. We’re a selling platform, but we want to do a lot more than that.
What inspired you to start up your selling platform Made By Mums?
Robert: It was a bit of an evolution, really. If you told us this is where we’d be today back when we originally started talking about it, I’m not sure we’d believe you to be honest!
Jo: It was me learning to crochet that started it all (laughs). I was having a few issues with my pregnancy and needed something to help me with my mental health. I wanted to make something for the baby, and learning a new skill was both challenging and rewarding. Just what I needed at the time. Then I discovered that there were so many different techniques, and I kept hooking things and discovering that there are so many gorgeous yarns and patterns…. And well..
Robert: Yes and that seems to justify the ‘yarn room’ we now have upstairs…
Jo: Oh totally! The idea started when I was looking to see if I could sell the items I was creating. I looked at various places but the costs were all too high, and things seemed needlessly complicated, so I just left it at that for a while. But Robert’s a web developer in his day job and mentioned that he could build me a website shop of my own.
So it started as an idea for a shop for me, and ended up being this massive project that’s taken on a life of its own. I love how just simple ideas can bloom like that!
What is your favourite part of your business?
Robert: Tough question! Well when our makers make a sale, on the email they get, it tells them part of the process is to do a happy order dance.
Jo: We *might* have done the odd dance ourselves when a sale comes through (embarrassing!). I love being able to help our makers – they put so much love and work into what they do – it’s just such an honour to help support it all. Especially because we know that the sales they make through us can help raise a little extra money for the day to day, always helpful.
Robert: It never gets old to be fair, it probably never will! We love all the positive comments we get on social media too. People can be so kind and it makes all the work ‘worth it’ when we know how much it’s appreciated. So thanks everybody!
What sort of things can we expect to find on ‘Made By Mums’?
Jo: Oooh, everything really. As long as it’s handmade, or the maker has put their own embellishment or spin on it, we’re happy for them to list it.
Even though we’ve probably got like 200 categories or something by now, every week someone seems to have something that doesn’t fit anywhere. So we’re always tinkering and adding more categories. It keeps us on our toes!
Robert: As well as the categories, we’ve got collections for everything we can think of. Easter gifts, birthdays, weddings… baby showers. There’s an amazing range of items on there, well over 1,500 I think. Whatever it’s for, I’m pretty sure you’ll find it on the website somewhere!
How do you help other small business owners?
Robert: We really wanted to offer fellow parents and carers a fun, friendly and inclusive way to sell their creations, and help support their families.
Jo: Emotionally as much as financially. I found adapting to life with our first little pickle a struggle, like many people do. So us being able to add to the emotional support and network available to new mums is definitely a big part of it.
Robert: Our reach is growing all the time and it’s amazing how much interaction we have now on a daily basis. On our Facebook page and elsewhere. Jo’s great at being able to hold multiple conversations at the same time. Rather her than me, I’d just get confused!
Over 200 makers have signed up since we started back in 2018, it definitely seems to be picking up fast this year as well. We’re pleased so many people are choosing to get involved, we used to like doing a little post on social media when a new person joined, now we have a separate ‘welcome Wednesday’ post to make sure everybody still gets a ‘hi’.
What plans do you have for the future?
Robert: Well there’s a list somewhere with about 10 billion things on it that we’d love to do. But with it being just the two of us, we always have to prioritise. I’ve recently been able to change my work to dedicate one full day a week to it, but it still feels like I have two full time jobs at the moment!
Jo: I’m a stay at home mum and our youngest started nursery this year. So I get a couple of hours to myself to catch up on website admin and chat to our makers on the issues of the day over on Facebook! Maybe do a little bit of hoovering before the monsters come back and mess it all up again.
Robert: We’re really trying to highlight our makers as much as possible, I think we’ll definitely try and do more of this if we can. We’re very proud of our ‘Maker Stories’ series, where each week we feature a different maker, who gives us a little bit of background on the inspirations behind their own small business.
Jo: They’re always such fab reads, it’s amazing how many new mummies seem to turn to crafting or pick it up again from their own childhood. It is very therapeutic! I also plan to catch up on sewing in all the ends on various blankets, and typing up some patterns that are currently scribbled down in my notebooks. We have lots of ideas for Made By Mums, but we’ll do one thing at a time, and do it well. We’re proud of what we’ve done so far and want to continue helping support other parents and carers through such a big life change. Oh, and have another cup of tea. There’s always time for another cuppa!
You can find Made By Mums on the following –
Made By Mums website – https://madebymums.co/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/madebymumsgifts/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/madebymumsgifts/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/madebymumsgifts
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