Buongiorno a tutti! As you are reading this, we’ll be up, up in the skies travelling to Italy. It’ll be Joseph’s first flight, so pray for me that all is going well! Today on the blog I’m talking to the loveliest small business owner who sells the most wonderful things for baby (and mum too!) Firstly, did you miss last week’s interview with Jemma from Dork Face Blog. She runs her stationary and cute art print business online and mainly in the evenings after her baby has gone to bed!
I first met Victoria (or Vicky as she is known to most) when I happened to pass her shop, which was then located on the Bath road in Cheltenham. It was the sweetest little shop. Everything was so nicely laid out and the stock so carefully curated. I could instantly tell that the owner had an eye for picking out children’s clothing – mainly French and Scandinavian brands.
I got talking to Vicky and we chatted and chatted. She was so lovely too! I visited every time I passed by and purchased quite a few things for Joseph who was still in utero at the time. It was with great sadness to learn that the shop was only a pop-up, but then all was made better when Vicky announced she was launching online.
Let’s start with the beginnings of Just Add Milk – how did it all start?
My dream was always to own a little shop of my own. I had worked in many from the age of 16 and started my own vintage decor pop-up stall at 17, which gave me the bug for running my own show. At 25 I had my first child, and just two months later my new baby and I were on a plane bound for a new life in Singapore, to join my husband who had started a new job and found us a place to live. Scary but exciting.
My family grew and a very busy family life meant any plans of a business were put on hold. We moved back to the UK in 2015, and then to beautiful Cheltenham in 2018. Once the children were settled (two left home and the other two who have special educational needs were in suitable schools) it was time to think about me and my dream!
So why start Just Add Milk?
Cheltenham was full of families and everyone seemed to be expecting! I spent many a morning hanging out in my local coffee shop, Baker & Graze, researching. As I love all things to do with babies and interiors, I decided this was what I wanted my business to combine. Bringing quality, ethical goods that are not mass-produced and not easily found on the high street was important, as well as to support other small businesses along the journey.
I wanted to be able to make customers feel special in this exciting time of their life. The stage of pregnancy can be full of difficulties, emotionally and physically, but nesting is also really exciting. I remember getting prepared for the unexpected and I loved laying out those new baby grows and planning the nursery; it’s fun even if they end up sleeping in your bedroom for months!
I loved the nesting period too – so special. How long has it been running for now?
It’s still early days for us! My business started in June 2018 and I opened my first pop-up on Bath road in Cheltenham in October 2018. We now run online via our website and social media, and do pop-ups in and around Cheltenham.
Ahhh you’re pop-up was wonderful. Does Just Add Milk fit well into family life?
I work from my kitchen table. This works well around family life as I do seem to spend my life here. My younger two children still live at home, so while they are at school, I get work done.
Apart from during school hours, do you work any other times of the day?
Whenever I have a spare moment! First thing in the morning to last thing at night, but I try and get the bulk done during school hours when my two younger children are at school.
The best part about working from home?
The best thing about working from home is that I’m always here for the kids when I need to be. I do the school runs, homework, meals; all the usual.
And the worst?
The downside is that I find it hard to switch off from my business as it’s my new baby! I am learning to put my laptop and phone down by 8pm now though! Although just like a newborn, I wake in the night just thinking about it.
When you take a break, what’s your go-to drink?
It has got to be a triple shot cappuccino! I love to take time to think, or catching up with friends by popping out for a breakfast in my local cafe, Baker & Graze.
Best business moment so far?
Definitely opening my pop-up in 2018 was my most memorable experience, and meeting all my lovely customers often in pregnancy then with their newborn. My shop was really well-received and they loved what I sold. This gave me the confidence to believe in my businesses success.
Overcoming self-doubt is still my biggest hurdle. I am dyslexic and this has always has held me back from believing I can run my own business. I know it really shouldn’t have done but I have always struggled with anxiety and imposter syndrome. I am learning so much that I never thought possible throughout growing my business.
Feeling stronger and more capable as time goes on. I never have considered myself at all business minded before, but if you have a passion for something, you actually can make it happen – just push the self-doubt away.
Top-tips for other working from home mama’s?
I need tips from working mums myself actually. I’m not very organised but with four children I guess I can’t be that bad. When it comes to getting my parcels out to customers and replying to emails, I’m on top of it, but somedays everything feels like a bit of a juggle. I think my best tip is to be passionate about what you are doing. I absolutely love supporting mums as they begin this chapter in their life, and I am able to be a small part of this with Just Add Milk.
Vicky – you are just the loveliest! And lastly, what are your future plans for Just Add Milk?
I am constantly thinking of ways to grow and improve my business: packaging is next on my list. It is difficult finding suitable environmentally-friendly packaging that gets to the customer looking as good as when I packaged it. We strive to be as sustainable as we can though in all our practices.
My dream is still to have my own shop one day. The online business has really taken off which is exciting, but for me it is all about the customer experience. It can be really hard to show quality, textures, and uniqueness of each of our products through just an online image. I am so lucky to have my friends and family to support me, and the lovely Jamie who runs my social media, something I was clueless about.
I just know that the mama’s of Cheltenham will be SO happy if your shop returns! Thanks Vicky.
Just Add Milk are offering readers an exclusive 20% off an order. Offer starts at 7am on the 29th July until midnight on the 5th August. To redeem use the code: JUSTADD20
Tempted? Hop on over to the site for more unique baby clothing, gifts & accessories.