Tuesday 21 May 2013

2Inspire Busines Profile: Mamascarf - A discreet breastfeeding scarf

In this business profile interview we meet Keira O'Mara, inspirational inventor and founder of MamaScarf

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

A typical day will start by getting the children up and ready, then once they are out of the house my husband drops them off most mornings) will involve checking emails and actioning anything urgent, speaking to my fulfilment company who deal with all of my trade and website orders, maybe writing a blog post, doing some social media. I could be working on some packaging design or new product development. Every day is pretty varied really.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?

I had the idea for a discreet breastfeeding scarf when breastfeeding my baby boy. I was really self conscious about breastfeeding in public but found that with muslins or blankets he would get too hot, or they would fall off or be pulled off. I looked for a product to help, ideally something that would make it more comfortable too but I couldn't find one. I started to think about whether I could create one. I had been made redundant and after meeting someone who had successfully brought a maternity product to market, I decided to give it a go. I had no experience, a baby and had to find myself a job to ensure we had an income. Somehow I did it though and launched Mamascarf, it was a huge learning curve every step of the way, from product design to testing, packaging to retail, trademarks to trade fairs but after 8 months I left my new (full time!) job to focus on my boy and my business. We had to rely on my husband's income. This meant tightening our belts in a big way but it was the best decision. Four and a half years on and I have launched a further two products (Babasac and Snoodie) with more in development. Each product has been created as a direct result of my experience as a mum and extensive research with other parents.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?

Getting listed by major retailers including Mothercare, Boots and Asda and getting a European distributor to take on my products have felt like my greatest accomplishments.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

My biggest challenge was when I found my product had been copied twice and one company was even trading under my name illegally. Luckily I managed to get all copies removed from sale following a letter outlining all of my Intellectual Property but it was pretty stressful at the time.

What are your future plans for the business?

My future plans involve more new baby products and exporting to more countries. I am going to the US on a trade mission in October and am hoping to fully launch there following that.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would probably learn more before launching rather than learning as I went along. I would also launch at a trade show, with a prototype and be able to develop the product with buyer feedback.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

When I started out, I never in a million years believed that I would achieve this but I have. I think that if you want something enough, don't give up on it, with hard work and determination you can make anything happen.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry? 

There are lots of mum (and dad) businesses within the baby industry, it's a great industry to be in and we all bring with us the experience of having been parents ourselves. If you have an idea for a niche product or service, or a way of doing something better, then start by doing some thorough market research to find out if your idea is viable.

What or who inspires you in business and why?

I am inspired by Laura Tennison, the founder of Jojo Maman Bebe. She started small with no experience, having spotted a gap in the market and now owns a multi million pound business. I am proud that they are one of my stockists.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again! 

Contact details

(+44)121 366 0267 mobile (+44)7967 302698
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