Tuesday 28 May 2013

2Inspire Business Profile: Punkin Patch - Luxury designer baby nursery furniture

In this business profile we meet Toks Aruoture the founder of Punkin Patch Luxury designer baby nursery furniture made to the highest safety standard. Read on as Toks shares her amazing story.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
No day is typical! A good day will have me awake at 4:30am, in reality it’s usually 5:30. I get the children ready for school and all out of the house by 8:30. I have different activities scheduled for each weekday, and my tasks range from visiting clients, processing orders and liaising with craftsmen or suppliers. At the moment I am working on a project called DREAM, which encourages mums to be to be more daring in their nursery design schemes.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
I went into interior design after a long break from my previous job as a Medical Representative. On my return to work, the terms offered were unfavourable to me coupled with the fact that I didn’t really enjoy the job. My husband suggested I do something I really love, which was interior design. I had done that as a hobby for a while. I later moved to the United States and purchased a beautiful baby boutique, then merged my love for interior design with the sale of beautiful furnishings.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date? 
Surviving! Actually it would probably be the fact that I rescued the business from certain death at the start of the recession. When I faced the difficult decision to close my store, I chose to move it online instead. I had gone through and been fleeced by a number of web designers who never delivered the website I had in mind and now I had 28 days to learn how to build a website from scratch. 5 years ago it really was rocket science. I had not dabbled in that side of things before and first I had to overcome the trepidation that stared at me, next I had to ‘unbelieve’ the fact that my business was over, and then retrain my mind to get up, dust down and keep going. I still refer back to that period when I’m facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge, I draw strength from the experience and it reminds me that it is possible.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?           
One of my biggest challenges has been logistics. A number of our products are made abroad and we have been through a great deal trying to find a good match for us. Sometimes items get damaged during transit. Considering the fact that most pieces are custom made to order, it isn’t as straightforward as simply getting a replacement. The replacement has to be made from scratch too. We have made some very costly mistakes in our choice of logistic partners and have certainly learned from them. I see it as paying for a course in choosing whom to work with.

What are your future plans for the business?
My immediate future plan is developing the interior design side of things. I realise that much as I love running Punkin Patch, I miss the hands-on creative side of things. I am a creative at heart and I realise I have been doing more sales and admin, that isn’t what I signed up for although it is essential when you run your own business and it is still in its early growth stages. On the production side we have some big plans in the pipeline.

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

I would start slowly and focus on building a solid foundation from the start. Building the foundation is hard and there are no immediate results. So the tendency is to rush through things in order to get the business into a productive state. However a solid, water-tight foundation will keep the business grounded and even when challenges occur- as they often do- you’ll feel secure knowing the ground on which your business stands is solid. A bit like the parable of the wise and foolish builders.

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

Everyone was born with a gift inside of them; no one arrived into the world empty-handed. I believe that our gifts our linked to our dreams, we dream about or aspire towards bearing the fruit of the gift that is inside of us. Leaving your dreams to fester will leave you feeling incomplete and dissatisfied with life. It’s leaving business unfinished. Along with the dreams and gifts come the ability to carry them out. It may be through networking, taking a course or two on related subjects or getting help via bartering. There’s always a way to get past the obstacles we face as women.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Make sure you are passionate about design. Do a lot of research and decide on a niche within the industry- a niche is important because it gives potential clients a laser view towards you.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
I love Laura Tennison and Sara Blakely (SPANX) Sara is daring, positive, inspiring, these are qualities I admire and they resonate with me. The fact that they are women who started out on a limb, all on their own from a simple idea is very inspiring.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life again.~ Confucius

Toks Aruoture
twitter: @punkinpatch
Linkedin: Toks Aruoture

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