Wexford-based entrepreneur Cathy Owens turned her experience as a busy mum-of-three into a business idea two year ago, when she launched BumpstoBooties.com, an online store selling quality products to mothers and new babies.
Two years on, and Owens is celebrating her nomination in three categories at the Mumtrepreneur Awards taking place in Britain next month.
Inspirational business mum
The only Irish finalist at the awards, Owens has been nominated in the Best Online Business, Best Business Support and Inspirational Business Mum categories.
Her site offers a wide range of baby-related products, including footwear, nappies, slings, wipes, bibs and skincare solutions.
‘‘After having my children, I looked at what was available in Ireland and felt that there was nothing of a boutique style. At first I designed baby stationery, but it really took off when I decided to add more products,’’ said Owens. Owens sources her products from other ‘mumtrepreneurs’ based in Ireland, Britain, Denmark and the US.
‘‘These women would have gone to craft shows or events in the past, but now they can sell through me and make more money. A whole community of mums working together is how the business works,’’ she said.
The site only stocks products that are environment or ethically friendly. ‘‘Seventy per cent of the products we sell are handmade, and many of the eco-friendly products come from a distributor based in Limerick. I also recently secured deals with Tots Bots, Imse Vimse and Wonderoos to distribute their ranges of reusable nappies. We have immediate plans to introduce more organic products such as clothing, toiletries and toys,’’ said Owen.
Social media has played an important role in helping Owens to build her online venture, but she believes that word-of-mouth and face-to-face networking are equally important.
‘‘I have also done quite a lot of search engine optimisation work myself and some free advertising online,’’ she said.
‘‘I try not to preach about it all the time, but me working from home always comes up in conversation. I try to let people know about my products and always ask if they could kindly refer me to other people they know who might be potential customers.
Help through Smallbusinesscan.com
‘‘I was not really prepared for how difficult it would be to start. At this stage I have made many friends with other mums that work from home, and we help each other a lot. The help I have received through the Smallbusinesscan.com network has been tremendous.’’
Owens said she planned to increase the range of products available on Bumpstobooties.com gradually over time.
‘‘We plan to offer a whole range of baby products such as furniture and clothing,’’ she said. We will keep aiming for unusual products that, although they are a little bit more expensive, are also really interesting and unusual.’’