Monday Mumpreneur with Vanessa Blake
Every Monday we feature a mumpreneur who’s ready and willing to open up their lives to us. They share with us their motivation, challenges and proudest moments in business and they also tell us how they take time to nurture themselves. It’s lovely to have them here at Mums Got A Business and we hope you enjoy connecting with them too.
This week's mumpreneur has an inspiring story to tell. Even when you're facing huge challenges, hold on to the knowledge that your product is helping other mums all over the world.
Your name: Vanessa Blake
Your website: www.dreamgenii.com
Our website showcases our range of award winning, unique products designed to make women’s pregnancies, births and children more comfortable all over the world as well as delivering useful information on pregnancy and how to use our products
How many children do you have? Two – Lucas, almost 6, and Daisy, 3
Where do you live? Near Witney, Oxfordshire, UK
PC or Mac? PC – and Blackberry!
Tell us about your business
At dreamgenii® we sell a range of products to make women’s pregnancies, births and children more comfortable, including the unique, award winning dreamgenii® pregnancy support & feeding pillow. We focus on products that genuinely work to make parents’ and children’s lives easier, delivering products that are born out of genuine need – that genuinely work.
What motivated you to become a mumpreneur?
I was six months pregnant with my son and after weeks of tossing and turning at night I’d had enough. I tried every pregnancy pillow on the market and none of them actually worked. All of them woke me up in the night when I wanted to move and they usually ended up strewn on the floor by morning!
I bought a sewing machine and made a pillow myself, but it was pretty basic. I showed it to my midwife at my antenatal class and everyone raved about it! They suggested I should look into selling it to other women so I took it to a manufacturer and asked them to make up some proper samples. I showed the samples to various midwives, healthcare organisations as well as many pregnant friends and volunteers. The pillow was universally welcomed as a huge help for pregnant women, and we went on to launch it. Five years later we now sell a range of award winning, unique products for parents and children that support their journey from pregnancy to parenthood.
What’s been your biggest challenge in business?
So many challenges! We faced significant financial challenges as we have never received any support from any bank. Getting into retailers was tough to begin with – I had to demonstrate to them why pregnancy pillows were so important and that there was a real need for our product. I also faced huge personal challenges with trying to balance becoming and being a parent as well as setting up and running the business.
How have you overcome it?
My husband and family’s support has been incredible and I couldn’t have done it without them.
What’s been your proudest business moment?
There have been so many! I think winning Practical Parenting’s Award for Pregnancy Product of the year in 2007 was a fantastic milestone for us. The Practical Parenting awards are tested by real mums and so it gave us real validation that our product was of great quality, easy to use and valued by mums. It was such an accolade as a pregnancy pillow had never won that award before. We were so proud! Also every time we receive a positive review or testimonial from a mum is a really positive experience. You know we really are helping to make a difference to parents around the world.
What’s your catchphrase or favourite quote?
Never judge a book by its cover
What do you do to relax or nurture yourself?
Spending time with my family and friends – especially a BBQ in the sun. Although I don’t get the chance very often I do love to spend the day shopping in London as well – it’s a real treat.
What was the last treat you bought for yourself?
A pedicure ready for my holiday
Favourite colour: Red
Favourite flowers: White lilies
What one piece of advice would you like to give to a new mumpreneur?
I think to have the courage of your convictions, and to stick with it. Trying to get something off the ground can be stressful, and I could never have done it without the support of my husband Stephen and all of our family. I firmly believe if you can get through those first few months it’s well worth the effort!
Fancy featuring as one of our amazing mumpreneurs? Drop me an email over on the contact page - and I’ll be in touch. Or let me know in a comment below. And remember to drop by every Monday to welcome our latest profiled mum.