This International Women’s Day we are celebrating women in business. The role of women in the workplace is now unrecognisable from that of 50 years ago and at Storksak we are so proud to work for a company founded, owned and run by women. Mel and Suzi started the company as two mums who met in the school playground and saw a gap in the market for a bag that could work as hard as they did. Today, they tell us about their journey as they carved out an award-winning changing bag brand from a lightbulb moment.
Why did you decide to start the company?
I wanted to create my own business to work around my family. I realised that the restrictions of working without flexibility was just impossible, and at the time there was very little of that around. I had one son who was three years old, and I was working freelance. I kept locking myself out of the house as I was jumping between two bags. On a non working day, I would use my ‘rather scrappy bag’ which had nappies and bits for my son in, and on my working days, I’d switch to my regular handbag. I kept forgetting to transfer my keys and personal bits over, and that was the moment I thought, I can’t be the only one who wanted to have just one bag that did both!
What was your experience like starting a business and juggling being a mum?
Fun, crazy and a bit hectic! I was also quite scared as I knew I was putting a lot of effort into the business at a time when I could have had quite a nice part-time job without the same stress.
If you could tell yourself one thing when you were starting your business plan, what would it be?
Enjoy the journey and the process. As we all know, things take really unexpected turns, so you better be in it for the right reasons!
What's the biggest challenge you have faced as a women in business?
This was 17 years ago now, and luckily things have changed (I’d like to think anyway). Suzi and I went to present to the bank to get our business loan and I was five months pregnant with our second son. I felt the pressure to hide my bump with a baggy jacket, as I just didn’t want anything to get in the way of the loan. I’m embarrassed to say I did that, but at the same time, we just needed to get going. I had all the confidence we would make it work. I do think women are flexible, and certainly having children makes you even more so.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a mum starting a business?
A good plan, a good idea, and some support with childcare. These days people are so comfortable working flexibly, and it’s relatively easy to get a website going, but I do think talking to others about how they did it really helps. I had so many coffees with people who wanted to pick my brains, and actually I found it just as useful to listen to them. Really listening to others helps so much creatively.