Information & Advice
While having her little girl Holly, now three, former events director Cara suffered a condition called symphysis pubis dysfunction, which left her unable to walk for six months.
Upon recovery, she was keen to get out and about with little Holly as much as possible. However, as many parents will know, getting out and about with baby is not without its worries. "In winter I would worry about her getting cold, in summer I would worry about her getting sunburned," says Cara. "Also, as she got older, she found it difficult to sleep because she would get distracted. I used to put my coat over the top of the pram and then I bought a sunshade but it was quite big and bulky."
After chatting about the problem with friends, Cara decided to make a pushchair cover herself. She went to a local sewing shop and bought some fabric and put together a cover that stretched over a pushchair, allowing her baby to relax when on walks. Then, seeing how useful her creation was, she applied for a patent and trademarked the name SnoozeShade.
After creating a few samples, she lost confidence in her idea. "I had never run my own business before," she says. But then, two years ago, her mum suggested she took the product to a trade show.
"You might as well find out if people like it or not," she says. "It was very make-do. All we had was a prototype that wasn't quite finished and no packaging. But we had orders placed on the spot. Everyone got the product and one retailer wanted it on their shelves by February."
The rest of the process was a blur as she chose packaging and design and put the product through intensive safety tests.
She set up her own business in December 2009, investing about £35,000 of her own money. "It's a small affair - me and my mum, my brother and my husband," she says. "I still can't believe it."
Along the way, she drew on the advice of other entrepreneurs. "They were really lovely and generous with their time," she says.
After starting out with one product, Cara now has five different kinds of SnoozeShade. The product came on to Boots.com last November and will be going into Boots stores in January. "We have distributors in 15 countries," she says.
It's not easy combining motherhood with running a successful business, but Cara's mum helps her stay in control. One of the joys of the work is getting positive feedback from customers.
"I get lovely emails from people. One woman said it's the best baby product she's ever bought," Cara says. She says if you've got a good idea for a product, don't be afraid to pursue it.
"I think people often give up on an idea because they don't think it's going to be good enough whereas I'd say, if you keep coming back to that idea, it's maybe worth investigating it further."
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