Mum Boss Monday: Charlotte from Stanley & Maud

 

Stanley and Maud prides itself on it’s collection of personalised jewellery and gifts, all of the pieces in the collection have been made from materials sourced from Great British Suppliers. Owner, Charlotte Boulton is a married mother of two children aged six and two. The business is based in her home on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

When and why did you start out?

I’ve always been creative and often dabbled in new craft hobbies here and there but nothing ever stuck, I love jewellery and always pecked at my husband for more! He told me “I had enough” and obviously i wasn’t happy to hear that so I decided to start designing my own and I officially opened Stanley and Maud in January 2015, I had my son in the September before so I was on maternity leave from my full-time job as an events coordinator, I was told there was a highly likely chance of being made redundant upon my return so I took the business full-time in Summer 2015.

Do you have any formal training?

Absolutely none! I have taught myself everything from books and videos online. The designs within my collection come from everyday inspiration and each piece is designed to sit amongst other pieces.

How do you fit in running a business with having a family?

Sometimes it can be really hard…summer holidays and half term are a real spanner in the works because I want to spend as much time as possible with the children but I also have work to do! I get so much support from my husband as he tries to take holidays from work at the same time the children are off. Day to day I am all about a routine! I can’t work without a routine! I wake up earlier than everyone else to organise orders, print labels and answer emails. My son still naps so I spend my morning playing trains and dinosaurs then spending my afternoon stamping orders! Once the children are in bed I spend the evening packaging orders and planning what I’m going to achieve the next day!

What has been the biggest challenge since starting your business?

Trying to find a happy balance between my work and family life…I don’t always get it right but things are good and as the business grows I’m dragging them in to help me! My husband has titled himself the ‘Director of Packing’! I loved my old job but I love that I can work from home and be there for all the little moments like the school run, school plays and family meal times.

And the best reward/achievement?

Being recognised by Tatler, Glamour and Elle was a huge achievement for Stanley and Maud. Being asked by three major fashion/lifestyle magazines to feature was so exciting…it was an amazing feeling knowing they thought you were good enough to be on their glossy pages! The best reward is by far the feedback I get from my lovely customers, I have such a kind loyal following and I’m so so grateful.

What are your business goals for 2017?

I have lots of new plans underway but I can’t share those just yet! I have recently just received my first ever stockist order for a family run business in Yorkshire which was really hard work but so exciting! I would like to gain more stockists next year and there’s the potential to add a team member to Stanley and Maud…fingers crossed!

Are there any barriers to achieving your goals?

Hopefully not! Time and space is always an issue! I am slowly taking over the house with boxes of supplies and orders but at least my branding is similar to my home interiors so I like to think it all blends! ha!

Have you built a support network of other mums/women in business?

Most definitely, I couldn’t be without my Insta friends! working on your own can sometimes be really lonely especially when you’ve come from an office full of people! I have such a lovely bunch of followers and their love and support means the world! My friends, family and husband support me through everything but sometimes it’s good to talk to people who are the same boat as you. I have a handful of go-to girls who I couldn’t be without…we’ve had midnight rants, shared a bottle of virtual wine whilst we celebrate and when you’re having one of those days they just know how to snap you out of it!

Any tips for mum’s just starting out in business?

Be yourself and don’t be afraid to be open about why you started, you’ll be surprised how many people are or have been in the same situation as you. If you can’t stop thinking about something then do it.

 

If you haven’t seen Charlotte’s work (be prepared to want it ALL) you can shop the full collection at Stanley & Maud

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Mum Boss Monday: One Mama One Shed

 

Siobhan is Mama to One Beautiful Babe, Indie Rose, 5 months old and Wife to One Man One Shed (Sam)! Based in Ramsbottom, North Manchester, Siobhan creates a truly unique range of hand crafted, ‘up cycled’ vintage pieces. She has a strong passion for beautiful cutlery alongside a love of quirky, decorative uses which has resulted in a large range of handstamped pieces that make ideal gifts.

When and why did you start out?

My grandma had decided to get rid of some of her old cutlery and being the sentimental soul that I am I just had to find a way to make it useful in my life. My husband and I have always been quite creative and so we decided that we’d like to try to stamp them with messages for our wedding. We did. Everybody loved them. And before long, friends and family were asking us to create pieces for them and then insisting we sell them so we started our business under its previous name (Pop Up Vintage) back in May 2014 but it served as more of a hobby for us alongside our full time jobs.

My competitive hubby decided it would be a good idea to create a little spousal rivalry so he decided to leave me high and dry (in business terms!) and set up his own brand. Thankfully, girl power means that I am still running the more successful shop of the two… hehe!

During my maternity leave I realised I was going to be made redundant upon my return so I decided to focus more on my hobby and attempt to turn it into more of a business, ensuring that I could work from home whilst still being a mama to my beautiful babe. I like to keep busy and I love to channel my energy into creative projects so One Mama One Shed has turned into my second baby.

Do you have any formal training?

No, I’m a creative person by nature. It was a self taught craft that has been perfected over the many months of practice.

How do you fit in running a business with having a family?

It’s hard work! Before I was on maternity leave it was very difficult because I worked full time and then returned home to stamp and package all night long, all the while cheekily squeezing post office runs into my working day. I thought it would get easier with maternity leave but I’m sure all mums can vouch for me when I say that staying at home is not at all easy and is in itself a full time job. These days the post office runs provide the perfect nap time for Indie and all the hard work happens when she is tucked up in bed, which means late nights and a tired Mama. I can’t complain at all though because every order placed means more time at home with Indie. It supports my family and I, and for that I will be forever grateful, without my loyal customers my business wouldn’t grow.

What has been the biggest challenge since starting your business?

Managing my workload. I don’t want my customers to wait long for their orders. I strive to provide products that my customers love and customer service that brings a smile to their face. Sometime that happens to the detriment of my home life though because there can be very little time to just put my feet up and relax with the hubster. The run up to Christmas was so busy last year in fact that I actually hand delivered a package on Christmas Day!

And the best reward/achievement?

The actual process of making products that I then receive 5* feedback for is extremely rewarding, but, this year, the most rewarding for me has to be the fact that it has enabled me to stay at home with my new baby girl instead of feeling the pressure to return to work straightway.

What are your business goals for 2017?

In addition to some possible collaborations I have also been testing out some new product ideas that will complement my current range. I want to perfect them before sending them out to my Brand Reps for testing. If they’re satisfied then I will eagerly reveal them!

Are there any barriers to achieving your goals?

I don’t want to sound like a broken record but….having the time to perfect and market new items will be my biggest barrier.

Have you built a support network of other mums/women in business?

Instagram has been invaluable in helping me hook up with other amazing Mamas in the same boat. Some of them I’ve met in person at the Mamas Collective Meetups (@mamasmcr) and the Working Mums Club (@mancmamas) and others have been so generous in offering advice and support even when they only know me in squares!

Any tips for mum’s just starting out in business?

Starting a business, whilst exciting, can be a daunting and lonely venture so I think its important to reach out to others in a similar position. Instagram is full of small fledgling businesses, ran by people just like you and me, all looking to make a living, feed mouths, and realise a dream. Say hello, seek their advice, ask their opinion, see if you can help to promote one anothers work or simply learn from what they do.

 

You can find Siobhan’s work here

 

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Mum Boss Monday: Jemma Roe, Photographer.

 

About Jemma:

I’m a photographer based in Leeds. We are a family of four including my partner George , eldest daughter Isabella and newest daughter Martha.

About the business:

Weddings are my main business. I have also spent a lot of time photographing architecture, structures, industry and abandoned buildings, so I sell prints of those and have had a couple of exhibitions.

I originally hail from Derby, which is further south (or in the south if you ask anyone else up here!) I was born and bred there, but me and Isabella moved up to Leeds 2.5 years ago to live with George.  He had a quick crash course in step parenting, at which he got an excellent grade 😉 and Martha came along this year.  Soon our entire household bar me will talk with a Yorkshire accent!  That is not a bad thing, Yorkshire is definitely now firmly home to me!

 

About the motivation:

I’ve been doing photography in general for 9/10 years now.  I had two very creative siblings, a brother who is an excellent artist and a brother who had an excellent ear for music… It did feel a bit like when the skills were dished out I was missing in action! Until I picked up a camera and it became apparent that my skills lay there!  Weddings were initially not something I had even considered, mostly because the pressure/responsibility involved terrified me.  I was often asked by friends though, and eventually began to agree to do a wedding here or there!  I found out that I absolutely loved it, and the rest is history!  The pressure of photographing a wedding is still immense but that’s good to channel into how I work the day now.  It’s a actually a real privilege, you are there for the most intimate parts of the day, you get to see all of a couples hard hard work come to fruition, and in the end give them something to remember it all by! It’s a great job to have.

How did you get started?

I have never had any formal training!  I started out with a good eye, naturally I moved on to wanting to learn the mechanics of camera’s and how to get the best out of them and create the pictures you want, but I self taught myself all of that side.  I think it’s made my style what it is in the end – I don’t think technically when I’m taking pictures so I don’t think formal training would have given me any advantage even if I had it.  When I first started doing weddings I was very fortunate to have some friends already in the business and be offered some second shooter jobs.  These are a bit of a baptism of fire, but mean that I got to see how a wedding day goes from a photographer’s point of view, and watch another great photographer work.  This was invaluable in helping me build up my confidence, and work out what I wanted to do with my own wedding photography.

 

How do you fit in running a business with having a family? 

It is tricky.  Both my partner and me are photographers and we both have another job as well, and then the too girls.  Wedding days are long days so if I have a wedding it’s always going to be an entire day away from my girls, as I will be out early and home after bed time.  I guess we are uniquely lucky in that we can pick which weekends we want to leave open for bookings and which are set aside for family time, so this is what we do, and when either of us has had a photography job we always make sure we do something all together on the alternate weekend day.  I think it’s nice though that both girls see us working hard- I think that is as important as having the time to do all the fun things too.  I took a year off photography when I was pregnant with Martha, as the days are too long and too much on your feet for a big pregnant lady, and I wanted to be home with her as much as possible when she was smaller!

What has been the biggest challenge since starting your business?

99% of it has been building up a good portfolio and also a reputation, so that people can see the type of images they can expect at their own wedding!  You rely a lot on recommendations as well, so it’s often about networking and growing your circle so that this can happen, and as you can imagine with a family time to do this is very limited!

And the best reward/achievement?

One of my favourite moments has actually been with my personal work.  I was invited to exhibit at the Whitecloth Gallery in Leeds last year with two other photographers.  The exhibit ran for two months, and we got to have our own opening night, which around 100 people came to. It was amazing, and I got to sell all my prints, it’s a great feeling knowing your work is on someone’s wall at home somewhere!

I’ve also been able to photograph weddings for a couple of really good friends who I have known a long time and that feels extra good being there and doing such an important job for them.

What are your business goals for 2017?

Having a year out meant that I wasn’t taking as many weddings on so next years goal is to work on pushing myself out there again and taking more bookings again.  I want to find some nice wedding fayres to attend I think and get the chance to meet some more lovely couples.

Are there any barriers to achieving your goals?

I don’t think there is, just need to put in some hard work and keep positive!

Have you built a support network of other mums/women in business? 

If so how? If not would you find this helpful?

I have met several other mother photographers over the years, and I also know a lot of Mum Business owners through the wonderful world of instagram.  I don’t keep in touch with them all as a specific network, but I definitely talk with them and admire them and use their positivity / creativity to drive my own.  I think seeing other Mums doing the business/baby balancing act is very inspirational. (And dads too!)

Any tips for mum’s just starting out in business?

You can definitely do it.  Once you are a mum you will always be a mum, but so many other things can define you, you just need to pick what they are.

 

Fina Jemma at:

Baba & Boo Review

I’ve become a big fan of reusable nappies since baby number two arrived and while initially I thought I’d invest in my stash and save lots of money the reality is that I’ve been lured by funky prints and the huge variety of brands to try. I’ve never tried Baba & Boo nappies so I was pleased to be offered one to review.

How does it work?

Baba and Boo make pocket nappies with popper fastenings. The nappy comprises of a PUL waterproof shell which has a pocket to stuff with microfibre inserts. The nappy comes with two inserts and you can use one or both depending how much absorbency you need. You don’t need a liner with these nappies as the have a stay dry layer but I prefer to sue one as it catches poo and prevents staining on the nappy.

 

Ease of use.

These nappies are easy to use one they are put together. The absorbent inserts sit inside the waterproof shell. The nappy fastens with poppers which we have generally found harder to get a good fit with as our boy always seemed to be between sizes on the nappy. We didn’t have a problem with this brand though and were able to get a good snug fit around the waist and legs. I must admit that my husband is not a fan of nappies with popper fastenings so he tends to avoid them in the nappy drawer!

 

 Absorbency & Fit.

We used the nappy with one insert and with both to test the absorbency. One insert lasted around 2 hours and with both it lasted 3+ hours. We change the boys nappy roughly every three hours unless theres a code brown situation in-between.  He is quite a heavy wetter as he’s six months so is drinking lots of milk and only just starting weaning. We used this nappy on the smallest rise. It’s hard to say how the nappy would fit on a smaller baby because it’s often dependent on shape but I would say that this would not have fitted our baby from birth as I don’t think we would have got a snug fit around his skinny legs. With one insert the nappy is very slim. With two it is a little bulkier but no more so than the two brands we usually use. The best thing about the nappies is the drying time. Microfibre is quick drying and because they are a pocket style the inserts and shell separate and dry super quick compared with AIO’s and bamboo nappies.

Appearance & Quality

The print we were given is an underwater theme and is gorgeous. What I love about Baba & Boo is that the prints are unisex and many have a matching wet bag and clothing for mums who like to buy accessories to match their nappies.  The nappy feels slim and light and the fabric looks and feels good quality. The great thing about popper fastenings are they they wont degrade or look shabby over time which is a risk with velcro fastenings. I’ve also been told by friends that babies often reach an age where they can undo velcro. This would be an issue for us since almost all the nappies we have are velcro fastenings.  If I was looking to replace some of my stash with popper fastenings then Baba & Boo would be a great option especially because of the reasonable price.

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Any issues?

We had a small leak when the baby was sleeping in the Tula. This could have been because the nappy was new and had only been washed a couple of times.  Or it may have been compression related which I have found can happen with microfibre when the nappy is compressed. Subsequently if used at nap time (when my boy seems to do really big wees) I have used a charcoal booster and had no problems.

I am trying to resist buying more nappies as we have a good stash however, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy more of these nappies should we need to replace some of our velcro nappies at a later stage. They retail at £12.95 and are cheaper if bought in a bundle. This is incredibly good value and significantly cheaper than many reusables. The price makes them a really good option if you need a few nappies to top up your stash over winter when nappies take longer to dry and for parents who want to try reusable nappies without a huge outlay.

About the brand.

Baba & Boo was founded by Eve who is a mum of two and started using cloth nappies to save money. After her second child was born she decided not to return to work due to high childcare costs and launched her business designing cloth nappies and baby wear. Eve is passionate about reusable nappies and wants to ‘get babies bums in cloth nappies’. Eve and there Baba & Boo team welcome enquiries and feedback from mums and have a lovely community of mums on their social media pages.

 

*This is not a sponsored post. This nappy was given to me free of charge to review. Baba & Boo had no input into the review and all opinions in this review are my own *

Mum Boss Monday: Sarah from Colour Me Happy Crayons

Sarah from Colour Me Happy Crayons is a 41 year old mum of two boys, 10 and 4.  She lives with her boys, husband and cat in Martlesham in Suffolk. Sarah crafts novelty crayons in different shapes and colours for children’s party bags and gifts. Her perosnalised children name crayons are her most popular product.

When and why did you start out?

I started in March 2016.  I’ve always been quite crafty and I enjoyed doing craft projects for the home and with my children.

 

Sadly my mum passed away in February this year and it was very much a case of life is short, make sure you follow your dreams and so I just sort of ‘did it’.  I started making the crayons and posting them on Instagram and within two weeks I had my first order.  It felt fantastic and I haven’t looked back.  I have had so many kind and supporting comments from my Instagram followers and it drives me on to keep going.

 

Do you have any formal training?

Nope!

 

How do you fit in running a business with having a family?

With difficulty!  I work full time as does my husband which means the children have to go to breakfast and after school clubs and then when I get home I fit in the crayon making around everything else.  I often work late into the night whist the children are asleep but if I can make a success of the business I can hopefully reduce my hours with my full time job and get to spend more time with the children.  At the moment they don’t see that and often complain that Mummy is always busy making crayons!

 

 

What has been the biggest challenge since starting your business?

Time and getting people to hear about what I do.  Instagram has been amazing but now I want to reach a larger market.  That is easy to do if you can spend money on advertising but at the moment I can’t afford that and the only way to get my product seen by people is by literally putting it in front of them and that takes time.

 

And the best reward/achievement?

Simply the lovely comments I receive from customers or other mums starting out in business. And of course my first order!

 

What are your business goals for 2017?

To improve my website.  I am not particularly good with technology so that has been a challenge.  Also to plan things better.  I didn’t start out with a plan and things have taken off faster than I could have imagined so in 2017 (hopefully after the Christmas rush) I would like to spend some time on becoming more organized.  I have also started making crayons for children at weddings and these are starting to prove popular so I would like to be able to expand on that.

 

Are there any barriers to achieving your goals?

The only real barrier I have come up against is finding the time to fit it all in.

 

Have you built a support network of other mums/women in business?

I have met some lovely people through Instagram and I have also started selling in a local craft shop where they have their own Facebook page and everyone there is incredibly helpful in giving advice on any problem you may have.

 

Any tips for mum’s just starting out in business?

Start simply.  When I first started I had so many ideas and things that I wanted to make and that showed in the quality of the product.  Have a clear idea of what you want your product to be and where you want it to go and let everything else follow.  If the product is good enough people will hopefully want to buy it.

 

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You can find Colour Me Happy Crayons at colourmehappycrayons.co.uk

Mum Boss Monday: Saskia from Avocado Pear

Saskia lives in Cornwall with her husband and two children, Arthur (who will be 8 at Christmas) and Layla (who is just 5). She is the owner of Avocado Pear. The company was born out of a need to make clothes for her own children that fitted their skinny frames.

Where are you based?
We live in a small rural village near St Austell in Cornwall. We are lucky enough to live on the outskirts of the village overlooking livestock fields. We live in an unconventional upside down house to take full advantage of the views ☺

Tell me a bit about your business. What do you make/sell etc?

I sew children’s clothes. I make bespoke and one-off items in individual fabrics and designs. I like to use a mix of indie designer patterns as well as my own drafted patterns. I make all manner of items, ranging from appliquéd slippers to pixie-hooded capes, to pretty party dresses.

When and why did you start out?

I started making my own children’s clothes when I couldn’t buy shop clothes that would fit them. They were both on the seriously skinny side. I got so many compliments that I started making to sell. So, the business started in the first half of 2015.

Do you have any formal training?

Not in dressmaking no. But I learnt from my own mum who used to make all our clothes as children. I sewed my first dress at around age 8 completely unaided and went on from there. I learn through experience, and some of the many tutorials available to everyone on the internet. I love researching different sewing techniques and have many books on the subject. I prefer the classic, more time consuming sewing methods. I like to have clean finished items that look as neat on the inside as on the outside. A lot of my seams are enclosed, or hidden. I especially like the look of French seams that don’t show any raw edges or have the need of overlocking (for anyone who doesn’t know, if you look at the seams of many shop bought t-shirts, there are rows of triangular shaped stitches close together encasing the raw edge of the seam allowance. This is overlocking. A French seam will enclose the whole seam allowance so you only see fabric, and no stitches).

 

How do you fit in running a business with having a family?

I generally sew in the evenings or at the weekend. I do sometimes get the opportunity to sew during the day, but as I home educate my children, this is on the rarer side! I’ve found that as they’ve got older and they’ve finished their lessons, I can trade off some time with them, by allowing them short spells on the computer, or playing with lego in my sewing room whilst I’m sewing.

What has been the biggest challenge since starting your business?

The biggest problem I have encountered is the sheer amount of time needed for social media to get my product out there. I find it really difficult to reach out to the right audience for my clothing. Being in Cornwall is lovely and idyllic to raise children but from a business point of view we are very much stuck out on a limb.

And the best reward/achievement?

The best reward by far is receiving 5* reviews from very happy customers.

What are your business goals for 2017?

My goals for next year are to raise sales by reaching my desired audience. I’d love more children to be wearing the clothes I make!

Are there any barriers to achieving your goals?

Time is my biggest barrier, in that with home educating, and raising a family, time is in short supply. If I had a magic wand, my website would be up to date, my social media accounts would post for themselves, I’d have an in house photographer and editor, and I would have an extra 5 hours a day to sew, because the sewing bit is the bit I enjoy the most.

Have you built a support network of other mums/women in business?

I have a good friend who is very much in a similar situation to me in terms of sewing from home whilst juggling a family. Other than that, no I don’t have much of a support network in other mums in business. I bounce ideas off my own parents, my mum has been there and done that, my dad has a background in marketing, and my husband is the voice of reason!

Any tips for mum’s just starting out in business?
Unless you have unlimited funds, don’t expect your business to magically grow quickly. It can be frustratingly slow at times, but perseverance is the key.
Working from home can be extremely convenient, but is also very challenging with children at home, be that babies/toddlers or older ones that are home educated, or during school holidays.

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You can find Saskia’s gorgeous creations at www.avocadopear.co.uk

Mum Boss Monday -Vicki Moore, Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum

First up in my Mum Boss Monday series is Vicki Moore also known as ‘NICU Mum’.

Vicki’s family includes her fiancée of 9 years and one son, Elijah who is 2 and inspired her blog. She lives in Dereham, (around 25 miles from Norwich) in Norfolk. I found Vicki’s blog during PND awareness week and binge read her brilliant PND awareness series featuring other mums who has experienced PND. Vicki is one of the may mums on Instagram supporting and collaborating with small businesses as well as running one of her own.

Tell me a bit about your business. What do you make/sell etc?

I sell bracelets, badges and hopefully soon to be bags and mugs for NICU MUMs and for fans of the blog. A percentage of each sales goes to the charity Bliss.

When and why did you start out?

I started the blog in March and began selling the badges, then bracelets a couple of months ago. I did to give hope and a symbol of strength for NICU parents and for those who enjoy the blog. I also wanted to give something back to charity.

Do you have any formal training?

I have GCSE’s and A levels and have completed the first year of a law degree but nothing on the business side of things, it has been more of an accident happening!

How do you fit in running a business with having a family?

Generally, in the evenings, or when Elijah is at nursery. I also have a schedule that I plan for blog and social media posts.

What has been the biggest challenge since starting your business?

I guess the fear of failure, trial and error to see what sells and what doesn’t. After all Each sale benefits Bliss.

And the best reward/achievement?

That I have sold items! That I have my own online store attached to my blog.

What are your business goals for 2017?

To hopefully have a mug and a bag go live soon, and to continue developing the care package range. To continue to donate a % of sales and raise awareness/ support for NICU parents.

Are there any barriers to achieving your goals?

Time, and to market items that are aimed at NICU parents but that do not exclude all parents.

Have you built a support network of other mums/women in business?

Yes, some amazing ladies on Instagram have helped me, advised me, and even promoted me. I also return the favour.

Any tips for mum’s just starting out in business?

Go for it, you never know what might happen. Kick off the fear of failure, if you do at least you can say you tried rather than ask yourself, ‘what if’.

 

Vicki is currently campaigning for better mental health care for NICU parents. You can find Vicki’s blog and shop at confessionsofanicumum.blogspot.co.uk and learn more about her work with Bliss and Little Miracles UK.

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Tickle Tots Review

We’ve been using cloth nappies full time since the baby was about two weeks old. During the last six months we’ve become complete converts and have tried many brands. Functionality is my main priority when choosing a nappy but I admit I’m also partial to a pretty print! I was therefore very excited to be offered the chance to trial Tickle Tots All in Two nappy in a brand new Busy Bee’s print.

How does it work?

Tickle Tots 2’s are an ‘All in Two’ birth to potty nappy. This means that the nappy can be adjusted around the waist and the rise to fit from around 8lbs until potty training. The nappy has a waterproof outer shell made from two layers of PUL and two boosters made from layers of bamboo and fleece which snap into the shell with poppers. The boosters can be used separately or together depending on the absorbency needed. If the nappy is wet and not soiled you can just change the booster and reuse the wrap. You can use each shell twice before washing  making this a cost effective nappy system if you’re on a budget.

Ease of use.

This nappy is very simple to use. The absorbent inserts snap into the shell and you can’t really get it wrong. The Velcro fastening makes it as easy as a disposable to put on.

 Absorbency & Fit.

Tickle Tots nappies are super absorbent. We change our baby’s nappy after every feed, so roughly every three hours. He is quite a heavy wetter and at six months (not weaned yet) he’s probably drinking more milk than he ever will so he pees a LOT.  I used both boosters and after three hours the inserts were not soaked and easily would have lasted much longer. We did have a giant poo in this nappy with no leaks. The legs have a double gusset and it was easy to get a snug fit around my baby slip thighs.

Tickle Tots are the slimmest nappies we’ve used. While we were trying one I put my son in a pair of dungarees he’d not worn before. When I changed the nappy and put on another brand (which is the slimmest fit nappy we use) the dungarees were suddenly popping open on the crotch and looked too small. When I held the baby in these nappies it almost felt like he had a disposable on the bum. The elastic around the legs is strong and the nappy rise poppers down quite small so I would imagine these could be used on a newborn too (our boy was 9lb 11oz so we used birth to potty nappies from the start).

Appearance & Quality

The new print is gorgeous and best of all, as all the Tickle Tots nappies, its unisex. The nappy feels slim and light without being flimsy and the inner and outer fabric looks and feels good quality. The hook and loop tabs are very sticky and stay closed when they are being washed so they don’t snag nappies in the washing machine.

Any issues?

The only issue I can think of is the drying time. I dried the nappy on an inside line and it took 36 hours. However bearing in mind that it is winter and has been a cold wet couple of weeks in Leeds it’s not bad. Considering the absorbency of the nappy  this length of time to dry is to be expected. The fact that the inserts separate from the shell and each other makes this Tickle Tots nappy faster drying than the bamboo All In One nappies we have.

We loved this nappy and although I don’t really *need* any more nappies I’m be tempted to add a couple more to my stash!

About the brand.

Tickle Tots was founded by Sophia a mum of two who used cloth nappies with her own children. It’s a family run company based in the UK. In recognition of the environmental impact of having the nappies made abroad Tickle Tots plant a U.K. native tree for every 1000 nappies sold.

*This is not a sponsored post and all opinions in this review are my own. While I did not pay for the nappy I was given it to try as part of a product swap (with my company Little Magpies).*

Cut For Cloth

I feel I should start this post by saying that there is no shame in using disposable nappies. Just wanted to put that out there. I used disposable nappies with my first baby and he still wears a pull up at night time.  I salute any parent who is together enough to commit to reusable nappies from the start. Quite honestly motherhood was a big enough adjustment for me. I felt I had enough going on so I didn’t consider reusable nappies until my first child was two and by that time there seemed no point.

Since having children I’ve become more  conscious of of the amount of waste we, as a family, create and the chemical content of many of the mainstream products we use day to day. My children have eczema and allergies so I prefer to use natural products on their skin and around our home. All of these were factors in my decision to try reusable nappies with our second child. I tried them and loved them. Even my other half, who wasn’t on board at the start, is a convert.

Not only have I become a baby bore, I’m now a cloth nappy bore to boot. Given the opportunity I will talk about them at length. The soft fluffy nappy next to my babies skin, the superior containment of liquid poop, the reduction of our household waste, the money we’ve saved already, the gorgeous prints, the brands I like, the ones I want to try, the list goes on and on. However, most of this nappy chat takes place with my husband who has little or no interest in listening. I’m the only one in all of my friendship groups who is currently using cloth nappies. I rarely mention it when I’m with friends, partly because I don’t want to be a nappy bore, mostly because I don’t want them to feel I’m preaching or judging parents who use disposables.  However, thanks to the wonder of social media I have a little network of virtual ‘nappy friends’ I can chat and ask questions about all things reusable and I’m learning about things I didn’t even know existed when I was a first time mum.

Many of my friends don’t know we use cloth nappies. If they haven’t seen me change the baby theres no reason why they would. I was at the park with a group of friends recently and gave my 3 year old a cloth wipe for his hands. My friend was immediately curious and we got chatting about reusable wipes and nappies. She was genuinely interested but it was obvious her partner was horrified. This made me think that I should be more open. We’re not doing anything wrong or weird. I’m confident that reusable nappies and wipes are the right choice for us and probably could be for lots of other families if cloth nappies and information about them was more mainstream. Some people immediately point out the environmental impact of extra washing or raise hygiene concerns. I’ve done my research and I’m sure that reusables are better for the environment, my bank balance and my childrens skin. Plus I really like using cloth nappies. I even like washing them and I especially like hanging them out to dry. Yes I’m a loser.

If you’re curious about cloth nappies and want more information there is a wealth of it online but it can be pretty daunting. I’d recommend visiting thenappygurus.com or thenappylady.co.uk for straightforward and honest advice. When choosing my nappies I sought advice from Wendy Richards aka The Nappy Lady as she has a non-judgemental attitude towards disposables and offers a free consultancy via an online questionnaire. Many local authorities offer vouchers or reimbursement of £30-50 to enable families to give cloth a go. This doesn’t seem to be well publicised and I only knew that it existed in my area after being given a heads up by and Instagram friend 200 miles away!

Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting honest reviews of several nappy brands, discussing my favourites nappies and where to buy them. If you’re tempted to #giveclothago , curious  about reusables or just want to establish whether I’m a tree hugging oddball, follow me here or on Instagram/Facebook to get notifications for new posts.

 

The Joy of Baking (or not).

It’s the night before my boy turns three. The presents are wrapped, the scooter is assembled and the house is semi clean. I feel a hundred times calmer than I did last year and the year before. The reason? A £15 birthday cake from M&S.

This year the cake was ‘hand bought’ and chosen by my child. He’s very happy with it. I’m definitely happy not to be spending this evening sobbing into a sunken Victoria sponge. If your child is about to have a birthday and you harbour an urge to bake the cake I have a very liberating bit of advice DONT DO IT. Step away from the Mary Berry cook book and get yourself down to the supermarket where someone else has created a showstopper just for you. Of course if you’re an amazing baker and can whip up a masterpiece with little effort then this post is not for you. However, if like me, you bake infrequently with varied results then baking anything under pressure is just not a good idea.
My husband feels no obligation to bake a birthday cake and has no desire to help. However, two years running I have disappointed myself by spending five hours in the kitchen and producing a pretty mediocre cake.
The first birthday attempt cost £40 in ingredients and tin rental, tasted good but was the third attempt. The second birthday cake was an unmitigated disaster and had to be smothered in frosting to hide a very dubious interior. My son didn’t care because I plonked a toy JCB digger on top and called it a ‘mud cake’.

I cared though. I wanted to bake what I’d imagined and see my sons face when I presented it. I wanted my child’s cake to mean something, to be made with love. I was under the illusion that he actually gives a shit where his cake comes from and appreciates my efforts. He doesn’t. He’s now turning three and is pretty articulate so know that his requirements are very simple he wants a cake, any cake,  with candles. This year I took the short cut and I’m converted.  Cake does not equal love. I’m didn’t win any prizes for making my own and I’ve gained five hours this evening that would have been spent in baking hell.

So we bought a jungle cake. My son chose it, I paid for it. It took 10 minutes in the shop and we’re all very happy. I’ve decided that this cake HAS been made with love, by a very nice lady/man who works at Marks & Spencer, bakes for a living and does not have a complete meltdown in the process.
So cheers to you Mr/Mrs M&S cake maker for allowing me to enjoy my sons birthday this year without any baking related emotional baggage. Another win for lazy parents!