Business Mum Week: Arabella from Natural Nursery
Who are you?
I am Arabella, married to Paul with one daughter, Ellie, aged 6. We recently moved back to Devon so that we could be closer to the sea and have a bigger garden. Although we live in Exeter, we are lucky to have part of next door’s garden, meaning we have a good sized veggie patch which has proved to be great fun, though I am struggling to cope with the huge number of pumpkins we seem to have at the moment. Also in the family is Sooty, our dog and our 6 chickens.
Name of company?
www.naturalnursery.co.uk, selling organic and fair trade goodies for families with young children, www.reusablebagco.co.uk, selling eco-bags and soon to be launched, www.breastfeedingnaturally.co.uk
How did you get involved in an eco business?
Before having Ellie, I had become disillusioned with my career as a solicitor – the pay may have been good but I was finding it hard to reconcile this way of earning a living with my increasing awarness of environmental and ethical issues.
During my maternity leave, I realised that I really had come to the end of my “corporate life” and although I wanted to be at home with my daughter, I did need something to keep me busy.
I had really struggled to find the type of products that I wanted to use with Ellie – 6 years ago it was almost impossible to find cloth nappies and slings on the high street and most shops hadn’t heard of the concept of fair trade toys, so the orginal idea for the shop was born.
What is the best part of being a working mum?
Being able to fit it all in around a young child. I conducted hours of internet based research while Ellie was breastfeeding – I am a very fast one handed typer now. I also love the fact that I have a side to me that doesn’t revolve around washing and homework, yet doesn’t tie me down to office life.
What is the worst part of being a working mum?
The same as being a mother – never being able to switch off. Just as you are constantly thinking, have I got enough peanut butter for after school snack, or did I remember to put the washing machine on, you are always thinking, did I reply to that email from the customer, I wonder if we should buy that new range of slings. It takes a lot of discipline to ensure that when I am working, I am working and then to shut down for the rest of the day, very hard when my main office is at home.
Your top tip to other mums thinking about starting an eco business?
Think very clearly about what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. If you are genuinely passionate about what you are doing, this will be much easier but if you are offering greenwashing to make your product look good, customers will soon notice and look elsewhere. You must also remember that an eco business is just like any other – it takes lots of hard work and determination to make a success of it but never let that stop you from enjoying what you do.