Mumpreneurs’ testimonial: Yummy Strawberries with the seal of approval of our London Mayor!

At London Mums we always look for inspiring success stories of mums who managed to come up with original business ideas and manage to fulfil their dreams of working around their families. The testimonial of two yummy mummies behind Berry Temptation is one close to my heart and also to our Mayor of London (check his signed letter in this post). In Boris' own words: "Berry Temptation provided us with such a marvellous example of their product. My office really enjoyed the strawberries. I wish all those connected with London Mums the very best in their future endeavours." Thanks Boris! And here is the story.

Here is what our inspiring mumpreneurs Juliana of Berry Temptation told us:

"We never dreamt that moving to London would lead us to meeting each other and creating our own business!

We met working for the same Telecommunications Company in London, after having careers in finance and business administration in South America.

As anyone who has moved to London knows, it can be very difficult to meet others and make new friends in the same situation as you are; however, I can say that I was pretty lucky meeting Cristina. Right from the start it felt right for both of us. We understood each other in every single way, not only the same language, but also the culture, ideas, and even becoming mums just 2 months apart!

Cristina and I both had babies around the same time, we wanted and needed to work, but neither of us was keen to return to a 9-5 desk job where we would have to leave our babies and not be able to be with them and enjoy their childhood.So one day after a nice and long chat we discovered that we always quite fancied ourselves as business women. We both had the idea of having our own company so we decided to give it a try.

We were very keen on starting a business. However, we had to face the fact that starting a business with two toddlers full of energy was not going to be easy! When we started in September 2011 our sons were both around 10 months old. As they have got older it has become more difficult as they need more entertaining and we need more time to work. We hoped that working from home would allow us the best of both worlds. Of course in reality it’s not as idyllic as that at all!!

Most days we have found working at home with babies to be a completely unpredictable experience. One day they’ll play happily together, and we can sit at the laptop and smile over at our wonderful boys, while the next day they act as if they can’t stand each other. At times like these it’s very difficult to work properly and we have come to realise that starting a business is really hard and even worse when there is not extended family around to support you. At the moment it is a case of juggling the job of being a full time mum with that of being a business owner!

Our first step was the idea. Berry temptation was born one day while recalling the greatest gifts my dad had given me on my birthdays and among my favourites was my box of chocolate dipped strawberries. I found it so tasty, original and healthy. Suddenly I found myself craving for this delicious treat. However, after looking at all the options, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I told Cristina about it and she was so enthusiastic about the idea that we started straight away with our market and business plan.

Then the whole process began. How to set up a business in the UK, food and hygiene certificates and from there we started our new business just one day before my birthday in October.

Having decided on an online shop, we secured the site domain name and chose and registered our own name ( a story in itself as everyone suggested a name funnier than the next, but one day suddenly the same words came out of our mouths at the same time and that was it) Our next challenge included the logo, website design and deciding what we could afford to sell as opposed to what we would really like to sell!

We expected the logo design to take a few days but it ended up being more than that, and we had to get another graphic designer... Once we had our logo and colours confirmed we could really get to work on the website design.

Then we needed to design our product. We wished to design the perfect gift for every occasion so we truly put all our dedication and love into it. Searching for the best chocolate, the tastiest strawberries, and off course packaging a very important part in our gift box, we really spent time looking for a special one!.

We have learned and practised much of our academic and job experience knowledge but one of the things I find more difficult to do is negotiate with suppliers … Cristina is definitely better than me at this!! With the products in place we finalised courier companies, delivery prices, and packaging options. We got there in the end!!!

After a very stressful few weeks, we had about a week to get all the products and all our information and photos onto the site before it went live 2 weeks before Valentine’s Day. During those weeks we worked around the clock and long into the night once the boys were sleeping.

And so in February 2012, nearly 6 months after we first started, we finally launched our business BERRY TEMPTATION!! ( like another son to us). In the time it’s taken us to set up a business our boys have gone from crawling to walking, from purees to three course meals, They’ve celebrated their first birthdays, started to talk and discovered they don’t much like us working!

As for the business, we finally launched and since then we have received fantastic feedback and many positive and encouraging comments. We have so many new ideas so there is much still to do. Most of our days are spent juggling babies, emails, meetings and whenever possible grabbing just a few minutes here and there researching new products and new ways to expand the business.

But the experience has been so fulfilling and so exciting that despite the sleepless nights, bringing babies to important meetings, working into the small hours, once they are sleeping, and the ongoing fear it could all be a huge disaster …. we wouldn’t change a thing!!"

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London http://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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