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Winners 2018 - Mama + Belle

Suzie Olivier won the Military Partner in Business Award in 2018 for her company Mama + Belle, a company she started when she saw a gap in the market for teething jewellery.

Tell me about what you have been doing since you won the award?

Since that exciting evening in London, I’ve been immersed in building my new venture, Mothers of Enterprise. I’m grateful to say that Mama + Belle has continued to grow despite now being my “sideline hustle”.

What was the most important thing you have learned in the last year?

Networking and building relationships with not only your target customer base but fellow entrepreneurs is vital and truly has the potential to accelerate your success. As the saying case “your net worth is your network”, and the opportunities that have come my way in the last year as realists of those relationships have been absolute gold.

Have you always felt the pull of entrepreneurialism or has it developed over time?

Well, considering I helped start an entrepreneurs club at primary school when I was 10, I can confidently say that I’ve always felt the pull of entrepreneurialism. I’ve been building and running businesses since I was 19, so in all honestly, I can’t imagine my professional life in other way.

When you were starting up, how did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Mama + Belle was started partly out of necessity. I soon realised after my husband joined the RAF, that I was going to need a business that was adaptable to regular house moves and also something that could fit around motherhood. I saw the idea for teething jewellery online where it was almost exclusively available in Australia and America. As I was already on the look out to create a flexible product based business, the moment I saw the product and realised it hadn’t made it’s way to the UK yet, that it was my next venture.

My latest business ‘Mothers of Enterprise’ was born out of my experience with Mama + Belle. Almost daily I’d receive messages and emails from mums who resonated with my story and were seeking advice on how they can start their own business whilst being a full time stay at home mum.

After 2 years of fighting off impostor syndrome, I finally stepped up and launched Mothers of Enterprise last year to help educate, empower and inspire mums wanting to build a successful business and thriving lifestyle, all whilst raising a family.

What is the best part about working for yourself?

Flexibility and freedom. I love that I’m always available for my daughters and I can easily take time off without the usual corporate guilt of letting anyone down.

What has been the hardest part about setting up your own company?

Business is always challenging and that’s partly why I love it. You have to be continuously evolving and learning to ensure you stay ahead and keep innovating.

I think in todays content over load and everyone’s an “expert” era we’re living in, one of the hardest elements is knowing who to listen to. It’s hard to know which piece of advice to take when so many are preaching contradicting methods and systems. When you’re setting up, especially if it’s your first business, the learning curve is massive, and having someone along side you as a coach/mentor can be invaluable.

Any mistakes you have made along the way that you wish you could change with the benefit of hindsight?

There’s a part of me that wants to write a sad long list of the mistakes I’ve made in the last 12 years of my business journey, but each one has taught me such great and valuable lessons that I wouldn’t change any of them.

I would say that if there is any element to building or running a business that you don’t really enjoy (for me it’s accounts… I really really don’t enjoy number crunching), then the moment you have the means to, try and outsource that part of your business. Hire someone who not only enjoys is but is an expert at it. That way your shortfalls are accounted for and you won’t get any nasty surprises down the line.

Who was the best boss that you’ve ever had. What did you like about them, and why?

I’ve been working for myself since I was 19, so I’ve not had a boss since my very young teenage days!

What do you do to relax outside of working?

Finding ways to unwind and relax are huge priorities for me. Running 2 busy businesses and keeping up with 2 young energetic little girls means my days are thoroughly filled.

For me it’s exercise and meditation. Somewhat cliches in today’s world, but both help me to destress, refocus, relax and recharge.

Besides that my best medicine for a stressful week is a meal out with good friends and perhaps even a glass of wine or two

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

I can’t choose just one, so I’m going to sneak 2 in here… firstly thoroughly validate your idea and know your market inside and out. I’ve seen too many businesses launch only to find out it’s not a viable idea. It’s always best to find that out before you put all your time and money into something.

Secondly, and perhaps the most important, is be purpose driven and not all about the profits. When a business exists with a mission to serve and provide genuine value, the profits come with so much more ease and fulfilment.

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