A Year Of Dates
Tell us 3 facts about you…
I trained as a Graphic Designer and still work in the industry now as an Account Manager. It’s really helped build the brand for A Year of Dates as I knew exactly what I wanted.
The business grew from a gift from my husband he still claims he came up with it all by himself?! We never finished our date jar, thanks to our daughter Phoebe arriving, apparently there are some really great date ideas in it that haven’t been opened yet! It’s a goal for 2018!
I used to live in Cornwall and really miss being near the sea (I now live in Bolton!) for Christmas my husband bought me a palm tree, it’s a small step…
What is your best-selling product?
By far our best selling product is the box, or jar, of dates – 52 sealed envelopes which each contain a date idea. They’re all things that can easily be achieved in an evening after work or in a day at the weekend. The box contains a dice as well; so difficult decisions are made easier – like who chooses the movie, or makes breakfast in bed. The dates about maximizing time together in our busy lives, making memories and having a bit of fun.
This is our original product, and it’s been really well received, we love seeing what our daters get up to on social media and how they interpret the cards.
We also do boxes for ‘big’ birthdays and A Year of Play for families that we developed with the fabulous PlayHooray.
What are the best and worst things about running your own business?
I’ve never run a business before, and to be honest I often don’t think that is what I’m doing! I have had to get an accountant as I know nothing about finance – so little I take my hubby with me to meetings as I don’t understand what is going on! I work part time and fit the business in around that and family life – it is a juggle but the dream is to waiting at the school gates for Phoebe as she grows up and be able to there for her, not stuck in the office 9-5.30.
I’ve met a great group of Manchester mum’s who are setting up their businesses and I turn to them for help if something comes up I’ve not deal with before which is a great support tool to have when you work on your own. I have also taken to social media and run new product ideas past some of the people who regularly comment and share their dates – they’re the best sounding board!
How do you structure your days?
I work as an Account Manager 4 mornings a week and spend the afternoons on the business. It can be time consuming as there are so many elements of the boxes, and different products – I now outsource the envelope stuffing but there are ribbons to be tied, shipping boxes to build, orders to sort… So my afternoons are spent fulfilling orders, or working on social media,improving the website etc. I pick Phoebe up from nursery around 5.30 and we have a couple of hours together before bed and then it is more orders!
On a Friday we’re at home and I do my best to leave work alone, although I can get a lot done during nap time…
How do you solve productivity, scheduling, marketing, networking, work life balance?
I’m lucky to have a very flexible employer so at quiet times I’ll work longer hours and when it is busy – like in the run up to Valentines day – I’ll leave dead on 1.30 and I know I can take holiday without much notice. I know I am in a very lucky position.
I find lists invaluable I have one for each day and I know how much I can get done in an afternoon and I’ll focus on those activities, and try not to get distracted with household jobs or Instagram!
Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
When I went on maternity leave I was working in Manchester in a high pressure agency with an hour + commute each way. I knew it wasn’t something I could go back to, and my husband agreed. During a walk with new mum friends I told them about the jar John had made me for Christmas and they all had the usual response; “what a lovely gift, I wish I had time/the ideas to make one” and I had a lightbulb moment – I had a jar full of ideas and I needed a project. I pictured myself selling at craft fairs, until I met a fellow mum boss at an event and she shared a link to a Pitch Up event for Not on the High Street with me. I took my prototype along and they bought into the idea straight away and the rest is history!!
What’s in the pipeline for your business in 2018?
I have just launched a new product to accompany the Year of Dates – a journal to save memories of the dates. This has been inspired by my social media followers who told me they had set up books to keep the cards in
We have other products in development that I’ll be announcing soon – once the Valentines rush has died down! They’re based on the same idea but one will be aimed at people looking to have fun while saving money (people saving for a wedding/baby/starting uni) and another for pay day splurges… I really can’t say much more yet but I’m itching to get them finished!
How do you want to be remembered?
I’d like A Year of Dates to be remembered for helping people bring some fun back into their daily lives. Everything is so fast paced these days, we never switch off and it’s so hard to remember to make time for partners, families or friends; if we can make this easier, and fun, then that’s a great thing.
Now I just need to take a leaf out of my own book and open some of the original date cards!