Tell us about your business and the type of products you sell?
A Year of Dates is a family gift business run by me and my husband John. We encourage couples, families, new parents and friends to spend more time together with a range of personalised gift ideas.
Our main product is a date box containing 52 sealed envelopes, inside each one is a date idea – it could be something to do at home, a night out or a daytime activity. We’ve found they’re a great wedding gift, or perfect to give to your other half.
Since starting out 3 years ago we’ve created a range of products for significant birthdays (30,40, 50 and 60), New Parent Date Boxes and Wedding Anniversary boxes. All feature colourful envelopes and encourage people to make memories.
We like to think they’re perfect present for the person, or couple, who has everything.
How did you come up with the idea and what motivated you to go for it?
It all started following a Christmas gift from John – a glass jar containing date ideas in sealed envelopes that I opened each week. It was great for us to plan together and then make the date happen – we did loads of new things, tried new restaurants and generally had a great time. So many friends and family commented on how they’d like to do something similar but didn’t have the time. This sparked an idea.
I was motivated by not wanting to go back to my previous job after my maternity leave! We knew I needed something else as the commute was too much. So A Year of Dates was born when my daughter, Phoebe, was almost 1 and it now employs me and John.
What is your best selling product?
Our weekly date boxes are still the best selling product, with our 50th birthday box being a close second.
Now we can personalise the boxes it’s great to see the lovely messages being added for weddings and anniversaries.
We’ve also been responsible for a number of proposals which is a great feeling!
What do you love about running your own business and what do you find hard?
I love being my own boss and working my own hours – don’t get me wrong they are often long hours but just not in the 9-5 window! We can take Phoebe to nursery then go home or to the supermarket before coming to work. We’re able to attend her swimming and gymnastics lessons weekly and then work a bit more in the evening if we need to.
It’s hard to delegate!! This is my second baby and I like things done a certain way… I have had to learn to let go and we now have help with stuffing all the envelopes. But all the orders are put together and dispatched by John or I.
Holidays are hard though, it’s hard to switch off and catch up again when you get back as no one is picking anything up when you’re away.
What kind of BossMum are you and how do you manage the juggle?
Definitely winging it! I like to be organised but it’s so hard.
When we worked at home it was easier as I could just pop a wash on, or nip out for a forgotten birthday gift. Now we’re in an office it’s often beans on toast for tea when I’ve forgotten to buy something for tea. I’m trying to get better though!
How do you define success?
I think for me success is having built something that supports both me and John. It was a dream to get to this point and we’ve reached it quicker than we expected.
We recently won Ecommerce Business of the Year for the North West in the Chamber of Commerce Awards – this was an amazing achievement (I still can’t believe it!) as being recognised by a business organisation in such a competitive field is just crazy!
What has been a particular highlight for you since starting your business?
We’re partners on Not on the High Street and have been lucky enough to be part of the community since we started. We have had the opportunity to meet Holly Tucker at their Christmas party and she is a huge role model for me (I’m a total fan girl!) – we chatted to her and she knew who we were and asked us for a selfie!!!! I was speechless!
What advice would you give someone who was thinking about setting up their own business?
Start small. Don’t buy loads of stock/material, test the water first and expect your ideas/products to grow and evolve quickly. Make mistakes and learn from them then move on.
Join networking groups – either online or in real life (ideally both!) and meet new people. You just don’t know who you are talking to and how you could help each other.
Make sure you love what you do. If you resent any element of your business it won’t succeed.
What is your favourite Social Media platform and how has it helped in your success?
Instagram! It’s the best way to show our products and we’re really lucky to have so many customers who share their dates and tag us – it’s so lovely to see what everyone gets up to.
I am hoping to start a Facebook Group in 2020 for inspiration, sharing and ideas – I’m really excited about that.
I have been able to use all these skills in the business, I do all the design work and can deal with suppliers and deadlines as a result of my experience.
What do you enjoy most about being a part of Mama Tribe?
Thanks for giving us an insight into life behind A Year of Dates Kate, we love having you as a Member of the Tribe.