Tell us about your business and the type of products you sell?
Books & Pieces is an independent online bookstore for children aged 0-6. I sell brilliant books and gifts for little people and run a monthly children’s book subscription – The Storybook Subscription. I also sell gifts featuring your children’s favourite book characters. Lots of my books are in my 3 for £10 and 3 for £5 deals and the soft toys are discounted too.
I set up Books & Pieces when I was pregnant with my middle man and I ran it alongside my day job and the kids until Christmas 2016 when I left employment to be able to grow the business and be around for my three boys.
As well as selling online, I attend most of the major UK baby shows.
I work with lots of different publishers and suppliers to source books children and their parents will enjoy – all of the books are ones I’d read with my own children which means I can be confident in recommending them to fellow families.
How did you come up with the idea and what motivated you to go for it?
After I had my eldest back in 2010 I’d go to events and see booksellers there but I knew I could buy their books online or at the supermarket for a discount.
It got me thinking there must be a way to sell books to parents at lower prices and so I started to research it and I found a way! Books & Pieces brings together two of my passions – reading and bargain hunting – so it’s the perfect business for me.
What is your best selling product?
It’s got to be my Indestructibles books – they’re chew-proof and rip-proof books invented by a mum of triplets in The States. They’re such a fabulous idea, and I love to see peoples’ faces at the shows when they try to rip them. I just wish they’d been around when my boys were smaller!
What do you love about running your own business and what do you find hard?
I love the freedom of it. Having said that, I’ve only recently started making the most of it; my littlest only started school last autumn and I decided to set up a seasonal business at the same time, so life was pretty full-on until January. I also love being my own boss and being able to grow a business that fits around the kids. It’s family first, business second.
The hard bits are switching off and having to make all the decisions. I work from home, so it’s difficult to physically step away from it all. And there’s always something I could be doing – I never realised how much admin is involved in running a business!
What kind of BossMum are you and how do you manage the juggle?
I wish I could tell you I’m super organised, but that would be a total lie! I think my background of working to short deadlines means I actually love the pressure of leaving things to the last minute, which isn’t always a good thing! I’d love to be more organised – and deep down I really love a list – so planning more is a big goal for me this year.
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
One of the most surprising things is finding out how others view me. A lot of my friends tell me I’m driven, which I never knew is how they see me. When you’re running your own business you’re always thinking about what you’re not doing or achieving and it’s easy to be down on yourself. Hearing people talk about you in such a lovely way makes you question your own perceptions and remind yourself you’re actually doing pretty well!
What’s next for your business?
I’m really focusing on growing my business this year. As well as continuing to add to my selection of books in my store, I want to be better at spreading the word of The Storybook Subscription (my children’s book subscription).
I’ve also got plans for new products to help families enjoy books even more, and I’m starting to collaborate with other Indy businesses to stock some of their fab products and work on exclusive commissions.
What is your favourite Social Media platform and how has it helped in your success?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. Facebook is a really great space for me to communicate with my customers, and it’s home to my Early Years Book Group. I’m also a member of several different business groups on Facebook which has been great to connect with other business owners and juggling mums. It’s a great space for learning too.
But I love the aesthetic of Instagram – I just wish my images could make the grade!!
Who inspires you?
It sounds pretty corny but just seeing what other people are doing is really inspiring. Setting up my business opened the door to this new entrepreneurial world of people just like me, trying to grow their own businesses. Seeing people thriving and achieving amazing success makes me realise anything is possible.
What was your dream job growing up?
As a young child, I always wanted to be an architect, but as I grew it changed to marketing and media, and then working in sport. After I left Uni I worked in media roles for professional sports teams for a number of years, before realising that sport really wasn’t a career that mixed well with family life!
What do you enjoy most about being a part of Mama Tribe?
I love how supportive everyone is. There are a great gang of ladies involved. There are so many groups out there, but finding ones where the people get you and you feel you fit into is the hard bit.
Thanks for giving us an insight into life behind Books & Pieces Amanda, we love having you as a Member of the Tribe.