Hi Monique tell us 3 facts about you..
So I am actually South African born, from the laid back surfer town of Durban. Spending a childhood growing up under Mama Africa’s sun was amazing. When I was 20yo I decided to spread my wings to do some travelling / working and moved to big foggy London Town. Cut to 18 years later I’m still here after typically marrying an English Man!
I am terrified of clowns and have an innate fear of balloons popping! The clowns make sense as I watch “IT” back in the 90’s when I was way too young to be watching it at afriendssleep over party, and have been scarred ever since. I often wonder if the balloons could subconsciously be linked to this fear, but I just don’t trust their unpredictability… you just never know when they gonna blow!
I love good food and good wine with friends, even best when enjoyed travelling around a new places or country, so we spend our time carefully trying to figure out how to travel to new destinations near and far to indulge ourselves.
Can you tell us about your products and their design process…
I sell baby comforters. But not just any comforters, they are The Dou-Doods!
The Doods are a gang of fuzzy little friends for your little folk. Their mission to make comforters cool again. They each have their own little characters and are sent out with their own name and born on dates making them unique.
Because my Doods are flat, they need to feel luxurious. It’s all about their softness. When you pick one up, I want you to get caught up in a moment of fuzzy snuggles. I want it to envelope you, to find yourself endlessly stroking it and start dreaming of clouds, soft twilight and cuddling down in a big soft bed.
This is what I want baby to feel.
And the other thing that is hugely important for me is what they are made from. The quality of the fabrics. How they are made. Who made them. Do the workers have fair trading standards in their workplace. Provenance is so important when it comes to baby products and babys’ safety.
The Doods have specifically been designed to be flat rather than another “stuffed bunny” as they bridge the gap between comfort blanket and toy. During baby’s infancy they act as more of a comfort blanket to cuddle and snuggle at bedtime or when separated from mama. But as baby grows into a toddler and understands more about the world and their imagination starts to take them on epic adventures they become their partner in fun!
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
I’ve learnt that I don’t know what I’m doing (which is no surprise to me really as I am attempting to break in to the retail/manufacturing world in which I have no experience) but I’m ok with that. I’m figuring it all out as I go along, and thus am learning so much along the way. The best lesson I’ve learnt is I’m gonna make mistakes because I have no one sat besides me telling me how to do something right and when I’m doing it wrong. But the wrong lessons are learning curves. And I need to believe in my gut instinct more as that is usually right.
How do you structure your days?
Terribly. I only work 2 days a week when Eevie is at nursey and over her nap times so it isn’t a huge amount of time. I do try to be super organised and make lists of lists, of things to do. Invariably a lot of what I do is on social and the hardest part is I so easily get sucked into scroll holes while trying to do “research” or find people I want to follow or influencers…
I am very adhoc. After just launching my website mid Feb I now spend most of my time thinking about how to create the next post or who I need to get in touch with to start spreading the word about my Doods/finding new stockists or markets.
Where and how do you work best?
At home with all my stuff spread across and between the kitchen and basement. Very much to my husbands dismay as the amount of stuff I’ve now jammed into our house has increased dramatically!
What tools do you find indispensable for your business?
All the apps I use were all recommended to me:
Shopify houses my website and is amazing once you have figured out how to use it.
Trello is an epic online “postit note” style tool. You can make cards for everything/one you dealing with and then categorise it into “To Do/Doing/Done” categories. The cards hold loads of info and can also be categorised further.
Canva for making photo/text posts for Social.
I need to work more with apps like Planoly to schedule posts once i have actually properly worked out my posting calendar!
Flipagram is great for doing photo montages to music to create a stop motion animation style film outside of using the new Instagram stories feature.
How do you solve productivity, scheduling, marketing, networking, work life balance?
Look at someone like Jo from Lobella Loves and wonder in amazement at how she fits it all in. I certainly haven’t figured it all out yet so just do my little bits when I can.
How do you balance work and family demands?
Definitely still working this one out. Because I’m still small fry these demands are as small or big as I can allow for. I still have a bigger focus on being stay at home mum to Eevie as my full time job versus my new business being part time. I am sure this will need more of an equal split once it hopefully starts to take off more.
Who do you admire most?
A best friend of mine Emma Gardner (@emma_mamabeokay) told me about this other Emma from @littlehotdogwatson. She said I should get in touch and see if she could give me any advice on all these massive unknowns I was facing and feeling so overwhelmed by. I got in touch and she was so open, friendly and helpful on all the questions/ freak outs I’ve thrown at her so far. She really has been such a monumental person in helping move The Dou-Doods forward in its growth.
Emma also does these brilliant Biz Live sessions every week on a weds morning. She has gained a wealth of knowledge from her former jobs in the world of retail and manufacturing as well as the lessons learnt from setting up her own small business. All she wants to do is share this with others to helpfully help them along their journey. What a bloody legend!
Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
Our little babe was my inspiration, and her love of snuggling and cuddling.
After my mat leave ended, I didn’t return to work as they couldn’t find a part time/flexible working role for me. I booked myself into a Mothers Meeting Business Academy to learn some life lessons in business which would hopefully give me some insight into what I could do next?
Over the course I was blown away by everyone around me. Jenny Scott & Yvonne Fusch who ran the course are just so amazing and champion “mumpreneurs” and women in business. They encouraged all of us into doing a Dragon’s Den style presentation at the end of our course to showcase an already existing business or if like me, your new business idea to a panel of independent judges.
I knew I wanted to try do something that took me back to my designer roots and flex my creative brain. Being crafty and good with my hands I thought I would would give sewing a go. Eevie loved laying anything soft and flat on her pillow for sleeping so I looked into the world of baby comforters. I wanted to produce something that was a little bit different, something that would appeal to creative and like minded people.
The other women in my course were also such brilliant inspiration too. Many much further along in their businesses, but when you work on your own its so important to meet others you can build relationships & friendships with. We have all stayed in touch and continue to support each other with advise or coffee catch ups.
What’s in the pipeline for your business in 2018?
Did you ever watch a cartoon called Pinky & the Brain? 2 little lab mice who plots all sorts of crazy schemes one the lab has shut down for the night and everyone has gone home.
Pinky says to Brain: “What we going to do tonight Brain?”
Brain: “Same thing we do every night Pinky… Try to take over the world!”
So maybe start with some mega growth in 2018… and hopefully go from there.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want my little Doods to be the next Jelly Cat.
And last but not least….What’s the best advice you ever received?
Believe in yourself. If you don’t why should anyone else?