Interview with a career change mum – Gemma Barnes

Ruth Kudzi10

Today I interview Gemma, Gemma is a mum of one, based in Battersea South London. She started her business (GB Elegant Events) after going back to work and finding it difficult leaving her daughter with multiple allergies. Gemma's aim was to use her skills and experience from working as a children's representative abroad, nursery nurse and her event decorating experience from various family/friend’s events to help others out. At first it was just a hobby but GB Elegant Events took off in no time

1. What gave you the idea to start up your business?  

After having my daughter and going back to work part time I had a lot of problems with work due to my daughters’ allergies and her always being ill. She's allergic to dairy, nuts, egg, kiwi and dust. She often had reactions at nursery and was often ill which meant me having to take time off work or leave work early, which was affecting my job. I always felt guilty leaving her and I wasn't happy within myself at work. One day I was so fed up I decided to leave work. I didn't want to not work so I decided I would start up my own business where I could work around my daughter. I knew I wanted to do something which still involved children and something where I could put my attention to detail and designing skills to good use. After being let down by a local party company for a Peppa Pig mascot costume for my daughter’s birthday party I ended up buying my own, and that’s how it all started…

2. What did you do to prepare to start up your business?

I researched my competition in the area, I joined local business Facebook groups, went to networking events, thought of a name and had a logo created. I then invested in a popcorn and candy floss machine to hire out alongside my Peppa Pig mascot. At first I created a free website, but as I got more equipment and customers I had a professional one developed. I didn't do a business plan, once I got it into my head what I wanted to do I just did it.

3. Which aspects of your business did you need help with? Where did you get that help?

Storage, I found it very difficult to find reasonably priced storage in London. I had to get one nearly an hour drive from me due to the cost but I'm very happy to say I'm moving my storage closer to home at the end of this month. Also, something I'm struggling with at the moment is employing a member of staff for the summer, and working through all the legal requirements for this.

4. Describe what your business does and who you target it at / your ideal client

My business is an Events deco and party supplies business. I provide services for all events, from children's parties to weddings and business events, so I’ve got a wide target audience. I can provide just a little as a bouncy castle or candy floss machine to a full package that includes event decorations such as chair covers and sashes, backdrops, 4ft Love letters and much, more. My target audience are mostly engaged couples, expecting women, parents and local businesses, mainly in the event industry.

5. What is the most rewarding thing about having your own business?

The freedom to work when I want to and around my daughter. Also, I love seeing the finished rooms that I’ve decorated, receiving amazing feedback and seeing children's faces light up at birthday parties is very rewarding for me.

6. What has been the biggest challenge?

Providing suitable storage and local competitors following my ideas and style and how to deal with them in a professional way. Another difficulty I have found is pricing, clients saying they have found services cheaper elsewhere or they are single parents and can't afford it. I’ve got a big heart so at first I adapted my prices and gave a lot of free things away but it's not possible any more as I'm getting busy and I'm trying to run a business.

7. If you could go back and give yourself some advice what would it be?

Not to keep buying more products – every week I'm buying more and more for the business, although I guess it's helping me to grow. Also, to believe in myself, I didn't think I could ever own my own business and run it by myself but I’ve done it and I'm so proud of who it has made me today.

To find out more about Gemma click here:





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