In an ideal world, I’d be referred to as the Founder of Messy Me or simply a small business owner.
However, people often want to qualify what and who they are referring to. So for those of us who run small businesses and who are also mothers, we are often known as ‘mumpreneurs’.
Recently, there has been some criticism of the term, labelling it as patronising, with people pushing back against being described as a mumpreneur. I can fully understand how, in some sectors, there could be some prejudice against the term, but this is not something I have come across personally.
If I’m honest I feel frustrated by these prejudices – however, sadly prejudices exist in any walk of life. Ideally, we should be working on changing perceptions of the term, demonstrating that it can and should incorporate a range of different business owners, of businesses of all kinds and sizes. The term should be viewed in a positive way, empowering others to follow their dreams, especially if they have children.
The term should encompass a breadth and depth of business owners – from kitchen table start-ups and hobbyists through to those running much bigger, profitable companies. Having encountered little prejudice to date, I’m happy being referred to as a mumpreneur for a number of reasons.
For a start my business, Messy Me was inspired by my three children. They are a key part of my brand story. The time I spent clearing up their mess at mealtimes and my search for products to help with this time-consuming chore, led to a realisation that there was a gap in the market for high quality weaning products, which are not only very practical but look lovely too.
The fact that my products are designed by a mum, rather than in a business think tank, is very motivating and appealing to my customers. I have first-hand experience of weaning little ones and dealing with the mess they can make. I feel it’s important to share and communicate this with our audience.
I also believe that many mums are inspired by stories of other mums setting up businesses which work around their families – and are keen to support and buy from them rather than buying from bigger, purely profit driven corporations.
I also welcome the phrase because, frankly, my business is structured around spending time with my children as they grow up – and I am happy to admit this. Anyone who works with us needs to understand and accept this. Equally, we work flexibly with a number of talented mums, allowing them to pursue careers around their family commitments.
Most of all, I’m happy to associate myself with any mums who have decided to be brave, take risks and set up their own business – however big or small. Everyone has to start somewhere. And don’t forget that the part-time hobbyist now, may well have a very successful business in a few years’ time. Equally, they may decide they want to keep their business small – and we shouldn’t judge them negatively if this is what they choose to do.
Would I have the same views if my business were in a different sector? Possibly not – but ultimately, we are influenced by those around us. Right now though, being a ‘mumpreneur’ works for me, my business and most importantly my lifestyle, and that’s all I could ask for.
About the author
Helen Hibberd is the founder of Messy Me, a baby and kids messy play and weaning company.