For those who don’t know, Jum Designs is named after my 3-year-old son Julian, whose nickname is Jum. My business is just over two years old. So yes, your maths is (hopefully) correct: Jum was just 11 months old when I launched my business. It was – and remains – my sole experience in retail. In any kind of business, in fact. So why on earth did I start a business with a baby at home?
Parenting is fulfilling. And difficult.
In all fairness, our little Jum was incredibly easy as a baby. I remember holding him when he was a few weeks old and being asked to describe motherhood in one word. In just one word? Fulfilling. Having and holding Julian was the most fulfilling experience I had ever encountered.
No, it wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I remember weeping with sheer exhaustion. The seemingly ceaseless baskets of laundry. Waking up every two hours in the cold winter nights. And yet, I decided to start a retail business on top of it all. Without any experience in retail, let alone the business world. Why?
When compulsive behaviour meets creativity
Julian was all of five months old when I decided I would launch a business called Jum Designs. Was it something of a compulsive decision? Without a doubt. But that is – and always has been – a hallmark of my behaviour. I get an idea in my head and nothing can sway my focus and determination.
This compulsive streak is more often than not linked to creativity. I know that I am called to create. That I am one of those people who ‘wake to make’. If I don’t have a creative outlet, it has a significant impact on my wellbeing. This might sound melodramatic at best, completely ‘woo woo’ at worst. But it is the truth of my experience. I have a creative soul. And that might explain why, in the midst of broken nights and nappies, I decided to take a leap of faith and launch a business.
Why custom handbags?
People ask me why I decided to open a business specialising in cusom bags handmade to order. In all honesty, I can’t remember the exact origin of the idea. There certainly wasn’t any valid market research involved. As I have explained in a previous post on the Jum Designs blog, we started out with the worst business plan ever. (Spoiler alert: there was basically just a logo and a business bank account. That’s it.)
One thing I remember is that my idea started with custom tote bags. Those same tote bags are still part of our product range, and remain one of our bestselling bag designs. At the risk of sounding a little trite, I allowed my business to grow organically. The product range and fabric options have evolved accordingly, to where we find ourselves today. And that is not all that has grown. Every member of the team has grown in experience, knowledge, and skills. And Jum has grown. Oh, how he has grown!
Building a business with baby
For the first two years, I ran Jum Designs from home whilst Jum was still at home with me. Yes, it was difficult. But I needed a creative outlet. Yes, parenting was fulfilling. But I needed a creative outlet. Yes, I felt like my attention was divided and lines were blurred. But I needed a creative outlet. (Are you sensing a theme?)
It is only now that Jum has started playschool that I realise what it is like to have a few hours to work without toddler antics. Looking back, I’m not quite sure how I managed to concentrate. But compulsive creativity is not always aligned with the most logical course of action.
So how did I manage? Because of my mum. My mommy dearest (known to clients as Amanda) has been an integral part of this path. My mum is not only an integral member of the Jum Designs team, but upon retirement she took it upon herself to care for Jum a few hours a day – every.single.day – so that I could work on Jum Designs. As an artist and art teacher, I think my mum has a natural empathy for my need of a creative outlet. That, and she knows the nature of, and helps to channel, my creativity.
My mom is my biz bestie
It calms my soul. My mum calms my soul. My mum is my biz bestie, my confidant, and Granny to my darling Jum. It is only now that I am a mother that I can truly appreciate my mother’s journey. We might have very different personalities, but we are both women. We are both mothers. We are both creatives.
My mum, of all people, understands the juggling act that this requires. It was my mum who told me to stop trying to achieve that elusive ‘balance’ that is a ubiquitous buzzword in pop psychology. It was my mum who gave me strength to be a mom and find an identity beyond that role.
For all of this, and for giving me the gift of life, happy Mother’s Day to my mommy dearest.