The Curious Mummy meets Mum Boss Jennifer Robertson who is one half of clothing and gift brand Scamp. Jennifer left her career as a Creative at the BBC to pursue her passion and started Scamp. Through hard work and persistence, Scamp has gone from strength to strength and are now in supporting children’s mental health charity Place to Be by donating a 10% of sales from their latest sweatshirt line to the charity. Jennifer is a true inspiration and today shares her top tips on running a successful business.
Tell us a bit about yourselves?
I’m Jennifer and I am one half of Scamp (the other half being my middle sister Stacey). There is a third sister – the youngest – Catherine who may not work with us but has produced a couple of fantastic Scamp models in her two daughters! We were born and bred in Scotland but I moved to London about 20 years ago and haven’t left – despite thinking I’d only be here for three years! I’m now a north west Londoner dweller living in Queens Park with my husband Mark, 12 year old daughter Ava and her brother Jonah who is nearly 10. The final member of the family is our pup Alba.
Tell us about We Are Scamp and what gave you both the idea to start?
Stacey and I created www.wearescamp.co.uk back in 2010. I used to work in a creative role for the BBC and my sister was a physiotherapist. Although we have both been very keen makers (of many things!) since childhood neither of us has specific training in what we are now doing. However, we both have a good eye for product ideas that we think are a bit different – not so easy to spot in the pink and blue world of children’s clothing and interiors! Scamp’s orignial products (babywear and kids room accessories) were the antithesis of this and were quirky, bold and colourful making sure to brighten up children’s bedrooms and wardrobes in the most stylish kind of way! We still design a baby wear and baby gift range but focus more on personalised gifts and new born presents with these products which have proved to be really popular.
Our product range has definitely evolved as our kids have got older and we’ve recently created a range of “mighty’ sweatshirts designed with our own children in mind. This range consists of sweatshirts featuing empowering and positive messages for children (and now we have some womens versions as well) and 10% of the proceeds of the sale of these sweartshirts goes to Place2Be – a children’s mental health charity. We’ve added other products to this collection as well which make lovely gifts for kids, teens and adults!
Describe your typical day?
There isn’t really a typical day which is one of the things I love about having our own business – it often feels a huge juggle of racing around in the morning getting kids ready for school and dog ready for a walk before managing to settle down to do anything. Unless it’s the run up to Christmas I try to keep a couple of days a week aside for designing, planning any events we are taking part in, pulling together a social media plan, keeping up to date with accounts and the general day to day running of the business side of work. Stacey lives in Leeds so a lot of our conversations are by phone or Facetime so a good part of a non-order dispatching day can be spent discussing things with her! The other days are then taken up with creating, making and dispatching orders.
What would you say the most important thing is in running an online business? What has been the greatest lesson you have learnt?
Having an online business can be quite isolating in a way as you do so much from behind a computer screen. Luckily I’ve got Stacey in the business so I’m not completely on my own although we live in different cities. Despite having each other to bounce ideas with and make plans it can still feel like you are winging it a bit and not sure about lots of things. Luckily, through getting out and about at pop ups/markets and meeting others who sell on the same market places as us we’ve now got a strong and supportive group ‘work friends’. Brilliant for advice, sharing tips, keeping the faith, moral support and just understanding what it’s like doing what we do has made a really big difference to us!
What has been a highlight of your career to date?
Launching our sweatshirt range in October with the Here Come the Kids video and being able to give something back through our charity partnership has been brilliant. The reception for this range has taken us aback as we hadn’t anticipated so many people really loving what we are now doing but we are so happy about this. Seeing kids wearing our clothes, hearing friends in other parts of the country say they’ve spotted the sweatshirts and realising that the idea we had six months has really hit the mark has been very fulfilling.
What do you think it takes to be a Mum Boss?
The ultimate juggler with flexibility, tenacity, determination and the will to stick it out even when it seems to be too much!
How do you find a balance between running a successful business and raising a family?
I’m not sure I have the perfect balance but the fact I’m working from home and can have more flexibility in my working day than my husband means I can prioritise when I do things depending on what is going on in life. I try not to work (much!) at the weekend and we definitely slow down in the school holidays by extending lead times of products. This may not make great business sense but it’s what is important to us with our families and definitely takes the pressure off in those times of year making a holiday feel like a break.
After work, how do you find time to relax?
I love swimming, particularly outdoor swimming. A very happy place for me are the Hampstead Ponds. Exhilerating (in winter) but a good place to feel some calm! Having the dog has taken me (and the family at weekends) on some great country (and city) walks which I am loving doing as well. Exploring parts of London on these walks or places on the edge of the city has been quite a revelation. Some really beautiful spots. For evenings I’m a cinema lover and if I had the time and enough babysitting credits I’d be out in London at the theatre, concerts and events whenever possible. The reality is that I don’t usually have that much time but I do try to get out and go to what is on my doorstep in London when I can.
What are your top five tips for starting a successful business?
Not sure if these are my top five tips but definitely five things I’ve learned along the way J
Don’t be disheartened if after building your own website it takes people a while to find and buy from you – getting your social media, marketing and SEO right is really important (but time consuming!) at this point to help but it takes time. Remember you’re in it for the long game!
Find your gang who are there to support you and your business. That could be friends who’ll look after your kids if you need to get things done for work, people who run similar businesses to you and understand the trials and tribulations of running your business or just someone who’s style and ethos you love and you can use as a bit of a sounding board.
Celebrate (and remember) the good things that happen. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in what you haven’t done or things that haven’t gone as well as you hoped but you need to be able to enjoy the moment and pat yourself on the back every so often when good things happen!
Don’t be put off if it feels like it’s taking a while to start to feel successful – it definitely hasn’t been an overnight occurrence for Scamp but we deliberately took things slowly to begin with as we both had young families we were working around. We were really able to step up the business once all of the kids (our Scampettes!) were at school and we had more time to commit to working and make bigger changes in the what we were selling.
Get out from behind the computer when you can – meeting your customers is great and can often lead to new ideas, friendships and feeling part of something a bit bigger.
If you were to host the ultimate dinner party and you could invite anyone in the world, who would be on your guest list?
I actually would just love to have a dinner party with all my family and friends and have time to chat to every one of them – particularly those who live a long way away and I hardly see. Bit like a wedding but with less pressure and not as formal!
If you want to find out more about Scamp. Head to the links below.
Here Come the Kids Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjjP47QE5js