Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Karen Lo didn’t choose between a career or a family – she choose both by setting up her own business - Love Pottery

Bucking the stale stereotype of that women are either stay at home mothers, or career hungry ladder climbers, Karen believes that the best option for her and her family was working for herself, being her own boss and in charge of the hours and days that she wanted to work

Karen’s business Love Pottery is a mobile painting studio which offers a range of personalized and handmade items, as well as hosting painting events for children and adults.

Having worked in marketing for the last 13 years, including at the Mando Group, one of the North West’s leading web design agencies, as well as Liverpool City Council and the Shop Direct Group, Karen had spent a long time working for someone else. She says that when her eldest daughter began going to school, she began to feel like she was missing out on spending time with them; ‘There wasn't an option for my job to work part time, so I decided I would start my own business to work the hours around my children.’

Bucking the stale stereotype that women are either stay at home mothers, or career hungry ladder climbers, Karen believes that the best option for her and her family was working for herself, being her own boss and in charge of the hours and days that she wanted to work. Although like many others, the prospect of starting up her own business was both nerve-wracking and exciting. To gain the most information before starting her venture, Karen did a lot of research into the market to find out if there were any local competitors offering the same type of business.

Karen told us; ‘I really felt there was I gap in the market, as I couldn't find anyone offering the service I wanted to provide. I undertook intensive training to fully learn how to create pottery from start to finish.’ after this Karen smartly began with small steps and tested the market to check that there would be sufficient demand for the product and services she wanted to offer.

‘Once I had established that there were plenty of customers, I got in touch with The Women’s Organisation who have given me so much start up information.’ At The Women’s Organisation Karen found support for many of the aspects that women find hard, and was able to enroll on training courses which she says were ‘invaluable’ to her and find out information about national insurance and tax. Sitting down with a business advisor at The Women’s Organisation also helped Karen figure out the direction of her business and think about where she wanted it to go in the future, through writing her business plan.

Being totally honest, Karen says that she found most of the process of setting up her own business slightly daunting, and reflects many of the women’s views we speak to when she says; ‘it’s a big leap from being employed to bringing in your own wages’ but she now knows it was the right thing for her to do.

The reasons behind why Karen chose to start her own business are still at the core of everything that she does, to be able to spend time with her children; ‘I have many roles to fulfill including being a mum to 2 young children, being a wife, sister, friend, cook, cleaner and taxi! And I do struggle to fit everything, and it is especially hard when business is busy. There are never enough hours in the day, and there is always more I want to do and achieve’ But Karen always brings herself back to her motives for starting her own business, and says ‘it’s all about getting the balance right.’

Love Pottery is now thriving, and has even surprised Karen with how well it has done within the first year; ‘I now have regular customers! My customers are recommending me to their friends so the business is growing!’, She is now able to reap the rewards of being her own boss, working flexible hours and running her business around her children and the amount of work that she wants to do.

‘I don’t need to be sat at work (wishing I was at home), I can go and spend time with my children, or do household chores’

Karen’s top tips for women starting their own business is to ensure that the research their market properly before beginning, she says; ‘Is there a market for your product or service? If so, I would recommend that they get in touch with an organisation such as The Women’s Organisation and take advantage of the fantastic support on offer. There is so much information to learn when you are starting out, and it’s great to have someone impartial with knowledge and experience that can make that process easier’

‘Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed by how far I have come in the last year. But I also feel very excited that this is the beginning and there is so much more to do!’

If you would like to find out more about Karen’s Love Pottery, be sure to check out her website and social media links below!

Love Pottery

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