Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vicki Peers Triumphs Over Adversity, Setting Up Her Own Business: ‘Tots’ Treasures’.

‘Tots’ Treasures’ sell educational toys, sensory items and unique gifts for young children and also hire soft play equipment for events in and around Merseyside.  Now a thriving business, we took a look back with inspirational Liverpool mum and business owner Vicki Peers to see just how far she has come.

Prior to setting up her own business, Vicki was a secondary English teacher in Liverpool. She says that, over the years, teaching had become more and more difficult for her, and indeed others. The work load meant that she was working longer and longer hours, averaging 60-70 hours a week.

Photo by Jo Forrest Photography
After the birth of her little girl in May 2013, her father suffered a brain haemorrhage and, following complications, remained in hospital long term. Then in the November, Vicki was diagnosed with Post-Natal Depression, suffering anxiety if she was away from her daughter.

Vicki says: "All of this was exhausting and the thought of going back to school the following year terrified me. After a great deal of support from Person Shaped Support (PSS) in Liverpool, I was able to start thinking more clearly and realised it was paramount that if I did return to work, I had to have a good work/life balance."

"The support I received from PSS was crucial in recognising this and my counsellor, Dorcas, was a huge help in making me realise how important it was and how I needed to make this happen for myself, turning my illness into a positive. My business advisor from The Women’s Organisation was also a huge help by breaking everything down to make it manageable for me and I could contact her whenever I needed to."

Like many others, after having children, Vicki wanted to find a job to fit around her family life, which she says had become ‘somewhat hectic!’, and was something that she had never been able to achieve in her eight years of teaching. This was the deciding factor for Vicki to set up her own business.

Vicki explained: "I had known I wanted to work for myself for several years but wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do exactly, and hadn’t ever had the time to investigate setting up a business. The events of 2013 made me very aware of how precious life was and how important it was to enjoy it."

After attending a parent and baby class, ‘Babbling Babies’ at West Derby Children’s Centre, she became interested in how babies learn and develop, delving further into researching this through the internet, she says,  "This was often at 3am when I had a little wriggler who was wide awake and chatting away."  

With her knowledge from teaching and wider research Vicki realised that she wanted to help caregivers support their children’s development. She could do this through selling products that stimulated little ones in different ways, and through educating parents about the kinds of products that aided development.



Keen to move her idea forward, inspirational Vicki began purchasing stock and started setting up her website, this is when she stumbled upon The Women’s Organisation. After coming to a drop in event at Leaf on Bold Street, she booked an appointment with a business advisor, who she visited for support to look at the key areas that many business start-ups find tricky, such as tax and selling regulations.

"I was nervous about setting up a business as I worried about money and start-up costs and I didn’t have any ideas about how to write a business plan or keep track of cash flow" confessed Vicki. "My business advisor was able to help me by establishing my needs and booking me onto the appropriate course."

Having received support as part of The Women's Organisation's POWER Programme sponsored by RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise, Tot's Treasures is now well established and has had some very busy periods. In the run up to the Christmas season things are becoming even busier, with the soft play hire side of her business doing very well. In the New Year, Vicki is looking to expand the business to business aspect as she believes; "it’s important for small businesses to support each other as much as possible and help boost the local economy."

After triumphing through some very difficult times, Vicki is now reaping the benefits of working for herself, enjoying the flexibility that it provides, especially as a mother. She says; "Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work and you have to put in a lot of hours but I can put those hours in of a night time, after my little girl is in bed, so it suits my family."

Vicki’s advice to others who are considering starting up their own business is to get on all of the courses you can; "The Business Planning Course I attended at The Women’s Organisation was crucial, explaining how to write a business plan and going through cash-flow. This was something I would have found very difficult on my own".

This inspirational Liverpool mum is a brilliant example of what amazing women can achieve, even after facing an incredibly challenging time.

RBS Inspiring Enterprise is encouraging a more entrepreneurial culture. From the classroom to the boardroom, RBS are inspiring and enabling enterprise at every stage of the journey. As part of this, RBS has committed to inspire and enable 20,000 women, by the end of 2015, to explore and unlock their enterprise potential. Inspiring Enterprise is encouraging more people, in more communities, to explore enterprise, build their skills and start up and succeed in business.

If you would like to find out more about Tot’s Treasures – contact Vicki via

Visit them on Facebook www.facebook.com/totstreasures.org.uk
Follow @Totstreasures on Twitter and Instagram

If you would like to find out more about how RBS Inspiring Women in Enterprise and The Women's Organisation are working together to support local women to turn their ideas into a thriving enterprise visit www.thewomensorganisation.org.uk or contact hello@thewo.org.uk

Photo Credit: Jo Forrest Photography







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