Today I’m excited to feature the lovely Amanda Brown with her marvellous, crafty invention, Treasure Toyz Ltd, that helps keep your kids safe when you’re out and about. Amanda is in my neck of the woods soon, attending the top Home and Gift Retail Trade Show, Autumn Fair 2017 3-6 September at the National Exhibition Centre. Amanda’s a classic example of someone being made redundant and starting their own business, although in her case what she does now hasn’t been informed by what she has done before, but by her own family traditions. Let’s find out how she started, how it’s been going and how she ended up exhibiting at this big show …
Hello, Amanda, and welcome to the interview series. What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
The company is Treasure Toyz Ltd, and it was established in September 2015.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I was made redundant from my Oil & Gas recruitment position when the oil price plummeted. I hadn’t been enjoying my job for some time but didn’t move due to it being work I was used to, and also a salary I was used to, but when I got made redundant, I saw it as an opportunity to try something myself.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
When I was young, I was never allowed out the house without all of my Mum’s contact details pinned on to me in one way or the other … and when my friends started having kids, I witnessed them scribbling their number down their arm with pen and drilling them with meeting places and remembering phone numbers. I am very crafty, so bought some beads and started making up bracelets for friends’ children. After finding a lost boy and not knowing what to do, I knew this was a daily problem around the world, and it just went from there.
Had you run your own business before?
Yes, I had a bar in Spain for a while – so a little bit of a different industry!
I’ll say! How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I jumped in the deep end after being made redundant. The business was originally called “Phone My Mum” and I handmade all of the bracelets and accessories. Orders started coming from New Zealand, Italy, the States – everywhere via my Etsy and Amazon shops. But as it got busier, I realised the company couldn’t scale up if they were all to be handmade. I used to do a lot of stalls and parents kept telling me they would love to be able to make the accessories with the kids. So, I started to create a box where children could make their own – and bang, Treasure was born!
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
Everything takes at least twice as long and costs twice as much than you originally think.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Stop constantly looking for advice and opinions, trust your instincts and remember that nobody knows your business more than you!
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Taken bigger risks earlier.
What are you glad you did?
Adapted the business as I went along. Although I was busy, I would not have achieved my goals I have for myself and the business.
What’s your top business tip?
Say yes to every opportunity and work out how the heck you are going to do it later!
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I have certainly grown in the waistline, anyway, having a beautiful baby boy a year into opening the business!
No, but seriously, I have grown as a person. I went from having a very comfortable lifestyle to living back in a little town, travelling by bus at first and not getting my nails done every two weeks. When you first start up and put everything into your business, the little luxuries go and you quickly realise you can easily live without the things you thought you could never live without! Starting a business has certainly humbled me and changed me for the better.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
I see myself still in Ayrshire with a factory to assemble all my boxes. My boxes being sold across the UK and just emerging into Europe. The next loom bands – here we go!
Fantastic stuff – and you can see that exhibiting at Autumn Fair is part of this big push to expansion. It’s all very exciting, and I love Amanda’s bravery, willingness to take risks but acceptance of the personal changes the business has brought, too. Best of luck to her, and do pop along to see her at Autumn Fair if you are in the area – tell her Liz sent you!
Details for the Autumn Fair, which runs from 3-6 September, with 30,000 retailers from across Europe, can be found here (Amanda’s in Hall 5, 5A76)
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.