Why #Shopsmall? A day in the life of Rock It Tots
So today is Small Business Saturday 2017! It's a day for local and independent businesses up and down the country to shout about themselves through the din created by the giants of the high street and net. There are so many wonderful small businesses out there that are the unsung heroes of the UK economy. Rock It Tots is just a drop in the ocean, but here's a bit more about who you're (hopefully!) buying from!
I'm Hannah, a 30-something mum of 3 fierce girls - twins aged 7 and the boss of the house aged 4.
Rock It Tots is my 3rd business (3rd time lucky!) and I started it in 2013 when my littlest Rock It Tot was just 7m old and my maternity allowance was about to run out! Having 3 kids 3 and under was going to mean crippling childcare bills and so I knew I had to find something I could do from home and work around them.
Rock It Tots has proven to be the perfect outlet for my love of design and creation and I hope my passion comes through in my work. I love to make slightly quirky fun items with positive messaging and not conforming to stereotypes.
A typical day for me begins at around 5am. I'm naturally a morning person and so it suits me to rise early and get a couple of hours of work done before the kids get up. I have a purpose-built workroom at the bottom of our garden so I can be at work within a few minutes of getting up! The cold air in the morning is certainly good for waking you up!
I then spend a few minutes drinking my first coffee of the day and setting up my work in progress list for the day. I then check I have all the supplies I need and place orders for anything I'm running out of. Next, depending on how my order list looks, I either set up files to be cut for printed items or cut a batch of leggings/dresses to be sewn. This usually takes me up to 7am and is when my husband is finishing his shower and the kids are starting to stir, so I head back to the house to share my 2nd coffee of the day with them, usually all snuggling in our superking-sized bed and listening to BBC 6 Music. If I'm really busy, I bring my laptop to carry on with ordering supplies/researching new fabrics/setting up print files etc.
Come 7.50, our peace is shattered as my husband needs to leave for work and it's time for the mad rush to breakfast/shower/find clean socks for me and the 3 kids in time for the school and nursery run at 8.40.
I get home just after 9am, make another coffee and then the intensive work begins as I have less than 3 hours child-free and need to make it as productive as possible!! If it's a sewing morning, I hit the machine with the piles of neatly cut orders I prepared earlier ready to go; if it's a printing morning, I go through my list finding all the sizes and colours of items that have been ordered and make a pile of the items with their corresponding print ready for pressing. I love to listen to the radio or audiobooks as I work - great for someone who loves books but no longer has much free time to read!
All too soon, It's 11.40 and time to leave to walk round to the village nursery to pick up Cleo. We get home about 12 and I make her some lunch and snacks and we both head out to my workroom. She has her own corner with table and chairs and collection of activities where she can play with sand or play dough, draw, cut and stick or do jigsaw puzzles while I get through the rest of my work for the day. Some days we rub along in happy harmony, others it feels like I'm having to stop every 2 mins! I sometimes feel an enormous amount of guilt that I can't take her out and about every afternoon, but then I remember how guilty I also felt when I had to leave my kids at the childminder to go to my previous job and come to the conclusion that there is always something to feel guilty about!
Come around 2pm, I have to decide whether I have time to make any more items or if I need to start parcelling up. Parcelling involves printing out invoices and mailing labels before neatly folding, wrapping and popping completed orders into mailing bags. Then it's time to head to the post office before picking up the big two from school. The great thing about living in a village is the personal relationships you build with local people. Thankfully, the lovely post office staff know me well and often allow me to leave my bags of parcels with them to process instead of having to put through each individual item whilst a growing queue of other customers waits behind me!
Once we get home from school, it's time to catch up on a spot of housework and prepare dinner. 1-2 nights a week we get to stay home for the rest of the evening, but other nights involve dashing about to taekwon-do, swimming or visiting my elderly father.
After dinner and bedtime, I either get some down time before an earlyish night or I work on my laptop in front of the TV. Peak times, such as the run up to Christmas though often mean I have to head back out to my workroom for another few hours' work before falling into bed around midnight! The advantage of having my workroom out of the house at least means I can work late (or early!) without disturbing anyone!
In amongst all the above, I squeeze in website maintenance, social media posts and designing new products or graphics. The disadvantage to being a micro-business is that I don't have the resources to employ others to do some of these tasks, but it does mean that I have had to learn a wide range of skills and there is always something new to learn!
So there you have a typical day in the life of Rock It Tots. I am one of millions of small businesses working hard to make a living in an increasingly difficult marketplace. I hope that this Small Business Saturday will get people thinking about their shopping habits and if they can shop small more often. When you buy from a small business, you're not providing larger dividends for shareholders or allowing a CEO to squirrel away more money to their offshore accounts - you are directly helping normal folk pay their bills, put food on the table and pay for wee extras like swimming or taekwon-do! Every order is valued and every encouraging comment welcomed!
I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every Rock It Tots customer both past and present and every one of you who follows me on social media and likes and comments on my posts - you really are treasured. From me and my family, THANK YOU!