Moving from a teacher to a small business owner has been an interesting transition. I’ve lost track of the number of times I have questioned what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and if I’m ready for it. Of course, I knew the answer to all of those questions because the reason I designed the Roly Poly Pillow® sheet and pillowcase in one was to make families’ lives easier and bed time safer when using a pillow in a cot-bed for the first time.
My partner and daughter have been hugely supportive of my venture – rather our venture as a family – because they have seen the effect of the sheet. We’ve all slept better knowing our daughter’s pillow is secure in her cot-bed. As well as family support, I have been overwhelmed by the support from Sussex mums, families and businesses. From local mums supporting our photoshoot (Photography for Little People by Rebecca and Oliviers Boutique) or local testers giving us constructive feedback for our prototypes, it has made me feel incredibly lucky and excited to be based in Sussex and starting my small business here.
I grew up in the city best known for its no-nonsense radio disc jockey, Alan Partridge. The city is set in a beautiful county well worth a visit. The lavender fields, sandy beaches and remarkable history are second to none. However, I knew instinctively by the age of eighteen that university in Sussex beckoned and since arriving seventeen years ago, I’ve never looked back. I love the energy here, living five minutes from the Downs, the easy links to London and the ultra-supportive and progressive views regarding small business growth, especially linked to women.
One group that I have found especially helpful is Sussex Businesses for Families. They represent what Sussex business is all about: family, making life easier for others, supporting local start-ups and supporting Sussex as a thriving and creative county. I have been extremely fortunate to become a member of this group and over the past few weeks of being involved, my progress, confidence and work has increased significantly. Why?
It is because of the optimistic, can-do, pragmatic nature found across Sussex, as emphasised through Sussex Businesses for Families. I’ve realised over my seventeen years here that there are few naysayers. There are those who provide invaluable critical feedback, but they are usually extremely constructive. For example, our local Horsham testers let us know that our first prototype’s pillowcase was too high so we amended the design. A Sussex professional gave me invaluable advice about chemical testing so our sheet has also been EN71-3 tested, an incredibly strict chemical test usually applied to toys but we decided to go the extra mile thanks to their help.
All of these safety conscious points have ensured the product is safe, secure and comfortable. Of course there has also been fantastic feedback and advice given from across the country. The Baby Products Association advised us that we should minimise the use of elastic, which we did. The Lullaby Trust advised us to explicitly state that the product is only for children over 12 months of age, which we have. But the reason I focus on Sussex is the personable, encouraging and positive ethos the county radiates.
With so many challenges facing small businesses, the last thing we want is another comment reminding us that six in ten won’t make their fifth business birthday. We know that. We’ve done the research and know the gamble we are taking. What is so special about Sussex and why it rocks is that business here is all about promoting an entrepreneurial culture with community and family at its core. That’s why I love Sussex and Sussex loves small businesses.
*West Sussex, Mid Sussex and East Sussex are collectively referred to as 'Sussex' to highlight the supportive, collaborative and friendly message that they all embody.