The business idea that changed my life began in 2008 when I was forced to quit my job as an accountant due to the stressful working environment. I knew I needed to be that little bit different to everyone else. Within a few months of being out of work my husband, who worked full time as a network engineer, built a website for me called Keep it Personal www.keepitpersonal.co.uk selling personalised/engraved gifts.
With the excitement of having this new business launch I worked every day from home as online sales gradually built up. I started by drop shipping, passing the sales order to my supplier who would fulfil the order. But I soon found that being dependant on another company meant that I couldn’t control my business properly. Sometimes items would be engraved wrongly, and orders were being sent out late, so I decided to take my business to the next step and purchased my first engraving machine.
This was an exciting step forward, and once I was fully trained with the new machine it was great to have full control of my business!
Every day I would walk to my local post office to send of all the engraved orders, and as the months went on the other customers got more annoyed each time I arrived with a huge bag of mail to be weighed by the server. This was becoming more and more impractical as my business got busier, and so I discovered different ways of sending the mail out, from franking all my mail to the system we have now, where we have a daily collection from Royal Mail and all we need to do is count the number of parcels.
2009 was a year my husband and I planned to move house and get married. We moved from Altrincham, Cheshire to Bristol to be closer to family and friends. I carried on with the business on my own but it was getting busier, so my husband decided to join me and leave his high paid job at ITV. This helped the business grow further as more time could be put into the business to help drive sales.
In May 2010 I discovered that I was pregnant, this was long awaited news and we could not wait to meet our baby, but we also knew that we would need to look at changing the way we ran our business to fit in with our baby.
I battled through the nausea of morning sickness in the first trimester, the second trimester was a breeze but from the beginning to the end of the third trimester I had severe pelvis problems which meant I could not walk very far on most days but fortunately I was able to carry on with my business by sitting down to do the engraving work and I worked up to a day before my due date. My son, Tom, was eventually born on 26th February and I will never forget the amazing first moment of meeting him for the first time.
Luckily the early part of the year is our quieter time for the business, so I decided to take 3 weeks off with Tom and I then juggled being a working mummy and would try to work at every possible minute while Tom was asleep, which in time took its toll as before long Tom would have more awake time and start to roll and crawl.
So in January 2012 I decided to rent a premises and made an even harder decision which was to put Tom into nursery 2 days per week which he now really enjoys and which breaks up both of our weeks as I work on his nursery days. I found a premises to rent about 10 minutes drive from home and Tom’s nursery is right in the middle of home and work, so I had peace of mind that I wouldn’t be too far away from him.
We took on two employees to begin with, which was a long process to find the right staff for us and the business. We were looking for staff who we felt we could trust to continue the business if we needed to take a short holiday or enjoy some family time.
We are now almost a year on from moving into the premises and Tom is nearly two! The move has allowed us to grow Keep it Personal further by purchasing more engraving machines and we now employ 3 full time members of staff. I have not looked back at any decisions made and would not change any part of the past nearly five years although it has been a huge learning curve especially since the arrival of my beautiful son Tom.