A local mum of two was announced runner-up in two categories in this year’s Federation of Small Businesses Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire Awards. Claire Upton of Ampthill was nominated in the Networking Group of the Year and Franchisee of the Year categories and heard the results at a special event at Luton Hoo Conservatory in Luton last week, hosted by Stephen Rhodes, former weekday daytime presenter on BBC Three Counties Radio and campaigning consumer rights broadcaster.
Claire, 45, was delighted with her fantastic achievements, having only taken over her franchises with national magazine Raring2go! in June 2010 and Mums the Boss last September.
Raring2go! is fast being recognised throughout the country as the definitive family guide to what’s on and where to go for families. 16,000 copies are produced quarterly and distributed across Bedfordshire to lower schools, pre-schools, libraries and tourist information offices. The magazines are predominantly delivered into schools and sent home in children’s book bags to parents.
Previously a project manager at an electronics company, Claire had been in purchasing and sales since leaving school. She has a young family (two boys age 3 and 7) and a husband who works long hours, so running her own business from home is an ideal way of combining her skills and expertise with working flexible hours to suit the family.
Initially Claire applied for a job working with her predecessor who, it turned out, wanted to sell. Claire frequently used the magazine as a parent and liked it so much she bought the franchise!
The last two years have not been easy, of course, but Claire thinks the biggest challenge has been working on her own, which can be quite isolating. However, last year Claire was asked to take over Mums the Boss Networking Group in Bedford. The group had dwindled to four people. Claire agreed to a trial for two months and after nearly a year, members are up to 25+ and this is one of the reasons she was recognised in the Networking Group of the Year Award.
Mum’s the Boss is a professional, informal and inspiring network group offering support, ideas, motivation to other like- minded business people. It is a small networking group which prides itself on commitment to supporting others in business, originating in Bedford and now expanded to other areas. For more information on starting a Mum’s the Boss networking group contact Debbie – [email protected]
In her spare time, Claire likes to bake as she finds it therapeutic. She is on the local pre-school committee where her baking comes in handy, and she also makes her own soft furnishings when time permits.
“I’d say my biggest achievement is increasing the focus on Raring2go! More people than ever are aware of it now in the area, distribution has increased from 12,000 to 16,000 and I’ve increased the number of pages from 32 to 48, which is no mean feat!” says Claire.