INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2020 SERIES:
MY INSPIRATIONS – DAY 4
March 8th 2020 is International Women’s Day and by way of celebration I decided to publish an article a day from March 2nd – 8th on some of the women who inspire me the most. Day 4 looks at entrepreneur Rachel Wood. See the full list of inspiring women here.
Rachel Wood: Founder, Bibado
Initially her working career began as a military dentist where Rachel served in the Royal Army Dental Corps for 5 years where she got to travel a lot, meet many inspirational people and undertake some of her most formative experiences – it’s also where she met her husband.
Once married, Rachel left the military as she and her husband wanted to start a family and with both of them serving they knew this would be incredibly tricky. She spent the next 5 years working part time in a variety of local dental practices whilst raising her twin daughters who arrived prematurely in 2010.
With her husband working long hours and travelling frequently, Rachel found herself exhausted from trying to balance the demands of her own career alongside being the main caregiver to their children. A daily frustration around mealtimes led Rachel to the idea of inventing something that made dinner times less stressful. Quickly she realised this could also be her opportunity to create a business that would fit around the demands of family life.
Rachel got to work and launched BIBaDO, starting with her now-patented coverall bib. The brand continues to grow; their online shop now ships internationally and their patented coverall bib is stocked by well-known high street retailer Jojo Maman Bebe. You may even recognise Rachel from her appearance on Channel 4’s Buy It Now For Christmas where she promoted the coverall bib.
Read my interview with Rachel Wood below to find out more about her inspiring story and what advice she’d offer other entrepreneurs.
what is your business and what led you start it?
My journey into starting my own business began after being very frustrated with the lack of bibs which kept my twin daughters clean at meal times. No matter what I did after each meal I would spend easily 30 minutes or longer cleaning up afterwards. It usually involved a full outfit change due to the cuffs and neck being too big to keep my daughters clean. They also usually ended up with food in their laps and then on their trousers, which then became stuck to the highchair.
As well as this, the floor was usually pebble dashed with spaghetti, yoghurt or anything else they had dropped. It made mealtimes stressful and frustrating for me. I looked at the product in my hand and thought I can certainly improve on that!
I doubt I would have ever acted on this experience alone but in all honesty, a career where both working parents have clinical jobs are incredibly hard to maintain. I was exhausted and under professional pressure (dentistry is a career which requires you to perform from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave). My husband was working extremely long hours and travelled frequently, which meant that the day to day child care logistics fell to me. Getting the three of us up, dressed and into nursery before heading out for a day’s work was exhausting.
It was during this time we were also dealing with numerous hospital and health problems with our daughters due to their prematurity. It was too much and I knew it. I know I am a strong person, but I was at breaking point.
The possibility of starting my own business had never occurred to me but a career which I could run from home via the internet seemed to be the dream that now seemed not entirely out of reach with this idea.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in growing your business?
The inspiration for starting this was my family, I wanted to be there for my children as much as possible and the ability to work from home has given me that flexibility. I am so grateful for this. My family are also my biggest cheerleaders, they have always encouraged me to keep going and to believe in myself. I am from a big family and everyone in one way or another have all helped me out and never once told me to give up. I think they all knew BIBaDO was on to something!
Professionally my biggest inspiration would have to be my now business partner Dan Laxton. He came on board a few years into our journey as he was also looking for a new challenge, he also happens to be my brother-in-law. He is so strategic and intelligent. He motivates the team, encourages all of us, and gives us the belief that our company can be as big a success as we dare to dream. I am very lucky to have found in him someone with the ability and drive to successfully grow BIBaDO from a tabletop business into a brand that is now recognised around the world.
What’s your number 1 tip for anyone struggling to overcome overwhelmand keep going?
Oh my goodness, there are many tips I could give people. Probably the biggest and most valuable one I have learned is that there is no magic pot of time, we all have the same amount on a daily basis, nobody can do everything, especially a working mother. This means you cannot do everything yourself and nor should you. Build a team and trust them to share your vision. When people come together they can achieve great things.
What’s been your favourite miststake and what did you learn?
I don’t think you can call any of our many mistakes a favorite!!! However, mistakes are inevitable, like there being no magical pot of time, there is no magical way to see into the future and prevent mistakes.
However, the mark of being successful is to recognise your mistakes as quickly as possible and correct them equally as quickly whilst putting in as many measures to prevent these mistakes from happening again. Running your own business is an exercise in problem solving and being curious.
One of our earliest challenges was overcoming manufacturing errors. In my mind a simple product could not have too many things wrong when manufactured, so I wasn’t unduly worried when we started out. However, it is amazing what can go wrong. We must have had every manufacturing error in the book!
Looking back I should have been braver in addressing any small errors and tried to mitigate them earlier. You may feel like you are being awkward but actually you are just providing clear instructions, which will make everyone’s lives easier.
Always remember to question is there a better way of doing this? Don’t follow the flock. Just because people have been doing the same thing for years doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way of doing it.
Be adaptable and be flexible with your thinking. This is innovation at its core isn’t it? To be innovative I now realise doesn’t mean getting to the moon….. it is having the ability to implement a new strategy whether that be by creating a new product, a new system, a new type of family friendly employment. Innovations, whether they are big or small, make changes and these changes are what will drive the growth of your business and yourself.
If you were to start your business again today, what would you do differently?
I would have asked for help sooner!!! I didn’t want to grow a team as I was worried about managing people. I now understand that this is essential. Choose your team wisely and trust your gut instincts. The type of people who are happy to work in a startup are people who are like-minded. They want something different, you need to bring them on board and together you can achieve something amazing!
What do you love most about having your own business?
There are so many aspects. I love the fact that BIBaDO as a brand is helping parents all over the world. For me, early parenthood was a very stressful time. If we can help, by just reducing that stress for parents a tiny bit, I am really proud of what we have achieved. We also have the most amazing community of parents (some of whom have now come to work for us!!!) who bang our drum and have supported BIBaDO from the get-go. I am very grateful to them.
Where can people find out more about your business?
You can visit our website www.BIBaDO.co.uk – we ship globally if you are reading overseas! You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook Twitter and now You Tube as well.
Huge thanks to Rachel Wood for sharing her story with us!
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