Here at A League of Her Own we are all about sharing the entrepreneurial stories of women doing interesting and amazing things. In today’s Her Business Story we meet female entrepreneur Harriet Mumford, found of Nutkins Bakery.
Harriet tell us more about Nutkins Bakery
Nutkins Bakery is an online brownie gift-box service. We bake deliciously gooey brownies for delivery with a personalised gift card and package, anywhere in the UK. We also cater for parties as well as events, whether they’re large, small, personal or corporate.
What did you want to be when you were little?
Either a forensic detective or a war correspondent!
I’m not sure why I wanted to become either of those particularly as I get squeamish at the sight of blood. I came marginally closer to becoming the second after I studied broadcast journalism at the University of Leeds although I then went on to have a career on the dark side, in PR. Saying that, I have also always loved baking and first learnt how to bake a Victoria Sponge aged five or six – since then I’ve baked hundreds of cakes, but never thought seriously of it as a career until recently.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I worked at the same PR company, in London, for six years prior to starting Nutkins Bakery – I loved the people and the culture at Nelson Bostock, but I started to find the work unfulfilling and got itchy feet. I wanted to try something new and always knew that I wanted to follow one of my passions. I was very lucky in my job as I met fantastic people, worked on huge projects and learnt so much – everything I did during those six years inspired me to believe I could give it a shot on my own.
I had some brilliant mentors during my six years and I really looked up to the co-founder of the firm, Martin Bostock – he was everything I want to be in business: kind, encouraging, supportive, engaging and motivational. He treated everyone as an equal, no matter what level you were, and always had time to listen to your problems. Without the support, encouragement and knowledge gained from my former colleagues I don’t think I’d be in the position I am today – I owe a lot to Nelson Bostock, that’s for sure!
How long did it take for you to put your idea into action? What prompted you to act?
Last September there was a death in our family, which put things into perspective and gave me a kick to hand in my resignation – it was around this time I also received a (small) amount of money, which I vowed to save and put towards my business idea. It was only during this time I actually thought about the business seriously – before that I’d not really mentioned it to anyone as I didn’t think it would even come to fruition or be a reality. It was just an idea in my head and I didn’t have the courage to tell my friends about it as I never thought it was a possibility.
After leaving my job it took about eight months to get everything properly up and running – one of the things that took the most time was the website and that was because I decided to create it myself rather than pay a professional designer.
What has been your scariest moment as an entrepreneur?
Without a doubt it was handing in my notice at work. It’d definitely been my safety blanket and the day I resigned it felt like it had been completely whipped away. It was only then that the reality set in that I was on my own and I had this huge mountain ahead of me to climb.
What has been your proudest moment?
Waking up at 5am on launch day to finally remove the password from the website and set it free into the world – I sat in bed with a coffee full of nervous energy! I got so many messages and kind comments from friends and family saying how much they loved the site, which meant so much as it had been my baby for the past six months. I was also super-proud when I received my first official order through the website. Looking back, that first week was entirely overwhelming and it went by in such a blur.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from founding your own company?
Don’t take things to heart or too personally – things are bound to go wrong, but you’ll succeed if you focus on the solutions rather than dwelling on the problem. Also, criticism and feedback isn’t personal, people share it to help you grow and improve! I’m getting better at taking comments on board, but I definitely still need to remind myself of this last one occasionally!
What does success mean to you?
Success is waking up every day knowing that I’m doing something that I love, working towards the growth of the dream which I’ve created – it’s also that I’ve found a way to express myself, be creative and can continue to grow my life in the way I want to.
Has a mistake ever led you to success?
Definitely, I originally started out wanting to do celebration and wedding cakes however to put it bluntly I just wasn’t good enough in comparison to the competition and, in all honestly, it wasn’t the type of baking I loved. A few months into self-employment I had to go back to the drawing board and flip it on its head – from the beginning I’d wanted to incorporate gift-box brownies into my business model, so I redrafted my plan with the core focus on that. Since then, I haven’t looked back!
Which women inspire you?
I’m inspired by strong, young women in creative industries who haven’t followed traditional career paths. Two that particularly stand out are the wonderful Emma Gannon, who runs the Ctrl Alt Del podcast (which is only one of many strings to her bow!) and blogger Hannah Gale. I’m 28, so both of them are a similar age to me and also had similar jobs to mine (PR and journalism respectively) – they quit their full time jobs to go solo, using the internet to pursue their dream careers.
When I was contemplating my decisions, I really looked up to the success Emma and Hannah had – you can tell they’ve worked their socks off to get where they are and are also extremely passionate about what they do. Also, a huge shout out to my best friend Charlene – she changed career relatively early on into a field she wasn’t familiar with. She worked tirelessly to get the results she needed to qualify and puts her all in to everything she does. Seeing her succeed, as she chips away at her career, inspires me to focus on what I want to achieve and to work hard! All three definitely made me believe in myself and inspired me to give it a go and to put myself out there – I think it’s so important to be inspired by other people’s successes, to raise them up and celebrate this.
And which men?
As cheesy as it sounds, my boyfriend and my Dad.
When I was little my Dad ran his own market research company and at the time I didn’t appreciate the long hours, hard-work and dedication he put in to make it a success. It’s only now that I have my own company I understand why he made the choices and sacrifices he did – Dad, I forgive you for all of the holidays where you had to work, do emails or spend time in the lobby on your phone (and apologise for the times I complained as a child!).
Then my boyfriend Rich quit his job about six months before I did to set up an e-commerce business selling children’s toys, games and gifts from home – he has such an incredible work ethic and passion for what he does. Every day he inspires me to crack on and put 100% in to what I’m doing – when I’m having a tough day he’s there to pick me up and remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing. He takes every day in his stride and works tirelessly; it’s pretty awe-inspiring to see someone you love to grow and thrive in that way. I really look up to them both – they’re great role models.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?
It’ll be a rollercoaster, things will take time and go wrong but it’ll be totally worth the ride.
What’s the best piece of business advice someone has ever given you?
Don’t expect things to work first time around. You need the failures to achieve success.
Feeling inspired? If you have an idea for a business like Harriet did, and would like to make it happen, then come on over and join us at The League – an online club for women starting and growing their businesses.