Michelle Mortimer – ubbaBabba Baby

by Claire Minnaar

Tell us a bit about YOU and your family (where you are based, single / married, number of kids, etc)

I have a family made up of three very busy guys. From the bottom up is my two year old, then my seven year old, followed by my 37 year old.

I am lucky enough to work from home, although this was a pretty trying experience before my little person went to play school at the beginning of the year.

What is the name of your company and when did you start your business?

My business is called ubbaBubba Baby (as in to ubba your bubba) We came up with the name when trying to think of an African way of carrying a child or baby. Our core business is the manufacturing and retailing of baby wraps.

What inspired you to start your own business?

ubbaBubba was born out of necessity in February 2008, four months after my son Kei came into the world. I needed to be able to get around and he needed to be held constantly, so I wrapped him against me. It worked, he was blissfully happy, I had my baby as close to me as physically possible and I had my hands free!!! Perfect.

What are the challenges you face or have faced being a working Mom and how have you overcome them?

Time. There just never seems to be enough of it. I have to try and be very disciplined which is not a strong point for me at all. I seem to work in bursts, when I feel creative and have a sudden urge to get going, I want to work there and then and very often it conflicts with “mom I want juice” or homework time or “mom catch me”, so I have to really force myself to buckle down when Im not in the mood to do so, so that the afternoons are free to spend with the boys.

What is the hardest part or have been some of your struggles starting your own business?

Cash is king and there is definitely no castle anywhere close by, so ubbaBubba is constantly fighting the cash flow fight. Luckily for me, I do have a very understanding husband who has helped me on many an occasion!

How do you balance your business and your family?

From about 2pm, I generally spend most afternoons fetching and taking the boys from school and sporting activities and then its homework and dinner and bath time. So by the time its 8pm, I haven’t had time to think about work. After that my husband and I chat and try not to fall asleep on the couch.

Its pretty difficult to get enough time into your business, especially when you work from home. I think that a lot of husbands wonder what we do all day and it’s often a case of ‘Honey, please will you go to the bank and do this and that needs doing too”… You have to get to a point where you just have say ‘NO, I need to focus on my business, its not just a hobby and it does need to be taken seriously if its to succeed’ It can be very frustrating and clear communication is essential.

What or whom has been the greatest support for you and your business?

My Husband and two of my very close friends. One of them also has her own business from home so she is a great sounding board. We have wonderful moans about how difficult it all can be and I don’t know how often we ask one another if we should just pack it all in and go and get ourselves a nine to five!!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I’d be more frugal, put less down to “school fees”

What advice can you give other Moms out there who are starting a new business?

Love what you do, be passionate about your product/service because if you aren’t, its going to be very difficult to stick it out when someone else comes along to compete with you or your product or when things get really difficult and challenging. I firmly believe that you will never be successful in business if you do not truly love what you do. Don’t take anything personally and put your ‘big girl panties on’, no one else is going to go and get it for you, you have to get it for yourself!

Email: michelle (at) ubbabubba.co.za
Website: www.ubbabubba.co.za

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