Published on October 5th, 2013 | by Kelly Rose Bradford0
Lone parents mean business: Wendy Lavender from Kids One Stop Shop
We’re passionate about promoting lone parents in business on Parenting Solo, and will be regularly publishing Q&As with entrepreneurial mums and dads. We kick off with an interview with Wendy Lavender, single mum to a six-year-old daughter, and founder of family and children’s store, kidsonestopshop.
When did you become a single parent?
I have been by myself for a few years now. My daughter was 18-months-old when I separated, and is now six.
What career were you in at the time?
I was a consultant and am still in contract management, so had always run my own business. After 10 years I fancied doing something else, and in turn spending time with my daughter.
Is it harder for lone parents to be self employed/entrepreneurs?
No, I think you just have to be more organised and know your goals – it’s no different if you are with someone or not!
How do you juggle running your business with parenting?
I actually work harder now than I have ever done! However, as my daughter is getting older, I work around her. You would think that now she is in school it would be easier, but it’s not! The days are shorter and so it is even more of a juggling act. I have to say having a close network of amazing friends makes a huge of a difference to me, though.
What is the biggest challenge?
Trying to do everything, because apart from my friends and family, it is all down to me.
Unfortunately my daughter does not see that much of her dad, so she is with me all the time. I would never change things though – you just have to learn to adapt. Sometimes that will mean working while I watch her at gymnastics, or taking a call while we are on our way somewhere. You just have to make it work, and work hard and be organised.
What is your biggest fear as a lone parent?
I fear being by myself forever, and also being responsible for all the income. It has become more apparent now as my daughter gets older that she needs a father figure in her life, and it is hard as time goes on to find someone. I think you have to rebuild trust, and it is for me as much as her – if they are not right for both of us then it won’t ultimately work.
How do you think lone parents are generally perceived by society?
I definitely think that you are looked at differently. Some people – sadly, good friends – you lose along the way, and also people do not invite you to some events because you are single. It’s hard, but you eventually realise who your true friends are, and they know you for who you are. I would say – to other people – if you have not been there, try and help as it is not easy! You have no one to speak to, and even when you do have good friends and family, on an evening when all you want is a hug or to talk things through with someone you can’t!
Are you a one off amongst your family/social circle or do you have lots of lone parent contacts/support network?
I have lots of friends who are by themselves, but none of my family are separated. You have to make the best of what it is, and just keep striving forward.
What advice would you give other lone parents who want to start their own business?
Really think through your idea, look at competitors and make sure you keep abreast of the market at all times. You need to have a very clear business plan, and most of all understand your costs. In most instances things cost twice as much as you anticipate! Also make sure that you have a plan of where you want to get to – you need to think long term as well as short term. Having a vision is great, but keep to budget and understand your margins. Focus on what works, and if you don’t get it right first time learn, and try again. We all make mistakes – we just have to learn from them.
Do you think there should be more help for single parents who want to go into business?
I think if there were grants available for start ups or for getting you to the next level then that would be great, not just for single parents, but for all small businesses.
What was the inspiration behind Kids One Stop Shop?
I have always loved fashion and when I had my daughter I wanted to pursue my passion which was finding niche children’s products all in one place. Like everything, my idea has evolved and adapted with the market over the last four years. We now have a great one stop shop for all your children’s needs that can all be purchased through a single checkout. We have everything from birth to beyond, and try to offer a wide variety of goods. We are growing all the time, and working with over 150 brands so far and taking on around 10 new ones per week. We want people to be able to find everything for their children in one place. We also have a great bloggers network and a parent zone which we are expanding.