This week, my 5 Minutes with Interviewee is Marie Walker, another Mums at Work Club Member. She runs her own business branding and promotional merchandise company, My Club Stuff, along with her husband. She isn’t sure how they have survived working well together for over 10 years but indicates that it might be something to do with lots of giggles & him being a saint. Read her story below …
Tell me all about Marie, the person?
On my next birthday, I’ll be 50 but forever 21 in my head. I’m not sure where the white hair came from, but it has pretty much been there since I was 21. I’m a mum of 2, but as the youngest is 18, there isn’t any much ‘mummying’ required any more. Which is probably just as well – my husband was always better at it than me anyway!
I run my own business along with my husband. We laugh together every day and that’s been the secret to our success.
Tell me all about My Club Stuff & how you got started?
When we first moved over here from England, my husband was still running the business there and spending 3-4 days a week away. I started working on establishing a business base for us here, so that he didn’t have to keep doing that – at the time our children were only 2 & 4. That was about 15-16 years ago.
We work in the business branding and promotional merchandise industry and until last year, the personalised gift business. Simply put, promotional merchandise is any product that has been branded for your business. Either to wear, to advertise or to give away. The personalised gift was just an extension of that, on a one to one basis.
Then at the beginning of last year we made a major change and whilst essentially, we still do all the same things, we also developed software that gave us the ability to be able to offer a Print On Demand service. This means a business, club or group can easily sell their personalised merchandise with us doing the work for them and they don’t have to buy stock.
So we started a whole new business, marketing that towards clubs, charities and small groups This was something that we had in mind for years, being closely involved with our own local rugby club If you think of amateur sports clubs, they are usually run by volunteers and generally with little or no money, but always in need of funds. We can now provide a stress free way for them to sell their own club merchandise, to their members. Without having to buy any stock, or spend valuable time selling.
We take away the hassle of having to sort out an annual bulk order and then wait weeks for stuff to arrive. The concept works for any sort of business though. For example, we have a dog food company that uses us for pet related gift type stuff. The blankets, pet print t-shirts etc, just sit alongside the dog biscuits and meals. People may have heard of Zazzle, or Teespring or even Vistaprint – and we are the same. We then go one step further and give you your own online store too – so hopefully one day we will be just as big!
What’s your favorite season & why?
Winter – I love the thought of snow outside, whilst I am sitting in front of a real fire. I don’t like the rain, but don’t mind wrapping up against cold weather – and I love all things Christmas
Are you a Morning Person or Night Owl?
Absolutely a Night Owl, but married to an Early Bird
What do you call a fish with no eye? Fsh
Which would you choose & why – to be invisible for one day or be able to fly?
Be invisible for a day. Ooooh, the things I would find out about myself!
Describe your current mood using only movie titles ….
The Notebook, Death Wish, Summer Holiday
Going on holidays, do you arrive late or early to the airport?
Just about on time, rarely early! I try but the best I hope for is not to be too late
You open the fridge and there are only 3 ingredients there to make a main course meal. One is an orange, what would the other 2 ingredients be & what would you make me?
A duck and l’ – Duck a l’orange. Sorry. I’m a cook that likes a recipe to follow. I would be crap at that Masterchef challenge too
Favourite Harry Potter character & why?
Hermione – I’m pretty sure I was most like her when I was at school!
Favourite flavour of ice cream?
Mint Choc Chip
You are a time traveler, where would you visit & why?
Tudor England – Fascinating time in history, but obviously I would have to be rich or royalty. It might seem like it was all about the blokes, but there were some pretty feisty women that changed the course of history too.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which three items would you bring with you & why?
My kindle, a notebook and a pen As long as I have something to read and can write stuff down, I can occupy myself for hours
Define the perfect work/life balance?
I don’t think there is one. Anybody that runs their own business is running a constant mental To Do list, whenever they are not working. Then when they are working, they are trying to figure out a way to get more organised, so they can have more time away from work. Perfectionism comes when you just figure out a way to deal with it!
What has been your greatest challenge in life?
Starting a business from scratch again and feeling like a complete newbie, at the age of 48¾ There have certainly been obstacles along the way in business and I have made massive mistakes. The challenge has been not beating myself up about them, not to keep looking back and maybe most important of all, trying not to let past mistakes stop me from continuing to try and move forward.