Mini Marmalade, a home-based party-plan business offering products for mums to be, and babies and children up to five, is now franchising.
Franchisees, who will operate along-side an existing national network of consultants, sell through party-plan events and other outlets, such as mother and toddler groups, and nursery andpre-school events.
The major attractions of the system are that it is flexible and can easily be arranged to fit around the franchisee’s family commitments. Entry costs are low and the business doesn’t call for any working capital and stockholding.
Franchises are available from as little as £2,500, which makes it probably the cheapest in the market. In addition, there is a flexible interest-free payment option which makes entry even easier for those with little capital.
Launching the franchise, Kirsty Bell, who founded the business in 2009, said: “The first years of parenthood are fun, but also challenging. There is limited time to shop for those essential items and gifts.
“We wanted to make these early years even more fun and hopefully easier by bringing together great products for pregnancy and little people that could be purchased at a one-stop shop in an enjoyable social environment.
“Little people are at the forefront of our mind when choosing products that are fun, eco-friendly, unique and make our jobs as parents easier.”
She points out that the UK birth rate at 725,440 is now at its highest level since 1972 and that there has been a year-on-year increase since 2001. “This is creating a wealth of market opportunities for those who join us,” she added.
The attributes she is looking for in prospective franchisees are enthusiasm and personality, motivation and tenacity to succeed, customer service skills, the ability to motivate others, and knowledge or an interest in baby and children’s products. Sales experience would be helpful, but is not essential, she says.
Aimee Seeley, a member of the consultant network, explained why she joined the system.
“Mini Marmalade gave me the chance to meet women like myself who want to enjoy time with their friends in the relaxed shopping venue of their homes.
“After hosting my own Mini Marmalade party, I signed up to become a franchisee. I had no party-plan experience, but the specialist and organic products are unique and so different from anything else on the market that they just sell themselves,” said Seeley.
Bell founded the business in Norwich after being a mum of two (Millie now six and Henry now four) to regain her financial independence whilst being a mum at home.
“I know at first hand how wonderful it is to be a mum, but also how challenging the first few years can be,” she said. “So I wanted to create a friendly on-stop shopping environment where mums could relax and share tips and advice, whilst purchasing fantastic children’s products or earning a flexible income as a consultant.”
Bell admits that setting up the business has not all been easy. “The hardest part has been the lack of time. As any mum will know, having children takes up plenty of time, and combining that with starting a new business is difficult. Almost all my work was done after the children were in bed in the beginning, but then again I love the flexibility and the freedom it gives me to spend with my family.
“You have to work very hard, persevere and have a strong sense of belief in yourself and your products and concept, especially at the beginning. It is also vital to network with other small business owners, and draw on the skills of friends, family and people around you,” said Bell.
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