My daughter gets inspired by knowing I'm my own boss
Mumtreprenuer: A women who takes care of home and handles business. Just like many mothers, they are often asked: “How do you balance it all?” The shopping, the dinner, the washing, the freshly ironed school uniforms, the homework and the school run. Not to mention the sleepless nights after a nightmare or an upset stomach…phew! I have to salute every mother who has put their child’s needs before their own. The mums who have hustled and worked countless hours just to provide the best they can for their offspring. The mums who have been brave enough to take a step and put their talents and passions to good use to build a legacy and inspire and challenge people at the same time.
One of those lovely women is Audrey Wagaba. A young single mother to Elisha, 7, and founder and owner of fashion boutique Auders Looks. Read on as she tells us how it’s done.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I’ve been working in retail for almost 12 years. I studied business management for six years. During that time, I had the opportunity to experience the fashion industry. I worked on a jewellery concession in Debenhams. After my three-month probation, I was quickly promoted to manager. My employee could see that I was passionate, had good customer service skills and loved merchandising. I managed the jewellery concession at Westfield White City, two in Wimbledon and the Oxford Street branch. I then went on to study an NVQ Level 3 in mentoring and managing full-time.
How did you handle that?
In my final year of study, I found it hard to split the time because I was working 40 hours and studying full-time. I paid a lot of money for Elisha to be at nursery. At night I’d pick her up from my friend’s house. Sometimes, I wouldn’t see Elisha as she’d be sleeping. I’d only see her in the morning and at night. When Elisha was a lot younger, the separation was hard for us but now she’s used to me going to work. As a single parent, don’t think that working is something you can’t do. You can. Yes, it’s heart breaking for parents to be away from their kids and missing them. But it’s either I worked and had money to provide Elisha with food, clothes and tuition or spend all my time with her and have nothing to give her.
Good point. What did you do after working as a manager and studying?
I started working at a hearing aid centre as a branch co-coordinator. It was something I did until I knew what I wanted to do in business. It took longer than it should’ve done because I got comfortable and always had something to do when I got home. But it got to the point where I said to myself: “Hold up, it’s been two years and I haven’t done anything.” By then my contract at my job finished, it was a push for me to go and do something. That’s when I started Auders Looks.
Tell me about Auders Looks
Auders Looks is an online boutique. It put UK and internationally based brands all in one place. We stocked both women and menswear and catered for ages 18 to 35.
The first few weeks were the hardest. Nobody was using the site or liking the posts on social networks. But I soon realised that I had to pay attention to detail. I added the names and prices of the pieces so people could go and search for them on the website. I noticed that people used the website more once I communicated with them. Recently, we’ve had some challenges with brands not keeping their end of the deal. It cost us more money than we were making. Due to this, we are going solo and bringing in designs created by my friend and I. We will also have other collections that we will buy solely from the wholesalers. They will be sold solely from Auders Looks. We also plan to have a line for young girls. Next autumn, we will be opening up our new online store as well as a physical stall so watch this space!
Why made you decide to create Auders looks?
I wanted something on my own. Initially I wanted to have my own clothes. I was researching different retailers and thought I could maybe customise my own stuff but then I realised, it had already taken me 2 years to start something and I wanted to start progressing. I started Auders Looks because it’s easier to find everything on one page. If you want to buy something from Coast or Next, you have to do separate searches. But on Auders Looks everything is in one place. It’s easier for everyone. I also knew I needed to do something that I could give to Elisha. I know she looks up to me. She gets inspired knowing that I’m my own boss. She doesn’t want to see me working for someone else. My daughter is good at helping me out at home. She looks at pictures of the clothes and picks out colours she likes. If you’re a parent and you have a business, getting your children involved is a lot easier for them.
Tell me about the process of set up. How long did it take you to initially get Auders Looks the ground running?
The longest thing about setting up was getting the different brands and companies to agree to stock their product on the website. They wanted to check it out first. I got many rejections saying: “Your website doesn’t suit our products” or “the traffic isn’t high enough”. Many websites wouldn’t work with me until I was registered. It took over a month to register the site. I had to sacrifice a lot. Every time I got some money, I’d put it towards the website and graphics. Now, the companies have started giving me items. The only things I paid for was their images, the website and the designs. The only pictures I don’t pay for are the ones with nobody in it.
So how are you balancing working on a new Auders Looks, Elisha, and taking care of home?
I built a timetable for Elisha and I. During school time, Elisha knows when she comes home she has to do the housework. If we do it together, it gets done quicker. For an hour we do homework, then at 7.30, Elisha goes to bed. That’s when I do my work.
In the holidays, I make sure I keep Elisha busy all day. When we get home, she eats, has a bath and goes to bed. Then, around 8.30 I can do my work.
Many mums are scared to venture out into something out of fear they won’t manage. What advice do you have for them?
Work with your children. If you’re scared of not being able to manage your time, build a timetable that works for you. Remember what you do isn’t just for yourself, but your child also. When your children are at a suitable age, and depending on what kind of business you do, get them involved in whatever you’re doing. Not only does it instil a working mentality, it enables them to realise: “Mummy doesn’t just do this for me, mummy and I do this together”.
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