A violent partner and a new born baby led one mum to create a flourishing online business, writes Emma Connolly
A YOUNG mum who had to flee a violent partner in Manchester has set up a new life in West Cork and turned her life around by launching an online baby business.
Sarah Blakeman and her then unborn baby left her life in Manchester in 2015 and faced an uncertain future as she moved in with her parents outside Clonakilty.
I had to leave for my safety,’ 22 year old Sarah explained. ‘At 36 weeks pregnant I moved to Cork, where I had my daughter Talihina.’
However when her daughter was three months old, Sarah noticed a rash on her leg.
‘When I took her clothing off it looked itchy and appeared to have rubbed her leg. I dressed her in an organic babygrow I had received as a gift and the rash had disappeared within three days. I continued to dress Talihina in this organic babygrow and went online to look for more.’
But Sarah found there were large minimum orders to get free shipping to this country, coupled with lengthy delays.
So the enterprising young women took things into her own hands and decided to launch an online shop selling organic baby wear called Talihina’s Boutique.
She felt there was a gap in the baby market, while also being confident the business model was something she could combine with being a mum.
‘I wanted to build a business where Irish mums could choose their clothes, place their order and have the clothes shipped within five days, with free delivery throughout the whole of Ireland with no minimum spend. I have a lot of customers who buy our organic clothes for children who suffer from sensitive skin or eczema, as organic cotton doesn’t contain the chemicals normally used in the cotton growing process.’
Initially Sarah stocked newborn to 12 months – but to meet demand for larger sizes, and stocks clothes up to four years.
There’s also organic blankets and teddies available from her online shop.
Sarah, who used to work on a horse farm, admits this is a completely new direction, and also a gamble, for her.
So far everything she’s earned has been reinvested in the business along with her savings to cover costs like setting up the FB page, her website and promotion.
But necessity is the mother of all invention – and with a young child she admits her options for work were limited.
Currently she updates her social media during Talihina’s naps; packs her orders when she sleeps and takes her along with her to the post office. Her parents are also very supportive
‘I’m lucky Talihina sleeps for 12 hours a night,’ says Sarah. But she isn’t afraid to admit the business was slow to take off – and for the first six months she only had three orders as she anxiously looked at her spare room full of stock.
‘But now suddenly things have gone boom – it’s really taken off,’ she said.
Quietly ambitious, Sarah plans to expand and stock more brands while also launching her own line having sourced an Irish designer and a factory in India.
The plan would be to grow her online presence – and also try to sell into Irish shops.
Her advice to anyone in a situation like hers is to be resourceful – if one approach doesn’t work, try another to get the name out there.
‘The online community is supportive – but I would have sent out around 100 emails to people to try to promote the business and only got a handful of replies back.
It’s frustrating – but important not to give up. If you’re resourceful, you can make it work.’