Catherine Redfern is the curator and publisher of the New Mama Welcome Pack – a virtual support package from 60 international contributors to help new mothers through the fourth trimester.
See how having a baby was the catalyst for Catherine to leave her stable 9-to-5 job and venture into the world of entrepreneurship!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
I’ve always been driven to create things, whether crafting or writing, outside of my day job. So the spark was there, but it was years before I finally acted on it and felt confident enough to really give full reign to my ideas.
In fact, like many women, it was maternity leave that forced the issue for me and made me finally take the plunge.
I finally resigned from my day job after deciding not to return to work after maternity leave. It was a huge wrench to leave as I’d been in the role for eight years – and very scary too – but I knew it was the right decision for me. I’d been working in an office-based job which I did enjoy, but which was getting to feel a bit too comfortable and I felt as if my inner soul was screaming at me to finally listen and do what my heart was telling me to do.
Actually, for several years before even meaning to get pregnant, I had started to read books about self-employment and online businesses rather obsessively. It was all I thought about on the way into work and on the way home! I followed various writers on this topic and took several courses, so it was something I wanted to try even though it felt like a tough decision to make.
What did you do before starting New Mama Welcome Pack?
My day job was in Information Management in the public sector. But I’d created many things in my spare time, including co-writing a book about feminism (Reclaiming The F Word); founding the biggest feminist website in the UK and running it for seven years, running a hiking website for Londoners, an arty printable planner, a free PDF for moms-to-be, and making and selling crafts online and at craft fairs.
Not all at the same time though, I should add!
What do you believe has contributed to your success?
It’s too early in my journey to claim success. But so far, the one thing that has definitely helped is finding a community of like-minded people through doing a course online. I don’t know where I would be without them to encourage me. In fact, I would go as far as to say it’s the one place where I feel most comfortable being truly me.
How are you currently growing your business?
I’d say I have several income streams (a portfolio you might say) rather than a business.
It was a strategic decision to focus at first on passive income products, rather than something like making handmade books or freelance consultancy work in my profession. This way, I could put in the hard work at the beginning, but then put in place a trickle of income that could grow into bigger streams over time, and allow me to build on top of that by creating more things as I felt called to.
Essentially it’s playing a long term game (like planting seeds and waiting for harvest!) rather than getting in money fast at the start.
Of course, I am fortunate to be able to support myself while I do this and immensely grateful for that.
At the moment I’m focusing on recruiting affiliates for the New Mama Welcome Pack. I love the concept of affiliate marketing! As the creator of the product, it feels so wonderful to be able to give back to people who have kindly put people in touch with my creations. Everyone is happy, and everyone wins.
I aim to make the affiliate relationship rewarding, profitable, and fun, and I’ve put a lot of effort into trying to make it very appealing.
It’s actually quite hard to recruit affiliates for a new product. The vast majority of advice out there is on how to be an affiliate marketer rather than from the other perspective. But the best piece of advice I found was to treat your affiliate information page as a sales page of its own. So I did things like make videos for it, to try to make it as helpful and appealing as possible.
Next, I’m working on making a huge free e-book for new mamas which will provide tremendous value and comfort to a new mama (and also, of course, promote the Pack and its contributors); the aim is to get it downloaded tens of thousands of times.
What is your best marketing strategy?
Be generous, and approach everything from a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity.
For the New Mama Welcome Pack, I recruited 60 contributors from 13 countries. It’s a mammoth international collaboration, and we all share in its success. But it involved a big element of trust and generosity from the contributors; trust in me as the organizer and generosity to contribute something to it believing in the eventual benefits that would come.
I approached some people who just couldn’t see the benefits of taking part. They seemed to be coming from a position of keeping things tight to their chest, and couldn’t see how taking part might grow their business in several ways.
I don’t agree with working for free, but I do believe in planting generous seeds that will grow – maybe in unexpected ways – in time (I keep coming back to that metaphor!)
For example, our contributors have gained in many ways from joining this project, by working together and supporting each other through doing interviews and showcasing each others’ work. We can all grow together and help each other out.
What advice do you have for new moms who want to start their own business?
1. Choose something you are passionate about. You need to be driven from deep within yourself to keep going day after day.
2. If other moms have done it, then so can YOU.
3. Start now. There’s no time like the present!
On those “don’t feel like it days,” what motivates you to keep going?
It’s a tough one for sure – especially because we are working alone a lot of the time.
This is where working collaboratively is a huge driver. Announcing your projects to the world or telling others what you are going to create means you HAVE to deliver them! In my case, I had 60 women who were waiting for me to deliver what I’d promised. So that was a huge motivator!
I also like having several different and totally unrelated income streams to switch between. This stops me getting bored. I try to focus on one of them for two weeks or a month, but then I work on the other. I find it sparks off ideas in my mind for all my projects!
As a mom, how do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
My baby is a toddler at the moment, and I found that when he started to have a regular nap time things got easier.
At the moment I’m writing this on the computers at my local gym while the baby is in the creche. We come here three times a week for 90 minutes each time. I run to the computers, FOCUS HARD, and work, work, work. I do the same during nap times, too.
I find having the short deadlines focuses you to be really productive and focus on what will have the most impact rather than messing about on social media!
I also learned this from Jana Kingsford (www.mumsjugglingact.com): it actually helps you get into a productive ‘flow’ state when you are forced to stop working, get away from the computer and go for a walk outside and look at the snails, birds, and ants. When you come back to work again, you’ll be better for it.
… And on that note, I’m going to have to sign off, collect my toddler, and go look at the ants!
Thanks to Catherine Redfern for sharing her story!
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