Each month we will interview local mums who have started their own businesses and find out a bit more about their world…

Name: Lucy Oates-Dibnah

Business: Boutique and Breakfast – http://boutiqueandbreakfast.com/

Family: Husband Jonny, daughter Poppy (3), dogs Bobbie and Wolfie, and cat Missy.

Top tip for something to do with your family that is free, or costs very little: Go for a walk; it costs nothing, it’s good for you and kids love it! My little girl has accompanied us on our daily dog walks since she born, whatever the weather, and loves spending time outside. We try to turn it into an adventure – sometimes we take a picnic or go wildlife spotting and other times we collect natural treasures, such as pretty feathers, pine cones or shells from the beach.

Best way to relax once the kids are in bed: Is it wrong to say with a big glass of wine? Oh well, I’ve said it now! Ideally with a huge bubbly bath and a glossy magazine to pore over.


Q: Firstly, tell us about Boutique & Breakfast. My friend and business partner, Kirsten Barnitt, and I launched Boutique and Breakfast in October 2011 and it has quickly become the leading online guide to boutique accommodation across the length and breadth of the country. We occupy the top spot on Google when you search for ‘boutique B&Bs’ – a fact that we’re both immensely proud of!

Q: How did the idea for Boutique & Breakfast come about? Kirsten and I both love to travel, and are also interested in interior design. We’ve both been disappointed in the past after booking accommodation online and discovering, when we arrived, that it didn’t live up to our expectations. We felt we could do better ourselves, so we handpicked what we think are the most stylish boutique B&Bs across the country. We’ve since added boutique self-catering properties to the website, as well as restaurants with rooms and inns offering boutique accommodation.

Q: Did you have experience in running your own business?  How did you start? I’ve been self-employed since 2005, working as a freelance journalist and communications consultant, a field I’ve worked in for the last 20 years. For both Kirsten and I, Boutique and Breakfast started out as a sideline from our day jobs but it has grown beyond our expectations.

Q: What’s your advice for fellow ‘mumpreneurs’? Go for it! Working for yourself allows you much greater flexibility, especially when your children are small. I cram most of my work into the days when my daughter is at pre-school, but also work for a couple of hours most evenings, from Monday to Thursday. Although it can be a juggling act, it has ensured that I’ve not missed out on attending groups and play dates with her on the days when she’s home with me.

Q: What do you think has been the key to Boutique & Breakfast’s success? I think it’s the fact that we only choose to feature properties that we’d want to stay in ourselves and have stuck to our strict selection critiera from day one. We frequently turn away properties that don’t make the grade.

Q: What makes Boutique & Breakfast different? The fact that there’s nothing else quite like it – there are lots of listings and booking sites, but they don’t apply selection criteria. Therefore, you might find one nice B&B listed among scores of dodgy ones! We’ve done the hard work for you, so you don’t have to trawl through lots of rubbish ones to find what you’re looking for.

Q: What are your plans for the future? We want to grow the business further without compromising our commitment to quality. For us, it’s not about the number of properties on the website but about their quality. It’s what we’ve become known for and we’re determined that, as we grow, that won’t change.

Q: What’s it like to work at Boutique & Breakfast? Unconventional, but it works. Quite often, when Kirsten and I meet up, there will be one or more little people present. Or, if we try to grab a quick catch-up over the phone, you can guarantee there’ll be someone in the background yelling ‘Muuuum!’.

If you have set up your own business and would like to be featured in East Riding Mums meets please email lucy@eastridingmums.com