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

Name: Jenny Balfour Business: Independent Stylist for Stella and Dot www.stelladot.co.uk/jenn

Family: Married to Paul, with Polly 2 and Nellie 8 Months and Billy the Staffordshire bull terrier (8)

Top tip for something to do with your family that is free, or costs very little: One of our favourite things to do during summer months is days out at the park with a picnic. I hate being stuck indoors, so as long as it’s not raining, we love to get outdoors and tire the kids out. It’s free and the dog can come too! East Park is one of our favourites-my toddler loves seeing the animals and feeding the ducks.

Best way to relax once the kids are in bed: I have a really short attention span when it comes to television, my guilty pleasure is Coronation Street but my husband hates it so we like to work our way through a box set when we get a chance to sit down together. I’ve learnt in recent years that exercise is a massive stress release for me and helps me switch off from work and re-energise so I make sure I get to the gym at least 2-3 times a week.

table shot

Q: Firstly, tell us about Stella and Dot.

As an independent stylist for Stella and Dot I sell our boutique range of jewellery and accessories via pop up events, home parties and online through my website. Home parties, as well as being a fun get together with friends, are a great for customers to see and try on our collections and get styling tips. Our hostesses are rewarded with free jewellery and get to shop at a serious discount. We have jewellery to suit all styles and budgets-half of the collection is under £40. I also sign up new stylists who I mentor and coach, I am hoping to build a team of stylists.

Q: How did the idea for Stella and Dot come about?

I was a customer at a Stella and Dot party whilst I was still on maternity leave after having my second baby. It was the first I’d really seen or heard of the brand, I was instantly hooked, and keen to know more about it. I found myself thinking, ‘I could do this’. The stylist was so relaxed and seemed to genuinely love her work, I learned she has managed to replace her full time wage by working part time around her daughter with Stella and Dot, in just 8 months. I was inspired. A few weeks later after doing more research into the company, I paid the £169 to sign up, ordered my first samples and booked my first party!

business in a box

Q: Did you have experience in running your own business? How did you start?

I have been a Beauty Therapist for 10 years and set up my own salon business in 2009. After having my first baby in 2013 I could not bring myself to put her in nursery whilst working the hours I used to, I knew I’d be missing out on such a special time. I was in a real dilemma so went mobile, being a full time mummy by day and working evenings and weekends. I was soon pregnant with my second baby, it was exhausting, and I suffered with pelvic girdle pain, the last month of my pregnancy I could barely walk. I still suffer with my back now and I knew something had to change, I was determined to be a full time mummy, and to be fit and healthy for my kids. Just as I was wondering ‘what’s next?’ Stella and Dot came into my life.

Q: What’s it like to work at Stella and Dot?

With 2 babies at home I have to be organised. I love that mornings are dedicated to my girls, I catch up on emails and phone calls in an afternoon whilst they nap. My parties are usually evenings, so when my husband gets in from work he takes over with the girls’ dinner and bath time whilst I pack up my jewels and head out to work! I always process customers’ orders as soon as I get in so they get their orders really quickly, and follow up with emails and new bookings the following day. I pride myself on great customer service, the experience should be as great as the product itself and at Stella and Dot we offer a delight guaranteed!

STELLA (00000002)

Q: What’s your advice for fellow ‘mumpreneurs’?

Make sure your business works for you, love what you do and it won’t feel like work. I’ve had to accept that my to do list will never get completed at the end of a day, but prioritising tasks and assigning set time frames to complete them keeps me on top of my work load, when you are self-employed, no one will be checking up on you or setting you goals, you have to be motivated. Be loud and proud about your business, enthusiasm is infectious. Be yourself and be genuine, if you believe in what you are doing then others will believe in you too.

Q: What do you think has been the key to your success?

I make sure I am consistent so that I get my bookings in the diary and leave nothing to chance. I make a personal connection with my customers and they get fantastic service, and that goes a long way. My Dad set up his own business when he was 25 and it is still going strong 35 years later, and that’s not luck its hard work and personal service, he’s a great role model. I am lucky to have a very supportive husband and family around me. Getting to spend every day with my beautiful girls, as well as contributing to the family income keeps me motivated, they are the reason I am doing this!

Q: What makes Stella and Dot different?

Our product. Stella and Dot design team are headed by Chief Creative Officer Blythe Harris who has worked for Cartier, DeBeers and Banana republic. We have necklaces that can be worn 17 different ways and earrings that offer 6 different looks. You just don’t get that versatility on the high street. Fashion Journalists love us, we have recently featured in Vogue, Haarpers Bazaar and In Style to name a few. It’s a privilege to represent Stella and Dot, I am genuinely in love with this brand! I’ve also been blown away by the support and camaraderie of my fellow stylists, although we are all self-employed, there is such a sense of being part of a team and wanting and helping each other to succeed, it’s great to be a part of it.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

It is such early days for me that I really feel the sky is the limit. I have set myself the goal of achieving Associate Stylist which is the start of me building my own team. This business allows you to be 100% flexible, working as much or as little as you choose and setting your own goals. They offer great incentives and rewards along the way, on top of the commission. For now, as long as I get to be the one looking after my children every day, I will put in as much as I can to make this business succeed. The future is very exciting!

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