Welcome to FJ's special feature on local women-owned businesses! We are thrilled to have joined hands with some inspirational brands and we are so excited to share their stories with you.
1. What is the name of your business and how long has it been around?
Tiger Lily Tots was initially launched in 2009 but after a small period of hibernation we relaunched in August 2016.
2. How did the idea for your business come about?
At the time I was running a small bridal studio and winters were often quiet for my stitching ladies. In addition, I had 2 small children and was fully aware that there wasn’t a big variety of decor items available for little people. So, we launched Tiger Lily Tots in an attempt to solve both problems!
3. Can you provide us with a description of your business?
We’re a small, hands-on business made up of a group of moms all trying to make a difference for our own families as well as for other moms. We make a variety of products (decor, toys & accessories) that we hope not only spark joy but that also make life a little easier, whether it be through helping your baby to learn to self soothe, helping your little one to learn through play or making life a bit more comfy for your little one. Our products include locally stitched items as well as some silicone products and a few wooden toys that we paint in-house.
4. Who is the person(s) behind your business and what is your background (ie education, work experience, life experience)?
I (Sam) am the driving force behind the business. I love little people and I love making things. I’ve been stitching things since I was in primary school and then went on to study fashion design and pattern drafting a bit later in life. I’ve also always enjoyed using my hands as well as working out how things function which is pretty useful when designing new products. After school I studied accounts and had my own bookkeeping business for a few years which has provided a fairly unique skillset in terms of being comfortable with numbers as well as the production side of things. My 2 amazing kids are a little older now but they have been my inspiration since the beginning … the cherry on top is that now they are able to help me in my business and often add valuable input!
5. Do you have a team behind the scenes or are you a one woman show? If you have a team, please share a little with us about them?
Tiger Lily would be nothing without the team work (clients included!). Our team has changed a bit over the pandemic period but before lockdown we were a team of 5 … Sarah (has a little boy who’s just turned 2) does most of the stitching and is assisted by Love (also has a little boy who is 2) in the stitching department. Ruth (has 2 little boys aged 3 and 1) helps bring our Cuddle Bunnies to life and Lizzie (has 4 older children ranging from 12 upwards) helps with making tassels, mobiles, garlands, swings and assists me in the studio with packaging etc. During lockdown Naomi (Sarah’s sister and also a mom to 3) and Kami (who used to help me with the bridal wear and now a granny!) have joined our team. At this stage everyone is still working from home for safety reasons.
6. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life? How do you balance work and family?
I must admit that I struggle with balance as I tend to work pretty hard! I love the flexibility that entrepreneurship provides but it is definitely not an easy path. Entrepreneurship has allowed my to be around my kids constantly … they spent so much time ‘working’ with us in the bridal studio and while it is sometimes tricky balancing little people and work, especially in the early years it is a decision that my husband and I would not change if we could do things again. I started working with a coach last year which is helping tremendously in terms of working out what is truly important to me and sticking to those values, thereby gradually working towards a little more balance between work and family.
7. What motivates you?
My family, my team and product development.
8. How do you define success?
When clients provide feedback (written or pictures) of how much they love or appreciate products they’ve purchased and not having to juggle the cash flow (still working on this!).
9. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The realisation that Tiger Lily had grown to a point where I could confidently take a leap of faith and resign from my job.
10. What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Doing things my way ;)
11. What are your future aspirations for this business?
While Tiger Lily has grown organically over the last few years, I hope to be able to intensify the growth in coming months. We have some amazing new products in the pipe line and the end goal is to keep providing products that assist and provide joy … both to clients but also to my little team and their families.
12. If you had a magic wand, which are the three things you would change in the world?
1) Equality for everyone,
2) children being able to spend their formative years with their parents,
3) more time
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