We are Tracey and Laura. We are mamas. We are professionals. We are best friends. We are Baby Abode. This is our journey…..
Laura and I have been best friends since we were teenagers. We went to school together but first became close when we took up part time work at our local leisure centre at the age of 16. We trained as life guards and secured shift work to go alongside studying at 6th form college. We studied, worked and played hard. We would attend college during the day and then head off to work afterwards. Once 11pm came and our shift was over we would get changed in the sauna changing rooms and head out on the town for drinks and dancing, every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night without fail! I don’t know how we had the energy, but we did and it was great!
Those 2 years cemented our friendship and throughout the next decade and beyond we have both travelled down different paths but always remained very close. We both embarked on professional careers and attended university to study for our respective degrees. We would meet up on student nights out in Newcastle and would more often than not end up crashing at Halls or at one of the student houses….not great when I had to get myself to work for 8am the next day! Oooops! Our favourite nights were the fancy dress nights, we were policewomen, nurses, devils, OOOOH YES we did all the clichés and we became known for our unique outfits as we made everything ourselves and they were always exactly the same.
We both met our husbands when we were young, Laura was in her late teens and I was in my early 20’s; our husbands have been friends for years and in turn were part of our wider friendship group.
Since finishing uni and settling into our jobs we worked hard within our careers; we secured promotions, had amazing holidays, bought our own houses and got married. We were naturally each other’s Maid of Honour and arranged hen do’s in Marbella, Ibiza, Leeds and Newcastle – 1 local and 1 away do each…..(more than one hen do is essential!)
And then the next chapter in our lives was about to begin. I remember the night I told Laura I was pregnant; we went out for some tea, I’d been on holiday for a couple of weeks so we hadn’t seen each other for a while. I couldn’t wait to tell her as I’d been keeping to myself for weeks. I blurted out the words “I’m pregnant”……….she broke into a massive smile and responded without hesitation with “so am I”!!! Then came the questions, how far along are you, have you had your scan, how are you feeling?? It was like a scene from a movie. We worked out that we were only 4 weeks apart! We couldn’t have planned it if we tried!! My little one was due on 18th December and Laura’s on 16th January. How amazing was it going to be to have our babies so close in age and to experience maternity leave together?!
From then on, as if we weren’t already joined at the hip, we did everything together. We exercised together, went to antenatal classes, had mocktail nights out and shared all the finer details of our pregnancies with each other. It was great to have someone to relate to and who was going through the same thing! Questions such as “have your boobs started leaking?” became standard conversation between both of us.
I was ready to explode by Christmas day 2014 and finally on the 28th December after being induced the previous day, I gave birth to my little boy Freddie. He was 10 days late and I was relieved that he was finally here. Laura gave birth 3 weeks later to her little girl Una, bang on her due date. They were both fast asleep for their first ever meeting; it was the most precious moment ever.
Maternity leave is great isn’t it?!! We both took 12 months off work and we would spend our days going out for tea and cake, we had play dates at each other’s houses, we attended baby groups – twinkle time, music and rhyme, stay and play – you name it we tried it. We attended Water Babies together every week for the whole year we were off work. It was great having someone to share these experiences with, it meant we were never alone and always had someone to ask for advice, someone to panic with when things weren’t going our way, or someone to share the more difficult times with. There’s nothing we didn’t share during those months off together and we had such an amazing time.
We both returned to work after Christmas 2015, both feeling completely deflated. It was after a few months that we each started looking for something more, something that could ignite some passion and purpose for us. We were separately researching ways to set up our own businesses. Without even knowing it, we were both doing background research at the same time and both had the same goal in mind. We both had trouble designing and decorating or babies nurseries and we really struggled find the cool quirky pieces we had in mind to fill our babies rooms with quality, joy and beauty. We both knew that we weren’t alone in this plight and knew there was a market for unique quirky items for babies and children. Not only that, we are both passionate about interiors in general and love to decorate and dress our homes with beautiful things.
It wasn’t until I posted a survey on Facebook as part of some market research that things started to come together. I received a phone call from Laura a couple of hours after posting the survey and the gist of the conversation was “I’ve been thinking of doing the exact same thing….should we do it together?”
We were so excited! We immediately met up for lunch that very day to discuss our own thoughts and plans. They were strikingly similar and we were both at the same stage in our research and planning. It was the perfect time to get together and work as a team. We recognised that it would be difficult for us to be friends as well as business competitors if we embarked on separate business journeys. We knew that joining forces could only make us stronger. We tell each other all the time that we wouldn’t be where we are now without one another.
Since that lunch we have moved at an incredible pace. We engaged with a local business mentor called Full Circle. They were a government funded organisation set up to mentor start-up businesses. Their advice and resources were all grant funded and they became invaluable to us in the early days; neither of us is business minded and we have had to learn as we’ve gone along. We couldn’t recommend the use of these types of resources enough to anyone looking to set up their own business – there are government grants available for business mentors and if you are on a (very) limited budget like we were, you should make use of all of the free advice and resources that you can – save your money for your brand, website and stock!
Over the last 5 months we have attended trade fairs and manufacturing fairs, we’ve researched suppliers and manufacturers, we’ve chosen our name, developed our logo, branding and website and we’ve stocked up on incredibly beautiful things to fill our Baby Abode webshop. We’ve tried our hardest not to let any of this interfere with spending time with the babies and even though we both only work part time, our days off are for quality time spent with our little ones. We fit everything in when the babies are asleep; we work on evenings and weekends after bedtime and during nap times. It’s important to us that we don’t jeopardise any time with our children as although we are determined and driven about our business, we will never get these precious days back with our babies.
We’ve had so much fun along the way; after all, this journey is not about stress, we have enough of that in our jobs and our day to day lives. This business is all about fun, excitement and passion. Our first business trip to London ended with us missing our train home as we were too busy sipping Gin and Tonic in the sun on the Southbank; the night we were brainstorming our business names ended with more Gin and no business name; we have spent nights sipping prosecco and laughing a lot. It’s safe to say that our friendship is not just intact, it is stronger.
When we first started on this journey we thought we would end up being business partners who are friends; the reality is that we are friends who are business partners and that is a powerful thing. We seem to bounce off each other incredibly well and we have the same vision for our business. We trust each other to make decisions but at the same time we value each other’s opinion so much that little gets approved without us both casting our eye over it. Our relationship and business partnership will develop over time and I have no doubt that we have started as we mean to go on – with fun, passion, dreams and ambition.
Tracey and Laura x