Another Beautiful ‘Mumpreneur’ who will be show casing her shoes (which are to die for) this month at Spontiphoria for Small Business Month is Kate Tavener.
Tell us a little about Shoeq?
Shoeq (Shoe + Souq) is an online shoe store that aims to bring unique and interesting footwear to the UAE. We currently specialise in the Authentic Pons Avarcas which are traditional Spanish shoes all handmade on the island of Menorca. We stock a full range of shoes for babies, toddlers, children and adults and focus on matching styles for Mummy and Me. We are in discussions with a number of other shoe brands that are currently unavailable in the UAE and are planning to expand our range by the summer.
Did you ever think you would be a “Mumpreneur”?
No! I spent 20 years working in the corporate world building a career in Property Development, and until I had my children I pictured that I would spend the rest of my working life doing that. However when I had my first baby I just couldn’t face going back to work after only 45 days and leaving her in the care of another and so I made the very difficult decision to put my career on hold and focus on family. Having my two children so close together meant I didnt get much time to think about getting back to work in between them, but I was always itching to use my brain a bit more and have a go at doing something for myself. The Mumpreuner world is an amazing one and I’m so thankful to be part of it.
How did you go from the idea to actually making it for the marketplace? Was that a difficult process?
For me it happened very organically. The idea came to me last year when we were on holidays in Spain just after our second baby was born. I’d been on maternity leave for well over a year at that point and was itching to get back to doing something business like with my brain. We bought several pairs of the shoes while we were in Spain and I loved them so much I started thinking about whether I could make a little business out of it. We started discussions with the manufacturer of the Pons Avarcas just on a whim really and took things quite slowly to start with. I tested out the idea with a lot of my friends in Dubai and found I had a great response with many of them placing orders. Through word of mouth and social media the whole thing just grew and grew and six months later it is quite a busy little business. I had no idea that it would end up where it is when I first started it. Its been a lot of hard work but very rewarding.
What do you tell other women when they have a burning idea?
If you have the passion and the desire to make it work then just jump in and go for it. Don’t doubt yourself. Dubai can be a great place to get a small business off the ground as everyone is really supportive. Since I’ve started this business six months ago I’ve met an amazing group of women who are all doing the same thing and everyone pitches in together and helps each other. Make the most of your network and connections and always pay it forward when someone helps you out.
How do you balance your work and family life?
Its very difficult particularly as my children are still so young and my business is still so young. Its great that I have the flexibility to work around the children’s schedules however trying to work from home with two young children is not easy at all! At the moment it is a lot of late nights and working on weekends but its better to be busy than not in the business world!
You have 2 under 2… What does a typical day look like for you?
Mornings are quite hectic with getting everyone up and ready for the day. My 8 month old son has just started sleeping through the night so I’m enjoying getting a full nights sleep (most nights) for the first time in about two years. My 2 year old is at nursery three mornings a week so I try to cram as much work into those mornings as possible while my baby is having his morning sleep. Lunch time is quite hectic with collection the toddler from nursery and getting her home and into bed and the baby fed and then down for his afternoon nap. Then I try and get as much work done again in the afternoon while they are both sleeping. Once the afternoon nap is over then it is family time until the children are in bed for the night. I try to make sure I spend at least two nights a week relaxing with my husband but the reality right now is most nights I’m working at my computer until about midnight!
How do you unwind?
Exercise and travel are my two vices. Neither happen much right now but I try to make time for at least a quick yoga session or a jog or a walk with the kids every day. We have a long overdue family trip to Sri Lanka coming up soon and I can’t wait to relax and unwind and have some down time.
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
I was very proud of my career in Property Development and I would love to get back to it one day. Im a person that likes to just get stuff done and building buildings is a great way to do that. But right now I’m really proud of how far Shoeq has come in the last six months, from an idea to reality is pretty exciting .
What are you most proud of in your personal life?
My family. I have an amazing husband and we have two beautiful happy healthy children who are such a joy to us. I feel very blessed to be their Mummy and share my life with them.
Do you have any mentors/people that have inspired you along your journey? Who are they?
Yes I have several ladies that have really helped me out and inspired me in many ways. My mum is an amazing lady who taught me a lot in life. My husband, he is apart of his own start up business that only launched 18 months ago and is doing amazing things already. My friend Oliva Manner who runs Hello Chef is a big inspiration to me, in many ways I hope to follow in her footsteps. Another friend of mine Clair who is a business coach is always inspiring me with her work ethic and the things she is achieving. And of course my fellow Spontiphoria counter parts particularly Laura and Janine who are amazing mums building great businesses.
If you could give one piece of advice to Mums who are trying to live their dream of having it all, what would it be?
I’m not quite sure having it all exists! For me the best thing is to try and focus on living in the moment, and making sure you take the time to breath and enjoy it all. Our babies grow up so fast and it is important to not get too caught up in the day to day, take the time to enjoy the little things. And also, make sure to look after number one when you can!
Thank you Kate for sitting in the Mumpreneur’s hot seat! As you guys can tell – I am OBSESSED with Shoeq’s… We are slowly getting around to the idea of Mr Amazing wearing them – we could be waiting a while though so, In the mean time he can keep donating the funds for Mylittleloves and I to purchase!!
Come and meet Kate on Tuesday the 12th of April from 9-11 for #cakeonthesquare @spontiphoria