My hat goes off to any working mother, and when I say ‘working’ I mean working as anything! From working as an investment banker through to working as a riding instructor. From running her own business, to working at home, even if that’s just up-keeping the home. If you are a mum, the fact that you fit in anything else in the the little time you have between; changing nappies, wiping bottoms, wiping noses, making bottles, breastfeeding, pumping milk, cleaning clothes, doing the food shop, preparing meals, picking up kids from school, dropping off to nursery, carting babies around to Baby Groups… and the list goes on, totally amazes me!
I have been lucky enough to be brought up by some inspirational working women in my lifetime (I look up to my mummy, step-mum and all my aunts in awe of their achievements as mothers and as working women), and now stand alongside the likes of my cousin Olivia, who is smashing it not only as an incredible mother but as a business owner too. If one business wasn’t enough for Olivia, she now has two! The Wendy House, a family run children’s play space and cafe in Gosport opened late last year and Mumma’s Minis, an online shopping destination selling beautifully made clothes, cuddlies, wooden toys and bath products for babies and children alike, which was launched last month.
The idea behind the The Wendy House came to Olivia, who was on maternity leave from her career as a Montessori teacher, just after the birth of her first child, Florence: “When my daughter was born my friends and I found it really hard to relax whilst out and trying to have a coffee and a catch up. 15 months later my son Theo arrived and hanging out in a coffee shop with nothing to entertain them had become impossible. Because of this The Wendy House was born, we are a well designed children’s play space and cafe. Inside you will find a variety of well-made toys for the children, a wendy house (of course), a play kitchen, dressing up, books and much more. There is also a dedicated baby area where they are free to crawl around without being disturbed by the older children.”
On my last trip to Gosport I was blown away by the beautiful space Olivia has created. The food on offer (including baby-led weaning plates) is delicious, well priced and both adult and child friendly. The cake selection is British Bake Off worthy and quite frankly I wished I lived a little bit closer so I could make frequent weekday visits, attend the special events they hold (including craft workshops, professional photographer sessions, and soft-play takeovers) and make use of the cafe on a Sunday when the whole facility is available for party-hire. I know blogger and blogger Sarah, of This Mama Life already has! (check out the video here)
Perhaps it is Olivia’s background in teaching that enables her to understand not only what make’s a good visit for the parent, but also for the child. Her philosophy for the cafe is certainly based on these principles, “as I Montessori teacher I know how important it is for children to learn and explore in their own time and at their own free will. Maria Montessori said, “Free choice is one of the highest of all the mental processes” and “To assist a child we must provide him/her with an environment which will enable him/her to develop freely”. This is what our aim is at The Wendy House. We believe every child should be able to choose the toys they wish to play with and do so in an environment which is safe, clean and friendly.”
Mumma’s Minis is the brainchild of Olivia and her friend Harriet who have a mutual love for good quality, well made and brightly coloured children’s products. The idea for the website store grew off the back of The Wendy House, where Olivia had begun to sell a selection of products from a few lovely brands such as Frugi, Blade and Rose and Green People toiletries and had subsequently received wonderful feedback from her customers.
Describing themselves as “two working mums who can’t sit still” Harriet and Olivia have hand-picked a range of products for sale on Mumma’s Minis chosen with their children in mind as well as others. For that reason they are beautifully made, bright, bold, soft, built to last and suitable for children with conditions such as eczema. Every month the girls try to add something new to the mix and shop around to find products that have an educational edge perhaps, come from an exciting small company, or that you will struggle to find elsewhere (for example Mumma’s Minis are one of only two retailers in the U.K. to sell the range of wooden toys available in their shop).
If you head over to Mumma’s Minis today you will find a glorious range of clothing, wooden toys and gifts for boys and girls alike. From brands such as Blade & Rose, Frugi, Jellycat, Child’s Farm, Earth Friendly, Jack N Jill and Tyrrel Katz. Olivia says “a fun range of teething jewellery will be launching on the website soon and we are in talks with a fabulous canvas shoe company too,” she goes on to add, “we also fully appreciate that as a parent buying presents for all of the parties our children get invited too starts getting jolly expensive. So, over at Mumma’s Minis you will always find us running a promotion or offering a special deal.”
As my cousin, one of my very best friends and long time wine drinking buddy I had oodles of love and support for Olivia long before she turned into business woman extraordinaire, and perhaps some of you may say that my opinion is biased?! However, I urge you to check out The Wendy House and Mumma’s Mini’s for yourselves, and you will soon realise that this girl is killing it. Proud is an understatement.