KIH products Ltd and Single Mums Business Network (SMBN) founded by Juile Hawkins.
Julie had already spent several years trying to build her business alongside being a single parent, completing a law degree and working part-time in low paid roles. Before becoming a single parent in 2012, Julie had a strong career history. However, the barriers to flexible working in-line with her skillset and pay scale meant she had to take a significant reduction in income, ending in repossession of her property then high private rents and adverse personal credit.
Julie continued to fight for her right to work within her skillset, not wanting to be forced into relative poverty as a primary caregiver.
As part of the initial launch of her business in 2013, Julie took a loan from another organisation. However, it took a couple of years for Julie to accurately define the product audience, by which time her marketing budget was all gone and she had not achieved the necessary level of exposure to the right market. Julie’s product, a KIH Bed, is a pregnancy cushion that allows women to lie prone at different stages of pregnancy. www.kihproducts.co.uk A product invented while she was expecting and named after her daughter. Having initially aimed her marketing towards pregnant women, after a couple of years of organic sales Julie recognised that her market was professional practitioners (Physios, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Spa Hotels and Massage Therapists). Unfortunately, by now marketing finance was running out and she could not obtain more through traditional lenders.
Being frustrated with her inability to obtain part-time employment to do what she was qualified for, and not being able to get increased exposure for her business on a low wage, Julie continued to work for low pay, apply for some benefits, and take out high interest payday loans to cover rent payments. Julie ran a Facebook campaign to ask for legal work in school hours and this paid off. She found work as a freelance Paralegal, from home, and carried out some freelance business development work for another company.
After experiencing all the struggles of being a single mum, Julie resolved to turn it into something positive for others. She launched the Single Mums Business Network (SMBN) in 2019. www.singlemumsbusinessnetwork.com
It was at this point Julie felt able to ask Purple Shoots for a loan. She knew she would be able to repay even if her business did not pick up quickly enough to grow. The purple shoots loan was used to exhibit KIH products at Birmingham’s NEC & to prompt SMBN. Here Julie was able to demonstrate the KIH bed, talk with interested parties for both KIH and SMBN, and she even took along a Purple Shoots banner to advertise them there.
Exposure to the correct market turned Julie’s business around. She was able to correctly identify what had been holding her back. Due to her adverse credit history none of the traditional high street lenders would help Julie. Had it not been for Purple Shoots Julie could still be working in an under-skilled, low paid role struggling to pay creditors and on long term benefits. Instead, Julie is financially independent with a thriving business and able to repay her Purple Shoots loan 18 months early.
The Single Mums Business Network campaigns for Government to recognize that barriers to salaried work and finance trap people in long-term cycles of benefits. SMBN helps members gain affordable exposure, so they do not have to struggle for as long as Julie did.
Her company now supports 5 other UK manufacturers, a self-employed seamstress and a freelance executive assistant.
Duport give 10% of all company profits to the Purple Shoots, helping start-ups and ongoing businesses with financial assistance.
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