Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Phoenix Trading - Kate Jowsey

Like many people, I first came across Phoenix Trading, when I was given a gorgeously wrapped present with matching card and tag.  Whilst admiring the quality and matching design I enquired where it came from and the world of Phoenix Trading was revealed.

I toyed with the idea of becoming a trader shortly afterwards, but decided it was not the right time for me, so I just became a customer.  Two and half years later, I decided to quit my job to spend time with my young daughter and suddenly realised that this was the perfect opportunity.  My Phoenix journey had begun.

So I am now a self employed Independent Phoenix Trader, selling high quality exclusive greetings cards, gift wrap, stationery and accessories.  Phoenix Trading does not sell on the high street, only via traders like myself.  Wherever possible they support the British print industry.  All greetings and Christmas cards are printed in the UK and in fact around 95% of all their products are UK produced.  In May 2011 Phoenix Trading were also delighted to win the “Company with Heart” award from the Direct Selling Association (DSA).

There is no hard sell, customers generally love our products.  I sell in a variety of ways; via brochures, coffee mornings, home parties, fundraising events, mail order via website, fetes, fayres etc…

Over time, I have become sponsor to a team of 7 other traders, each of whom I help and support when needed as they build their individual businesses.

Generally I work around 5 – 10 hours a week, this is usually done in a few 2-3 hour chunks, either in the evenings, at weekends or whilst my daughter is at pre-school. Although some of it can be done whilst she is playing happily next to me.

There are many things I love about being a Phoenix Trader – the quality and range of products (of course!), the friendly support and advice available from other traders/head office, the simple approach and the number of lovely people I have met.

But what I love most of all is the flexibility.  If for instance my daughter is ill, I can just drop everything to be with her.  It just fits around (and into) our life.  There are no targets you have to meet each month, and if you need to take a few months off for any reason, then you can just do it and pick Phoenix up again when you are ready to do so.

I’m approaching the end of my 2nd year as a trader and my business has grown steadily, despite the current economic climate.  People still seem to buy cards, perhaps they are just cutting back on the gifts?...

Phoenix has recently revamped the Business kit and it is now better than ever at just £30.  You can sign up and be instantly in business within a week.  You can unpack the box, take your samples and brochures next door and make your first sale.  I got my first order the day after my box arrived.  When you sign up, you also get the chance to buy a special offer pack of stock. There are 3 to choose from at £50, £100 and £150.  The bigger the pack, the bigger the discount. 

So, is it something you like the sound of?  The business kit comes complete with a 30 day action plan to get you off to a great start, and you also get a free website which you just need to activate before you can spread the word to everyone you know.

In essence, Phoenix has a simple, but tried and tested approach, you work it consistently and it builds your customer base and your business. 

If you would like to know more you can get in touch either via my website or via my Phoenix Facebook page – both listed below.

Kate Jowsey – Independent Phoenix Trader 24389

**Statutory Notice** Do not be misled by claims that high earnings are easily achieved. It is illegal for a promoter or a participant in a trading scheme to persuade anyone to make a payment by promising benefits from getting others to join a scheme.

Promoter – Phoenix Trading, Unit 6, 307-309 Merton Road, London, SW18 5JS


My Phoenix Facebook

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Usborne Books - Jan Olive

My journey with Usborne Books at Home started in May 2009 when I met a lady selling the books at a fair in Taunton.  She had a huge banner that was advertising for Book Sellers which grabbed my attention.

At the time I was working for an insurance company and looking for an escape route.  She gave me a pack of information to take away and read…… one coffee later (ok and a slice of cake!) I was hooked.

I was aware of Usborne books as my son had enjoyed the Farmyard Tales when he was younger but I didn’t know that Usborne also had a Party Plan division.
As an avid reader I loved the thought of introducing young children to books and as Usborne offer a flexible opportunity I decided I could fit it around other commitments.

When you join Usborne Books at Home you pay just £38 for the Starter Kit which contains approx £120 worth of books, carefully selected from across the range, as well as all the business stationery you will need to start your own party plan business. Our catalogue contains over 2000 titles for children from birth to teens.
As an Usborne Organiser, you can sell Usborne books at home parties, toddler groups, in schools and throughout your community.  I started with my own party at home first and it snowballed from there.
Organisers  earn at least 24% commission AND you will have access to FREE and discounted books for yourself.  Once you have done your first party the Starter Kit is yours to keep and you work as much as you like; there are no sales targets.
I joined in June 2009 and by that October had become a Team Leader by introducing other people to the opportunity.  Last year was my first full year and was amazing – I even won the annual travel incentive and spent a brilliant 5 days in Iceland with 26 other Usborne winners. 


I now have a team of nearly 40 lovely Organisers from all around the country and I love helping them build their own businesses and seeing them reach their personal goals.  Some join to raise money for a particular event – holidays, Christmas, weddings and others are looking to give up work to spend more time with their families.
This is not a get rich quick scheme - it does require a level of commitment and hard work, but it is incredibly rewarding.  It is now my full time job although I only spend about 20 hours a week on it so it feels more like part-time because I choose when I work! I even managed to go to college two days a week for a year to pursue my other love – painting.

You don’t need sales experience but a PC, printer and a car are necessary.

You can read more about Usborne Books at Home on my website:
If you are interested in starting your own Usborne at Home business or have some questions please contact me, I would love to hear from you.

I also have a Facebook Page which you can find at Mojo Books at Usborne at Home where I post events and competitions and keep “fans” notified of Special Offers.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Truly Madly Baby - Ailsa Mcintosh

Hi, my name is Ailsa, a mum to two under 5’s and a Consultant Manager for Truly Madly Baby and Truly Madly Kid.

Truly Madly Baby & Kid is primarily a party plan company, set up to give mums like me a chance to start their own business around a lifestyle that suits them and with a low start up cost.  We sell a wide range of products from baby to older children (age 10).  There are too many products to mention, but the range includes items for learning, essentials (like the not so nice potty training), gifts and toys, from brands such as Kidorable, Trunki, Zoobies and much more.  The main thing to highlight is that most of these products are not ones you find on the high street or in supermarkets. They have all been specially chosen to ensure a varied and exciting range yet remain at affordable prices.
With it being a Party Plan Company then I would go into people’s homes or venues and demonstrate a variety of products, show the catalogue and give advice, a bit like a personal shopper!  It’s not all about parties though.  I go into baby and toddler groups, go to events, anything that I think will help build my business.  The good thing is, it is my choice.  There is no pressure on me from Truly Madly Baby, I can work as much as I feel is right for me and my family.

I came across Truly Madly Baby as I was looking into Party Plan Companies to earn some extra income.  I looked into every Company and I mean every Company but wanted it to be one where I loved (and used) the products, one that was affordable for customers and one that was not target orientated – only the targets I set myself.  I happened to be invited to a Party myself around the same time and sat looking at the catalogue thinking I must have that, that and that.  I thought if I think like that then maybe others would too!  I joined up within 2 days of that Party.
Truly Madly Baby is set up to be a low cost start up.  I genuinely believe they understand that us mums, especially if not working, do not have large outlays to pay.  It is only £20 deposit to join. Yes, I did say £20.  For that you get your kit, stationary and all the support to get you started.  Of course, there needs to be some commitment to meet the rest of the cost of your kit (£300 sales) but as long as you are willing to put the effort in, it is more than achievable.  What it does mean is that you can potentially start your own business for £20 and where else can you say that?
As there are no monthly targets, I work as much as I want to build up my business.  On average I would say 2-3 hours a day, usually when the kids have gone to bed.  Sometimes this will be in the form of going to a party, sometimes it is time spent working with my team, on recruitment or looking for new potential customers.  What is important to me, is that I still get to be a fulltime mum, which makes me very lucky.

Like any business from home, when the kids are around so much it can be hectic and there are things that would be good to do during typical ‘office hours’.  It has meant that I need to be a lot more organised and though I know I am a long way off, I am getting much better at it.  Also as there are no targets I have to keep setting myself little goals to achieve or I think it would be quite easy to have too much time off!  More importantly, I get to talk about products I truly believe in (no pun intended) plus my children have got some great free products as a result of my achievements too!  It doesn’t really feel like work either as I have so much fun and meet so many people.  I know that might sound corny, but it’s true.
So, if you are sitting there reading this thinking I can do that then get in touch with me!  I always share my experiences honestly as it is important that you are able to make well informed decisions.  My top tip is if you have any questions then ask them, no matter how many.  It is important to know as much as you can to make the right decisions that suit you and your lifestyle.

Twitter: @tmbailsa

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Making Pennies - the Family Friendly Way!

For many mums, going back to work following months of maternity leave with their new little bundle is something that fills them with dread (I know it did for me!). 

I thought it would be good to look at different ways that parents can earn either a few extra pennies or start a whole new journey into the world of self employment.

To get things going, I've invited people to tell us all about their party plan and franchise businesses. Businesses that have often (but not always) been tried and tested and work well for other people, and that already have a strong support network.

I hope you find the guest blog posts interesting over the next few weeks.
Please do leave your comments and feel free to contact them to ask questions.

Ice Jewellery - Clare Mutch

In 2006 I started to do jewellery parties in the evenings after the birth of my first child, whilst my husband ran our jewellery shop in North Devon.

Really it started out as just a hobby; I was at home all day with my newborn son whilst my husband was at work and I missed not having any customer contact. I had an idea that I could bring the store to those customers that, for whatever reason, couldn’t or didn’t want to go into the busy town centre. A very good friend of mine offered to host my first party at her house, so I took a sample of the jewellery ranges we held in the shop, displayed it all on her dining room table and from the guests that she invited, took orders to the tune of just over £600! Not bad for 2 hours work. From there I got 2 more bookings, then at those parties I gained further bookings until by Christmas of 2006 I had a party booked for almost every evening. October and November were pretty busy months and I had to turn potential hostesses away as I just couldn’t fit them in!
I really started to see the potential of Party Plan from then on but didn’t have the resources to make it as professional as I would have liked, at that time.
With this in mind, over the next 4 years my husband and I slowly built up the Party Plan business (and managed to have another baby!) by introducing others to join our team and offering incentives for people to host their own party.  As a party hostess they would received a free gift and 10% commission in goods, so most hostesses tended to get their order for free! When money is tight that’s a really great incentive to host a party!
We are now one of the UK’s fastest growing jewellery party plan companies and are offering our opportunity to anyone who wants become a consultant with us. Consultants purchase a kit that contains all the essentials they will need to get partying straight away. They then have the potential to earn 25-30% commission on everything they sell. The website has a fully interactive Party Plan area for all our consultants so they can even earn full commission if their customers place orders online.
The opportunity fits perfectly into any busy mums lifestyle as most parties are performed either in the evenings when the kids are in bed or during the day at baby/toddler groups etc. when you can take them with you!

We now have over 50 consultants nationwide and are constantly on the look out for likeminded people who love our jewellery and want to earn a great income too.  Being a family run company we understand the constraints of day to day family life so set no targets or hassle for bookings.  In fact we have just been shortlisted for ‘Flexible Company of the year’ by which we are very proud of. 

Twitter: @icejewellery

Ice Jewellery
22a Green Lanes Shopping Centre
EX31 1UH

T 01271 327788
T 07951 738890
We also run a networking site for anyone in or thinking of joining party plan.  We have had over 250 members join since launch in May 2011 representing over 40 different Direct Sales companies.  Our aim is to offer a one stop shop for anyone thinking of joining a company for them to get honest answers all in one place.  And also to provide a great source of helpful training, list of events and networking opportunities for those already with a direct sales company. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Other Help for Pregnant Mums and Parents

There is other help available to pregnant mums and parents with young children that you may not have heard about.  Have a look through and see if you qualify for a few more pennies or help with everyday necessities.  (I've shortened some of the links.)

Free prescriptions and dental care
All mums-to-be qualify for a prescription exemption certificate once their pregnancy has been certified by a doctor or midwife.  You need to complete form FW8 and they will need to sign it.  You’ll be sent a handy little credit card type certificate that you can keep in your wallet. 
Just remember to mention it at the chemist or dentist when you visit!
It entitles you to free prescritions and dental care so get one as soon as possible.  They last until a year after the day your baby is expected.
For more info visit:

Sure Start Maternity Grant
A grant of £500 is available to parents-to-be on low incomes to help with preparing all those baby essentials.
To see if you qualify for the grant, please visit:
From there you can also download an application form or you can contact your local job centre.

Healthy Start Scheme
Healthy Start is a government scheme that provides vouchers for free milk, fresh fruit and vegetables, infant formula and vitamins to certain pregnant women and children in families on low incomes.
Visit: to find out if you are eligible.
You can get an application form from your midwife or health visitor or complete it online.
Lots of shops except the vouchers – look out for the Healthy Start sticker in shop windows or ask in store.

Free School Meals, Milk and More
When you little one starts school they could be entitled to free school meals if you are on a low income.
Visit: to find out more.

Children who are entitled to free school meals also qualify for free school milk, although all children at school under 5 are eligible for this anyway. 
Visit the coolmilk website for more info:

Lots of schools take part in the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme. 
Children aged 4-6 qualify for a free piece of fruit or vegetable each school day. 
See this leaflet for more information:

For families on benefits, help with the cost of school uniform may also be available.
More on this can be found on the DirectGov website:

I hope I've just about covered everything, but if there is something you know about that I've missed, please leave a comment - I'd love to cover it!