Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Minor Edition - Ipshita Chatterjee

My name is Ipshita and I design children’s dresses (2-6 years), using ethically sourced fabrics from India. I have a four year old daughter who has inspired me to start my business Minor Edition.
I grew up in a very creative family and so it was no surprise when I finally started my own business. My mother has her own boutique designing clothes that are individually hand-painted by her, for the last 30 years. All my childhood outfits were all handmade by her.

I think the tipping point was when I wanted a birthday dress for my little girl, that was both unique and affordable. It made me think that there must be other mums like me who are looking for affordable pretty dresses in different hues other than pink. When my daughter was about two years old, I decided to give up my long career in science and launch my own business. I have always enjoyed stitching and designing clothes ever since I remember, and this transition seemed natural. I travelled to India for inspiration and first-hand knowledge.

Few months later, Minor Edition was born - out of a love for beautiful textiles, bright colours and quirky mix and match of colourful fabrics, buttons, lace and other trimmings.
I work around the school hours since my little one has started school in September 2011. I do work till late nights or early morning and weekends, to catch up.
My business allows me to be creative and be my own boss. I can conveniently schedule all my work. I can manage a work life balance to a great extent. I have learned to start and run a business and love networking and social media as well. I am starting to enjoy the return and the satisfaction when the dresses sell.
There is nothing negative about my job because I love it and I am very passionate about it. I sometimes miss the office banter and evening drinks, though. The positives are way too many to actually even mention those.

The greatest fear of ‘what ifs’ before starting a business is a major obstacle that we all face and it must be overcome. If you have a talent or a good idea, it is important to do a market research however small and then have the courage to make a head start. It is also very important to be passionate about your business, believe in it and be proud of it. We all know that hard work and persistence always pays off. My greatest challenge till date is to work around very limited resources and that is where creativity (using social networking, offering your expertise in return to theirs like photography, web designing etc) helps.

Twitter: @minor_edition

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Zest Payroll Solutions - Claire Meredith

A while ago I wrote this piece for another blog: so I thought I'd share it with you.  It's about a typical day here at Pennies 4 Parents and Zest Payroll HQ and the juggling act of running a business with 2 teeny "helpers".  I hope you enjoy it.

A Day in the Life of Zest Payroll Solutions

I don’t need to set an alarm clock anymore. 
I have one of 3 wake up calls:

  Teeny Man (15 months) crying for his morning milk
  Little Man (4) jumping on the bed
  Little Man shouting “I’ve done a poo poo” at the top of his voice from the
    bathroom (this is not my preferred way to start the morning!)

So, with that it’s up and at it, desperately trying to get all 3 of us dressed and fed by 8.30.  For some reason the 20 minutes from then is always put on fast forward in a jumble of shoes, coats, choosing today’s must have cuddly companion and a suitable random object for today’s colour table at Pre-School.

With little man safely deposited, Teeny Man and I head home for a play.  If I’m really lucky, he will start to show his “I’d actually quite like a little nap please, Mummy” signs and I’ll swiftly settle him down and head to the Zest Payroll Solutions’ “office”.  I love that term!  My “office” consists of the computer desk and a multitude of shelves tucked away in the corner of the dining room.  I long for the day the boys can share a room so I can claim the spare room as my own.
I may have an hour to get my head into work mode.  With running payrolls for small/medium sized businesses and parents employing nannies, I am lucky in that the main bulk of work comes in during the last 2 weeks of the month as pay days are usually at the end.  There’s always other things to be working on though, be it marketing, making phone calls or doing the accounts and I’ve just started a new blog for parents too ( so writing for that takes up lots of time.


After the Pre-School pick up and feeding the hungry monkeys, I sometimes have a little time after lunch to “pop back to the office” if I need to, while Little Man plays and the Teeny Man naps again (I am lucky having a very energetic baby who wears himself out a lot!).  If it’s something major I need to do, I’ll set Little Man up with some Play Dough or other dining table top friendly activity so that I can keep an eye on him and it’s actually rather nice to have someone to talk to.  Being a WAHM can be pretty lonely.

More feeding, bathing and story telling and it’s back to work for the evening.  This is when I most enjoy working – a couple of hours to really get stuck into it without any distractions (Daddy’s in charge then!). 

Life as a Work At Home Mum is hectic, but I love being around for my boys and wouldn’t want it any other way!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

B&S Supplies - Brenda McKenzie

Along with the national Party Plan businesses, Pennies 4 Parents has come across a growing trend for independent businesses using parties to sell their own products. 
Brenda McKenzie who runs B&S Supplies in Edinburgh tells us how she got started.

I started the business back in 2004 when my husband was running his own karate club here in Edinburgh. I started out with a small budget of around £200, selling Martial arts gear to our students and then branched out to a website and EBay. The business rapidly moved away from karate suits and gum shields and I started to diversify more towards oriental gifts such as buddha’s, oriental candles, feng shui chimes etc and by doing house parties for friends and family. I have tried over the years to listen to what my customers were asking for and build it from there. I now stock a wide range of affordable giftware to suit most tastes but my biggest sellers are the jewellery ranges and the indoor water features.

Up until March 2007 I was working full time as a lab technician with Heriot Watt University and running the business from home in the evenings but then I had my beautiful daughter Stephanie and made the decision that I couldn’t juggle everything so would only go back to work 2.5 days a week. This freed up time to cope with a new baby, run a house and still keep the business running efficiently. I would process and wrap orders when Steph was sleeping then take her with me along to the post office to post the parcels. This has obviously become easier the older she gets as she is in nursery 3 full days and will be starting school next year but I do sometimes wonder where my day has gone. Sometimes especially on the run up to Christmas I’m still wrapping parcels at midnight for posting the next day.

I am extremely lucky that my husband is a bookkeeper and accountant as he keeps on top of all the paper work for me or I would probably get in a right mess as money and figures are not my strong point. He also comes with me to most of the events and house parties that I attend but he stays in the back ground and leaves the selling to me. At the moment I am working really hard using social media to try and push the business forward as I feel the next step would be to open a giftware and coffee shop in Edinburgh. I will hopefully bring this dream to reality in the next few years. Stay tuned..

Twitter: @bssupplies

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The Party Plan Guru’s Top 10 Tips for Party Planners / Direct Sellers

Everyone who is in party plan/direct sales will agree with me that it is not as easy as you may think when first starting out. You really need to put in the hard work to be able to get something great out of your business. When you joined up I am sure that your manager/team leader said “write down your FRAN” (Fran is Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances and Neighbours).  I was able to write these down but when contacting them, they were not all that interested. Was it the same for you?
Party Plan is so vast, so many companies are doing it, but what makes your business different to all the other consultants or companies is YOU. Thinking outside the box about your business, doing something different with your products or travelling along a different part than the norm will set you apart from everyone else. Think that if you were told to do something by the company or your up-line manager, so are about 100 other people, how are you different????

My top 10 tips for Party Planners are:

1.       Think outside of the box – Look at your products and write down all the different places you would be able to sell them and to who.  For cosmetics and beauty ranges go to mobile beauticians, they may even join later on, for Candles look at gift ideas put your own packages together.

2.       Themes – Look into different Themes for your parties, at the end of the day you are advertising a party in their where is the party? Or is just a lady trying to sell you stuff to make her money?

3.       Have confidence in your products – if you don’t believe in the products you are selling and you don’t get excited about them then who will?

4.       Be Organised – Get your home office in order, if you are organised at home then you will run your business better. Let’s face it if you worked in an office they would soon be asking you to sort your desk out if its in the state it is now!!!

5.       Advertise Better – Places like and Party Plan United are areas that you are able to advertise your business and get hostesses to you, but if you don’t have contact details on there like a phone number or email, how are people able to contact you? Trust me this happens a lot.

6.       Talk to everyone that you meet everyday! This can be the lady behind the supermarket till or the hairdresser you go to. I find myself even talking to the lady stood behind me in a queue. If you’re happy they will soon wonder why!!

7.       Coach your hostesses – so many party planners forget about this simple rule, Great you have a party, but sending them brochures and invites and then turning up on their doorstep 2 weeks later is not good enough. If you do this and don’t coach your hostess, don’t expect a great sales night.

8.       Try an online party – these will allow you to have a party on the internet without you having to leave the comfort of your own home. Check out:

9.       Look for external help – In a business you go on training programs and have monthly meetings, make sure you go to as many that your company are offering as well as getting help from others, like The Party Plan Guru, we are all here to help you be successful and earn more money.

10.   Have Fun – the more fun you have with your business and your products the better they will sell. If people see that you are having fun they will not only want a party but will want to join a business that makes them feel the way you do.
For more tips and hints please have a read of our articles at
or come and join the fun over at

We look forward to helping you soon

The Party Plan Guru xx
Office: 01425 511455