This interview series features inspiring female entrepreneurs who have launched and run successful businesses. Through our peers’ experiences, we can learn practical lessons and insights to empower us on our entrepreneurial paths. Crucially, storytelling de-risks entrepreneurship so we believe it is an essential pillar in closing the opportunity gap for female founders.
Firstly, tell us a bit about you.
Hello! My name is Fede, I am Italian and I live in London with my husband and 18 months old son. I have a master in Social Ethics and I have been working in the mental health sector for 6 years. I am a big dreamer, I am passionate about social impact and well-being, and I love making meaningful connections and embracing new challenges.
Tell us about your business.
The Mood Club’s mission is to inspire people to get into a positive mindset. I set up this business because I want to share tips and tools to improve wellbeing, so I have designed a set of cards, the Mood Cards, containing small activities to embrace new positive habits and encourage personal development. There are two sets available at the moment, one for individuals and one for couples, but many more are coming!
What was the moment that everything changed for you? Describe that moment when you decided to fully commit to your idea and the first few steps you took to make it possible.
When I had the idea for my first product, the Mood Cards. Before then, I knew I wanted to talk about wellbeing and share positive tips to feel good, but I only had a blog and an Instagram page. I wrote down the content for the cards in two days and printed out a small batch; I brought them to an event I was running for IWD and put them on a table to show to a friend. Few women started gathering around them, asking me questions and if they were available to buy. That was the moment I thought this can actually work! I started selling them on my website, then on other platforms, to subscription boxes services and other small retailers, and now I have just left my day job in a non profit organisation to work on it full time.
What were the initial challenges you came up against and how did you overcome them?
The initial challenges for me were around product development. It really takes a lot of research and trial and error to make a product right, especially as I wanted to produce, print and source everything here in the UK, where it is more difficult (and definitely more expensive) to find the right people to do so. So I harmed myself with patience and stayed open to the idea of multiple tries.
What was the first win that made you feel you were onto something?
I run a focus group to get initial feedback around the content and design of my Mood Cards. I was quite nervous and scared about the outcome, but I actually received very positive feedback, and that gave me the right motivation to fully commit to my idea.
Did you take the investment route for your business or are you self-funded? Can you share some insights on your decision and the process?
I took the self-funded route, but really didn’t invest much in my business until I started to see a good return. I think nowadays it is possible to set up all the basics of a business without having to pay big amounts for things like website development, design or branding, especially when you are still taking your first steps and need to validate your idea. There are many free or very cheap tools that require no coding skills, like Canva for graphics, Squarespace or Strikingly as website builders, Medium for blogging, MailChimp for email marketing; you can now take high quality pictures with your mobile phone, and use social media to start building your audience. Then, when you start getting some revenue, you can reinvest a bit back into the business to grow and scale.
What has been your best investment?
I joined a startup accelerator run by Escape the City. It was a fast-paced course that gave me all the tools and knowledge I needed to get my business off the ground and, most importantly, the right mindset to go for it and get out of my comfort zone. Through the course, I also connected with a great community of like-minded people, some of which became really good friends and whose support has been invaluable along the way.
Have you made any mistakes or faux pas? If so, can you share with us?
So many! I think the entrepreneurial journey can be seen as a series of tiny and big mistakes to learn something valuable from that you can then use to improve your business.
One of the early mistakes I made was a typo in one of my cards that I noted only after the first batch was printed. Of course it meant I had to reprint part of them, and that was more expensive than hiring someone to copy proof the content (something I didn’t do as I wanted to save money!). Lesson learnt 🙂
What’s your experience of being a woman in the start-up ecosystem and what in your mind needs to change?
I think as a female founder you have the great chance to connect with other women entrepreneurs through amazing communities and groups like Found & Flourish, which is so important when it comes to support and inspire each other (something I am not completely sure men do in the same way). I do find sometimes that I need to be a bit assertive before I am taken seriously, something I hope will change soon. The bright side I can find in it, is that I have become so much more confident and learnt to speak up when needed.
What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt since starting your own business?
To trust my guts. As a business owner, and especially as a female founder, you might find everyone gives you all kinds of (sometimes unsolicited) advice, but in the end you are the one who knows your business and what’s best for it, more than anybody else.
Have you had any role models or mentors along the way?
I get a lot of inspiration from other fellow entrepreneurs. I find Instagram, online communities and start-up related events to be the best places to discover and connect with other founders, follow their journey, and learn something from each other. I honestly think the best advice and support you can get, is from the people who have been through the same challenges and can share their experiences. That’s why I also love to share my story with people who are just starting out. I have had the chance to do so at a couple of events and by going back to the accelerator I did to mentor new students, and I am always open to have a chat about biz-related stuff 🙂
With the future in mind, where would you see yourselves in five years time?
In two years, I’d love to get to the point where I have a full range of physical products stocked in high street retailers around the UK. In five years, I hope to add other services to my business: I would love to be able to offer online courses, coaching sessions, and potentially write a book including all the tips and tools I have designed to get into a positive mindset!
Can you tell us one of your goals for 2020?
I have many, but I definitely want to design and launch two new sets of Mood Cards, helping people to get into a positive mindset in different situations . Stay tuned…
What can our readers do to support your business?
What books, podcasts or resources would you recommend?
I definitely recommend to follow Lucy Wern, founder of The Wern, and her new book “Hype Yourself”, packed with great advice to get more visibility.
If you want to grow your online business and know everything marketing and ads related, Amanda Perry is your person! She offers training, coaching and great free resource.
Love the Small and Mighty Co. podcast from Sam Burgess, celebrating small business owners and creative entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give anyone about to start a business?
To not get discouraged at the first try. Setting up a business is a long process, at times stressful and challenging: it’s all about trying and testing, focus and invest on what works and be open and flexible enough to change what doesn’t. But it’s also the most exciting and rewarding adventure, so keep going!
About the Author
Leah Williams is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.
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