Calling all Mumpreneurs/Social Entrepreneurs…
Last year Laura Steerman was named our 2018 Social Entrepreneur of the Year. This year it could be you…
“When you adore or admire someone so much you feel like shouting it from the rooftops so penning those thoughts onto an entry form is an easy and incredible way to celebrate them, or to give yourself the recognition you deserve for doing something exceptional.” - Laura Steerman
Find out what inspired Laura to leave her job as a solicitor to start her own business and why YOU should get nominating today…
1. What inspired you to start your own business?
Though I worked as a solicitor for over 10 years, I wasn't happy and didn't feel this career fulfilled my creative side. It was only after having my first baby that the idea for QuaintBaby bespoke ultrasound art hatched from my pregnancy experience where there were some reduced baby movement scares. The ultrasound photographs I treasured were too small to hang on a wall, too vague to blow up and even the colours didn’t seem to do my children's joyful dispositions justice. It was my love of art and crafts that drew me to painting their ultrasound photos and it went from there. It started as a hobby and from word of mouth grew into a small business. Being self-employed has its challenges, but it was the flexibility of working my own hours and balancing work and family life and following a creative passion to produce beautiful, colourful pieces of art from client's baby ultrasound photos, makes it all worthwhile.
2. What advice would you have for other mums who are keen to do something unique, but are unsure of where to start?
The advice I'd give to mums unsure of where to start when it comes to beginning a new hobby, business or trying out an idea is to go simply go for it. Life is certainly busy with young babies and children but your aspirations can’t be put on a shelf until they are older and you might have more time on your hands. If nobody else is offering a similar product, service or solution then there is no time like the present to move on your unique idea. I received lots of support and encouragement from different sources like Mum Talks networking group, Dragon's Den, my Local Enterprise Office, friends, family and by just putting my art out there on social media - if people like what you are offering you'd be amazed how quickly a small idea can become a business with interest from all over the world. Be brave about it, there's nothing to lose by starting out with small steps, testing the waters and seeing if people are interested or support your idea. I was told if there is passion and purpose, success will inevitably follow.
3. What is the most fulfilling part of what you do?
From start to finish, each commission is unbelievably fulfilling. It is emotional painting babies in the womb for families as it combines storytelling and capturing memories, emotions, personalities, pregnancy and parenthood in a colourful painting. My favourite part about the process is connecting with clients and hearing their stories. No two experiences or babies are the same. For example, I have painted for families who have lost a baby to stillbirth or miscarriage and wish to commemorate them; for clients celebrating a pregnancy or birth; parents who wish to capture their miracle after a long journey through surrogacy, adoption infertility or IVF; painted twins, triplets and created a series of paintings for siblings and created pieces for mums and/or babies who survived pregnancy against the odds where there may have been a health scare. I love the collaboration with my clients to bring that little black and white blurry scan to life as a piece of unique, original and colourful art.
4. Why would you encourage people to nominate someone they know, or indeed themselves, in the Woman’s Way and Beko Mum of the Year Awards this year?
When you adore or admire someone so much you feel like shouting it from the rooftops so penning those thoughts onto an entry form is an easy and incredible way to celebrate them, or to give yourself the recognition you deserve for doing something exceptional. Entering the Woman’s Way and Beko Mum of the Year Awards is a lovely way to celebrate someone's achievements, dedication and pure love in what they do as a mother, child, grandmother or other family member, friend, community leader, entrepreneur or volunteer.
5. How did it feel to win the Social Entrepreneur award at MOTYA 2018 and what impact has it had on your life or business, or both, since then?
I was delighted to win the Social Entrepreneur award at MOTYA 2018. I only entered my business to mark an achievement I was very proud of - raising funds for the Irish Charity Féileacáin (that supports bereaved parents before or shortly after birth) by donating a percentage of sales from baby ultrasound paintings commissioned over the year. I didn't expect to win as a new small business making a small contribution to a great cause, but it was one of the most positive things to happen QuaintBaby Art in 2018 - not only was my art and this fundraising achievement recognised by the esteemed panel of judges chaired by Norah Casey (a businesswoman idol of mine!), my business received amazing publicity from the largest and most recognised national award celebrating mothering. A year on my art, business and my own confidence have continued to go from strength to strength. I'm inspired and motivated to do more than ever with my ideas thanks to the boost given by Woman’s Way and Beko through MOTYA last year.
Click here to nominate a mum you know in the Woman’s Way and Beko Mum of the Year Awards 2019: www.womansway.ie/mum-of-the-year/2019/3/6/nominate-you-mum-for-mum-of-the-year-2019