“After much racking of brains we decided to use our talents to overcome life’s hand and create a business that would not be affected by my ill health. Something which could be done at home, that would fit around the children and which would allow my husband to still offer me the care and support I require everyday.” Read Beth Davis-Hofbauer’s inspirational story below.
What does your business do?
I have recently set up a business with my husband. The trading name is Davis-Hofbauer Direct, although our products are housed under different names. I am a photographer, a graphic designer/illustrator and an avid crafter, as well as being a disabled Mum to 2 under 4s.
The Little Doers Crafty Fun Box, an early years creative development product is our primary business. Newspapers frequently report on how time limited parent/child interaction is and that far too many parents are missing out on valuable activities with their children and a chance to play, learn and just “be”.
We believe that time and having to work should be no limitation to doing something creative and rewarding with your little one’s whilst having a lot of fun in the process. The Little Doers Crafty Fun Box is an innovation in early years creative learning.
We design and produce the Little Doers Crafty Fun Box here in the UK and focus on the Toddler and Pre-School/Early Years market. It is sent out 4 weekly and contains 4 envelopes, each addressed to the child and packaged with craft activities and fun/educational extras. To make busy parents lives easier each activity comes pre cut and with all the materials necessary to complete each task. Our slogan is “we even provide the aprons” and we do, as well as everything else that you could possibly need to make the artfully designed crafts.
As part of our ethos of Making time for parents and kids to create, learn and enjoy, Little Doers also maintain a free to use website with helpful tips, recipes, educational sheets and crafts as well as a members site.
When care givers subscribe they are given a log-in that gives them access to photo tutorials for the packs; the source files (so that they can print and use the templates Little Doers created for the activity to use up any left over materials); the colouring, puzzle, song sheets Little Doers designed for the packs; and extras, such as printable awards for what their “little doers” achieve.
The other part of our business is a site called www.candyflossandcupcake.com which sells our own brand of babies and kids Tshirts, Our own greetings cards, Little Doers Gift Cards and Art Work. Everything is hand produced to order and most things can be personalised for little or no cost. Check us out you may like us. From time to time we offer products that cross over, such as the Little Doers Crafty Christmas Box.
As an aside I also maintain a photography/art showcase at www.filteredimages.co.uk, although I am soon to re-work the site (when I get the time, lol)
What was your main motivation for starting your business?
I was a fit and healthy young woman until 2005. I had achieved a 2:1 degree and had started on a Masters degree. Then all of a sudden things started to go wrong with my body and I got progressively more ill until I was almost bed ridden. What followed were years of heartache and desperation. A sense that my life was over before it had really taken off. I had always worked and now that seemed to have been taken away from me too. Despite my ill health and now reliance on a wheelchair I got married in 2006 and despite worsening health and very difficult and dangerous pregnancies I now have 2 beautiful children under 4. Through the birth of my son I realised that despite ill health my life was not over and I fought illness to complete my MA through distance learning at home and in 2008 achieved a MERIT (should have been distinction but that’s another story). By this point my husband had had to become my full time carer and we were both upset at the thought of our careers going awry as a result of the hand I’d been dealt.
After much racking of brains we decided to use our talents to overcome life’s hand and create a business that would not be affected by my ill health. Something which could be done at home, that would fit around the children and which would allow my husband to still offer me the care and support I require everyday. Thus Little Doers was born and although my health is still very poor and some days I cannot even leave my bed with help, we are slowly clawing back other parts of our lives and making the future much brighter for us and our family.
What’s a day in the life of you like?
My life is probably unlike any other person on this site. Due to my illness there is no such thing as a typical day and sometimes I am unable to do anything. I have trouble sleeping owing to being in terrible pain and finally pass out at about 4am, I then wake and “feed” my baby at about 6:30. My lovely hubby then takes the children downstairs and allows me to try and sleep until about 9:30.
At this point I wake and with help freshen up and ride on my stair lift downstairs. I then do businessy stuff, write posts, check emails, do designs, etc….. whilst also entertaining my children.
If it is a day when my eldest is at Pre-School we take our baby out for a walk in the afternoon with our dog, I say walk but I powerchair it. We then go home and work some more.
If the eldest is home we try and do an activity, a test pack for Little Doers (to iron out any problems) or if I am well enough to leave the house a family outing. This normally turns into a busmans holiday of sorts as I take the camera and write up a review for the website.
After baths, tea and bedtime we carry on working. My hubby until 1 am and I until the pain lets me sleep, it is 2:52 while I write this. I then pass out again.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
So I don’t get too boring I will just list them:
My ill health
My ill health
Having 2 children under 4
My ill health
Actually letting people know we exist: a constant struggle
In that order.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Just keep on keeping on. They are not overcome, they are met with and dealt with every day of our lives.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
Do your homework
Try to sleep
Try to switch off: my biggest problem and one which is impacting on my ill health negatively
How do you keep motivated during difficult times?
The thought of a better life for my family and the need to achieve i have always had.
What’s your favourite quote?
“If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it is yours. If not, it was never meant to be”
Who inspires you?
Anyone or Everyone who has had to overcome challenges in life. I do not believe in giving up and can’t stand people who moan and say they can’t do this or can’t do that, if I can then anyone can. I am also not a great one for being a fan of someone, that said I do find people like Nelson Mandela very inspiring.
Do you have a business philosophy?
Keep on Trying and Never Give UP!