Here at Get Ahead VA we are privileged to work with a wide variety of clients ranging from will writers to window cleaners, financial consultants to fashion designers. They all have inspiring stories to tell about how the came to set up their business, and how they have achieved success.
Here’s 60 seconds with one of our clients Martha from FabLittleBag who decided to leave her job as an Account Manager in the city to tackle an issue that no one wants to talk about – the easy and discreet disposal of tampons:
When did you decide to set up your business and why?
“How do you dispose of used tampons? Are you a ‘Flusher’, or a ‘Binner’? It's a topic women rarely talk about, but with around 10 million tampon users in the UK and 60% of them flushing, our behaviour is having a tremendously negative impact on the environment, and in many cases your pocket (call out fees are around £80!).
A mind-boggling 120 million tampons are flushed into our sewage systems every month, each one potentially destined for rivers and oceans. The cost to water companies is around £88 million each year. I used to be a flusher who felt guilty with every chain pull, then one day I decided I could not flush any more. But what was my alternative? It's not exactly environmentally friendly wrapping a used tampon in miles of toilet roll. Besides, it felt gross, especially on heavy days. Nappy sacks didn't fair much better either, and they aren’t usually biodegradable so add to landfill issues.
This issue bothered me for years: girls and women had two options: the Loo-Roll Wrap or nappy sacks; both awkward, messy and potentially embarrassing, adding stress and anxiety to what should be a straight-forward, easy process. I wanted to create a product which would help girls and women dispose of their tampons with ease and confidence. But more than that, I wanted to help relieve some of the anxiety so often associated with periods. So in 2014 I drastically reduced my hours at work to focus on FabLittleBag.
What are the biggest challenges you have had to overcome?
Finding a manufacturer was a real challenge. I cobbled together the first version of the FabLittleBag from nappies, sandwich bags and Sellotape back in 2001, when my sons were just babies. By 2006, I had found a friend with a plastics company who made a prototype. We then had to start the patenting process which took a lot of perseverance but was finally granted in 2013. The final challenge was finding, meeting and securing retail deals. I am delighted that we are now stocked in Waitrose, Ocado and online with Amazon UK, Ethical Superstore and TOTM. The Water Companies have been hugely supportive.
What have been the greatest highlights?
The greatest highlights so far have been the positive feedback we have received, particularly from those that say how FabLittleBags have changed their habits and reduced their anxiety. If you're a 13-year-old school girl or a 40-something professional, you can now feel positive and in control about this somewhat taboo subject - wherever you are.
If you could give any advice to other small business owners what would it be?
I am a great believer in having an ‘attitude of gratitude’, although some days I do have to remind myself of this!
How did outsourcing to Get Ahead VA impact your business?
Working with Get Ahead VA has been a godsend. I knew I needed to develop my presence and gain ‘social proof’ online using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. But not being technical in this regard and having to focus on 101, no make that 1001, different aspects of setting up, expanding and firefighting a new business, outsourcing this to an expert was a real relief. I simply did not have the budget to hire a part-time dedicated person to focus on my social media needs, or the time to manage them. My VA Vanessa designed a social media strategy for me, set up our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, scheduled regular posts and developed our Follower base. Social media marketing is now an effective part of our business strategy, thanks to Get Ahead VA.
What plans do you have for the future?
I am looking forward to rolling FabLittleBag out to more retailers and watching the business grow. I am not here to dictate how women should dispose of their sanitary products, but I do feel passionately that we should have options. Women deserve a hygienic, easy and discreet way to deal with disposal.
Get Ahead VA’s nationwide virtual assistant services enable small business owners and entrepreneurs like Martha to get back to what they do best – growing and running their businesses.
If your business could benefit from our help please get in touch on 01483 332220 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.