Name: Ann-Maree Morrison.
What is your business called? Labels4Kids.
Where is it based? Stirling.
What does it produce, what services does it offer? A range of high-quality personalised name labels, stickers and ID tags for children, as well as products for all ages designed to personalise items such as sports equipment and luggage.
We have recently introduced a new range for use in the home, responding to customer demand.
Our dishwasher-proof labels are particularly popular and we've noticed a growing demand from older adults, particularly in care homes, who need to personalise belongings or identify medication requirements, as well as from parents with children suffering from allergies.
Also, we have a range of long-lasting stickers for clothing that make life easier.
Stikins® new clothing labels are not just vinyl labels rebranded to go on to clothing, they are specifically developed for textiles and they flex with the garment and won't transfer ink on to white fabrics.
What is its turnover? Currently £300,000, with growth expected year-on-year, particularly with franchise activity.
Why did you take the plunge? Following a serious road accident in 1997 when visiting relations in Australia – which resulted in spending months away from my husband Archie and 11-month-old son while I recuperated – I decided I needed to make the most of life and find a way to work and spend more time with my family.
I took the first step and faxed my boss and told him I wasn't coming back to work – there's nothing like being hit by a truck to make you revaluate your life.
The idea for Labels4Kids came out of frustration – I constantly had to replace items my three sons lost at school.
I realised there must be a way to reunite them with their belongings and save money, and if this was a problem I was having, it must be the same for parents all over.
When I researched the market for personalised labels I discovered a lack of choice and more importantly, quality.
There's no point labelling something and then the label falls off. The Labels4Kids brand is based on the quality of its products, and over time, we have developed a range of products we are confident families can rely on.
I spent three years researching and testing products to be able to develop what I was looking for. I have been responsible for the look and feel of the products from the start – coming up with designs and working with suppliers to manufacture and print to the required standard. Our microwave-proof and waterproof labels are a key offering for Labels4Kids, and, as with the rest of our range, I only use UK-based suppliers so I can be sure of quality and consistency.
Labels4Kids has no shop front – relying on the Labels4Kids website for sales, the business keeps its website fresh and engaging to showcase the quality and variety of its products. Labels4Kids has a high level of repeat business.
What were you doing before you took the plunge? I am a qualified chartered accountant and moved to the UK to take up a job with PwC, where I met Archie, who is from Stirling.
Latterly I worked for PwC as a management consultant. Previously, I helped set up a start-up company in London for Kodak specialising in cinema special effects.
How did you raise the start-up funding? I used personal savings.
What was your biggest break? Winning Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 in the Specsavers Everywoman In Retail Awards UK, I was presented the award at the Savoy Hotel in London last year.
What was your worst moment? Learning by expensive mistakes about the best way to optimise the website in my first year.
What do you most enjoy about running the business? I love the fact that I can run a business from home around my family life and get to interact with families across the world. I also enjoy working with my team of five staff who are enthusiastic about the products and help to build the brand thanks to their customer service skills – the products are all about helping families and I think customers dealing with Labels4Kids experience that ethos.
What do you least enjoy? Cleaning the house for the staff to come in of a morning.
What are your ambitions for the firm? Although a trained accountant, my roots are firmly in retail – my family in Melbourne have run well-known and successful department store outlets, so starting up Labels4Kids was a natural step for me.
Once I had the business up and running and was happy with the range and quality of products, I began thinking of how best to expand the brand internationally.
Although we currently sell to customers around the world through our website, I am keen to expand through a franchise network in order to strengthen the brand in key markets. So far we have had a positive response from France, Germany, Poland and Australia and I am working with a franchise consultant to roll out our offering. I would like to see Labels4Kids operating in six countries in the next three years.
What are your top priorities? I want Labels4Kids to expand based on its quality of products and service – these are the strengths that differentiate it in the market place, so as we begin our franchise network, I want to ensure that these features are reinforced and the brand becomes a global leader.
What could the Westminster/Scottish governments do that would help? Labels4Kids is currently recognised by Scottish Development International and UK Trade and Investment in a "fast-track" growth pipeline programme which is giving the business invaluable support and also confirms its success and potential for growth.
I would like to see more help for SMEs that are growing the economy working from either home or small offices. In particular, help working on good postal solutions for small-sized letters and packets would be great as these companies rely on getting products out by post and cannot use courier services if they have low-value basket sizes.
What was the most valuable lesson that you learned? So much help is available if you look in the right places. YouTube and Google have a wealth of information for access, and, there are great magazines you can also subscribe to for your industry or on retailing, which I find useful rather than paying so-called "experts" to do things for you.
There are so many sharks out there once you open your door to the world, particularly if you operate primarily online. You will inevitably learn through mistakes, but once you have been caught out, it is a very valuable lesson to learn.
How do you relax? My boys are all very keen tennis players and our family holidays usually revolve around tennis camps, so although not at their level, I do enjoy playing.
I also enjoy travelling abroad, reading (business books, of course) and dining out and relaxing with friends and family.
I have to get my fix of sun at least twice a year or I get withdrawal symptoms as Scotland has such a short summer, but I do love the scenery and the relaxed lifestyle and the fact everyone is so friendly.