Why I will be voting Labour

I am a female entrepreneur, living in Scotland with a Scottish registered business, buying supplies from Europe, and with Simpsons Tea, selling British branded products. So you could say that I cover all the bases when it comes to experiencing business life. And we are in trouble. Big trouble.

Under the SNP, we have entrenched patriarchy in Scotland and it is killing the country. Our economy is on it’s knees. The SNP, with their obsession with independence, have driven the country into systemic poverty. Scratch below the New Town surface and you will find dire levels of poverty, which I believe is due to hardened patriarchy. Open up the economy to equal pay and extra support for female entrepreneurs and watch what will happen. In fact, it has been proven that if a country encourages it’s female entrepreneurs it improves its economy. This is NOT a female issue. It is an economic issue.

However Scotland has done very little to encourage its female entrepreneurs, indeed with the hardened patriarchy at every level, I would go so far as to say it is actually actively discouraging them.

Patriarchy rules Scotland and has done so for a long time. I have experienced this first-hand myself. From the male dominated business networking groups through to boys clubs looking after each other, it is pretty hard as a female entrepreneur. I have been called names, been threatened and mauled at and that was all on one night…

I have had a tea business now for nearly 10 years and during that time, we have won contracts, exhibited at international food exhibitions all over the world and won many awards. However I also have been cheated by the banks (RBS’s mis-selling loan swindle of 2010) and experienced an absolute lack of support from both the Scottish and British government agencies.

I turned around my business by export, yet, I have not had one bit of support from the Scottish Government under the SNP or any support from the British Government. This is outrageous.

We need a change. A massive change. We need to vote Labour throughout the UK and bring in the under-noted changes for female entrepreneurs:

  1. SUPPLIER DIVERSITY – The US has supplier diversity legislation in order to try to support female entrepreneurs and the UK has nothing. This needs to change.
  2. MICRO-CREDIT – We need micro-credit schemes to boost female owned business rather than crippling bank loans that are mis-sold and fraudulent.
  3. VC FUNDING FOR WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES –  We need proper VC funding for women-owned businesses that understands the many different obstacles that female-owned businesses face.

This is why I will be voting Labour…

 

4 ways to SEO your Linked-In profile

Here at Mama Tea, we use Linked-In as a valuable business networking tool to connect with herbal tea drinkers from all around the world. It is a fantastic tool and invaluable for global networking. As more and more brands are associated with the individuals behind them, it is imperative that you make sure that your individual profile stands out on this network.

Search operates in a similar way on Linked-In as it does to other search engines; optimising your profile helps to raise your profile to the top of the list. So, how do you do this? Below, I have outlined the 4 main steps to follow in order to give your profile a boost:

1. Research your KEYWORDS. Use Google Adwords to find the best keywords for your specialism/business/expertise. Then you have to litter your profile with these keywords. However, there is a skill to repeating these keywords whilst still writing an appealing profile. You should insert them in your Title, Summary, Experience, Skills and Expertise.

2. Fill out your FULL PROFILE. Linked-In rewards you for doing this by automatically taking you up the chain.

3. CONNECT with as many relevant people as you can. Again, Linked-In rewards those profiles with lots of connections.

4. Change the text on your main profile box headed “Websites” to your own ANCHOR TEXT instead of using the generic “company website”. Change it to the name of your actual website/blog/twitter account etc. Again, if you can get the keywords I mentioned earlier in here, great! If not, just make sure it is personalised for your actual website.

Good luck with it and hope it works for you!

The Mama

Visual Storytelling – the apps we use

We’ve reported recently on Pinterest and Flipboard, two of the most visually stimulating and interesting curation apps around and here at Mama Tea we really think social media is moving towards what we call visual storytelling. We no longer want our social media newsfeeds to be full of words, we want pictures and even more we want the pictures to be telling us something about the person that took the picture, hence the phrase visual storytelling. Here’s our favourite apps for creating amazing pictures for visual storytelling.

Instagram

Everyone that is active in the world of social media will have heard of this app, aside from the social interaction aspect of the app, it has a selection of filters and effects that can be applied to photos you have taken on your phone.

The images above are a before and after using Instagram. The image on the left is the before shot taken on an iphone camera, the image on the right is the same picture but with a little bit of Instagram editing applied. The picture below is the same picture with more editing and another filter added.

glowing mama

Camera+

This app costs £0.69 but if you’re taken with the affects available on Instagram you’ll enjoy playing with the affects available on this app. It calls itself “the ultimate photo app” and I’m inclined to agree, the range of filters and editing tools available allow you to do anything from cropping a photo to being really creative with all sorts of effects.

mama tea birthday cake

mama tea birthday cake

mama tea birthday cake 3

The three photos above show the mama tea birthday cake from the first picture taken on an iphone in the office to the final picture that was used in our birthday blog post. You can see the original photo was not well lit and showed the desk in the background, a little bit of editing on camera+ and we have a picture that is good enough to eat!

There are other photographic apps but these two are my favourite and right now essential tools for my visual content. We at Mama Tea are not alone in thinking visuals, and importantly the quality of your visuals, are essential to your social media presence, Mashable have just published an article (here) about the importance of visual content and Hubspot have also published a blog post (here) on optimizing your pictures for google search.

Five Top Demands for a Mamapreneur’s Wardrobe

Now that I am The Mamapreneur and a fully fledged *mumpreneur*/*mompreneur*, I have some basic needs. I no longer need clothing that offers a sleek transition from day-time office to evening wine-bar transition. I need a total metamorphisis from school gates to meetings with bank/lawyers/investors/business networking/office back to school gates again. Wine-bars no longer get a look in!

This got me thinking….what would be the top FIVE demands for such a working wardrobe:

1. SMART

Ok, so I need to look the part. This is the main part of the challenge. This outfit/uniform/suit needs to impress. However, traditional clothing that impresses is often of the booted-and-suited variety. As you know, this type of clothing is great but does not accommodate running through school gates, with laptop bag slung round your neck, school bag on your back and two wee ones in each hand. The traditional mummy clothing is more of a casual variety….for a reason!! Therefore, what I need is truly SMART clothing. Clothing that looks good but is adaptable. An outer protective layer perhaps? Combat fatigues that turn into sleek jumpsuit with the flick of a zip?

2. POWERFUL

I need to ooze power in my meetings. I need to look powerful and in control. I also need power…literally! I am hooked up to my iPhone 24/7. It is my mobile office. I can take calls, answer emails, review contracts all whilst waiting outside nursery. However, this magic little invention tends to run out charge way before I do. Therefore, I need a renewable outfit. I need solar panels fitted all over my back, like a glittery power pack. I then just plug my iPhone into my pocket and bingo! One fully charged office! At present, this would look insane and would be even heavier than my laptop, so I need someone to invent solar clothing.

3. WATERPROOF

I live in Scotland. It rains here. A lot. I also have curly hair. For the uninitiated of you out there, this spells damp frizz hair disaster which is not the best look when presenting to a group of investors. Therefore, my outfit needs to have some kind of seal skin waterproof element to it. With a hood. A sleek hood. Not like my current option. Shaking hands with my very sophisticated, dapper lawyer whilst swinging my quilted, hooded coat around my shoulders results in a slight rise of the eyebrow and me muttering about the rain as I scurry to the door. I need a more sophisticated option that still protects against the elements.

4. HIGH

I like high heels. I wore high heels constantly as a lawyer. I still really like wearing them. And I believe, they can make an outfit! They make me feel powerful and in control, so great for meetings. However, when running to get to nursery/school pick up in time, they are a pain. Literally. I need a pair of shoes that can convert from high to flat with a flick of my iPhone. Therefore, I want a convertible pair of shoes that are a bit Bond like (or is it Moneypenny?!) and will change according to need. And an app to do that would be nice too, please!

5. RESISTANT

This super duper outfit needs to be resistant….to everything! Silk is beautiful but is not toddler friendly! Sticky hands are a constant dilemma for any suit. This new suit needs to repel all sorts of paint/chocolate/jam/dirt/milk etc etc etc etc…………..this might be the most difficult part of all. Stain resistant material still looks pretty *sturdy*.

So, there you go! Any budding designers out there, this is my list! I am sure others could add to it. I am just looking forward to the day I get to wear it! 🙂

The Mamapreneur

x

Three Business Birthday Wishes

Hurrah! It is Mama Tea’s third birthday today! Three years ago, I set up stall at the Scottish Baby Show in Glasgow and sold our first bag of loose leaf Mama Tea. I didn’t realise then that it was also my birthday of becoming the Mamapreneur

I thought I would blow out the candles and tell you my three business birthday wishes:

Birthday Wish No 1 – Big Mama

I wish that Mama Tea goes from strength to strength. It is not easy bringing a brand to market but we have managed it! It is now our time to grow rapidly and periods of growth are always challenging for any business. I am busy raising investment money for our business and am going to be doing a series of blogs about the challenges of growth. Time to go big, Mama!

Birthday Wish No 2 – International Mama

I wish that we can launch Mama Tea in the US and Europe this year. We also want to change our website so that we can sell direct into as many countries as possible! We are going to be developing an international e-commerce platform over this next year, using the principles of agile development to launch it and develop it. Eventually, we want to sell into every country in the world. Let’s fly, Mama!

Birthday Wish No 3 – Social Mama

I wish that we could increase our social media presence by launching an app, or a map, or a niche social network or whatever the next social trend is! Connecting with our customers and being social. #mamateamap is our current social media experiment. Check it out on Twitter! We are using the principles of in-bound marketing in action to get our brand message out there and connect with our customers! Join our community – social commerce rocks!

I am excited about our future and looking forward to sharing the journey with you!

The Mama

Pinterest – The Social Network of 2012?

You may have heard murmurs of a new social network on the block and wondering if it’s worth getting involved. Let me warn you before you do; it’s addictive!

Pinterest – what is it?

Pinterest describes itself as “a virtual pinboard”. It allows you to created themed pinboards of your favourite images and each time you “pin” something new your followers see it, and similar to other social networks they can like it, comment on it or re-pin it. Install the “Pin It” button to your bookmarks bar and every time you’re browsing the internet you can pin any image you see, it really is that easy!

This site feels and looks very different to the other social networks around and is all about sharing really gorgeous and lovely images. It is really refreshing to find a social network that is not attempting to copy anyone else.

Pinterest Figures

The site is only two years old. There are various figures around the internet suggesting Pinterest is the fastest growing social network or it has over so many new users per month, the exact figures are unknown but this table from a recent study by Experian Hitwise suggests that in November 2011 Pinterest had more users than the much better known sites such as Tumblr and Google+.

In addition to that, Pinterest has been much talked about in the last couple of months so it would be reasonable to assume the number of visits and users of the site has increased since this data was acquired.

Why Join?

Aside from the fact it’s a lot of fun and addictive, from a business point of view it’s a good way to develop a brand image. The site is invite only but you can ask for an invite or if you have some social-media-ahead-of-the-game-friends they are probably already members and can send you an invite. Once joined, think about the image you want for your brand, you may want to have a board with pictures of your products but you will probably also want to have boards of cool things your brand would like to associate with or a board of things you think would be funny to potential customers. As with other social media marketing it never looks good to solely promote your brand and nothing else, Pinterest is a great place to develop a wider brand image and personality away from just your logo and products (here is a really good article to help you think about brand image). So have some fun and start pinning – just don’t blame me if you get addicted!

The ONLY resolution you need in 2012!

It’s that time of year. We are all making resolutions and setting goals, so its pretty exciting!! 





If you are like me, you have a LONG list of dreams and ambitions, which is great!! However, once we get stuck into the year, we tend to lose that list and forget about the goals we set at the start of the year. 


At the end of last year, READING three books transformed my understanding of marketing my tea business. Therefore I now have two lists of resolutions:


1. My long list of exciting goals.
2. I RESOLVE TO READ





You might be like me – I find a brilliant book, get all excited, start reading it,  make notes, then get distracted and before I know it, it is propping up my ipad as I play Angry Birds.





No more!! 


1. iPad thou will helpest me at all times to read RELEVANT material on apps like Mashable as well as brilliant books;
2. Kindle, thou might not be as sexy as the said iPad, but at least you cannot DISTRACT me with email missives from all and sundry 
3. iPhone, Facebook and Twitter, I love you all but thou will all be getting switched off (I know, heresy!) when I am READING!



Here are some of the exciting ways in which I will be improving in 2012 through more reading:
I will:

  • improve my vocabulary (cool, so a step up from #hurricanebawbag then!)
  • improve my concentration (I really really need this one…….what am I doing again……?)
  • build my self esteem. Wow! With more knowledge comes more confidence. Or I just become really good at pub quizs. But still, I am keen on this benefit!
  • improve my memory ( need this one – see point above!)
  • improve my creativity!! Hurrah!!!!
  • always have something to talk about…….(if I haven’t lost all my friends by boasting about my new vocabulary and winning every pub quiz!)
  • reduces boredom. Bye bye Angry Birds.
Who would have known that reading could give you all that?



http://www.inewsindia.com/2008/09/29/10-benefits-of-reading/


In my next blog post, I’ll tell you which books transformed my understanding of marketing last year!!


With Kind Resolutions,
The Mama