"I don't even know where I got the strength from"

with Shim Offor, founder of Dragons and Daisies

Show notes:

Shim is a natural storyteller and has a really interesting and wide-ranging career behind her, every step of which has been absolutely instrumental in the business she now runs. I think what stood out for me from this conversation is the importance of self-advocacy and knowing yourself and your worth.

What would you do if you found out that you didn’t receive the bonus you were legally entitled to while you were on mat leave?

How can you make sure your voice is heard when it comes to your pregnancy, body and birth?

Huge and important questions, and by no means the only things we talked about!

Listen in for:

  • Shim’s early finance journey, working in a male dominated industry, managing teams of 5 by 22 and being made redundant twice in her 20s
  • The power of mentors to build your confidence and push you when you might not think you’re ready
  • Pregnancy, birth and advocating for yourself – these were not easy for her!
  • Her return to work and the legal action Shim instigated when she realised she wasn’t receiving what she was entitled to
  • The birth of her business, its pivots and how involved her kids are with it
  • Why an email list is so important
  • What brings Shim her best sales results

Links:

Website
Instagram
LinkedIn

 

About Shim Offor

Shimite Offor, Founder of Dragons & Daisies – where you can find Fun, Fresh & Feel Good Essentials for the Whole Family

Shim’s brand was born when she first entered the crazy world of Parenthood when her daughter was born in June 2010 she started thinking “Surely, it’s not just me…” who couldn’t see themselves or their kids reflected in the clothes on the high street.

She knew little girls had more to aspire to than being a princess, and little boys were interested in more than blue trucks. From this Shim felt compelled to create a clothing line that encourages kids in their limitless potential, that tells them they can be anything they set their minds to.

This led her to the land of Dragons and Daisies.

Shim’s own three little dragons suggest designs, they choose water bottle colours, curate hampers, help with stock counts and inspire the products themselves. Most importantly her kids do all the product testing. No one tests the durability of a T-shirt better than her own!

As the business (and her kids!) grow, Shim is on a mission to give parents a non judgemental space to celebrate who they are as an individual as well as a parent. Because sometimes being a parent is bloody hard!

Not only this, Shim is a self-taught fully trained accountant, a fully trained ITEC massage therapist and she truly believes strongly in a holistic approach to life.

Having the right cohesive mix of people, goals and potential, variety and meaning in your life are the keys to happiness.

Shim Offor’s Links:

Website
Instagram

Transcript:

Intro

Hello. I’m Caroline Marshall, and welcome to Bump to Business Owner the podcast speaking to mums in business. You. I’ll be in conversation with some of the most inspiring women and mothers in enterprise about their journey, how they created their successful businesses alongside raising their children and what that looks like in work and family life.

Caroline (00:28):
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Bump to Business owner. I’m your host, Caroline Marshall, and today I welcome Shim Offor, founder of Dragons and Daisies, where you can find fun, fresh, and feel-good essentials for the whole family. Shim’s brand was born when she first entered the crazy world of parenthood. When her daughter was born in June, 2010, she started thinking, surely it’s not just me who couldn’t see themselves or their kids reflected in the clothes on the high streets. This led her to the land of Dragons and Daisies. Shims own three Dragons suggest designs. They choose water bottle colours, create hampers, help with stock counts and inspire the products themself. Most importantly, her kids do all the product testing. No one tests the durability of a t-shirt better than her own. And as the business and her kids grow, she’s on a mission to give parents a non-judgmental space to celebrate who they are as an individual as well as a parent. Because sometimes being a parent is bloody hard. Having the right cohesive mix of people, goals and potential variety and meaning your life are the keys to happiness in shims belief. Not only this business, but shim is a self-taught, fully trained accountant, a fully trained iTech massage therapist, and she truly believes strongly in holistic approach to life. Well, welcome Shim. Thank you so much for coming today.

Shim (01:44):
Oh, thank you for having me.

Caroline (01:46):
Shim. I love to start on these podcasts with how you started your business, but the career path that led to that. So tell us a bit about your career and what led you to become a qualified accountant then a business owner.

Shim (01:59):
Oh, yeah. So it has been a very colourful career. I’m like an octopus. I’ve always done lots of different things, but I guess I left school, didn’t have any particular plan, didn’t really know what my interests were. I went on to college to study business. I actually didn’t know what to choose, so I just picked business and economics and law as you

Caroline (02:25):
Do, easy

Shim (02:26):
As you do, and I really loved the business. I was like, oh my gosh. And I loved economics, and there were things that I didn’t know I really had an interest in. And after studying that, I still didn’t really know what I wanted. I mean, we’re talking about we’re 17, 18, and 19 at this point. You realise when you are my age, how young this is. It’s not to have a plan. So I didn’t have a plan. I found a job in Wood Green for an office junior working for a company. So I went along, it was great. It was my first proper interview. And he said, oh, you’ve got the job. Literally just like 15 minutes into the interview, he’s like, yeah, you’ve got the job. You obviously, he goes, you’re way overqualified, but you seem to know what needs to be done. You’re confident, blah, blah, blah.

(03:15):
And I thought, that’s great, because I didn’t feel confident. I was thinking, oh my God, am I going to get this job? And I started there as an office junior, and he was starting up his own business. He was a high level exec, and he had decided to jack in his job because he loved working with natural buttons, which is actually quite a complex thing, but I won’t go into it because he never got time for that. So he was the only person in the UK and I think Europe making these natural buttons from a very rare nuts that you find in Ecuador.

(03:46):
So he started up his business and basically I was assisting him while he was building his business. I didn’t actually know I was doing that at the time. It was only upon reflection that you go, oh.

Caroline (03:55):
That’s so funny. My first PA job, I had no idea what a PA was. I was just fresh out of uni. I was like, I’m a PA. I just thought it sounded great.

Shim (04:06):
Yeah, I just had no idea. I was employed as an office junior, and then he got busier and busier. His business started to grow. I was getting busier, and he always struggled with the invoicing side of things. So the cashflow was always an issue because he was outgrowing the business and I was in sort of weighing out these buttons and getting button samples to people and all that, but there was nobody actually doing that administration. So he was working on sage and I didn’t know what it was, but I just sort of opened it up and I was like, how does this work? What is a debit? I don’t understand why these numbers are here, why these numbers are there. And just started having a play around and sort of entering things into this system and seeing what was the repercussion of entering this, what happened if I did this? He had no idea what I was doing, but I was just having a play and whatever. And then it just turns out that I actually worked my way around Sage very well after a few weeks and taught myself how to use it.

Caroline (05:06):
What an opportunity that was to just play with someone else’s business and make your way around Sage. That’s fantastic.

Shim (05:14):
I mean, he was such a lovely boss and he was so stressed, and it was a really big risk for him taking, he was on high level exec for a company earning multiple hundreds of thousands per year to not doing that anymore and starting up your business and having no salary. He had two children and a wife and his kids would come in and I’d make them pack buttons with me and make little cards and stuff like that because we had to display button. So I felt like he was part of my family and he was very good to me. So I guess this was my way of saying, look, I can take this off you. So one of his friends used to come in and do the admin on a Saturday, and it just happened that he said to my boss, there’s a lot of entries in here. What are they? They’ve been deleted, reversed, but what are they? And he said, I don’t know. So he called me up and he said, Shi, do you happen to know what these transactions are in this in Sage? And I was like, oh, yeah, I was just having to play around because I think I can do the invoicing. And he said, well, yeah, my friend has just said that what you have done is what an accountant would do. And I didn’t know what an accountant was.

Caroline (06:31):
I love that.

Shim (06:33):
I’m pretty young. I’ve never been exposed to anything. I was like an accountant. I was like, what is an accountant? And he goes, it’s somebody who does the bookkeeping and makes sure that the business is running. I was like, oh, okay. So he said, would you like me to train you with my friend? Because that’s what he does for me. He does the admin and the accounting. So I sat with this guy for four Saturdays, and that was it really. I just took it and ran. And my boss was very happy and he said, there’s a pay increase if you can do the invoices and whatever. So that was my dipping my toe into the world of accountancy. And I was with that company for a couple of years, and then it just got to the point where I just wanted more and I was well overqualified for what I was now doing in this company, and as sad as I was to leave, I had to go and find something else. So I then joined a recruitment agency. I had to find out what that was as well. I just had no idea how you found a job because I didn’t want another local job. I wanted to go into the city now. I wanted You could do that,

Caroline (07:37):
Now you’re ready.

Shim (07:40):
I felt like I was ready, but I was still a little bit wet behind the ears, but whatever. And I got an interview for a French home living company, a company called L’Occitane, and it was my first interview and I met with the financial controller, who was a woman at the time, and she said, it’s so refreshing to interview a woman because all the cvs I’ve received are mail. And she goes, you stuck up because you were the only woman. And I was like, oh, right. I didn’t realise this was a thing. And I didn’t realise that accounting was very male dominated. That was definitely something I learned along my journey. This was a pivotal moment for me in my career because she took me on, I was purchased Ledger assistant when I started. Three months later I was purchase ledger clerk, which was actually looking after the whole of purchase ledger for them.

(08:32):
And then six months later I was promoted to finance assistant and I was managing a team of three. So within a year I was managing a team of three, and then they promoted me to sales analyst because the company at this point, we were growing at two and three stores a year, so they needed to really pick up on the analysis of what was happening in the business at any one time. And this taught me so much because that’s when we got average transaction values. He port performance indicators, KPIs and building budgeting worksheets and cash flows. This was something I’d never done before. So all this was just so new to me. And working with money on that scale was also something, the numbers

Caroline (09:15):
And not on the same scale, but all those things like cashflow, KPIs, so needed as a business owner.

Shim (09:21):
Exactly. It’s so needed. But little did I know that these things would come to benefit me later on down the line. I learned a lot about managing staff, team appraisals, looking at cv, hiring people. I learned so many skills and I just loved it there. But then my financial controller left and we went into new management and I decided that it wasn’t for me anymore. I’d been there for four and a half, five years, and I felt like there was nothing more that I could do here under the management that I had. So I did a sidestep. I went to a men’s fashion company still based in Central London. And again, luckily for me, I had another female sort of mentor. I didn’t know what mentor was in those days. Now I do. So I know she was my mentor and she was amazing to work alongside and she would take me under her wing and we would have days out, and she just fine tuned what it is that I already knew and made me know that there was bigger things out there.

Caroline (10:24):
Amazing. And is that what made you go on to train as an accountant?

Shim (10:28):
Yeah, so in L’Occitane, my first job, my financial controller there, she was like, you need to qualify because you’ve got a natural talent and you really, in order to command more money, you need the qualification. I wasn’t so sold because I just thought, I know that I can brag my way into anything. But that was her advice and I took it because I respected her. The two female mentors that I had were instrumental in building that confidence in me. And everyone always said to me, you know what you are doing? Gosh, you are so good at what you’re doing now. I didn’t feel that I just did what I did. I didn’t think, oh my gosh, yeah, I’m such a great accountant. It’s okay. No, I never felt like that. I always felt like, goodness me, can I do this? Goodness me, this is a lot of work. Oh gosh, I’ve got to be back in the office at 6:00 AM to get ready for this. At lockdown, I was doing global presentations, it was bonkers. I’m like 22, and I’m talking to people who are 50.

Caroline (11:28):
I love that. That’s the power of mentors for people who are like you or similar to you that you look up to that can instil that confidence in you and make you feel like you deserve that place at the table or that place at the presentation kind of thing.

Shim (11:41):
Yeah, I think so. Yeah. So we come to this property company and it was a really stressful job because all the shareholders and everything, they’re all family. They all go back three generations.

Caroline (11:57):
Me and my friend talk about that with family business. He works with them a lot, and it’s a particular kind of culture. They all have the same culture, but it’s a particular kind of culture you’ve got to be up for working in.

Shim (12:09):
Yeah, it’s very different. Not something that I’d ever done before, but very interesting. Very rewarding as well. Very insightful, just a different way of working. So during this time, I felt like in my personal life I was just looking for more. I was looking more depth. I thought I need to go back and I need to learn something and I don’t want it to be accounts. I’ve done that. And at this time it was actually this property company they were paying for me to do. They said that they would sponsor my A CCA. So I was actually studying here and doing the accounts and I thought I need something for me personally. And that’s when I found the world of ballistic therapies. So I did a short course on hand massage, aromatherapy, Indian head massage, and Swedish massage, and they were just 10 and 20 week courses that I’ve done. And I thought, oh my God, I really love this. It gives me something that I didn’t know that I needed.

Caroline (13:05):
It’s learning for you, I guess, isn’t it? I actually literally read an article today about time for learning, and I guess you were learning obviously still at work, but you needed to learn something that was your passion really. At

Shim (13:16):
That point. I didn’t know what my passion was. I was just trying to tune into, I just knew that I needed more depth, but I just felt like what I was doing is great, and it’s definitely getting me paid and it allows me to travel. I was on a plane every couple of months. It allows me to do so many amazing things, but there’s still something missing. Having done these short courses, I then found iTech, the qualification, iTech, and I did an intense course for five months and I dedicated all my weekends to attending this course. And that’s where I started learn about physiology and going within to learn about without the outside and how different essential oils have an effect on your body, how massage has an effect on your body, the power of touch, the power of going within the power of meditation.

(14:05):
And again, luckily it was another female who was running the course and she was just incredible. But she’d make us ground ourselves. She taught us the power of grounding, letting go of things. We’d do a meditation before we started and the meditation after we finished our class. So it just felt like so nice. And that’s where I learned more about holistic ideologies. So I passed my iTech. I was very happy and I was like, what am I going to do now? I want to carry on in. So I set up a studio in my house. I held an open day thinking I didn’t know what I was doing, so I just had to go with what felt right. So what I did was logged into my Yahoo and I literally just messaged my whole contacts list. I’m holding an open day on X date, I’ve just qualified for iTech.

(15:00):
These are the services that I’m offering, but even if you don’t want the service, I would love to just welcome you into the open date just so you can see my studio, maybe tell a friend. So I just thought, okay, it just went off into the ether because a few people responded, said, yeah, I’ll be there. And then it was just like there was nothing heard back. And then it came to the day, I opened at four o’clock my front door and I couldn’t believe the people piling in to my home. So I did a little studio tour. It was beautiful. It was just so serene and tranquil. And I had the music playing and I left my book open and I said, if anyone wants to book time in, just book yourself in. And by the time the open day clerk finished at 10, my book was filled for four months.

Caroline (15:54):
Amazing. You set up a business and got fully booked for the first four months

Shim (16:02):
Almost. Sometimes naivety pays off because I had no, I didn’t attach any sort of anything to it. I just thought, lemme just do this. What’s the worst that can happen? I have an empty book. I really didn’t think people would book me. So no

Caroline (16:16):
One comes, what’s the worst that could happen? I love that. And it’s also about putting yourself out there. You didn’t think twice about it. I mean, yes, it’s not social media, but that it was in that form of like, I’m just going to tell everyone I know and what’s the worst that could happen?

Shim (16:32):
I mean, it’s the best form of marketing, and in fact, I should do it now, but I just didn’t know what I was doing. And I just went with, this feels right. We didn’t have Facebook then and all that kind of stuff, but it worked. I was fully booked and I was doing massage at the weekends and basically after work. So I would start my first client at six 30 in the evening, and my last client would leave by 10, so I’ll fit in two or three people per evening. But then it just got really stressful because it was like, oh my gosh, how am I working and doing this and studying. So I shut my studio after, I think I had it for about nine months, maybe nearly a year. And then I decided to close it. It was just too much, the accounting and that. Do you still

Caroline (17:21):
Do any of that? Do you keep any of that side going?

Shim (17:25):
I mean, not really. I do with my children. My children know how to massage. They always ask for, oh, lovely. Even when they were babies, I used to massage. Oh, of

Caroline (17:34):
Course, baby massage. Well qualified.

Shim (17:38):
But yeah, that just got a bit much. And then I decided to leave the property company. I just found it was just too much for me to deal with and I was looking for something a little less stressful and a little more near to home. I want to come out of that rat race, getting on the tube and fighting for space on the tube and all that. Early morning starts wearing suits all the time. I just want you to relax now. So I found a job for a qualitative market research company, and I went in as SY financial controller, managing one person, very relaxed offices. You could wear what you wanted. I could drive in. I had a car park space for myself, my car, and this was all so new to me. I’d never worked in this manner before. We could start at nine or 10, leave at five or six.

(18:30):
We just had to choose what the hours were. Great holiday, great. Very young, vibrant company and learned so many skills there as well. I was able to bring, I really levelled up their accounts process and in fact, I started my assistant, he was so good, but I started teaching him how to do real accounting. He was assisting me, but I started teaching him how to do the debits, the credits, what they really were, how to manage cashflow, build budget spreadsheets from scratch, not just using a BOG standard template, but actually using what the business needs. So that was really interesting. And it was here that I fell pregnant and the owner of the company was female where I was working. So she was just like, cool. There was no issue with having to fight pregnancy or anything like that. They were very understanding. It was a really nice environment as you’d
Caroline (19:30):
Hope now for all companies, but certainly not the case.

Shim (19:34):
It’s certainly not the case for everyone. So went on maternity, I worked probably right up. I had hyperemesis, so it was a horrific pregnancy. Oh no. But I pretty much lived in hospital because oh my goodness, the ketones were just crazy. I thought I had morning sickness and I was really suffering. And my partner was saying to me, please, can you just go and see the doctor because this is not normal. I was like, well, you dunno what normal is. You’re a man. How would you know what woman’s morning sickness looks like? And it wasn’t until my mom came to visit me and after she’d been there for about 15 minutes, I’d already thrown up like eight times.

Caroline (20:27):
Oh my goodness. She

Shim (20:29):
Said, you do realise that this isn’t morning sickness? And I was like, yes. And she said, no, no, no. She goes, this isn’t right. So she dragged me. She said, come on. And yeah, I found out that I was hyperemesis brother Dar hg.

Caroline (20:48):
Oh my. Yeah. hg, thank you for the shorten term. My sister had it, but I still always forget how to say it. Oh, wow. And how did you feel? Obviously you felt bloody awful, but how did you feel being in hospital? Did you have any concerns about work or stuff or were they just really good about it?

Shim (21:09):
They were really good. I mean, even when I was at work, I would be spewing up. So it wasn’t, it was something that I was hiding or trying to get out of or trying to milk, just pregnant. But they

Caroline (21:19):
All would’ve just felt sorry for you then if they saw you do that.

Shim (21:23):
So I was just extremely ill. I mean, they used to come and see me as well. They were really good. They’d send me flowers, really lovely company to work for. They understood. And yeah, it was horrific, really. But anyway, I mean, I have no idea how I did it, but literally it was like I gave birth and giving birth was quite funny as well, because I had all this sickness, but I still held the pregnancy quite well. And on the day of, I think I got to, I dunno, 30 seconds apart. And I tapped my sister and my partner, they’d fallen asleep. They were supposed to be keeping me company. I was like, I think baby’s coming now or whatever. And they were like, how far apart? And I said, about 30 seconds. They’re like, what? You shoulda called us. So we jumped in a taxi, got to the hospital, and I was in a really, really good spirits and just breathing through the contractions and whatever. And I was like, yeah. I said, my baby’s coming. And they said, no, no, no, no. Your baby can’t be coming because you look fine. I said, no, my baby’s coming. It’s coming now

Caroline (22:40):
Listen to me.

Shim (22:43):
And they’re like, no, no. And I said to my sister, you’re going to have to deal with this because it’s coming. And I was laughing. My partner was telling me something funny, and I was laughing my head off in the corridor and they were like, you don’t laugh when you’re giving birth. When you’re about to give birth, you’re screaming. And I thought, well, I’m in a lot of pain, but I know that something else is going on. I know my body. And a lovely young nurse saw me and she said, look, just come into the room with me. Let me examine you because you are saying this and this check. And they checked and she was like, oh my gosh, you’re eight centimetres dilated. What?

Caroline (23:22):
I have a hard relate to that. I had a little nap. And they were like, no, for you’re in labour. You’ve not had a little nap. And I did have a little nap. And they were like, yeah, you eight centimetres. So I did the opposite with you. I wasn’t laughing, I was just having a kiss.

Shim (23:38):
Every woman is different. And I just hate because it was my first, I was seen as really hostile and demanding. You dunno how to have a baby. This is your first baby. You’re not having a baby soon. This is your first baby. And it doesn’t go that smooth. You still have to go from this to this. Done most of the labouring at home. And I think I did that because I actually lived in hospital for a lot during the pregnancy and I hated hospital. So I think I tried want to, my subconscious was like, Kim, you got this. Just do it at home where you’re comfortable and then go in for it. You’d

Caroline (24:15):
Already had too much exposure being pregnant in a hospital. You needed to stay out.

Shim (24:22):
And I wanted a water birth, but it was being taken at the time somebody was using it. I was like, oh, for goodness sake, I’m going to have to have

Caroline (24:32):
Something. Might have had time either to be, takes a while to fill.

Shim (24:39):
Exactly. So anyway, yeah, had a lovely bundle of joy. She came bang on her daily day, bang on time. And yeah, it was lovely. And it wasn’t until, because I was still being sick while I was having contractions as well. So the hate really, it was ridiculous. And then as soon as she came out, all the sickness left.

Caroline (25:02):
That’s amazing. It’s incredible, isn’t it? Our bodies.

Shim (25:05):
Absolutely. And I just felt like myself again. I was like, oh my gosh, this has been,

Caroline (25:10):
What was your first meal then? Without having to feel sick? Really? I’ll have all the food

Shim (25:16):
It, it was actually a boring sandwich that we had to get from. No, actually it wasn’t even that. They gave me toast. They give you toast.

Caroline (25:22):
Toast, yeah. The tea and toast. Yeah. But I’ve not eaten properly for nine months. I need something stronger.

Shim (25:28):
Yeah, toast. Thank you. Whilst doing that, we were in the midst of a house move as well while pregnant. I mean, I was all go. I’ve always been sort of do a hundred things at a time, just keep on going, going. So we were doing a house move. We’ve now got a newborn in tow. We’ve sold our house, but we haven’t actually found a house to buy. A couple of them fall through. So then one of my friends phones me and says, oh, do you want to do a house? Sit for me. I want to go travelling. So we stayed in her house, had this baby. It was lovely. I returned to work. I think she was about six months. I had booked off the whole year. But what happened was I fell pregnant while I was on maternity.

Caroline (26:09):
Oh my goodness. Within six months.

Shim (26:14):
So when my daughter was three months, I’d fallen pregnant

Caroline (26:18):
Three. Oh my goodness. So there’s less than, I’m trying to do the math. So

Shim (26:23):
13 months between them.

Caroline (26:24):
Okay. Not quite Irish twins, I think it’s called, but

Shim (26:29):
Nearly. Nearly.

Caroline (26:31):
Oh no. And then did you go back to sickness?

Shim (26:34):
So what happened was I didn’t know what to do because I was thinking, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’ve got to, I was trying to work out how my maternity worked. I was trying to work out, but you have to obviously work for a certain amount of time before you can take the term at you again. And I was like, oh my gosh, this is going to be such a juggle. So I had to phoned my boss and I was just like, this is what’s happened. And he was like, right, okay. And then I phoned the owner of the company because she was a woman and she was a mom too. And I said, this is what’s happened. And it wasn’t planned, but this is the sitch. And she was like, okay, don’t worry about it. Just do what you got to do. Just work it out, work it out thing unfazed.

(27:19):
But my boss was like, how the hell are we going to manage our accounts without you kind of thing. So it turns out, so I had a year booked off for maternity. I went back at six months so that I could make up the time on the other side and then have qualified for maternity with the second baby. So I didn’t want my child to be in nursery at six months. But it just happened that that was the situation. So I went back to work pregnant and it was great. Everyone was good. And then I got back into the accounts. I’ve been doing my kit day, so people were up to speed with what was happening with me, what was happening with the pregnancies. And I was very, very sick with my son as well. And so I went back to work a little bit earlier and I started doing the accounts.

(28:09):
I was supposed to go back I think in the march, but I went back in the February because the end of month, end of year was coming up. So as I’m doing the accounts, I’m seeing strange anomalies in the accounts because with my job, I used to get bonuses and bonuses related to work as well, as well as just an annual bonus. Everybody got raises, everybody got bonuses. It was a very generous company. So like I say, I returned in the February, but I didn’t receive a bonus for that Christmas. And I thought, that’s a bit strange that I haven’t received my bonus or whatever. Because what a lot of people don’t know is that when you are on maternity leave, you still have to be treated as if you’re sitting at that desk. You don’t lose perks, you don’t lose all your usual, you’re still employed basically. You are still employed. Absolutely. So I’m thinking, oh this, I’m reconciling payroll and I’m seeing that everyone’s got their bonuses, everybody’s got their pay rises, and the only person who’s 0% is me. And I thought that’s a little bit strange. So I called up my sister. Luckily I had my own office, so I had a lot of privacy. I called up my sister because she’s HR guru. That was her career that she chose.

Caroline (29:29):
Oh, that’s so helpful when you got one of those in your life.

Shim (29:33):
So I called her up and I said, this is the sit. I’m back doing the accounts and this is what I’m finding. Where do I stand? And she said, made a boo boo. Jim, this is well out of order, it’s against the law. She said, send me over your contracts so I can see what’s in there. So I sent her my contract and she said, yeah, absolutely not. They haven’t adhered to their own contractual rules and even just employment law, basic employment law. And I was like, right, what do I do? And she said, well take them to a tribunal. She goes, you’ll probably settle out of court. But she said, it depends. If you want the job, just go and speak to your boss and say that you’ve done this and just ask them to rectify it. And she said, if you don’t want the job, just leave with a lump sum. And at this point I was already birthing the idea for my own business and I was doing a lot of research and development into products and things like that. And I was just like, oh, actually maybe I’ve just going to work on my own thing. Maybe I’ve just been gifted this from the universe, this situation, because that really hurt. I was like, oh my gosh, what? They care about me. And then all of a sudden…

Caroline (30:45):
All the work you’ve done, does that not mean anything despite having babies at the same time?

Shim (30:51):
Yeah, exactly. So I decided, yeah, I just walked into my boss’s office and I said, this is what I found and whatcha you going to do about it? And he was like, what whatcha talking about? He’s like, oh, I don’t think they didn’t do it maliciously. I just think they just thought, well, I
think they genuinely thought Kim’s not here. We don’t need to do that.

Caroline (31:13):
That’s so interesting because say it’s not malicious, but it’s just ingrained in that when someone’s on Aternity leave, they’re gone mentally and physically.

Shim (31:22):
So I just think it was just a very poor judgement that was made. So he said, I dunno what to do. I’m going to have to get advice on this. I’ll come back to you in a couple of days. I said, fine. So I just carried on working In the meantime, I was doing research on my options and they were taking their time coming back. So I said, okay. I said, I’m going to take this to tribunal because I know where I stand. And my sister had given me lots of information. She advised me to go and get a solicitor’s letter. So I went to solicitors and got them to draw up a letter, showed them the contract, told them what had happened and they were like, oh my gosh, you know that this is really bad what they’ve done. So he drew up a letter for me and I went in and they were absolutely flummoxed. They were like, oh my gosh, this is real. Jim isn’t messing around because by this point I knew that they had taking the Mick and I just wasn’t having it.

Caroline (32:20):
They were taking too long to get back to you and not, or at least communicate with you that they’re working on it.

Shim (32:26):
Yeah. So it got to the point where I had to sit there with a representative of mine. They had their representative and they said, we don’t want to go to tribunal. And my sister told me that they wouldn’t want to do it because when you go to tribunal, you have to announce it in the papers. Oh

Caroline (32:43):
Do okay. I mean, I’ve spoken to a lot of women on this podcast, but there’s a lot of NDAs that float around as well. But I do know they do anything to avoid that from what they’ve said.
Shim (32:53):
Yeah. So any tribunal that’s happening has to be announced in a local paper.

Caroline (32:57):
Interesting. Didn’t know

Shim (32:58):
That. And then obviously once it’s out in the news, they are a highly reputable company in their field. Their whole ethos was, we look after our staff, we do this. So they thought, we don’t want this going into any kind of news because it’s just such a bad look. And they said, no, we are not going to do that. And they said, what we’ll do is they said, what do you want? And I said, I want a lump sum of what I’m due, like my bonus, the this, this, this, and then this for causing me anxiety and stress. And they were like, no, we’re not doing that. Well you are. You just dunno it yet. So I thought, lemme try something from a different angle. So it’s about two months to get a tribunal. At that time, the waiting list was about two months and I thought, I just can’t work here for two months. I just want to go. Once you know people don’t really respect you or anything, you don’t want to be hanging around there for any longer.


Caroline (33:58):
It’s so true. When I was given a redundancy option, they’re like, oh, there’s this lower role you can pay for. And I’m like, you just want to get rid of me. What is the point in going for this role? There’s a point sometimes it’s just lip service.

Shim (34:11):
Absolutely. So I found out about a Compromise agreement and that’s what I did. So we went in there and we made an offer and they were very shocked and surprised. It was even more that I was asking for. I was thinking, gone, you should have gone with before it have been a bit cheeky. And I said I wanted it basically paid within a day and that was it. So they put in a clause that I would have to leave the building. I wasn’t allowed to talk to any star or discuss anything, and I was gagged for five years. That’s the only reason I’m talking about it with you now.

Caroline (34:51):
Oh my goodness. So you had that in as well? Five years. Interesting. So do they have to choose a length of time? Do you know

Shim (35:00):
That was the length of time that they chose was five years. Some people are gagged for longer. It just depends on, I guess where they are. I just thought, I don’t mind, I don’t need to talk about this because my family know. But what they didn’t want is their employees finding out for any of their clients, finding out anything. So that’s why they said, we’ll gag you for five years. You’re not allowed to say anything. If you say anything, you basically have to pay back the lump sum.

Caroline (35:30):
Well, Jennifer being like, it seems like you were just so strong during a time where obviously you were feeling awful and not yourself and the whole thing’s stressful anyway without the fact you had a six month old and pregnant again and no house really, by the sounds of it.

Shim (35:45):
Yeah, it was absolutely crazy times. I don’t even know where I got the strength from to do it because my body wasn’t feeling right. I was being sick all the time, moved into a new home. So trying to nest for my baby and then nest for the baby that I’m having. I

Caroline (36:06):
Know your other babies still say little, but you must have felt they were big when you got another new one. I think everyone feels like that, but especially when they’re literally just turned one blessed.

Shim (36:16):
It was a good time. So I’ve got my payout.

Caroline (36:19):
I was going to say, how much good time off did you then get or time to reset?

Shim (36:25):
Oh, that was it. I just said, bye. I just said bye to the working world. The lump sum just allowed me to have that peace of mind and just know that bill, the mortgage and everything is covered and I’ve got a little bit to play with to develop my own business and do whatever. So my partner’s like, yeah, just take time. Just do what you’re doing. So it was a slightly less stressful pregnancy in the sense of I was at home. I was just able to be at home and just be with the children. And even though I was sick, I didn’t have to phone people and say, I’m going to be sick. I’m sick. And

Caroline (36:57):
That’s it. I think it’s the same with being a business owner or something. It’s like I just don’t have to say I’m sick or I’ve got a doctor’s appointment or I’m in hospital again for a day. The stress alone must have made you feel so much better. And even though you had a child to look after, but just made you feel so much better.

Shim (37:12):
It was really nice. And then that was really when things started kicking off and I started thinking about my business and what it is that I was going to do. I had lots of different ideas and see having the babies with me and then looking for things for them, I started to realise actually some of these things that I’m looking for I can’t find. We’re quite an eclectic family. I love design, I love colour. My partner’s in the music industry, we’re very creative and involved in that industry as well. So yeah, there was things in the world of child that just thought, these are boring,

Caroline (37:55):
Especially in the gender neutral space. Your stuff is neutral. Anyone can wear anything. But what I love about your brand, I always have done, it’s not gender neutral in what you’d expect as in greys.

Shim (38:07):
Yeah, no, exactly. And that annoys me as well, is having those sort of neutral tones and I’m like, that doesn’t mean it’s gender neutral just because it’s cream. We could do better than this.

Caroline (38:20):
The idea is if it’s hot pink, you can wear it and if it’s dark blue you can wear it, which I love about your brand here straight away.

Shim (38:29):
So yeah, I think it was shopping for my children. We love things camo. We like bright colours. And I found myself shopping more with European brands and Scandi brands and it doesn’t seem like that long ago, it was nearly 14 years ago, I became mum, but back then you didn’t have kids wearing black. Now you see it, you can go and find a T-shirt, you can go and find a black baby girl. Back then there was no such thing and it was all very like the pale yellows and the pale greens. I was like, where’s the colour? Where’s the colour guys? And I was like, goodness me. I’d walk into High street stores, just be so amused, non inspired. I don’t like the T-shirts that say daddy’s little princess. Alright, she is daddy’s little princess, always will be. But for goodness sake, she’s more than that.

(39:26):
She’s a fierce badass. Do you know what I mean? Hello? Where are all these fierce things for all these lovely young girls that are coming into the world? So that really annoyed me. I’ve never been a girly girl, so maybe that’s why it annoyed me even more. And then my son came along and I was Dinos and trucks on the T-shirts and I was like, seriously, that’s what boys are about, trucks and dinosaurs and how strong they’re, and I was like, no, I don’t like this. So I set about designing things that were really what I would’ve liked to have found.

Caroline (40:01):
Amazing. And how old were the kids at this point?

Shim (40:03):
So dragons and daisies came about in 2016. So you’re talking five and six.

Caroline (40:10):
No, I just think it’s really good to share the reality behind the scenes. So you spent time working on this?

Shim (40:18):
Yeah. I mean, when you’ve got two little ones and you’ve just moved into a new home, everything just takes so long.

Caroline (40:27):
So true. Everything takes so long. Putting shoes on takes an hour, launching a brand,

Shim (40:33):
I mean, it’s like your brain. I’ve already got the 10 year plan in my brain. I’ve already done the work in my brain, but the actual visibility of it is just a snail. And I think it’s probably one of the most frustrating things as a business owner is the vision is over there, but then the actual, oh gosh, I’ve got to market this. I’ve got to actually make it. I’ve got to do an Instagram post, I’ve got to do this. All those things take so much time. It was definitely my third baby at that point. I was also working for my partner. His business was starting to really pick up and have legs. So I was doing his accounts for him and as well as looking after the babies at home and trying to grow my own thing. So I was working on my designs, I would say probably for about 18 months before I even printed them on a T-shirt.

(41:28):
It was a unique concept. Some characters that were brought about from my children, I was like, what do you want to see on a t-shirt guys? And they’re like, we want to see an octopus on a skateboard. We want to see a cat playing basketball. And I was like, Ooh, this is interesting. So we actually started putting their ideas into, I worked with a graphic designer into style of old school hip hop graffiti kind of feel because that’s what we like, and we came up with six characters and all of the characters were then had a positive affirmation attached to that character. I do believe in, I guess it’s the holistic side again, is up your children, building them up, letting them know that they’re much more than they believe that they are. Their self-worth, their confidence, their esteem. Those are all things that we should always be building up. So I’ve wanted to put that in a T-shirt. So when you wore that, you felt it and you knew that, that you are great. And we launched with six T-shirts.

Caroline (42:33):
Amazing.

Shim (42:34):
And I didn’t know what to expect, but it was just crazy. I launched on Facebook, that was okay, and then I launched on Instagram and that’s when it went pop and all my following and customers were in the US and Australia.

Caroline (42:52):
Interesting. Yeah, you do hear this a lot and I mean, you hear it the other way as well. People saying, oh, I couldn’t buy this. So I went to Australia and went to America and you’d done it the other way.

Shim (43:03):
Yeah, it was just crazy. They just got it. They understood the concept, they liked the designs, and I think I sold out, I think it was about a month, and I’d sold out and I was panicking because I was like, what do I do? So I started ordering bigger numbers and I think the first year into it, by the end of 2017, beginning of 2018, I had 45 brand reps. So 45 people all over the states, south America, Europe, and Australia, repping my brand.

Caroline (43:36):
Amazing.

Shim (43:38):
It was absolutely incredible. I didn’t expect that at all. But my UK ratio was probably about 10%. 10% of my sales were coming from the uk. 90% were coming worldwide. So what happened is I was doing T-shirts and then that expanded into jumpers. I was doing the principle and jumpers because I always say to my customers, what do you want? And they say, we want to see jumpers, we want to see caps, we want to see BU bags. We want to do this. So I would just develop what they wanted. I guess it was a holistic approach to business really, because I was saying, what do you want? And they’d tell me. I’d be like, okay, I’ll go and make it. And then it would sell. And quite a nice little business model because it just worked. Then it got to about 2019 and I was sitting with the kids because they’re getting a little bit older at this point, and they used to be my models as well. So I used to take them down to Shor Ditch and whatever to where all the places where I take pictures, I still all my own pictures. And they were happy to be models. But as they’ve got older, they’ve become a little bit more sort of like, mom, we don’t really want to

Caroline (44:41):
Have they. I was wondering this getting towards, do they get involved still a fair bit in other ways?

Shim (44:47):
Absolutely. So behind the scenes, absolutely fine. So they help me with stock tapes. They help me with the developing new products. They pick all the colours of the products, from beanies to water bottles to travel cups. I literally say to them, what colours do you think we should get? And then they tell me, and it just takes that decision fatigue out of

Caroline (45:05):
That’s so true.

Shim (45:07):
I think we touch ourselves to so many things like, oh my gosh, should we get a pink one done or should we get a blue one done?

Caroline (45:13):
Or the shade

Shim (45:16):
Should be top pink, or should we go with pale pink or should it be future? And it’s like, oh my gosh, just make a decision. Whereas the kids are not found down by that. They’re just like, oh yeah, we like this, this, and this.

(45:30):
That’s fine. Done. So they’re really good. And when I do pop-up markets, they’ll come and help me. If I ask for help, they help me pack up the car When I’m getting ready to say everything behind the scenes, they are so helpful. They get involved, they understand my business. The back of their hand, they get it because they’ve grown up with it. They understand the product. So even if you were to say, can you show me how this works or whatever, they can do it. They know how it was made, why it was made. They chose the colours so they can even talk about why they chose those colours. But at this point, they’re sort of getting a little bit older and I’m like, okay, we need to develop some new products because they’re into different things. I felt that I was moving into a new realm of myself as well. I wasn’t completely feeling aligned with these T-shirts anymore as I was because my children were growing. I did those T-shirts for my children for them. They were changing and evolving and I thought, oh, we need to change and evolve as well. So at the end of 2019, we started dabbling with water bottles and beanies. Got a few samples, but didn’t do anything with them. And then obviously 2020 happened.

Caroline (46:46):
Yeah, that joy.

Shim (46:49):
Yeah. So everything shut down. So all my T-shirt suppliers shut down, so I couldn’t get any T-shirts. The printing of my T-shirts were such a specialised way of printing and how to get the vividness of the colours onto the T. It takes somebody who knows exactly what they’re doing, and these people have been printing my T-shirt for years, so they knew the back of their hand what to do and everything just shut down. I was like, oh my gosh, what am I going to do here?

Caroline (47:18):
Did you think the business might be done then at that point? Did that cross your mind?

Shim (47:23):
It crossed my mind, but I also, I mean, I was thinking, what have I got? I was like, what have got now? And I was thinking, okay, the only thing that I’ve got right now is my email list. That’s what I’ve got is that list that I’ve spent years building on that email list is all customers that have bought T-shirts from me and kids wear, I’m not doing, I don’t want to do kids wear anymore. And the fact is, I can’t do kids wear now because all my suppliers have shut down. Nobody can print the prints the way that I want them, so I’m not going to go for any second if I can’t get it the way I want it, I just don’t do it. And what am I going to do this list? I was like, okay. So the list, they’re moms. Moms, okay, these moms are going to be stuck at home like me. Okay. Okay. The water bottles and beanie seem to be going down well in terms of, because we were out and about using these products because we try everything before we sell it for a very long time. So I know that it’s robust because I know that kids have a way of destroying

Caroline (48:26):
My children, do. My husband’s like, you’re buying water bottles all the time. And I’m like, I’ve had to buy more durable ones like yours to be like, he’ll just drop them. And I’m like, oh, for god’s sakes. I bought that yesterday.

Shim (48:39):
Yeah, exactly. So I do it and we use it in real life. So we take them to the park and whatever and put them through the washing machine. So I always need to make sure that things can be washed. And people started were asking, oh, where did you get that? Where did you get that? Oh, that’s nice. That’s a nice colour. So we had a lot of people piqued a lot of interest with our water bottles just being out in parks and stuff. Just other parents saying, oh, what’s that? Oh, that looks nice. Oh, your daughter’s water bottle looks really good. So I thought, okay, we’re going with Family Essentials. You can match with your family moms because they like matching with T-shirts and stuff. You can match with your accessories. That’s what I did. I pivoted the business then to be Family essentials doing. We launched with five different coloured beanies and three different coloured water bottles, and I put the water bottles on pre-order and they were sold out by the time they had landed in the uk.

Caroline (49:38):
Amazing.

Shim (49:40):
So I knew that I was onto something, but I just needed to hone it. And then obviously with the, because I knew that I had an email list of moms, I thought, okay, I’ve never sold to them. I’ve only sold products that they would buy for their child. So now I had to change a little bit of the messaging to say, actually, we’ve got things for you and your children now. Then we added more beanies and we added more water bottles and then we added candles. Yeah, mother’s Day, that’s when we started doing hampers and more like wellbeing gift sets. Again, I think that was going back to my holistic root.

Caroline (50:17):
It makes complete sense. Yeah. Now you know your background in it

Shim (50:22):
And my aromatherapy. So all the candles were all curated, they’re all mood boosting, so they evoke different emotions.

Caroline (50:30):
Oh, they smell amazing. I can vouch for that.

Shim (50:34):
Thank you. So they were all curated from a place where you could get the feels of what you wanted to, what you want to emanate that day. So if you want to be uplifted, you would use our gold digger one because it was fresh and it was vibing, and if you want to get work done and each candle as well, I thought, let me put a positive message on there as well. Again, I think just coming back to that holistic face of wellbeing and feeling good and boosting. So all our candles have lovely messages on them that to empower you. So we did a launch, did a collaboration with my sister-in-Law who owns a company called Hey Mama, who provides services for moms struggling with their mental health.

Caroline (51:18):
Oh, amazing.

Shim (51:19):
And so she provides this really lovely space for women, and I said to her, look, let’s collab, and for every hamper that we sell, I’m going to donate to Hey mama. Because these sessions, they do cost money and stuff, and she’s always looking for donations and whatever. And I thought, let’s put something back into the community because especially at a time where everyone, a lot of people we’re not going out, we’re not being social. A lot of services have been called, it just felt right. And again, it was just coming from that wellbeing aspect and just wanting to give back. So yeah, we did a collaboration on that. It’s

Caroline (51:53):
So needed though, and it just shows the power of small businesses who can just choose without processes in place, without everything like that. You can just choose to give to your community like that. It’s an amazing thing to be able to do.

Shim (52:08):
Yeah, I think so. It’s been nice. I mean, dragon, the data is just continually to, we are continually pivoting and we’re entering another phase, which I’m quite excited about.

Caroline (52:23):
Oh, can you share, because we are going to have to wrap up, see, and I love what we’re ending on is the pivoting journey. Since you’ve been a brand that’s been around since 2016 or you launched then, didn’t you said?

Shim (52:35):
Yes 2016.

Caroline (52:36):
And obviously in your head before that. So, and I’d love to end on the fact that you keep pivoting and that’s such a great way. So what is next for you and what’s your advice for a business that might be looking at pivoting? So it’s two questions there. What’s next for Drys and Legacy first?

Shim (52:54):
Oh, so what’s next for us is, so I still have the clothing line and stuff still on my website. So by the end of this year, I want all of that wiped out. So we’ll be having a big clearance sale, and I just really want to focus,

Caroline (53:10):
I’ll be heading that

Shim (53:12):
And I really want to just focus on the drinkware and stuff like that because to me it’s the more wellbeing aspect. And my children are getting a bit older now. So I’ve got teens now. So my eldest turns 14 this year. My middle child turns 13, and then I’ve got a 6-year-old. So whilst I’m still in the throes of young children, my two eldest, they’re older and I just feel like I’m starting another motherhood journey. It’s just like I’ve reached another sort of intersection at the road and it’s really important to me to make sure that I’m looked after so that I can then be better for them. And it’s taken a long time to actually really appreciate that because when you are in the throes of young children and the madness of the nursery run, the school run, blah, blah, blah. My children take themselves to school now.

Caroline (54:09):
Oh, amazing. Tantrums as well. I know, teenagers still have them, but

Shim (54:14):
Just a different way.

Caroline (54:15):
Just a different way. They’re not kind of clambering on you, I’m guessing. At the same time, just slamming doors.

Shim (54:25):
Oh, don’t sometimes I taking the doors, the hinge, I’m like, do you want me to take them off the hinge?

Caroline (54:31):
Good threat, do it.

Shim (54:34):
So yeah. So I think I’m moving into this space of just more wellbeing, looking after yourself, taking time out for yourself and as a woman and a mom and a partner. So yeah, we’ll be focusing more on the drinkware and on more products that can be used for wellbeing and that bring joy into your home, into your day, into your life. I’m appearing on my feed more because I just feel like I haven’t got my children as models anymore, so I’m going to have to step up now. And

Caroline (55:12):
There’s a new model in town. I love your pictures. Look, look

Shim (55:15):
Amazing. And every time I do appear on my feed, it always works well. It always triggers something and you get more views, you get more reach, you get more people commenting. Sometimes that equates into more sales. So I’m like, okay, as much as I might not want to be upfront, it appears that people actually seeing me up front. And

Caroline (55:39):
You’re so on brand as well. I think from seeing you, I think that’s probably what appeals to everyone is that while it might not feel comfortable, it looks very comfortable for you.

Shim (55:49):
I so appreciate that because it’s really not my comfort spot. But what I’ve realised is that I just need to do it. So this year is just all about getting out of my comfort zone. So I did start off with a photo shoot and doing products with me, modelling them or holding them or whatever. And that was huge for me in terms of, oh my gosh, I can’t, my photographer, like, you look great. Stop it. This looks amazing. It’s like, this is what we’ve been trying to work towards for a long time. So putting up pictures, I always go, oh my gosh, please let this be okay. Don’t anything horrible. And then I post it and it’s okay. The world doesn’t end.

Caroline (56:26):
Exactly. That’s it. The world doesn’t end everyone. You might even get some positives from it, like sales. Sales most importantly for, it’s a small business, but yeah, the world doesn’t end. And I love that sharing. It’s so true.

Shim (56:41):
Yeah. So we are doing that and then we are getting out into the wild, so to speak. So we are doing lots more popups, we’re doing lots more markets. I’ve already done three markets this year and yeah, we’re really at the beginning of March. Wow.

Caroline (56:58):
Yeah. Amazing.

Shim (56:59):
Yeah, we’re doing ideal home show.

Caroline (57:02):
Oh, exciting. When is that?

Shim (57:04):
That’s 22nd of March to the 7th of April.

Caroline (57:07):
Excellent. I think this is out just in time for people to squeeze in a visit.

Shim (57:13):
So that’s really been a big thing for me. So the thing is investing in the business, usually I am and are about the investment, but now I’m like, no, I really need to do this and to grow the business. So this year it’s going to be really pivotal. So we’re doing lots of things that we know works, because I’ve done the analysis on it. I’m like, what’s been working for the last few years? Okay, X, Y, and Z, right? We’re going to do more of X, Y, and Z because it would be silly not to. And yeah, the 18 months, I’ve given myself 18 months to make magic happen, and if it doesn’t happen, then I might have to go and do something else.

Caroline (57:54):
And that’s okay, is what we’re learning.

Shim (57:57):
That’s absolutely fine, because we all have different stems, there’s different things. We’re all multifaceted.

Caroline (58:06):
I have no doubt this will be Dragons and Daises year.

Shim (58:10):
I have no doubt either. And I really, yeah, I appreciate you picking me up. Thank you very much. Oh

Caroline (58:17):
No, God. I mean I don’t need to, it speaks for itself, but where can people find you then who are interested to learn more?

Shim (58:24):
So, well, we have our website, so that’s Dragons and Daisies.co.uk. So our website obviously has, our products are about us. We’ve got a little blog that I’ve actually started contributing to more now because I’ve realised that people like to see that as well. But Instagram is probably our most active social media platform, so we’re on their dragers and daisies. We are on TikTok and we’re on Facebook,

Caroline (58:55):
TikTok. I look forward to finding you on TikTok. We’ve all got to be apparently amazing. Oh, well, shim, thank you so much for your time today. Honestly, your story’s been so incredible to hear and how your journey has all led to this, and I really look forward to finding out where the next phase, the next pivot for Dragons and daisies go.

Shim (59:18):
Thank you so much, Caroline. Thank you for having me.

Outro:

Thank you so much for listening to Bump to Business Owner. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Please do rate, review, follow or subscribe wherever you’re listening. It really helps us to connect with more mums and business owners. You can DM me at Bump to Business Owner on Instagram and I’ll be back next week.

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