Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Interview: Mia Tui's Charlotte Jamme

Ever since the second half of my maternity leave, which was also about the time I started this blog, I have met wonderful inspiring women, many of whom happen to be mothers and run a business. It has mainly been women as it all kick started when I attended the Cambridge Business Mums Conference in 2011 and it has continued ever since. But there have been a few dads too and then it has spread to an interest in small businesses in general (whether they are run by parents or not). I basically am learning to buy from small businesses, from local crafts men and women and have coffee at non-chainy coffee shops.

Interview: Mia Tui's Charlotte Jamme
Charlotte at last year's Baby Show in London
I would love to introduce you to some of these leading ladies, from women comparable to Barbara Stanwyck's best roles to the likes of Bette Davis. I shall include a few of the men too. They are inspiring because not only do they manage to run their businesses around their kids, other work or employment but because, in many cases, they have started them in the middle of a worldwide economic crisis.

Let's start with one of my favourites: Charlotte Jamme, the woman behind my favourite organised bag brand and someone I am now proud to call my friend. I first came across Mia Tui while researching one of my favourite articles Little known changing bag brands worth knowing. A couple of months later I had the pleasure of meeting Charlotte at The Baby Show in London (that was a year ago) and since then we text and talk on the phone regularly and she has even visited my house with her kids and the lovely Mummy Manda.
Interview: Mia Tui's Charlotte Jamme
My brown leather Grace in use
I compare her to Barbara Stanwyck because her assertive voice and personality make this woman one tough cookie. Behind that fa├žade though I know there is a really caring person. This woman, in her very early forties, is a knock-out by the way.

Charlotte has designed the perfect bag concept for busy women who need to stay organised: for example, her Grace bag is fantastic and comes with me everywhere I go. It's organised and spacious and I own it in two colours.

Tell us a little bit about why you started Mia Tui and when? I understand you were in Vietnam at the time.

I was living in Vietnam and travelling to and from England, when you have two young kids in tow you need to be organised. I just didn’t have a bag that allowed me to always find things and be big enough for everything we travelled with.

Trolley bags are not practical as you have to always get up from your seat to get anything you need, and there is always the risk of killing someone by dropping it on their head!

Rucksack, too many pockets, I could never find anything.

So I got thinking what would be the perfect travel bag, it had to be airline compliant, fit under the seat in front so you can always get to your things. You should always be able to get to your essential things with one hand (baby on hip) and have enough room to dump things.

Then I found a factory to bring my design to life. That sounds easy, let me tell you it was not, no factory wants to touch you when you are not making 10,000 units. Luckily for me I found Van who believed in me and Mia Tui was born.

Why the name Mia Tui? 

Mia means My or Mine and Tui in Vietnamese means Bags, so: My Bags

I hear there is something new and really exciting starting, I believe it's called Mia Tui at Home, tell us a little bit about that. 

Mia Tui lends itself to being sold within local communities, that is how I started, people want to touch a feel the bags and, as we are not stocked in many shops, this is a great way of bringing the bags to people. Once people try our bags the fall in love.

Agents fit in Mia Tui at Home around their normal life, selling at parties, school gate, amongst friends and family, I advise to start slowly and you will be amazed on how you will grow once people hear about you and the bags.

So, should this interview inspire any of my readers to join Mia Tui at Home, what do they need to do?  
Interview: Mia Tui's Charlotte Jamme
The Sofia is new and extremely gorgeous

Yes, if you want to earn some extra money selling the range of Mia Tui bags they should email me at info@miatui.com and I will go through details, there is a cost, but you get 5 bags and accessories as part of your kit. There are no sales targets or pressure, this really should fit in around your life style, you can grow your business at your own pace.

You have recently suffered a setback at the hands of fraudsters while carrying out some business with China, is that all sorted now? 

The latest news on the HSBC saga is the money has actually reached the fraudsters account, and they have not responded to any requests from Standard Chartered Bank to recall the money. I have found out that it took HSBC 3 days to send the recall notification to Standard Chartered, so I am basing my complaint on why did I take so long for HSBC to notify Standard Chartered bank of this fraudulent activity.

I think the money has been lost now, and I have to put this down to a learning experience and move on.

What advice would you give other small businesses starting in this economic climate? 

Watch your costs, and make sure you have researched your market, friends may say yes that’s a fantastic idea, but it is not their money! Think of everything that could go wrong and some. Start-up costs are usually double what you plan for.

Everyone will try and make money out of you, don’t be afraid to say no, it may only costs £100, but you have to sell £200 of goods to break even!

Cash is KING.

Now it is time to send you straight to the Mia Tui website to have a good look. While you're at it, make sure you pay attention to the fantastic value for money when you look at the prices and pick up one or two bags for the women in your life. She can deliver worldwide so no excuses. Right, that's a couple of Christmas presents sorted, surely. Watch out for more gift ideas from small businesses as selected by the feisty one.
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